LIFE group discussion guide: love is a battlefield – being strong in the Lord (2)

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Aug. 31) 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 explore the meaning of, preparation for, and engagement in spiritual warfare.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him. (Mark 1.12-13 The Message)

• Jesus … full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. The devil said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.” [Deut. 8.3]

Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”[Deut. 6.13]

The devil brought him into Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; for it’s written: He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.” [Psalm 91.11-12] Jesus answered, “It’s been said, Don’t test the Lord your God.” [Deut. 6.16] After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity. (Luke 4.1-13 CEB)

• Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2.18 NIV)

• … one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved. (James 1.14-16 NRSV)

Relation

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

1. Which “tempts” you more: chocolate or vanilla?

2. Name a book, movie, or song that speaks of temptation?

Research

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

1. There are three accounts of Jesus’ temptation (Matt. 4.1-11; Mk. 1.1-12; Lk. 4.1-13). Differences?

2. Read Hebrews 4.14-16. How does this passage relate to the texts above?

Reflection

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

1. Is there a difference between being “tested” and being “tempted,” a trial and a temptation?

2. What exactly is “temptation” and what makes it so hard to resist?

3. Scripture says Jesus never sinned. But, what if he had sinned; could he still save us? Explain.

4. One confides in you as to their need to resist a big temptation. How do you respond/advise?

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. Think of temptations you have, by God’s grace, fended off. Note what enabled the victory.

2. Set up a daily smartphone reminder to prompt you to pray about a specific temptation.

LIFE group guide: be merciful

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Dec. 22). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. This sermon marks the conclusion of the Jesus, Master & Commander sermon series.

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.

• She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1.21)

• Mary said … “In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior. He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant. … He shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors him as God.” (Luke 1.47-48,50)

• … Zechariah … prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us … to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember … the oath he swore to our father Abraham: … to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” (Luke 1.67-69,72-75)

• Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6.36)

• For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. (Romans 9.15-16)

• … he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. (Titus 3.5a)

• … judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2.13)

• … await our Lord Jesus Christ’s mercy. … In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering (Jude 21-22)

Relation

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

1. In your own words, define “mercy.” What is it? What is it not?

2. Tell us of an instance in which you know you were the recipient of great mercy.

Research

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

1. As you read Jesus’ birth narratives (Matt. 1-2; Luke 1-2), make a list of every act of mercy.

2. Go through the headlines of today’s news. How could mercy be shown in each event?

Reflection

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

1. How is forgiveness and mercy linked? Why is it often quite difficult to be merciful?

2. How sick is it to expect mercy and not be merciful? Define the elements of the disease.

3. What are some very specific ways in which we can extend mercy to others?

4. What happens inside us, to God, and to others, when we are merciful to others?

5. What essential steps must be taken after extending mercy? After receiving it?

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. Visualize specific instances and ways in which you will be merciful throughout a day.

2. Pray for someone you need to forgive. Make a decisive and direct action plan to do so.

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.

putting skin on the sermon: do this in remembrance of me

 

Last Monday I started a new series of regular posts here entitled Putting Skin on the Sermon. These posts are meant to (1) remind you of the gist of my preceding Sunday morning sermon and (2) to offer you some random thoughts as to how to apply some aspect of the sermon to your daily life in the future.

My sermon yesterday morning was from Luke’s account of the Last Supper (Luke 22.14-20), what becomes the institution that we commonly know as the Lord’s Supper or communion. In this sermon we focused on Jesus’ direct statement to his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me” (vs. 19b).

1. We remember Christ is with us as we share in the supper. Take the fact and awareness of his constant presence with you after communion. Strive each day to develop increasing mental sensitivity to Christ’s ceaseless presence with you. As one put it several centuries ago: “practice the presence of God.” That is, remember him right now.

2. The church is Christ’s body. As you share in the supper each first day of the week, ask yourself: “How can I let Christ live through me this week to bless the rest of his body, this body of believers with whom I am assembled?” In short, remember him right here.

3. As we commune with Christ and his followers, we do so on a worldwide scale. That is, our union in communion spans the globe. Seek each day to attune your mind to this perspective. As you listen to news of world events, consider how fellow family members in Christ might be affected by such. Then let such thoughtfulness prompt you to pray for them. In other words, remember him everywhere.

4. Instead of focusing solely on Christ’s death on the cross and/or his resurrection during the sharing of communion, deliberately recall a different aspect of Christ’s words or work. After all, his words were “remember me.” When he says “remember me” he does not mean “remember only one or two matters about me.” And as you recall, think specific. For example, as you share in communion one week, focus on Christ’s power and compassion as seen in his miracles. Ponder on how his power and compassion continues to flow through you in your connection with, and service to, other believers. Another week, remember some of his conversations and dealings with his disciples. Then, meditate on how your conversations and choice of words with other Christians makes a great deal of difference to them, since you, like them, are a representative of Christ. Etc. Think of it this way: remember him in every way.

