LIFE group guide: deny yourself

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Sept. 8). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning from Luke 9.23-25 (and related texts). This sermon is entitled “Deny Yourself” 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.

Aim

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

Word

Those who love father or mother more than me aren’t worthy of me. Those who love son or daughter more than me aren’t worthy of me. Those who don’t pick up their crosses and follow me aren’t worthy of me. Those who find their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives because of me will find them. (Matthew 10.37-39)

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? (Matthew 16.24-26)

After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? (Mark 8.34-37)

Jesus said to everyone, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them. What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives? (Luke 9.23-25)

Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. Whoever serves me must follow me. (John 12.25-26a)

Open

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

1. What food or drink do you find to be virtually irresistible?

2. What do you think of the death penalty, capital punishment? Why?

Dig

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

1. Compare Matt. 16.24, Mk. 8.34, and Lk. 9.23. How do they differ from each other?

2. From these texts, make the case that self-denial is needed to come to Christ initially.

3. What does it mean to “take up” your “cross” and “follow?” What does it not mean?

4. What role does love play in self-denial, cross-bearing, and following Christ?

Reflect

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

1. What does Jesus’ command to deny self say about us as human beings? About God?

2. Why is it so difficult to deny ourselves?

3. What are some remarks you often hear among Christians that, whether wittingly or unwittingly, water down true Christ-following self-denial and cross-bearing?

4. Compare and contrast how self-denial, cross-bearing, and following Christ might have different, daily implications for Christians in the U.S. and say, North Korea.

5. Specifically, where do we as Christ’s disciples find the attitude and strength required to daily deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus?

6. Name some practical steps a disciple can take to grow in execution of self-denial.