Friday, May 18, 2018

Jesus Took Your Karma For You (John 9)

Read John 9:1-2. Why did the disciples assume this man's blindness was the result of sin?

When have you felt like God was punishing you for something you did wrong?

When have you felt like God was rewarding you for something you did right?

Read John 9:3. How were God's works going to be displayed in the life of the blind man?

Did this man deserve to be blind? Why or why not? Did he deserve to have sight? Why or why not? Before you were born, what did you do to deserve sight?  Did this man deserve to have God's work displayed through him? Why or why not?

When has God's work been displayed in your life?

Read 1 Peter 2:24. What did Jesus accomplish when he took your sins upon himself on the cross?

Think about some of the bad things you have done in your life. How has God protected you or delivered you from the consequences you should have received?

Make a list of blessings and gifts God has given you that you did not deserve.

How would you describe the debt that you owe to Jesus? How do you suppose you can repay that debt?

Knowing what Jesus did for you, how can you "pay it forward?"

Identify one person in your life that hasn't earned your good will, but to whom you will demonstrate kindness this week.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Is God in control? Or are you? (Acts 17)

What is the most important speech you have ever given?

If you were given five minutes to speak to the U.S. Senate, what would you say?

Read Acts 17:16-31.

How do you think Paul felt before speaking to such an important group of men?

Which part of Paul's speech is your favorite? Why?

Sometimes we act as if God needs something from us, but in verses 24-25, Paul says God doesn't "need" anything. Why should this thought encourage us? How does this knowledge build your trust in God?

Why is it sometimes hard to trust God?

Would you rather control your own destiny or have God control it? Why?

What is going on in your life right now that you cannot control? Read Isaiah 7:4. How should you behave if you are trusting God?

What is going on in your life that you can control? How will you faithfully steward those opportunities?

According to verse 27, God wants men to "reach out for him." What do you think it means to "reach out for God?"

How do you "reach out for God?"

Read verse 31. One common destiny awaits all men. Death and judgment.

After the judgment, what destiny awaits those who did reach out for God? What destiny awaits those who did not?

How should this truth change your life? How should it change your relationship with God? How should it change your relationship with the people around you?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Is your love directed toward the Father or toward the world? (1 John 2)

How would you define "LOVE"?

Read 1 John 2:15-17

Define what is meant by "loving the world" (eg. loving food is different than loving a spouse).

Is it possible to "do" or "have" the things of the world without "loving" them? Why or why not? Give examples.

Read the three ways John defines "love of the world". Describe how each of these cravings have impacted you throughout your life.  

Read the following verses and discuss what they teach about the Christian's relationship with the world?

- Matthew 5:13-16
- 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
- 1 Peter 2:11-12
- Titus 2:11-14

Pride causes us to believe that we alone are responsible for all we have achieved and accumulated. Gratitude helps us defeat pride. Who has helped you become the person you are? How has God helped you achieve your current successes?

The cravings of the eyes distract us from what God has already provided. Instead of focusing on what you don't have, be content with what God has given. Make a list of five great gifts God has provided.

Selfishness is refusing to see past my immediate desires for pleasure and fulfillment.(being consumed with the lust of the flesh) The opposite of selfishness is generosity. To whom can you be generous this week?

How does gratitude help you be more content?

How does contentment empower you to be generous?

Love for God begins with focusing on what He has done for us and is completed when we allow that love to flow into our relationships with others. To whom will you demonstrate love this week?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

20 Questions to Build Group Connections

Here is a great exercise for a new group. The instructions are pretty simple. Go around the group giving each person the opportunity to choose one question and answer it honestly. Anyone can follow-up with an opinion or clarifying question (no critiquing each other's answers, though). Once a question has been answered, no one else may answer that question.

If your group is larger, you may want to alter the rule and allow each question to be answered 2 or 3 times. Ideally, each person should end up answering 3-5 questions.

As the leader, pay attention to the conversation. Let the discussion run its course as this is how people in the group build their relationships with one another. You can use these questions, modify them or create your own.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2 Friends and 1 Enemy (2 Samuel 15-17)

The story of Absalom’s rebellion can be found in 2 Samuel 14-19 (chapter 13 also provides a little context). Today’s questions will focus mostly on chapters 15-16 which tells the story of David escaping Jerusalem before Absalom and his army arrive. We are going to explore David’s conversations with 4 men and seek to learn important lessons from these interactions.

Name 2-3 people whose character you would like your life to reflect. Specifically, what character traits do you admire in these people?

Read 2 Samuel 15:18-23. What are 4-5 words you would use to describe Ittai?

Even though he didn’t have to, Ittai chose to stay and fight with David. What actions can you take this week that are not necessary, but will be beneficial to others in your life?

Read 2 Samuel 15:32-37. Was David’s request of Hushai easy or difficult? Why? (You can read more of Hushai’s story in 2 Samuel 17:1-23)

What difficult assignment has God given you right now? Why is it difficult? What is your plan for accomplishing it?

Read 2 Samuel 16:1-4. Why did Ziba’s appearance put David in a difficult spot? What would you have done if you were David?

Read about Mephibosheth and the rest of Ziba’s account in 2 Samuel 19:24-30. How does this new information change the story?

When have you gotten a story wrong by believing the first version you heard? When has someone done this to you? Who in your life do you need to work on giving the “benefit of the doubt” instead of always believing the worst about them?

Read 2 Samuel 16:5-13. How would you have responded to Shimei?

Why do you think David was able to respond the way he did?

When are you tempted to repay evil with evil? How would your life and relationships change if you could learn to repay evil with good?

Which of these characters has made the biggest impact on your life? After studying each of these stories, what is your next step?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Finding Balance (2 Samuel 13)

Read 2 Samuel 13:1-22. What words would you use to describe this story?
Think and talk about the decisions made by the main characters in this story (Amnon, Jonadab, David). What do you think caused them to make the choices they did? What should each of them have done differently?
If you were David, what would you have done when you learned about Amnon's abuse of his sister?
If you were Absalom, what would you have done when you learned about Amnon's abuse of your sister?
Why do you think these two men responded the way they did?
Read Joshua 1:9. What would have been the "strong" and "courageous" response to Amnon's behavior?
Read 2 Samuel 13:23-39. Was Absalom justified in his response to Amnon? Why or why not?
When have you overreacted to a situation in your life? What was the result?
Often in life, we must work to find a balance between two extremes. How do you find a balance between being overly passive toward evil and overreacting toward evil?
In your spiritual life, how are struggling with passivity? How are struggling with overreaction?
What can you do this week to bring some balance into your spiritual life?
How can other people help you with this endeavor?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Crucified With Christ (Galatians 2)

When have you been sad, upset or disappointed because something in your life ended?

Why does death make most people uncomfortable?

List some examples of good, positive or healthy endings.

Read Galatians 2:20.

Which words in this verse are most powerful? Why?

How do we experience crucifixion with Jesus?

What does it mean that "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."?

How does the idea of Christ living in you make you feel? Why?

What do you think it means to "live by faith"?

To experience life "in Christ" we need to put our old self to death. What pieces of your life do you need to crucify?

What mistakes have you made in your life that you are still holding on to? Do you think it is possible to put those mistakes to death and leave them in the past? How?

Which patterns or habits exist in your life that are holding you back? How can you put those patterns or habits to death? Who can help you with that?

Does your outlook on life (your perspective) match the outlook Jesus has on life? How can someone put to death an overly negative or critical spirit?

This week, how will you remind yourself of the peace, hope and joy you have already been given through Christ?