LIFE group guide: be humble

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Dec. 8). This guide will enable your follow-up of the morning sermon.

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

• Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 18.12)

• The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matthew 23.11-12)

• “But look! My betrayer is with me; his hand is on this table. The Human One goes just as it has been determined. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays him.” They began to argue among themselves about which of them it could possibly be who would do this. An argument broke out among the disciples over which one of them should be regarded as the greatest. But Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles rule over their subjects, and those in authority over them are called ‘friends of the people.’ But that’s not the way it will be with you. Instead, the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (Luke 22.21-27)

• … being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2.8)

• … all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5.4b-6)

Relation

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

1. Who is a humble cartoon character that comes to mind? A proud one?

2. How does it make you feel, or what is stirred within you, when you witness humility?

Research

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

1. Matthew (26.20-35) and Mark (14.17-31) conspicuously leave out of their accounts of the Last Supper two matters Luke includes at length (22.14-38). What two matters?

2. What specific age group did Peter have in view when he penned 1 Peter 5.4-6?

Reflection

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

1. What does Christianity look like without humility?

2. Is it possible to be humble without living as a servant? Without humiliation? Explain.

3. How exactly does a Christian avoid becoming proud or living in prideful ways?

4. Like contentment, humility is learned. What can a believer do to learn humility?

5. Respect your limits, but do not devalue yourself/short-sell your abilities. Thoughts?

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. Live one day with this thought foremost in mind: “I am here to serve others.” Repeat.

2. Resurrect a servant-habit you’ve “retired” from. Serve in a way you never have before.

people of God; people of the book

 

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (March 3). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning. This sermon is entitled People of God; People of the Book. The manuscript for this sermon will appear in a post tomorrow morning. 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 declare our faith in the God who provides us with what we need to grow up in him.

Word

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)

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 tricked or misled. It can be humorous, serious or whatever.

2. Tell us of someone(s) who powerfully helped you mature in life. What did they do?

3. Complete this sentence: “I sense that I’m growing as a person whenever I ________.”

Dig

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

1. Where do apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers come from? (vs. 11)

2. Why did God give us apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers? (vs. 12)

3. How long did Paul perceive God’s provision of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers would last? (vs. 13a)

4. How is “unity of faith” and “knowledge of God’s Son” related to each other? (vs. 13a)

5. What is our goal in growth and with what instrument do we measure such (vs. 13b)?

6. Who is vulnerable to misleading and false teaching? (vs. 14)

7. Where does true spiritual growth come from and where does it lead (vs. 15b-16a)?

8. How does Christ’s body, the people of God, grow? (vs. 15-16)

Reflect

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

1. In light of vs. 11, what is job #1 for all who seek to serve and build up Christ’s body?

2. All of the roles listed in vs. 11 involve sharing God’s word. How does this understanding color all of what follows (vs. 12-16)?

3. Why is deep sincerity alone inadequate to grow in God, and “the truth,” a necessity?

4. Tell us of a time when you, due to spiritual immaturity, believed something untrue about serving Christ. What helped you escape that point of false faith?

5. What happens to a body of believers when not every part “does their part?”

6. Someone asks you: “How can I discover my role in Christ’s body?” What do you say?

7. Who gives spiritual growth to God’s people? Let this text’s words shape your answer.

8. What good do you see in the lives of folks who are on a trajectory of spiritual growth?

this went thru my mind

 

Compassion, illness, prayer & service: Jesus My Patient [required reading]

“A prayer from Mother Teresa and used by her Sisters of Charity in their care for the sick, poor, and dying …”

Creation & faith: Seeing God in the Stars

“Dr. Jennifer Wiseman is an astronomer, author, and speaker. … As senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, she studies star-forming regions of our galaxy using radio, optical, and infrared telescopes. As director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she helps improve communication between scientists and faith communities.”

Immigration & the poor: Do Illegal Immigrants Actually Hurt the U.S. Economy?

“Illegal immigration does have some undeniably negative economic effects. … Labor economists have concluded that undocumented workers have lowered the wages of U.S. adults without a high-school diploma — 25 million of them — by anywhere between 0.4 to 7.4 percent. The impact on everyone else, though, is surprisingly positive.”

National debt: Our Debt, Ourselves

“I want to present a calmer view, by emphasizing six facts about the debt that many Americans may not be aware of.”

Shane Claiborne: Ask Shane Claiborne … (Response) [essential reading]

“… non-violence doesn’t mean getting stepped-on. The call to non-violence is to disarm violence. A part of the way we do that is suffering with those who suffer.”

this went thru my mind

 

Children, parenting & smartphones: Mother Gives Son an iPhone for Christmas Along With 18-point Contract

“I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership. I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.”

Church & generations: The Church’s Generational Log Jam is Making Everybody Cranky by Keith Anderson [required reading]

“Church programming ministry tends to follow the traditional old three generation model. Our programs needs to be more tribal, offering learning, fellowship, and service opportunities to small, specific groups. We also need to bring these tribes together in inter-generational activities to build understanding and community.”

Guns & Texas: TX Representative Proposes Concealed Handgun License Changes

“Right now, to get a Texas concealed handgun license you must go through a ten hour class, that teaches things like gun safety and Texas law. To renew that license, you must go through a four hour class. State Representative Dan Flynn wants to change those requirements completely. House Bill 47 would cut the ten hour CHL class requirement down to four hours. If you want to renew your CHL, under House Bill 48 you would no longer need a four hour refresher course, you could just renew online.”

Homelessness: Hardest of the Hard! by Larry James

“‘Yeah, I know you’re tough … but on the outside only,’ I went on. ‘I bet you’re not hard on the inside where it really counts.’”

