LIFE group guide: saved from start to finish

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Mar. 23) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. This sermon (entitled “Saved from Start to Finish”) works out of Acts 16.11-40 and Philippians 2.12-13.

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 particular sermon.

To consider the importance of not only starting life with Christ, but staying with him.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this morning’s sermon.

• “’… what must I do to be rescued?’ They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your entire household.’ … He and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. … He was overjoyed because he and everyone in his household had come to believe in God.” (Acts 16.30-34 CEB)

• … my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2.12-13 NIV)

Relation

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

1. As a group, brainstorm synonyms for the word “saved.”

2. Which is most difficult today for most people: coming to, or continuing with, Christ? Why?

Research

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

1. Have the group read aloud of the start of the church in Philippi. That is, read Acts 16.11-40.

2. Read Philippians 2.1-4,12-18. Make a list of what Christians are to work out in their salvation.

Reflection

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

1. Who were the people who had the greatest influence on your becoming a Christian?

2. Name those who have had the greatest impact on your growth and continuance in Christ.

3. If you were to advise someone just beginning their walk of discipleship, what would you say?

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. Using the list you created above (Research, #2), dedicate a different item on that list to receive your special attention and practice daily for one full week during the coming weeks.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Christmas, culture & devotion: The Real War on Christmas

“The so-called war on Christmas rages on. … When Jesus is primarily just ‘the reason for the season,’ he’s just like that box of Christmas ornaments I keep in my attic. When the season starts, I pull him out, dust him off, and display him loudly and proudly. While the season progresses, I attend to him daily. But when the season is over, I can pack him back up and put him away someplace removed from my daily life. He goes from the middle of my life to the margin of my life relatively quickly.”

Communication: 5 Don’ts of Healthy Communication

“We are all guilty or some of these at times.”

Early Christianity: Social Description of Early Christians/Christianity

“… although this will hardly be news to anyone familiar with scholarly work of the last several decades, I thought it perhaps helpful to point to this work for others.  Essentially, a continuing line of studies has shown from various types of evidence that early Christian circles were comprised of people of a variety of social levels.  To be sure, we have indications that some were very poor and some were slaves.  So, the old stereotype was not totally wrong, just a stereotype, and so wrong.”

Marriage: Marriage Isn’t for You [essential reading]

“Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me. Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.”

Money, oppression & payday loans: I Applied For An Online Payday Loan. Here’s What Happened Next

“Payday lenders made about $49 billion in high-interest loans last year. More than a third of those loans were made online. I wondered what happens when you apply for such a loan, so I decided to find out.”

Parenting: Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children [essential reading]

“I am moved to write this by watching young children pay no attention to their parents’ requests, with no consequences. Parents tell a child two or three times to sit or stop and come or go, and after the third disobedience, they laughingly bribe the child. This may or may not get the behavior desired.”

Rest: Are There Any Christians Who Take a Day of Rest Anymore? [required reading]

“There is perhaps no single thing that could better help us recover Jesus’ lordship in our frantic, power-hungry world than to allow him to be Lord of our rest as well as our work. The challenge is disarmingly simple: one day a week, not to do anything that we know to be work.”

Short-term missions: Doing Short-Term Missions Well (parts 1 & 2)

“… how can we do STM in a way that provides a worthwhile blessing to those we serve without creating a problem?”

LIFE group guide: you have heard it said … but I say to you

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Oct. 13). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning from Matthew 5.17-48. This sermon is entitled “You Have Heard It Said … But I Say to You” 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.

Reason

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.

Revelation

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

“Don’t even begin to think that I have come to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I haven’t come to do away with them but to fulfill them. I say to you very seriously that as long as heaven and earth exist, neither the smallest letter nor even the smallest stroke of a pen will be erased from the Law until everything there becomes a reality. … I say to you that unless your righteousness is greater than the righteousness of the legal experts and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. … You have heard that it was said … But I say to you …” (Matthew 5.17-48)

Relation

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

1. I believe someone knows what they’re talking about when they speak of God if ______.

2. What is one of the biggest changes you’ve ever made regarding your beliefs?

Research

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

1. Read Matt. 5.17-48 aloud, placing emphasis on the statements put in contrast (“you have heard it said … but I say to you …”).

2. How does Matt. 5.17 help you understand what’s intended by the contrast statements and how the Law and the Prophets had been (and can still be) misconstrued?

3. Consider Romans 13.9-10. How does it give commentary on Matthew 5.17-48?

Reflection

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

1. How is it that even experts in Scripture can miss the full force of Scripture’s intent?

2. What does our tendency to lose, lessen, or limit God’s will for us say about humans?

3. In what way, in this context, did Jesus “fulfill” the Law and the Prophets?

4. Are we as Christians today to fulfill the Law and the Prophets? Explain.

5. Which “but I say to you statements” do you think is easiest to fulfill? Most difficult?

6. What must Christians do to prevent (or overcome) blindness to the word’s meaning?

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. Humbly list all the matters of faith you can think of that you once believed were true, but of which you now believe differently. Consider what this might mean for your current or future beliefs.

