LIFE group guide: give thanks, because …

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Nov. 24). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon. This sermon is entitled “Give Thanks, Because …” and is my “Thanksgiving sermon.”

To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues. All Scripture texts reproduced below, unless otherwise noted, are from the CEB.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this particular sermon.

To remind us of the value and blessings of a grateful spirit expressed in thankful ways.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of the sermon. Underscored words are emphasized in the Greek text.

• Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. (1 Chron. 16.8 NLT)

• Give thanks to the God of heaven— God’s faithful love lasts forever! (Ps. 136.26 CEB)

• This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God. Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough! (2 Cor. 9.10-15 The Message)

• Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts … And be thankful. (Col. 3.15 NIV)

• … since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship … (Heb. 12.28 NRSV)

Relation

These icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start thinking, talking, and relating to the topic or texts. Discuss one.

1. What movie character or scene do you recall as profoundly depicting gratitude?

2. Tell us of something for which, over time, you have come to grow deeply thankful.

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. Read 1 Chron. 16.7-13,14-18,19-22,23-27,28-30,31-33,34-36. Then do vs. 36b.

2. What specific reasons can you find in Psalm 136 to be thankful for God?

3. What exactly is the “relief offering” in view in 2 Corinthians 9.10-15?

Reflection

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.

1. Consider what you often thank God for … and then consider what rarely shows up.

2. What tends to move you to grateful, thankful prayer to God?

3. What benefits can others enjoy from overhearing you unashamedly thank God?

4. Someone asks you, “How do I become a more grateful person?” What would you say?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid you in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. Train yourself to make your very first thought/prayer each day to be one of thanks.

2. “Count your blessings, name them one-by-one.” Make a list. Add to it daily. For life.

3. Compose your own simple song of thanksgiving. Let  1 Chron. 16 and Ps. 136 aid you.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger & offense: Choosing Not To Be Offended [essential reading]

“… there are many opportunities to be offended. … Offense is always a matter of perspective. … What kind of spirit are you trying to foster in your own heart? … What is the higher road that you can walk when offended? … Decide ahead of time to show love when love has not been shown to you.”

Appreciation, love, respect & value: The Most Ignored and Undervalued People Within Churches Today

“Churches are supposed to be communities that represent Christ’s infinite love — and many of them do — but certain groups of people seem to be continually ignored, alienated, undervalued, and simply lost within American churches. … Below are categories of people that I’ve repeatedly witnessed being underappreciated within various church environments …”

Children & parenting: * The Important Thing About Yelling; * Imprint the Image of a Godly Man on Your Daughter’s Heart; * Are You Raising Entitled Kids?

* “Let me tell you what had become of me. My distractions. Excessive phone use, commitment overload, multiple page to-do lists, and the pursuit of perfection consumed me. And yelling at the people I loved was a direct result of the loss of control I was feeling in my life.”

* “Perhaps the greatest gift a father can give his daughter, outside of leading her to salvation, is to imprint the image of a Godly man on her heart. One day we will be walking our daughter down the aisle, and the choice she made for a husband will likely hinge more on our actions than hers.”

* “Breaking the chains of entitlement begins at home. As you live out gratitude and graciousness, your children will see these values as worthy. You teach them by how you live, what you say, and how you allow them to struggle and work their own way toward responsibility. You can raise kids who live with humility and thankfulness, who see and appreciate what they’re given daily by the Giver of all good gifts.”

Church: * Why People are Staying in Churches [required reading]; 10 Reasons Why We Must Love Unlovable Church Members

* “If you still attend a Christian worship assembly, what is it that keeps you coming back? Here are some reasons I see that people are staying with it …”

* “I would be lying to say I never struggle now, but I’ve learned something about loving others.”

Communication, evangelism & outreach: * 5 Churchy Phrases That are Scaring Off Millenials; * 5 Things Mistaken for Evangelism

* “… let’s examine these terrorizing and terrifying words to see if we should drop them, modify them, or indeed say them more …”

* “The Christian call to evangelism is a call not simply to persuade people to make decisions but rather to proclaim to them the good news of salvation in Christ, to call them to repentance, and to give God the glory for regeneration and conversion. We don’t fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only if we don’t faithfully tell the gospel at all. Evangelism itself isn’t converting people; it’s telling them that they need to be converted and telling them how they can be.”

Early Christianity: Where did Earliest Christians Meet?

