LIFE group guide: baptism’s four compass points

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (June 22) 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 note the company that baptism keeps, giving it meaning, as related by the authors of the Four Gospels.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  … Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.18-20 NRSV)

•  Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. (Mark 16.15-16 NLT)

•  He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. … Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. … Change your hearts and lives! Turn back to God so that your sins may be wiped away. (Luke  24.46-47; Acts 2.38; 3.19 CEB)

•  Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3.5-8 NIV)

Relation

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

1. Tell us about your experience in the use of a compass. Did one ever help you get “un-lost?”

2. Tell us about someone’s baptism that was especially meaningful to you or deeply moved you.

Research

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

1. How is it the rest of Matthew 28.18-20 flows into, and out of, the “due north” word “disciple?”

2. Mark 16.9-20 was likely not a part of Mark’s original Gospel, but is, nonetheless, ancient teaching. In several different English translations, note the explanatory footnotes of this text.

3. What words in the four sets of texts above stress how baptism is for all people, everywhere?

Reflection

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

1. “Baptism is meant to be part of the beginning, not the end, of becoming a Christian?” How so?

2. What does it mean to be a “disciple?” Why do we tend to use the word “Christian” instead?

3.  One person says baptism is a matter of immediacy and urgency. Another says it’s not to be rushed into, but must be approached with premeditation and preparation. Weigh in, allowing the four sets of texts above to determine and shape your perspective.

4. Which of the four main thoughts concerning baptism above is easiest for you to grasp? Most challenging? Most comforting? Why?

5. When is a person truly “ready” for baptism? When are they not ready?

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. Are you ready right now to learn of Christ, lean on Christ, line up with Christ, and live by his Spirit? Well then, decide to be baptized into Christ today.

2. Compose a prayer that centers on how you will live out the meaning of your baptism.

LIFE group guide: spiritually on

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (June 1) 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 sketch out practical steps we can take to improve our daily walk with God.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  Teach me, Lord, the meaning of your laws, and I will obey them at all times. … I find my happiness in obeying your commands. (Ps. 119.33,56 GNT)

•  When you search for me … with all your heart, you will find me. (Jer. 29.13 CEB)

•  … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matt. 28.20 NIV)

•  … to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1.74-75 NIV)

•  You are ruled by the Spirit, if that Spirit of God really lives in you. (Rom. 8.14 NCV)

•  Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. (Gal. 5.16 The Message)

•  Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise … (Eph. 5.15 NRSV)

•  … just as you received King Jesus the Lord, you must continue your journey in him. (Col. 2.6 KNT)

•  … earn the respect of outsiders … (1 Thes. 4.12 NJB)

•  … with him will be his called, chosen, and faithful followers. (Rev. 17.14 NIV)

Relation

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

1. What is something you do every day with great joy?

2. Which occupies your mind most often: doing the right thing or avoiding the wrong?

Research

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

1. According to Eph. 5.1-10, what do God’s children avoid? What do they do? Why?

2. With a different group member reading each verse, slowly read Col. 3.1-17 aloud.

Reflection

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

1. Why do you think God cares about the “little stuff” of our daily life as well as the big?

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

3. What does the word “obey” convey to you about your daily relationship with God?

4. One yet to believe asks: “You say: ‘Praise God.’ How does one do that?” 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. Imagine (specifically) how your daily walk with God would change if you knew you’d suddenly die six months from today.

2. Identify a persistent sin in your life. Make a specific plan as to how you will die to it.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Authority & personal experience: Sola Experienca is For Real. [essential reading]

“There was a time when experience saluted Scripture.”

Belonging, change, church membership, expectations & transformation: * Performance Anxiety; * Corporate vs. Individual Christian Identity [essential reading]

* “Choosing a church (or non-church) where we ‘fit,’ may be the strongest guarantee that we will never be asked to change. This, I suspect, is why we do it. In church, as in the rest of life, we don’t want transformation as much as we say we do. We’d rather have comfort. The best thing many of us could do is envisage church as an opportunity to embrace that which is outside of us, that which does not – at least on the surface – appeal to what we already are.

* “The documents of the NT, with a few exceptions, are addressed to communities and not to individuals.  Many of us know this and it may not be too shocking, but the significances of this reality must continue to transform how we envision Christian identity.”

Commitment, endurance, faithfulness, love, selflessness & vision: Father-Son Duo, Team Hoyt, Celebrates 37 Years of Inspiring Teamwork With One Last Boston Marathon

“In 1962, Dick and Judy Hoyt welcomed their son, Rick, into an unsuspecting world — a world that would forever be changed by their presence and sacrifice. Because of complications with his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. … Dick remembers the advice of the doctors who suggested that his son would essentially be non-functioning, and that he should place him in an institution. Dick refused.”

Gossip: Gossip is a Spiritual Issue

“Whether it’s cloaked in a prayer request, ‘concern’ for another or simply news from the grapevine, Christians have a problem with gossip. I have yet to find a place where gossip isn’t present on some level or another.”

Hearing, listening, preaching, responsibility & sermons: When Hearing Fails

“We can control what we preach, but we cannot control how the message is heard. This is frustrating, but it is also something we need to come to grips with. We have no power or control over how another person hears our words.”

Jesus, sacrifice, & suicide: Did Jesus Commit Suicide?

“So Jesus did not kill himself, but he did act in such a way so as to bring about his death.  In some extraordinary way he seemed to control those final hours and what ultimately happened to him.”

Marriage: Letter to Our Grandsons on Choosing a Wife [essential reading]

“The typical thinking has always been that the main issue for marriage is ‘do we love each other?’ It isn’t.”

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.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Busyness & God: 5 Ways to Remember God in Your Busy Life

“Unaware as it happens, we can allow our busy lives to crowd out our devotion to God. We enjoy our families, our homes, our food, our salvation—all of God’s blessings to us. But before we know it, we replace a devotion to the Lord with a devotion to His blessings. And in a sad, twisted irony, those blessings become our focus instead of the God who gave them. You’re going to stay busy. I get it. So let me share with you 5 ways you can remember God in your busy life.”

Change, church, repentance & transformation: Learning from a Lesbian Visitor to Your Church

“So many of us think of the lesbian caller and unknowingly respond like the Pharisee going to the temple to pray: “I thank you, God, that I’m not like that.” Meanwhile, we cling tenaciously to the sinful attitudes and actions that characterize our lives. And then we go home unjustified… and unchanged.”

Christians, faith & pride: Can You Really Tell the Difference Between Christians and Non-Christians?

“Instead of putting ourselves on a pedestal, we need to realize that everyone is created in God’s image, and that God loves all of creation — everyone. The point is to have a relationship with Christ. Are we working on knowing Jesus better, or simply working on trying to visibly act like we do?”

Debt ceiling, government shutdown & politics: * Debt ceiling: 8 Things You Need to Know but Wish You Didn’t; * The Captain Ahabs of the House; * Government Shutdown: Get Up to Speed in 20 Questions

* “… shutting the government down would be aggravating and a waste of time — and could reduce economic growth if it goes on too long. But that’s nothing compared to the risks posed if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling soon. So what happens if Congress doesn’t raise it in time? No one knows for sure because that’s never happened before. But the going assumption is that no good will come of it.”

* “How many more times must the economic neck of the nation have a knife pressed against it by Republicans demanding a ransom?”

* “Here’s a quick Q&A to get you caught up on what happened over the weekend and what to look forward to Monday.”