As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. (Proverbs 27.19 NIV)
In his hand is the life of every creature … (Job 12.10a)
All human life on the earth is like grass, and all human glory is like a flower in a field. The grass dries up and its flower falls off … (1 Peter 1.24)
NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Nov. 10). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning from John 12.35-36. This sermon is entitled “Walk in the Light” and is another installment in the Jesus: Master & Commander series.
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.
Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of the sermon series, or this particular sermon in a series.
To call our attention, and our conscience, to some of our Lord’s direct charges to us.
These Scriptures form some of the foundation of the sermon. Underscored words are emphasized in the Greek text.
Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8.12)
Jesus replied: “The light is with you for only a little while. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness don’t know where they are going. As long as you have the light, believe in the light so that you might become people whose lives are determined by the light.” (John 12.35-36a)
You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, so live your life as children of light. Light produces fruit that consists of every sort of goodness, justice, and truth. Therefore, test everything to see what’s pleasing to the Lord, and don’t participate in the unfruitful actions of darkness. (Ephesians 5.8-11a)
All of you are children of light and children of the day. We don’t belong to night or darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5.5)
If we claim, “We have fellowship with him,” and live in the darkness, we are lying and do not act truthfully. But if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. (1 John 1.6-7)
These icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start thinking, talking, and relating to the topic or texts. Discuss one.
1. Were you/are you afraid of the dark? Tell us about it.
2. Tell us of beauty you’ve seen due to sunlight (e.g. – sunrise, sunset, rainbow, etc.).
3. Do you enjoy walking? If so, share tell us of your walking habits (when, where, etc.).
These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.
2. In light of John 7.2,37, Jesus likely spoke John 8.12 on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths). Research the ceremonies of this feast that involved light.
3. Using the Scripture texts above, complete this sentence: “When someone allows their life to be daily determined by the light of Christ they ____________.”
These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.
1. What are some of the biggest blessings you enjoy from living/walking in the light?
2. What danger does light bring to the parts of you that seek darkness?
3. What is it like to be overtaken by darkness, spiritually speaking?
4. Why do you sometimes procrastinate in walking in/toward/with the light of God?
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. Watch a day dawn, moving from darkness to light. Meditate on Ephesians 5.8-9 as you do.
2. Go for an evening walk with someone. Walking toward the sunset, discuss John 12.35.
He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part. (Ephesians 4.11-16 CEB)
And so we say without apology, with firm conviction, but with deep humility: we seek to be a “people of the Book.”
By that we mean two things.
First, the Bible is revelation from, and about, God.
Without this Book, we’d be in the dark about God. Oh, we would know something of God from creation. But, without this Book, that would be all we know of Him. This Book lights up our walk through this dark world. This Book gives us truth, and takes us into understandings of truth, that we would not have without it.
And so, we’re determined to continually open our eyes to the light this Book shines on us. We do this even though the bright light it shines on us can sometimes be glaring or painful. We are not “holy.” But we believe this Book leads us to Him who alone is Holy.
Second, this Book teaches us how to live our life with God.
This book tells us of Him who is Life. Our Life. This Book is not “our life” or our “God.” We do not worship it. But, we do worship the One who gives us life and who speaks to us through this Book. And so, we seek to belong to Him, and to Him alone. Both as individuals and as a community. This is our task in every possible way for all of our days.
In sum: He who reveals Himself to us through this Book is our Life and Light.
In a world full of uncertainties, this Book gives us certainties. Certain truth that comes from Him who alone is True.
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And we are His people. This is our past, present, and future. Walking because of, with, and toward God.
In this walk, He encourages us by telling us He is with us and equips us to do His will. Our Life is beside us and inside us. Our Light, gives us ways and means to use His light.
What a tremendous blessing it is to see His Life and Light in each other! A people of God; a people of the Book!
Thanks and glory be to God!
And so we will serve Him forever!
Let the whole church say … “Amen!“
Conflict & relationships: Sometimes Fault Really Is on Only One Side by John Stackhouse
“Jesus ran into conflicts all the time. Was there fault on both sides?”
