Wednesday, July 22, 2015

End Conflict: Stop Feeding the Fire (Proverbs 26)

What is the most foolish argument you've had in the past month? How did it begin? How did it end?
Think about the person with whom you argue more than anyone else. Why do you think this happens?
Why do you think many arguments eventually lead to people gossiping about each other?
Where are you most likely to be when you hear gossip? Why do you think that's true?
How have relationships in your life suffered because of arguments or gossip?
Read Proverbs 26:20. Rewrite the verse in your own words.
How does this verse suggest you can bring an end to arguments and gossip? Is this a reasonable solution? Why or why not?
How would your life be better if you cut in half the number of arguments or quarrels you have?
What damaged relationship(s) would you like to see restored? Could this proverb help you end the fighting and bring restoration?
Sometimes, ending an argument requires us to stop putting "coals on the fire". This is very difficult, especially when we are convinced we are right. Think about 2-3 conflicts you have had (or are having) in which you can stop feeding the flames.
What specific actions will you take as a result of studying this proverb? How can you surround yourself with people who will support you in this effort?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Don't Be Stupid! (Proverbs 12)

When was the last time you were disciplined (work/ school/ home) for making a mistake? How did it help or hurt you?
When was the last time you had to discipline someone else? How did it hurt or help them?
Why do people not enjoy discipline?
When has someone corrected you in a loving way? How did you respond?
Read Proverbs 12:1.
This proverb consists of two statements that make essentially the same point. Write a third statement in your own words that communicates the same idea as this verse.
How do you feel about the word "stupid"? Why do you think the Bible uses such a strong word? How can you avoid being stupid?
How have you learned or grown because of the correction you received from someone else?
Read each of the following verses, noticing particularly what they say about correction:
  • Proverbs 6:32
  • Proverbs 10:17
  • Proverbs 13:18
  • Proverbs 15:10
  • Proverbs 15:31-32
Make a list of five benefits people can receive if they listen to correction.
Read the entire chapter of today's proverb (whatever the date is, read that chapter of Proverbs).
Which verse or verses provided corrective advice for your life? How can you put that correction into action?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Let Go and Let God? (Genesis 32)

Do you know anyone who had great potential, but was held back because of fear? What did their fear cause them to miss out on?

Read Genesis 32:22-30.

Jacob sent his family across the river because he was afraid of Esau. Why do you think he feared his brother? Was this a rational fear? Why or why not?

What are you most afraid of? Is your fear rational? Why or why not?

The man who wrestled with Jacob (later identified as God) was the aggressor. Why do you think God was wrestling with Jacob? What did He want to teach Jacob?

Even though He was obviously not going to win, Jacob refused to let go. This was consistent with how he had lived his life. Think about the stories you know about Jacob and make a list of the different ways he held tightly to things or grasped for things that weren't really his.

Because Jacob wouldn't let go, God wrenched his hip. How does God sometimes put our lives out of joint so He can get our attention? Why might God want to get your attention?

What are some things in life you need to let go?

God said Jacob was victorious even though he lost the wrestling match. How is it possible to win even when we lose? Are there things in life that you could lose which might cause you to have victory?

What have you learned about God from reading this story?

What have you learned about yourself from reading this story?

What do you think God wants you to change about yourself?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

All Things New (Genesis 17)

Read Genesis 17:1-8

  • What do you think God meant when he told Abraham to "Walk before me and be blameless."?
  • How would your life change if every step you took you remembered that God was watching you? Would your life be more blameless? Why or why not?
  • Abram means "exalted father" and Abraham means "father of a multitude." Why do you think God changed Abram's name to Abraham even though he only had one son at the time?
  • Why do you think Abraham believed God's promises? How do you think Abraham was able to wait so long for God to keep his promises?
  • Which promises of God are important to you? Why?
  • If God were going to start a new thing in your life, what do you think He would do?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17 and rewrite it in your own words

  • Do you believe these words are descriptive of you? Why or why not?
  • What changes in your life do these verses inspire you to consider?

Read Ephesians 4:17-24

In your old life, you walked in darkness. Your new life is lived in the light of the Son of God.
  • How would you describe the "former way" of living? What are some things the old you would have done that the new you won't?
  • What old things are still lingering in your life? How can you take action to push those things out of your life?
  • If every day is the opportunity for a fresh start, how will you make tomorrow better than today?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Solve Your Problems By Working With Others (Acts 6)

When have you faced a surprising challenge? How did you address it? Who helped you?

Read Acts 6:1-7.

What was the problem in these verses? What were some of the factors that might have contributed to this problem? How do modern churches face similar problems?

If someone brought this problem to you, how would you have responded? Do you think the apostles responded correctly? Why or why not?

Why do you think the apostles didn't just solve the problem themselves? How do you think the church members felt when the apostles turned the problem over to them?

Have you ever had someone turn a problem over to you? Was it a good thing or a bad thing? How did it help you grow? What did you learn?

According to this passage, what were the qualifications of the men who were chosen by the church? Why do you think they looked for these types of people? Who do you know that has these character traits? What would need to change in your life for people to describe you with these words?

The end result of this passage is that the church grew. Why do you think the church grew once they started taking care of each other? What does this inspire you to do?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Make Every Effort To Maintain Unity (Ephesians 4)

If you had to choose one goal on which to focus the next year of your life, what would it be?

Why is it sometimes beneficial to focus our attention on one thing?

Read Ephesians 4:1-6. What do you think is the key word of this passage?

Which phrase in these verses do you find most compelling? Why?

Read verses 4-6. How would you describe a church that is "one" in purpose?

Rewrite verse 3 in your own words. Make a list of 3-5 things you can do personally to "keep the unity" among Christians.

Verse 2 lists four virtues which are important to creating unity. Which of the four is easiest for you? Which is more difficult? Why?

Who do you know that exhibits some of these virtues? What are some examples of how you've seen these virtues in action?

What do you think it means to "bear with one another?" Who do you know that you need to bear with? How will you do that?

What relationships in your life lack unity right now? How might you improve those relationships by being humble, gentle or patient?

What is one specific thing you can do to improve one of those relationships?

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.