LIFE group guide: eradicating the Easter error

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (April 20) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

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

To consider some of what it means for us that God raised Jesus back to life.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  God raised him from the dead … (Acts 2.24)

•  … they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead … (Acts 13.29-31)

•  … believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. (Romans 4.24)

•  We were … buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6.4)

•  … he who raised Christ from the dead will … give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8.11)

•  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10.9)

•  … you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus … (1 Thessalonians 1.9-10)

•  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1.21)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. When I think of someone being “dead” I think of them being ___.”

2. When I think of someone being “alive” I think of them being ___.”

Research

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

1. Which NT writer speaks by far and away most frequently of Jesus being “raised”?

2. Using the texts above, make a list of what believers do in light of Christ’s resurrection.

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. Which do you think of most often: Christ’s cross or his empty tomb? Why?

2. Could the Father have not raised the Son? Explain.

3. What is the greatest evidence, or witness to, Jesus having been resurrected?

4. “If the power of the God who raises the dead is working in me as a believer I can ___.”

Response

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

1. Mediate daily on God’s character and power as revealed in Christ’s resurrection.

2. Start each day: “God, I will let your life-giving power be shown thru me today by ___.”

this went thru my mind

 

Attention, complaints & leadership: Ministry Inside.113

“Church leaders, sometimes, give far too much attention to people who are demanding our attention in some way, often in the form of a complaint. I want to encourage us to take notice of the following people …”

Church decline, evangelism, mission & outreach: Why “Insiders” Are Killing Your Church

“Almost everybody who follows Christ, and almost every gathering of those Christ followers constituting a church, says the same thing: ‘We want to reach the world for Christ.’ Yet, most don’t. So where’s the breakdown?”

Church politics: Church Politics: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“One of the most pervasive problems ravaging and destroying the church is church politics. This has always been a major portion of the wiles of the devil. The church does not fall because of external opposition, but because of internal strife and division. This always has to do with personal preferences, self-centered goals, and arrogant behavior. The Bible presents numerous examples of this. Here are only a very few.”

Easter, fear & Mark’s Gospel: Easter Shouldn’t Be Good News by Richard Beck [required reading]

“The oldest gospel we have, the gospel of Mark, ends in the most curious of ways …”

Minister’s wife: Lies Ministry Wives Believe

“As a pastor’s wife, I find myself fighting the same old internal battles that have plagued me from year one, only now I recognize them more quickly and have tools to combat them. Do you think or believe these lies, too? … 1. My identity is that of a ministry wife. … 2. I am not called to ministry. … 3. As a ministry wife, I’m playing a specific, scripted role. … 4. My husband is important to the work of the church, but I am not. … 5. My job as a ministry wife is to serve people. … 6. I have to be available to everyone at all times. … 7. I can’t ask for help or reveal my weaknesses and struggles.”

Morale, productivity & time management: * Urgent, Please Read ASAP; * Why, ‘Do More With Less,’ is Stupid

* “The problem, of course, is that the queue of urgent never ends, it merely changes its volume as it gets longer.”

* “‘Do more with less,’ demotivates employees. It’s code for work harder. If they’re already working hard, they think, ‘The more I give the more they want. I’m giving less.’ ‘Do more with less,’ disengages and demotivates those giving most. Those hurt most by, ‘Do more with less,’ are the ones doing most.”

The Bible mini-series: A Celebration of Mary Magdelene [required reading]

“In this post I would like to turn to a feature of the series that has so far gone without comment in other reviews, the depiction of Mary Magdalene.  I will not hide from the reader just how thrilled I am with the way that Mary Magdalene (Amber Rose Revah, left) is played.”

LIFE group guide: because he’s risen …

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (March 31). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning: Because He’s Risen … Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below are from the CEB.

Aim

To ponder some of the implications for our life of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Word

• Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11.25-26)

• We proclaim to you the good news. What God promised to our ancestors, he has fulfilled for us … by raising up Jesus. … Therefore, brothers and sisters, know this: Through Jesus we proclaim forgiveness of sins to you. … through Jesus everyone who believes is put in right relationship with God. (Acts 14.32-33a,38a,39)

• Since we believe that Jesus died and rose, so we also believe that God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus. What we are saying is a message from the Lord: we who are alive and still around at the Lord’s coming definitely won’t go ahead of those who have died. This is because the Lord himself will come down from heaven with the signal of a shout by the head angel and a blast on God’s trumpet. First, those who are dead in Christ will rise. Then, we who are living and still around will be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air. That way we will always be with the Lord. So encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18)

• May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish—an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you. Through his faithfulness, you are guarded by God’s power so that you can receive the salvation he is ready to reveal in the last time. … You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1.3-5; 2.5)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. What was Easter Sunday like for you when you were small? How was it spent?

2. What is one of the most difficult things you’ve come to believe in, or about, life?

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1.  Imagine the four texts above are meant to answer questions. What are the questions?

2. List the specific benefits named in the preceding texts due to Christ’s resurrection.

Reflect

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

1. When you think of Christ being resurrected, what first comes to your mind? Why?

2. Most people believe God is. So why is it hard to think he raised one from the dead?

3. What’s a question you continue to have related to the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

4. To you, what is the most persuasive evidence that Jesus is truly risen from the dead?

5. When does his resurrection have the greatest impact: now or in the future? Why?

this went thru my mind

 

Change: Five Secret Objections to Change by Ron Edmonson

“Show me an objection to legitimate, needed change and you’re almost guaranteed to find one of these hidden in the crowd somewhere. Probably multiples of them.”