* “I don’t know any poor or homeless people, do I?”
* “How can I help people like these? Should I even be helping them?”
Ecology & technology: The Periodic Table of iPhones [infographic]
“Right now, more that 90% of rare-earth minerals come from China, mostly because mining for rare-earth metals has been an environmental nightmare. But new processes are reviving rare-earth mining in the United States and elsewhere.”
Listening: How to Listen by Seth Godin
“The listener has nearly as big a responsibility as the speaker does … The hardest step in better listening is the first one: do it on purpose. Make the effort to actually be good at it.”
Marriage: Everyday Idolatry: The (Wrong) One by Jonathan Storment
“We always marry the wrong person. We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.” [Stanley Hauerwas]
Pharisees: Pharisees: Revisiting an Old Problem by Scot McKnight
“… I am asking for the many who are still using “Pharisee” in the old-fashioned ‘religious bigot’ sense to be much more careful.”
Super Bowl: * Super Bowl 2013 Commercials; * 7 Life Misconceptions Portrayed in the Super Bowl Ads by Joshua Becker
* [Links to the Super Bowl Commercials on one page]
* “… as somebody who has developed great frustration over the consumer-driven culture that we live in, I observe marketing with a skeptical eye. I often seek to determine the underlying promise of any advertisement and uncover what else, other than the product itself, marketers are trying to sell me. Far too often, I discover their underlying message promotes foolish misconceptions about life. We would be wise to recognize and intentionally reject each of them. Consider just a few misconceptions on display during Sunday night’s Super Bowl.”
Alzheimer’s: Speaking More Than One Language Could Prevent Alzheimer’s by Nancy Shute
“The latest evidence from the bilingualism-is-good-for-you crew comes from Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington.”
Bible manuscripts: Cambridge Digital Library
Christians, guns, self defense & violence: * An Unexpected Topic–But Just In Case: How to Respond to an Active Shooter [required reading]; * Swords into Ploughshares: Voluntary Disarmament in the Kingdom by Caleb Coy [essential reading]; * Youth Fires Shotgun at 2 High School Students, Hits One; Suspect in Custody
* “An Active Shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. In most cases, active shooters use firearms(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. … If you find yourself involved in an active shooter situation, remain calm and use these guidelines to help you plan a survival strategy.”
* “… rather than being on the front lines of peace and laying down of earthly weapons, contemporary American Christians often put themselves on the front lines of stocking up on weapons in fear of the next big revolution. Why do we do this? I have no answer other than to point to our love for our nation and it’s 2nd amendment exceeding our love for the kingdom and it’s greatest commandment. If we look to the first century, we will find a different story. We see a people willing to be martyred before their enemies as witnesses to their faith, a people with a tendency to refuse to become soldiers, or attend public executions (unless it was their own people). …
“As a Christian I will try to demonstrate how to treat potential threats and enemies as I believe Christ would have us do. ”Do good to those who hate you”. “Pray for those who persecute you.” “Resist not the evil-doer.” Jesus wasn’t just talking about the guy down the street that gets on our nerves, as if his kingdom were some kind of sitcom. He meant something very earth-shaking. He was preparing us to be ready for martyrdom in any generation, in any land.”
* “The gunman was in custody Thursday after he was talked into dropping the firearm by his teacher and another school staff member, said authorities …”
Fear: Fear: This is a Heart Issue [Part 2] by John T. Willis
“Fear is a powerful motivation in personal, church, and national life. Sometimes this is positive, sometimes this is negative. Here are some motivations which affect our lives.”
* “You’re smart, hard-working and good at what you do, but the truth is you also too often feel your life is just a relentless set of demands you have to meet, and too rarely a source of satisfaction. You long to feel more in control of your days, but the reality is you’re frequently racing just to keep up. This is the story I hear over and over at every level in organizations, from first line managers all the way up to CEOs in large companies. I’m convinced it doesn’t have to be this way, and that the solution has to do with deeply embedding a series of simple practices into your life. … The suggestions are in order from the most basic and fundamental, to the highest level.”
* “… let me offer you several practical things you can do in 2013 to alter the direction of your life.”