LIFE group discussion guide: serve!

-

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Jan. 25) 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 morning’s sermon.

To declare our need to spend our lives actively serving God, and to urge us to do so.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … servants of the word … (Luke 1.2 CEB)

• … Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1.38 CEB)

• He has granted that we would be rescued … so that we could serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. (Luke 1.73-75 CEB)

• You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him. … You cannot serve God and wealth. (Luke 4.8; 16.13 CEB)

• … do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act … (Luke 6.35 CEB)

• That servant who knew his master’s will but didn’t prepare for it or act on it will be beaten severely. (Luke 12.47 CEB)

• … when you have done everything required of you, you should say, “We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.” (Luke 17.10 CEB)

• … the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. (Luke 22.26 CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. Think employment and job roles. Which ones strike you as “servant-type” jobs?

2. What is the biggest hurdle to your seeing yourself as truly a “servant of God?”

Research

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

1. Find and count every occurrence of some form of the word “serve” in Luke’s Gospel.

2. Read Luke 6.35 above. Reflect on it. Then read its context (vs.27-38). Thoughts?

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. How does the word “servant” hit you? Positive or negative? Respectable or humble?

2. Would it truly be best to live tomorrow like it was literally your last day to live?

3. “The good is the enemy of the best.” Is this true? Does this sound like Jesus?

4. We’re saved by God’s mercy thru Christ on his cross. What role do our works play?

5. Which matters most in the long run in serving God: “big things” or “little” ones?”

Response

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

1. Discipline and exercise yourself in a “I expect nothing in return” attitude and air.

2. Habitually give words and actions of appreciation to any you see “doing good.”

links: this went thru my mind

-

Archaeology, Assyrians, Iraq, Isis, Ninevah & terrorism: ISIS Threatens to Blow Up the Historical Walls of Nineveh

“Residents of the Bab Nergal area of Mosul said ISIS has informed them that it will blow up the walls of Nineveh with the start of operations to liberate Mosul by the Iraqi army. In the last month ISIS has seized the content of the cultural museum in Mosul as well as destroyed Assyrian monuments in the city, which ISIS claims “distort Islam.”

Blessings, communication, humility & witness: The One Things Christians Should Stop Saying [required reading]

“I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed. Like the ‘amen’ at the end of a prayer.”

Christianity, faith, government, kingdom & politics: 12 Reasons for Keeping the Kingdom of God Separate from Politics (parts 1 & 2) [essential reading]

“Jesus came to establish a kingdom that was not of this world.”

Evangelism, humility, listening, missions & outreach: Reverse Evangelism

“I really do believe that the Gospel is good news for everyone.  I just don’t think we know how good the news is until we do the hard work of listening and learning about what people’s hopes and dreams are.  And I have noticed that whenever I enter another culture, and understand it, even (or especially) when they don’t believe what I believe, that the Gospel just gets bigger for me.”

Marriage: Study Finds More Reasons to Get and Stay Married

“Social scientists have long known that married people tend to be happier, but they debate whether that is because marriage causes happiness or simply because happier people are more likely to get married. The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, controlled for pre-marriage happiness levels.

“It concluded that being married makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who remain single – particularly during the most stressful periods, like mid-life crises.”

links: this went thru my mind

-

Here are links to five items I consider to be interesting and helpful.

Being wrong, fallibility, humility, mistakes & pride: On Being Wrong [18 min. TED talk video]

“Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? ‘Wrongologist’ Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility.”

Birth of Christ & Christmas: The Nonsense of Christmas (parts 1, 2 & 3) by Ben Witherington

“Risking the possibility that I might be called Scrooge, I am going to muster up my courage and hope that it might be useful to do some demythologizing of Christmas.”

Deception, lies & torture: Senate Torture Report Faults C.I.A. for Brutality and Deceit

“In exhaustive detail, the report gives a macabre accounting of some of the grisliest techniques that the C.I.A. used to torture and imprison terrorism suspects. … The torture of prisoners at times was so extreme that some C.I.A. personnel tried to put a halt to the techniques, but were told by senior agency officials to continue the interrogation sessions.”

Morality & sin: Sin is Not a Moral Problem [essential reading]

“The habits of our culture are to think of sin in moral terms. It is simple, takes very little effort, and agrees with what everyone around you thinks. But it is theologically incorrect. … the capture of the Church’s theology by moralism is a true captivity and not an expression of the Orthodox mind.

“So how do we think of right and wrong, of spiritual growth, of salvation itself if sin is not a moral problem? We do not ignore our false choices and disordered passions (habits of behavior). But we see them as symptoms, as manifestations of a deeper process at work. The smell of a corpse is not the real problem and treating the smell is not at all the same thing as resurrection.

“The work of Christ is the work of resurrection. Our life in Christ is not a matter of moral improvement – it is life from the dead. We are buried into His death – and it is a real death – complete with all that death means. But His death was not unto corruption. He destroyed corruption. Our Baptism into Christ’s death is a Baptism into incorruption, the healing of the fundamental break in our communion with God.”

Unchurched & the United States: 10 Facts About America’s Churchless

“In the past decade, more people in the U.S. have become churchless than live in Australia or Canada. … The vast majority of America’s churchless have attended a church. … Unchurched adults are more likely to be white.”

links: this went thru my mind

-

Church, gratitude & thankfulness: * Gratitude & Justice;  * Cultivating Gratitude in Our Communities

* “Gratitude is perhaps the most important way we practice recognizing the “enough” all around us. If “lack” is the root of injustice, then gratitude is at root of justice. How can we hoard what isn’t ours? … And if everything we have is a gift from God, how can we not share those gifts, even with our enemies (see Matthew 5:43-45, 48)? Gratitude can help us move from dissatisfaction, fear, and narcissism to satisfaction, trust, and a deeper appreciation of the interconnectedness of all things. It frees us up to live in the present and to accept each moment and every circumstance as a gift.”

* ” … we tend to focus more on what we don’t have, what we can’t do, and where we fall short. We often define and appraise our faith communities the same way.  What is absent can obscure what is present. This happens when we focus more on needs than assets … Rather than emphasizing what’s not there, the church should focus on what is. The work of the church is, in part, to help people discern their gifts, provide opportunities for people to publicly praise God for them, and support them as they exercise those gifts—’re-gifting’ them for God’s glory.”

Christian faith, civil religion, culture, nationalism, narcissism & Thanksgiving: Appreciation Day [essential reading]

“Appreciative folks value their stuff, but never acknowledge its true source.”

Dogs & learning: How Dogs Understand What We Say

“Tell all the emotional things to the dog in his left ear … For commands that you want a dog to get clearly and precisely, tell them in right ear.”

History, humility, memory, Native Americans & remembrance: Never Forget

“A people with our history should practice humility and exercise sensitivity far beyond what comes natural for most of us.”

it’s a good day not to gloat

-

gloat (glōt); verb; to feel or express great, often malicious, pleasure or self-satisfaction.

  • Did your guy or gal win in the elections yesterday?
  • Did you get your way with the results from yesterday’s voting?
  • Did that co-worker who has been talkin’ political smack for weeks get squashed by the stats last night?
  • Do you feel a hint of self-righteous vindication and self-satisfaction welling up?
  • Do you have a bit of an ache within you for the coming weeks to pass quickly so you can watch those you helped lift up get to work their will?

Then remember: this verse could very well be the passage of Scripture you need most today and could be the one most immediately relevant to your living life as God would have it:

“You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune … nor boast so much in the day of their trouble.” (Obadiah 12)

Go and see what this means. For it is certainly the way of our Lord for us.

“… you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7.12)