2. Pray with faith often for God to guide you into a greater understanding of his will, and for the resolve and courage to act upon whatever he brings to light.

3. Reflect and meditate on a portion of Scripture throughout the course of each day.

4. Add a phrase to each “but I say to you” statement in Matt. 5.21-48 that makes very specific, personal application to your life today. Think of it as an additional “I can live this out today by doing (or not doing) specifically this _____” sort of phrase.

LIFE group guide: follow me

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Oct. 6). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning from Matthew 8.18-22 (and related texts). This sermon is entitled “Follow Me” 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.

Reason

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.

Revelation

These texts are Scriptures directly related to the foundation and development of the sermon.

As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” Right away, they left their nets and followed him. Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4.18-22)

Now when Jesus saw the crowd, he ordered his disciples to go over to the other side of the lake. A legal expert came and said to him, “Teacher, I’ll follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Human One has no place to lay his head.” Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8.18-22)

The Jewish opposition circled around him and asked, “How long will you test our patience? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, but you don’t believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you don’t believe because you don’t belong to my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life. They will never die, and no one will snatch them from my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them from my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10.24-30)

Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you can’t follow me now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I’ll give up my life for you.” Jesus replied, “Will you give up your life for me? I assure you that you will deny me three times before the rooster crows. (John 13.36-38)

Relation

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

1. I find myself motivated to go along with someone, or something, if __________.

2. When told what to do, what tends to be your default reaction: comply, question, or challenge?

Research

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

1. Find and circle every form of the word “follow” in the four Scripture texts above.

2. In which text above does Jesus note his disciples’ following of him as answer to his enemies?

3. What are two huge hurdles Jesus calls out to following him in Matthew 8.18-22?

Reflection

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

1. What does Jesus mean when he says “follow” me? That is, what all does “follow” imply?

2. Instead of following Jesus, it’s tempting to merely __________ Jesus.

3. Many (most?) people settle for being associated with Jesus rather than following him? Why?

4. What’s the difference between a nominal Christian and a true follower of Jesus Christ?

5. When do you most clearly and consistently sense that you are “following” Jesus?

6. Engage this claim: if we all follow Jesus, we’ll all think and act alike. True? False? Explain.

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. Identify the excuses you use for not following Jesus in something you know to be his will.

2. Do something each day this week that’s easy for you in following Jesus, but don’t often do.

3. Do something daily that’s hard for you to follow Jesus in; something that takes you out of your comfort zone.

LIFE group guide: make every effort

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (June 30). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning from Luke 13.23-30. This sermon’s title is “Make Every Effort” and is another sermon in the Jesus Christ: Master & Commander series. Look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous discussion guides. All Scripture texts reproduced below, unless otherwise noted,  are from the CEB.

Aim

To call our attention, and our conscience, to some of our Lord’s direct charges to us.

Word

Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it. (Matthew 7.13-14)

Jesus traveled through cities and villages, teaching and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”

Jesus said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow gate. Many, I tell you, will try to enter and won’t be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ He will respond, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from. Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in God’s kingdom, but you yourselves will be thrown out. People will come from east and west, north and south, and sit down to eat in God’s kingdom. Look! Those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last. (Luke 13.22-30)

Open

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

1. Are you easy to surprise or startle? What would those who truly know you well say?

2. Tell us about something you’ve made a real effort to work hard at for a long time.

Dig

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

1. Compare and contrast the text in Matthew (7.13-14) with that in Luke (13.23-30).

2. How does the context in Matthew (7.7-12,15-20) provide commentary on vs.13-14?

3. The question asked of Jesus in Luke concerned quantity (vs.23). How does Jesus’ reply vs.24-30 not answer that question?

4. God’s grace doesn’t rule out human effort. What other Scriptures stress our doing?

5. What specifically does Luke 13.29-30 teach as to who will reside in God’s kingdom?

6. Notice how personal Jesus makes things in Luke 13.25-28 with the repetitive use of the word “you.” Why do you suppose he worded it so and what does this do to you?

Reflect

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

1. Does God decide who does and doesn’t enter his kingdom or (2) does God acknowledges who has entered his kingdom and who has refused? Why?

2. You either “make every effort” (Luke 13.24a) or you’re an “evildoer” (13.27b)? Fair?

3. How do you sometimes resemble those who don’t enter the narrow gate (13.24b-28)?

4. What does making every effort look like? Or, what sort of habits might you expect a person bent on entering by the narrow gate to have in their life?

5. What does God’s kingdom being portrayed as a banquet (Luke 13.29b) say to you?

6. It’s not enough to be around Jesus (Luke 13.26); you must be about Jesus. As a group, pray that this “aboutness” is a daily, ongoing reality in every group member’s life.

LIFE group guide – Lord Jesus Christ: Master & Commander

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow night (June 2). This guide will enable your follow-up in our LIFE groups of my sermon tomorrow morning from Lord Jesus Christ: Master & Commander. This sermon is the start of a fresh, new sermon series by the same name. 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 call our attention, and our conscience, to some of our Lord’s direct charges to us.