5. Christ’s attention to detail and tenderness toward all is obvious in his institution and sharing of the supper with his disciples. And so, just as Christ shared words of faith and encouragement to his disciples as he shared the supper, share a brief word of such with those to whom you pass the communion elements to each Sunday. Remembering his encouraging ways, determine to give brief, deliberate words of faith and encouragement to two followers of Christ every day of the week. Such could take the form of a simple, face-to-face word of affirmation or appreciation. Or perhaps a text message, Facebook post, or e-mail. Deliberately plant seeds of faith and encouragement as our Lord did in the supper. In sum, remember him in the best of ways.

LIFE group guide: do this in remembrance of me

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church tomorrow (Nov. 3). This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon tomorrow morning from Luke 22.14-20. This sermon is entitled “Do This in Remembrance of 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 Scriptures form some of the foundation of the sermon. Underscored words are emphasized in the Greek text.

When the time came, Jesus took his place at the table, and the apostles joined him. He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. I tell you, I won’t eat it until it is fulfilled in God’s kingdom.” After taking a cup and giving thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. I tell you that from now on I won’t drink from the fruit of the vine until God’s kingdom has come.” After taking the bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22.14-20)

Relation

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

1. Tell us about a memento or souvenir you have to remember someone or something.

2. What do you want to be remembered for when you’re gone?

3. While participating in the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper I typically think about ____.

Research

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

1. Compare and contrast Luke 22.14-20 with Matthew 26.26-30 and 1 Cor. 11.23-26.

2. What day of the week did Jesus institute the Lord’s Supper (cf. Luke 22.15)?

3. Note the words emphasized in 1 Cor. 11.23-26. Read their context (vs. 17-34). How, specifically, are the Corinthian Christians defiling the Supper’s intent and purpose?

Reflection

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

1. To neglect observing communion, sharing the Lord’s Supper, would be to __________.

2. When participating in the fellowship of communion, a person is __________.

3. How must Christ’s resurrection have changed the Supper’s meaning for the apostles?

4. Ought children to share in the Supper? Is this best left to individual choice? Explain.

5. An unbaptized Christ-seeker understands something of the Supper and shares in it. Thoughts?

6. Sharing in remembrance of Christ is essential. What aspects of the Supper aren’t?

putting skin on the sermon: pray this way

 

Today marks the start of a new series of regular posts here. Starting today, and always on Mondays, I’ll post (1) a brief summation of the gist of my sermon from the previous morning and (2) some random thoughts as to how to apply some aspect of the sermon to daily life.

My sermon yesterday morning was from Luke’s account of Jesus’ answer to the request of one of his disciples to teach them how to pray (Luke 11.1-13). After a look at the “what” of this basic, foundational prayer (the prayer’s five statements – vs.2b-4), we thought about “why” we regularly need to pray such.

For the sake of application, we summed that up with a paraphrase of the prayer with some of the “why” in mind. That paraphrase read: “Father, help me live holy before you. Override my self-seeking agenda. Give me what I need to live another day here for you. Show mercy to me the way I’m merciful to all who wrong me. When I’m distracted and lured from you, don’t leave me that way: arrest my attention and lead me home.”

Now, what can you do with that? Here are seven ways you can put some skin on this sermon:

1. Memorize this prayer our Lord told us to pray in Luke 11.2-4. Use the rendering of your choice, of course, but let me suggest the CEB for its simplicity and clarity here. Learn it so well that you come to say it just as easily and as naturally as you might already be able to quote the KJV’s rendering of The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.9-13.

2. Identify any and all excuses you make for not praying. Write them down. Then set out to kill these excuses. Mercilessly.

3. Make a very simple, but specific plan each week as to when, where, and what you’ll pray. That is, create the skeleton on which you will put some skin.

4. Find and designate a specific place where you’ll often go to pray. Maybe it will be a chair on your back porch. It could be when and where you go to exercise or walk. Perhaps the driver’s seat of your car or a certain room in your apartment would work. The place matters not so much as the fact you have a specific place. After going there regularly for awhile to pray you’ll likely find your mind has become trained to almost naturally kick into, or more easily gravitate toward, prayer.

5. Select one of the five statements of the basic prayer in Luke 11.2b-4 and mull it over, reflecting on it throughout the course of a weekday. Let your heart and head chew on it throughout the day the way you’d chew on a piece of gum. The next day, select a different statement and do the same with it. Throughout each day discuss them with someone or, at the end of each day, jot down some of your ponderings in a journal.

6. Compose a prayer of your own. Write it down, using the basic prayer (vs. 2b-4) as your guide. You’ll likely find you’ll choose your words of prayer much more carefully when you write them down.

7. Brainstorm your own list of ways you could apply this basic prayer in vs. 2b-4 to your everyday actions and habits. Answer this question: “Since Jesus told me to pray this way, I will ____.”

Remember: God’s word is for our life, and our living is for our great God!