LIFE group discussion guide: settled

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (April 5) 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 declare, and to delve into some of the power of, the fulcrum of faith: “He is risen!”

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … after I’m raised up, I’ll go before you to Galilee. (Matthew 26.32 CEB)

• He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” (Luke 24.6-7 NLT)

• This Jesus, God raised up. We are all witnesses to that fact. He was exalted to God’s right side and received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit, and you are seeing and hearing the results of his having done so. (Acts 2.32-33 CEB)

• Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead … that is my gospel … (2 Timothy 2.8 NRSV)

• … it was not with perishable things … that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now … love one another other deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1.18-22 NIV)

Relation

Use this icebreaker question to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. Tell us something, anything, that is to you a settled, absolute fact that all can see.

Research

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

1. Read Mark’s brief account of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection: Mk. 15.37-16.8.

2. Read Eph. 1.3-14 in The Message as a round, each reading one sentence aloud.

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. Faith. Would an unrisen Christ be death to Christian faith? Explain.

2. Hope. What does our Lord’s resurrection do for your take on the (your) future?

3. Love. How does Jesus’ resurrection affect your life here and now in the present?

4. How is the existence/life of the church a witness for/against Christ’s resurrection?

5. If Jesus is risen, then this much is settled, I simply must ________.

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. Pray aloud each morning: “I will live by your resurrection power today, Lord.”

2. Steadily seek ways to share this faith in your heart with others: “Jesus is risen!”

LIFE group discussion guide: suffer

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Mar. 15) 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 remind us that fully following Christ will cost us; leading us to, and thru, suffering.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• He was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. … He was oppressed and treated harshly … When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. (Isaiah 53.3a,7a,11 NLT)

• He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things … (Mark 8.31 NIV)

• A disciple is not above the teacher, but … like the teacher. (Luke 6.40 NIV)

• … calling the apostles back, they had them beaten. They ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, then let them go. The apostles left … rejoicing because they had been regarded as worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of the name. Every day they continued to … proclaim the good news … (Acts 5.40-42 CEB)

• … he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well. (Philippians 1.29 NRSV)

• … if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. … even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. (1 Peter 2.20-21; 3.14 NIV)

Relation

Use the following icebreaker question to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. Tell us of a time you thought you’d get something for free, but found it cost much.

2. What have you paid dearly for in life, and so, have special thought or feeling for it?

Research

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

1. List the things people did to Jesus that must have caused his heart anguish.

2. Read and ponder James 5.7-11 and 1 Peter 2:19-25; 4.12-19.

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. What specific sort of sufferings, because you believe, unsettle your heart most?

2. Tell us of a time you suffered because you believe and some good came from that.

3. How does self-pity express itself? How does it hinder spiritual maturity in Christ?

4. What attitudes are needed to face suffering well? What actions grow such a mind?

Response

This idea/suggestion is for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. Become more aware of the plight of Christians elsewhere on earth. Pray for them.

2. Develop a “How can I bring the most glory to God in this moment?” mindset.

LIFE group discussion guide: sincere

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Mar. 8) 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 call us to be real about faith and genuine in its expression; to be “the real deal.”

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. (Acts 2.46b-47a NIV)

• Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. (Romans 12.9 NLT)

• Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace (2 Cor. 1.12 NIV)

• We are speaking through Christ in the presence of God, as those who are sincere and as those who are sent from God. (2 Cor. 2.17b CEB)

• … we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (2 Cor. 4.7 NRSV)

• … let’s draw near with a genuine heart … (Hebrews 10.22 CEB)

• … purified by obeying the truth, resulting in a sincere love for all your fellow believers, love one another eagerly, from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1.22 KNT)

Relation

Use the following icebreaker question to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. How do you judge the ripeness of an un-cut cantaloupe? Or how clean a mirror is?

Research

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

1. Compare Acts 2.46b in several versions. How else do you find “sincere” rendered?

2. “Sincere” means “tested by the light of the sun.” Plug that phrase into 2 Cor. 2.17.

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.1

1. “Gladness” and “sincerity.” (Acts 2.46b) How do they feed each other?

2. How is “praising God” and enjoying “favor” related to sincerity? (Acts 2.47).

3. What do you suppose are some of the go-to criteria that those who are yet to believe often use to gauge the authentic wholeness of Christians?

4. Those yet to believe can often smell insincerity a mile away. Ironically, Christians can all too easily become somewhat “nose blind” to insincerity. Why is that?

5. What role(s) must the church play in the healthy development of your sincerity?

Response

This idea/suggestion is for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. As you speak with those yet to believe, ask them: “How do you know if a Christian is the real deal?” Note and ponder their answers.

LIFE group discussion guide: strength

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Mar. 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 call us to never forget the ultimate source and shape of our strength in the Lord.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to possess eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you understand it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, his heart went out to him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two day’s wages and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10.25-37)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. Tell us of a trip you made which simply didn’t even begin to turn out like you’d planned.

2. Tell us of a time someone was a Good Samaritan to you in some big or small way.

Research

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

1. Read 1 Cor. 16.13-14. What would it look like to be “courageous” and “strong” in the context of the life of the church in Corinth, knowing what we know from 1 Corinthians?

2. Read Eph. 6.10-18. What exactly are some of the “flaming arrows” the “evil one” shoots at us? Hint: consider some of the exhortations of the immediately preceding context (cf. 5.1-2,15,21; 6.9 – especially 5.1-2).

