Monday, March 30, 2015

Hear AND Do. (James 1:19)

This is a short study, designed specifically for self-directed groups who easily engage one another in meaningful discussion.

Before you begin, take a moment and have each person say one encouraging thing to the person sitting to their left.

Read James 1:19 in unison. Remind the group that the three virtues identified in this verse are central to every group's growth.

Have one person read James 1:22-25. Tell the group you'll be doing an exercise which will give them all the opportunity to be a DOER instead of just a HEARER.

Take turns. Let one person share a personal struggle they are currently having. As a group, ask questions and listen closely so you can gain a full understanding of their struggle.

One at a time, let other group members share specific truth from the Bible (no opinions here, just Biblical insight) that may be applicable to the struggle. People may share promises from the Psalms, advice from Proverbs, stories that seem to be similar, words of Christ, thoughts from the epistles, etc...

Once several people have shared God's Word, move on to another person.

At the end of your time together, have everyone who participated tell the group ONE thing they are going to DO as a result of HEARING God's Word.

Pray together. Find time during the week to encourage one another.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wrong Choices Lead Down The Path To Destruction (Matthew 7)

Talk about a time you've watched someone else choose a life path that led to destruction.

Consider these two principles about the path you choose in life: 

1. Every path leads somewhere. 
2. The path you choose determines the destination you reach.

Read Matthew 7:13-14.

If someone asked you to explain what it means to choose the narrow path and the narrow gate, what would you tell them?

Think about which life path you are walking right now. Answer the following questions about the path you are on:
  • When was the last time I made a significant, life-changing decision? What path did that decision put me on?
  • What character traits would I expect to see from people who are on the right path?
  • Who else is following the path I am on?
  • What is the defining behavior of those who are on this path with me?
  • Has following this path caused me to experience any kind of opposition? Should it?
  • What role is my relationship with Jesus playing while I walk this path?
How would you describe the wide path? Why would anyone ever choose the wide path?

Is it possible to walk the narrow path without having a relationship with Jesus? Why or why not?

How do you need to respond to this passage? What specific action will you take this week?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Persistence in Prayer: Ask, And Keep On Asking (Matthew 7)

I recently heard a great quote about persistence: "The only place success comes after quitting is in the dictionary."

When have you experienced success because you chose not to quit even though things got difficult?

Who do you know that demonstrates amazing persistence in their life?

How can learning to be persistent be beneficial in your life? Why is it better to keep working at something than to quit?

Read Luke 8:1-8. What words would you use to describe the widow in this story?

Why do you think God wants his children to be persistent when they pray? What can we learn or how can we grow by being persistent?

Read Matthew 7:7-11. Re-write verse 11 in your own words.

When have you received a good gift from God? According to this passage, what is the key to receiving good gifts from Him?

Is this passage a promise that God will give us whatever we want? Why or why not?

What requests are you going to ask God for this week?

How will you look around (seek) this week to see how God is working around you?

What opportunities has God brought into your life that might turn out to be answers to your prayers? What do you need to do in order to knock on those doors?

Take a few minutes and write out a prayer to God. Read this prayer to him every day this week. As you go through the week, make any changes to this prayer that you think God is prompting you to make.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bad Investments Lead to Hoarding and Anxiety (Matthew 6)

What are your favorite "keepsakes"? Why are they so special to you? How would you feel if you lost them?

Why do you think it is so difficult to lose things we love?

Read Matthew 6:19-34. Choose 2-3 sentences from this passage that are most meaningful to you. Why do you like these thoughts?

In these verses, Jesus talks about storing (investing) treasures. Where are the two places he says people store their treasures? What makes these two places different?

Do you know anyone who has lost their earthly treasure? How did it happen?

In verse 25, Jesus says not to be anxious. What are the things He does not want you to worry about? Give some examples of how people worry about these things.

What do you think it means to seek God's kingdom? How can your life demonstrate that God is your king?

How can someone seek God's righteousness?

God gives treasures to everyone, but everyone's treasures are different. What are the treasures God has given to you? How do you think God wants you to invest those treasures?

What causes you to feel anxiety? What things are you afraid of losing? How can you apply verses 27-30 to your life?

What things do you think God wants you to let go of? What things do you think He wants you to pursue?

What can you do this week to help you focus on God's provision in your life?

How can you encourage those around you that need to be reminded of God's provision?

Do The Right Thing For The Right Reasons (Matthew 6)

Who is a famous person you admire? How did they become famous?

If you could become a celebrity, for what would you want to be famous?

Read Matthew 6:1. What do you think are the key words and/or phrases in this verse? How would you re-write the verse in your own words.

Read Matthew 6:2-18. What are the three "spiritual activities" Jesus talked about in these verses?

Which of these three activities is easiest for you? Which is most difficult? Why?

When have you seen someone do these (or other) spiritual activities in order to gain attention for themselves? Do you think this is a temptation for many people? Why or why not?

At what times in life do you worry about what other people think of you? What do you think causes this?

Talk about a time in your life when you were more concerned about pleasing other people than about pleasing God? If you could, what would you change about that time?

What three things could you do this week that you know would be pleasing to God?

To whom can you give something this week as a demonstration of your love for our Heavenly Father?

What is something you can give up (or abstain from) this week to make your life more pleasing to God?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

LOVE Your Enemies (Matthew 5)

Apart from your family, who in your life is easiest to love? Who is most difficult?

What makes some people more difficult to love?

(Although not the main point of the study, this is an opportunity to self-evaluate and identify any character traits which might make you difficult to love. How can you change these?)

Read Matthew 5:43-48. Which statements in this passage are most convicting to you? Why?

What is most people’s natural response toward those who have treated them poorly? How do you think this is different than Jesus’ way?

What are some examples from the Bible when Jesus demonstrated love for his enemies?

When have you been shown love by someone you had treated poorly? How did it change your relationship?

Read John 15:13. In your own words, explain Jesus’ definition of ultimate love.

How can you show this kind of love to at least one person who has treated you poorly? What impact might such action have on your relationship?

How will you apply this passage to your life this week? Write out a prayer asking God to help you follow through on your goal.

Friday, December 19, 2014

3 Ways to Live a Blessed Life (Matthew 5)

Who do you know that lives a “blessed” life? What makes their life blessed?

How has God blessed you? Are you pleased with the life God has given you? Why or why not?

Is it more important to be pleased by God or to please Him with your life? Why? Which option is the true “blessed” life?

Read Matthew 5:3-5.

Create a short definition for the following three types of people:
- the poor in spirit
- those who mourn
- the meek

Which of these three are you most like? Which are you most unlike?

In your past, when have you been most like these types of people? What was happening in your life at that time?
What current obstacles in your life keep you from being poor in spirit? from spiritual mourning? from being meek?

How long have these obstacles been a part of your life? What do you think you need to do in order to remove them?

Who can help you work towards removing these obstacles? How can they help?

What next steps will you take to become more blessed in the eyes of God?