Children, Easter & parenting: Preparing Your Children For Easter Without Rabbits! [required reading]

“For our children, Easter has become more about baby chickens, bunny rabbits, and egg hunts and hardly anything about Jesus! Part of the reason is that the story is sad, brutal, and gory. We have sanitized the lives of our children to the point that the real Easter story just doesn’t work. We need a Disney version for our young children. On the other hand, my 8-year-old, 7-year-old, and 5-year-old grandsons have all seen Star Wars, and some of them have seen at least the first episode of Lord of the Rings. They have all seen the Narnia movies—and they have all been to funerals. I think they can handle the basics of the passion story. I’d like to just suggest to you today a schedule of possible readings and activities to do with your young children.”

Church: Seven Ways to Kill a Church by Scott Elliott; * Bullies in the Church; * And Then the Conference Uninvited Me to Speak by Jen Hatmaker [required reading]

* “Be immature – Gripe, complain, nitpick, and criticize others. … Fail to get people involved. Don’t ask people to do anything. … Ignore the youth. Refuse to teach them anything meaningful about the Christian faith. … Pretend like worship isn’t important. Show up late and leave early. … Forget about feeding the flock. Give the congregation upbeat and entertaining messages with little or no substance. Never move beyond the basics of Christianity. … Convince people that leadership does not matter. Choose leaders who are biblically ignorant and spiritually immature. … Never look beyond the church building. Forget there is a world full of people who need help. Do not feed the hungry.”

* “There are books on school bullying—and more than enough data to support techniques for dealing with the problem. But when it comes to the church—there’s very little information. Nevertheless, there can be bullies in the church.  And most don’t fit the bully stereotype. Consider, for example, a few of the bully personalities that are more commonly found in the church …”

* “The Barna Group estimates that 80 percent of those reared in the church will be ‘disengaged’ by the time they are 29. 80 percent. Gone. … 73 percent of Nones came from religious homes; 66 percent were described by the study as ‘de-converts.’ … [But] as far as I can tell, Jesus is still the easiest sell on earth, because if you don’t love a guy who healed lepers and pulled children onto His lap and silenced the religious elite and ate and drank with sinners, then you just don’t know Him.”

Happiness: One Thing You Must Stop Doing to Be Happy

“The quickest route to happiness is to stop the pursuit of finding happiness and start the process of being happiness.”

Connectivity, technology & the Internet: * This is the World You Live (and Lead) in Now; * Danny Hillis: The Internet Could Crash. We Need a Plan B. [121/2 min. TED Talk video]

* “Mobile technology and digital social networks have changed our habits, rhythms of life, the way we connect, and get news and information. … They are not just tools. They are ways of being in the world. They have become an integrated part of our culture, our lives, and, indeed, the practice of faith.”

* “Internet pioneer Danny Hillis argues that the Internet wasn’t designed for this kind of scale, and sounds a clarion call for us to develop a Plan B: a parallel system to fall back on if — or when — the Internet crashes.”

Evangelism, outreach & questions: What Gives??

“Good answer!”

Poverty & social mobility: Why Social Mobility In The United States Is A Total Myth

“… 44%, of American adults who are in the bottom 20% in income were born to parents who were also in the bottom 20%; nearly half, 45%, of adults in the top 20% had parents who were also in the top 20%. Most Americans who were born in the middle 60% had parents who were also born in the middle 60%.”

Presence: Do You Have Time to Be Present? by Jim Martin

“Life is about being fully present in the one life that I am living — to the honor of God. What are your greatest challenges to being fully present with others?”

filled with joy!

 

NOTE: He is risen! Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow, Easter Sunday, Apr. 8. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon (Filled With Joy!) that morning. The primary text for this sermon is John 20.19-23. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title “LIFE group guides.”

Aim

To drive home the deep meaning of Jesus’ resurrection for us as his disciples.

Word

It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.” (John 20.19-23 CEB)

Open

Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Tell us about a truly victorious or especially joyful moment in your life, be it big or small.

2. If you were to die, come back from the dead, and speak to your loved ones, what would be the first thing you’d say to them?

3. Tell us what Easter Sunday was like for you when you were a wee one.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.

1. According to this passage (John 20.19-23), how much time passed between Jesus’ resurrection and his appearance to his disciples?

2. What did Jesus mean when he said “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you?”

3. How would you say the reception of the Holy Spirit is tied to our grasp of Jesus’ resurrection, our life in light of his resurrection, and the mission he’s given us?

4. How does Jesus’ resurrection affect our understanding of forgiveness (vs. 23)?

5. One-third of this text is what the risen Christ said. Sum up his words in your own words.

Reflect

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

1. How has human history been affected by the fact Jesus’ body has never been found?

2. If archaeologists discovered the body of Jesus tomorrow, how would your life change?

3. What has the resurrection of Jesus done for your fears?

4. What sort of peace do you have in your life because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

5. What joy do you have in life because of Christ’s resurrection?

6. Given the resurrection of Jesus, what would you say is your mission in life?

7. What can you do to help others to see and hear, as it were, the risen Christ today?