Word

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28.16-20)

Peter said to him, “Look, we’ve left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “I assure you that anyone who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms because of me and because of the good news will receive one hundred times as much now in this life—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and farms (with harassment)—and in the coming age, eternal life. (Mark 10.28-30)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say? I’ll show what it’s like when someone comes to me, hears my words, and puts them into practice. It’s like a person building a house by digging deep and laying the foundation on bedrock. When the flood came, the rising water smashed against that house, but the water couldn’t shake the house because it was well built. But those who don’t put into practice what they hear are like a person who built a house without a foundation. The floodwater smashed against it and it collapsed instantly. It was completely destroyed.” (Luke 6.46-49)

Whoever loves me will keep my word. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. (John 14.23-24a)

Open

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

1. Tell us of a time you were “charged” with doing something and it went well.

2. What exactly has Christ commanded us? Brainstorm a list of Christ’s commands.

Dig

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

1. What do each of the four Scriptures above have to say about obedience to Christ?

2. From the four texts above, make a list of virtual synonyms to the word “obey.”

3. Not everything Jesus said is a “command.” What else, or how else, did Jesus speak?

4. Not every command Jesus gave is applicable to us today? Agree? Disagree? Explain.

Reflect

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

1. What gives Jesus “the right” to “command” us? Who does he think he is? Or we are?

2. Words like “obey” or “command” come across to many people as “negative.” Why?

3. How you picture Christ commanding is crucial. From what does Christ command?

4. God doesn’t “suggest.” Yet we often morph “commands” into “suggestions?” How so?

5. Where does the ability and energy to obey Christ come from? Answer with Scripture.

6. As a group, pray for the growth of every group member in being an obedient disciple.

pondering prayer: it’s about following, not your feelings

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Feb. 3). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning. This sermon is part two in the Pondering Prayer series and is entitled It’s About Following, Not Your Feelings. 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 explore some of the most commonly misunderstood or mystifying aspects of prayer.

Word

• Know this: the Lord takes personal care of the faithful. The Lord will hear me when I cry out to him. (Psalm 4.3)

• Listen to what’s right, Lord; pay attention to my cry! Listen closely to my prayer; it’s spoken by lips that don’t lie! … You have examined my heart, testing me at night. You’ve looked me over closely, but haven’t found anything wrong. My mouth doesn’t sin. (Psalm 17.1,3)

• The Lord’s eyes watch the righteous, his ears listen to their cries for help. But the Lord’s face is set against those who do evil … When the righteous cry out, the Lord listens; he delivers them from all their troubles. (Psalm 34.15-16a,17)

• If I had cherished evil in my heart, my Lord would not have listened. But God definitely listened. He heard the sound of my prayer. Bless God! He didn’t reject my prayer; he didn’t withhold his faithful love from me. (Psalm 66.18-20)

• I cry out to you, Lord: Come to me—quickly! Listen to my voice when I cry out to you! Let my prayer stand before you like incense; let my uplifted hands be like the evening offering. Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep close watch over the door that is my lips. Don’t let my heart turn aside to evil things so that I don’t do wicked things with evildoers … Instead, let the righteous discipline me; let the faithful correct me. (Psalm 141.1-4a,5)

• Those who turn their ears from hearing Instruction—even their prayers will be detested. (Proverbs 28.9)

• During his days on earth, Christ offered prayers and requests with loud cries and tears as his sacrifices to the one who was able to save him from death. He was heard because of his godly devotion. (Hebrews 5.7)

• The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve. Elijah was a person just like us. When he earnestly prayed that it wouldn’t rain, no rain fell for three and a half years. He prayed again, God sent rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5.16b-18)

• Husbands, likewise, submit by living with your wife in ways that honor her … Honor her all the more, as she is also a coheir of the gracious care of life. Do this so that your prayers won’t be hindered. … ‘The Lord’s eyes are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord cannot tolerate those who do evil.’ (1 Peter 3.7,12; cf. Ps. 34.11-18)

Open

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

1. What kind(s) of music cause you to “tune out?” What kind(s) move you to “tune in?”

2. Tell us of a time when having strong feelings about something blinded you to reality or truth.

Dig

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

1. Read the five texts above from the Psalms. List all the things the righteous do and don’t do.

2. Restate the truth expressed in Proverbs 28.9 in your own words.

3. God “heard” Christ because of his “godly devotion” (Heb. 5.7b). So why note his feelings (7a)?

4. Elijah “was a person just like us.” (James 5.17)? In what way(s)? Recall some of Elijah’s life.

5. How is it how you respect your mate should affect how God respects your prayers? (1 Pet. 3.7)

Reflect

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

1. If right living and praying are connected, which comes first: the praying or the living?

2. What does it mean to be “righteous?”

3. What sort of things do “righteous people” pray about? And not pray about? Why?

4. Why is it that our emotions aren’t always solid indicators of our “righteousness?”

5. When your prayers seem to go unanswered, does that mean God thinks you’re unrighteous?

6. “Please give me some advice as to how to pray so as to grow in holiness!” What do you say?