Negativity: The Trap of Negativity by Joseph Lalonde

“No one enjoys being around a negative person.”

Non-violence and self-defense: Non-Violence and Self-Defense by Nick Gill

“…  do you believe that Christians have the right of self-defense? The classic question is whether you have the right to defend your family from someone who breaks into your home?”

Self-denial & service: Becoming the Exploited Ones? by Christopher Smith

“I was struck by the painful and ugly truth of the theology of Berry’s point here, that it is us, as churches, that are called to bear the labor and the suffering of our places — not in some individualistic/heroic act of martyrdom, but as a vocation that we discern and enter into together. I have no delusions that we as white Westerners will be able to give up our privilege, but  we must move in this direction as “deny ourselves” and follow Christ. We cannot and should not be afraid of good hard work, of the risks we take upon our bodies and our souls, even upon our aspirations to success.  We must not be afraid to take on the work that no one else wants to do.”

this went thru my mind

 

Age of the earth & time: I Just Realized: My Age x 100,000,000 = the Age of the Earth, Which is Ridiculous by Peter Enns

“If 4.6 billion years is scaled to one mile, my life span is .00005 feet, or .0006 inches. That’s 6/10,000 of an inch. You can’t see that with the naked eye.”

Depression: How to Win Over Depression by Terry Rush

“Never will it be what others do for us that will defeat depression.”

Discipleship: Alan Hirsch on Making Disciples [2 min., 53 sec. video clip; required viewing]

“Everyone’s a disciple and no one ever stops being a disciple. … If we don’t disciple, the culture surely will.”

Hanukkah: The True Meaning of Hanukkah

“Hanukkah is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays in America. But unlike Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Passover (or even the lesser-known Sukkot and Shavuot), all of which are explicitly mentioned in the Torah, Hanukkah gets only a brief, sketchy reference in the Talmud, the voluminous collection of Jewish oral law and tradition written down hundreds of years after the Maccabees’ revolt.”

Hell: Questions About Hell

“What does hell mean to Jesus?”

Jesus: Jesus, the King of Israel by Ted Gossard

“Jesus as Lord is to be king over the whole earth, but his rule starts over God’s people. And that rule extends beyond God’s people through conversion, never at the point of a gun, or the tip of a sword, but by the way of the cross. “Jesus and him crucified” is the message people need to hear. This king reigns on a cross and by way of a cross.”

Maturity, selflessness & service: Selflessness Leads to Spiritual Maturity by Jay Guin

“… on average only about 50% of those surveyed claim to be engaged in any meaningful service to others. (And I’m skeptical that the real numbers are even that high.) Therefore, at least 50% of our members do not sacrificially give or serve others. Just what kind of gospel are we teaching?”

Persuasion & words: The 5 Most Persuasive Words in the English Language

“… you might be surprised just how effective these deceptively simple words can be.”

Poverty: Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy by Nicholas D. Kristof

“… the bottom line is that we shouldn’t try to fight poverty with a program that sometimes perpetuates it.”

this went thru my mind

 

Busyness, fatigue, hurry & rest: Could This Be a Message from God? by Terry Rush

“R-E-S-T is not a first cousin to L-A-Z-Y, so get over it.”

Christmas: Keep the Chi in Xmas by John Byron

“I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people complain about Xmas – “Don’t take Christ out of Christmas!” In reality, that is not what is happening.  Xmas is what is known as a Nomina Sacra, an ancient way of shortening the name of Christ out of respect. Christ is in the “X,” the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter used to spell “Christ” in Greek. It is an abbreviation, one used quite often by early Christians.”

Happiness & service: Experiencing Happiness in Helping Others by Joshua Becker

“In helping others rather then seeking our own gain, we find great freedom. Service to others results in liberty. We are able to say no to modern culture‘s games of promotion and authority. We live lives of less stress, less anxiety, and less frustration. We begin to feel more fulfilled, more complete, more alive. Living for others completely abolishes our need for a pecking order. It becomes a great weight off our shoulders when we no longer seek power and mastery over others. Real joy is found not in being served, but in choosing to serve. And experiencing this unexpected happiness and freedom is not as hard as some might think.”

Humility, ignorance, judgment, perspective & thinking: Our Limited Perspective by Ted Gossard

“And so in humility, let us own our own ignorance. That we don’t know, ourselves. That we are ever dependent on the Lord for everything we do know. That in a sense it is enough, enough for now. But that it is not the end all. In fact only God ever possesses that kind of knowledge. As we go on together in Jesus for the world.”

Pluralism: When Did We Open the Pandora’s Box of Theological/Doctrinal Pluralism? by Roger E. Olson

“Once he made experience the primary source and norm for theology, the box was opened and the current malaise, the Balkanization of theology, was made inevitable …”

it’s time to be civil (30)

 

# 20. Think twice before asking favors. … a request for a favor is often an imposition, it can also be a request for a privilege unfair to others, and, finally, when we receive a favor we are, to a lesser or greater extant, beholden to those who granted it. All this is reason enough to think twice before asking for favors. I don’t mean that there should be no place for favors in our lives. What I do suggest is that we always consider trying first to be the solvers of our own problems. We are so used to relying on favors that we often forget to look for the alternative – and we also forget that doing the work ourselves in the long run is more gratifying and satisfying.

There are two kinds of favors. The first affects on those doing the asking and granting of it. … Favors the second kind have consequences affecting others as well…. There is nothing wrong with asking for favors of the first kind as long as we keep our requests reasonable. The system works until someone ends up doing most of the asking and someone else most of the granting. Fairness is of paramount importance here.

Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni (St. Martin’s Press, 2002); pp. 131-132