“For some time now, the general view has been that earliest Christians met (e.g., for group worship) in houses, at least mainly. In a newly-published study, Dr. Edward Adams (Kings College London) queries this, contending that the evidence for this view isn’t as solid and consistent as commonly thought, and that the extant evidence suggests instead a variety of settings.”

Evil, disaster relief, natural disasters & the Philippines: * Philippines Disaster Draws Limited Interest, Donations; * Typhoon Haiyan and “Natural” Evil

* “About one-in-three Americans (32%) say they are very closely following news about the deadly typhoon that struck the Philippines on Nov. 8. By comparison, 55% of the public closely followed the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami in Japan, 58% followed the tsunami that struck coastlines around the Indian Ocean at the end of 2004, and 60% followed the 2010 Haiti earthquake.”

* “… on Typhoon Haiyan and the reality of “natural” evil that’s not really natural at all. “This an enemy has done.” (Matthew 13:28)”

Grief: 10 Suggestions for Healthy Grieving

“The Scripture is clear. We do grieve. We simply don’t grieve like the rest of the world.”

this went thru my mind

 

Acknowledgement, appreciation & influence: Want to Change the World in 3.2 Seconds? by Jon Acuff

“Want to reinvent the way people think about Christians? Want to start changing the reason people think Christians are jerks? It’s not that complicated. “

Christianity & politics: Christianity’s Mistress by K. Rex Butts

“… why are so many Christians focused on earthly things? Particularly, the earthly things I am speaking about is American politics.”

Doubt: The Gifts and Benefits of Doubt by Richard Beck [required reading]

“… here are some of the benefits and gifts of doubt for the church …”

Gospel: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: How MTD Destroys Christians, Part 1 by Jay Guinn [this is a portion of an on-going series; this whole series is/will be required reading]

“MTD teaches that God does not so much compel us to live a certain way as provide a means for us to live well. God gives us self-esteem. God gives us emotional health. God gives us good marriages. God gives us friends and happy relationships. God gives us congregations filled with good people who want to help us be better people. … Where did this view of religion come from? Well, largely from preachers. And Sunday school teachers. And youth ministers. And dumbed down Sunday school curriculum. Indeed, it all results from an Americanized, market-based, consumeristic approach to selling Christianity.”

Missions: The Gospel for Headhunters and Cannibals by David Burnette

“From headhunters and cannibals to 85 percent of the tribe identifying itself as Christian, the Sawi of New Guinea have undergone significant cultural transformation in the 50 years since the first missionaries arrived in the tribe’s isolated jungle
village.”

Marriage, men & women: Plutarch and Paul on Husbands and Wives by Marg Mowczko

“I recently submitted a research essay for a course I’m studying where I compare Plutarch’s Advice to the Bride and Groom with Paul’s advice to men and women in First Corinthians.  Plutarch, who wasn’t a Christian (in fact at one time he was a priest in the cult of Apollo), wrote his Advice in a letter around A.D. 90-100. … As I was reading and comparing Advice with First Corinthians it struck me how different Plutarch’s and Paul’s views were about the relationship between husbands and wives.  It also struck me that many Christians sound much more like Plutarch, rather than Paul, in what they think and say about marriage and women.”

this went thru my mind

Appreciation: Top Ten Gifts to Give Your Pastor by Brad Whitt

Change: The Power of Incremental Change over Time by Michael Hyatt

Churches of Christ: Richard Beck is one of my favorite writers and his two posts Four Reasons I’m a Church of Christ and Churches of Christ and Evangelicalism: Five Contrasts are required reading. Read his post Saved By the Blood, too.

God: A Healthier Image of God by Rubel Shelly

Hell: The Biblical Doctrine of Hell by Claude Mariottini and Clark Pinnock’s Thoughts on Hell

Humor: Newer

Parenting: Stupid Things Parents Say by Trey Morgan

Prejudice, racism & speech: Say No to Negative Talk About Hispanic Americans by Samuel Rodriguez and Robert Gittelson

Politics & taxes: Attention Tea Party Advocates by Ben Witherington

Reading, writing & documentation: Will the E-Book Kill the Footnote? by Alexandra Horowitz

Relationships: The Secret to Dealing With Difficult People: It’s About You by Tony Schwartz

Spiritual gifts: Matt Dabbs is doing some fine writing on spiritual gifts right now. See his posts entitled Start With God, Not Spiritual Gifts Inventories and Dependence and Trust.

What ever happened to them? The 33 Chilean Miners, Then and Now