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. Does giving strength to others increase, or diminish your own? Explain. (cf. 2 Cor. 9.8)

2. What are some the barriers/challenges to giving compassion and mercy? Which is biggest?

3. Discuss: “To demonstrate mercy is to simply reveal God’s strength to another.” (cf. Heb. 13.20-21a)

4. A disciple wants to “build muscle for mercy.” What habits will they do well to adopt?

Response These ideas/suggestions are for use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. ID and face your deepest fears and sources of hesitation that cause you to withhold mercy.

2. Deliberately and regularly put yourself in situations where you’re near folks in deep need.

LIFE group discussion guide: serve!

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Jan. 25) 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 declare our need to spend our lives actively serving God, and to urge us to do so.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … servants of the word … (Luke 1.2 CEB)

• … Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” (Luke 1.38 CEB)

• He has granted that we would be rescued … so that we could serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes, for as long as we live. (Luke 1.73-75 CEB)

• You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him. … You cannot serve God and wealth. (Luke 4.8; 16.13 CEB)

• … do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will be acting the way children of the Most High act … (Luke 6.35 CEB)

• That servant who knew his master’s will but didn’t prepare for it or act on it will be beaten severely. (Luke 12.47 CEB)

• … when you have done everything required of you, you should say, “We servants deserve no special praise. We have only done our duty.” (Luke 17.10 CEB)

• … the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. (Luke 22.26 CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. Think employment and job roles. Which ones strike you as “servant-type” jobs?

2. What is the biggest hurdle to your seeing yourself as truly a “servant of God?”

Research

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

1. Find and count every occurrence of some form of the word “serve” in Luke’s Gospel.

2. Read Luke 6.35 above. Reflect on it. Then read its context (vs.27-38). Thoughts?

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. How does the word “servant” hit you? Positive or negative? Respectable or humble?

2. Would it truly be best to live tomorrow like it was literally your last day to live?

3. “The good is the enemy of the best.” Is this true? Does this sound like Jesus?

4. We’re saved by God’s mercy thru Christ on his cross. What role do our works play?

5. Which matters most in the long run in serving God: “big things” or “little” ones?”

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. Discipline and exercise yourself in a “I expect nothing in return” attitude and air.

2. Habitually give words and actions of appreciation to any you see “doing good.”

LIFE group guide: hydrate!

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Jan. 18) 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 declare our need to “soak” our life in God, and to urge us to do just that.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.” (John 4.13-14 CEB)

• Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6.35 NLT)

• Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.” (John 6.53-56 NIV)

• On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive … (John 7.37-39 NRSV)

•… knowing that everything was already completed, in order to fulfill the scripture, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (John 19.28 CEB)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. What is your drink of choice? That is, you always look forward to drinking ____.

2. On average, how much water do you drink per day at this time of year?

Research

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

1. Read Jn. 6.53-56’s context. Why believe Jesus isn’t referring to the Lord’s Supper?

2. What does water have to do with the context/location of the words of Jn. 7.37-39?

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. What does it mean to thirst for God? What does a person thirsty for God do?

2. I consistently find my thirst for God grows whenever I ________.

3. What hindrances have you encountered to acquiring an abiding thirst for God?

4. How is it a real thirst for God is simultaneously unquenchable and yet, quenched?

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. Continually sip some water throughout each day. As you sip, pray.

2. Encourage others to stay hydrated. Each time you do, silently consider a Scripture.

LIFE group discussion guide: whole

NOTE: We’ll use the discussion guide you’ll find below in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow night (Nov. 23). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning on remarriage (Whole). 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 (or sermon series).

To consider and contemplate the place of remarriage among Christians.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” (Genesis 2.19 NRSV)

• He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10.11-12 NIV)

• To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. To the married I give this command—not I but the Lord—that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does separate, let her remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife. (1 Corinthians 7.8-16 NRSV)

• I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you do not sin … (1 Corinthians 7.26-29 NRSV)

• A wife is bound as long as her husband lives. But if the husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, only in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7.39 NRSV)

• The Spirit clearly says that in latter times some … will turn away from the faith. … They will prohibit marriage … Everything created by God is good, and nothing that is received with thanksgiving should rejected. These things are made holy by God’s word and prayer. (1 Timothy 4.1,3a,4-5 CEB)

Relation

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

1. Have you ever repaired some broken something and it turned out stronger than before? Tell us about it.

Research

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

1. What is the meaning of the phrase “only in the Lord” in 1 Cor. 7.39? Study what scholars have written.

2. Read 1 Timothy 3.2 and Titus 1.6, comparing them in various translations. Is Paul saying a remarried man isn’t eligible to serve as an elder, if a man is married he must be a “one woman kind of man” or what?

Reflection

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

1. The church has generally made life for the remarried: (a) easier, (b) more difficult, (c) both, or (d) other.

2. Why shouldn’t remarriage be an option to those whose divorced mate resists reconciliation or is dead?

3. Fill in the blank: “Most arguments against the divorced being allowed to remarry sound ______ to me.”

4. Studies have shown that with each successive remarriage, most marriages are less likely to last. Why?

5. A divorced friend tells you privately that they’re considering remarriage. What advice do you offer?

6. How does one determine how much time to give a divorced mate an opportunity for reconciliation?

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. Urge all believers within your sphere of influence, to marry a maturing disciple (if they marry at all).

2. Refuse to “look down on” or “keep at arm’s length” the remarried. Rather, accept and strengthen them.