Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Guard Your Heart (Proverbs 4)

When has your heart been glad? When has your heart been broken?

In the previous question, your “heart” is not the blood-pumping organ, it is the center of your thoughts, feelings, emotions and decisions.

What do you think it means that the heart is the “wellspring of life?”

Read Proverbs 4:23.  Rewrite this verse in your own words.

What do you think it means to “guard your heart?” What types of things do people need to guard their hearts agains? Why?

Give some examples of how everything in life flows from our hearts. When is this good? When is it not so good?

Read Proverbs 4:24-27. Which of these verses speaks most powerfully to you? Why?

These verses address how we speak, what we look at and where we go. How do each of these activities impact our heart?

If you regularly speak negative words, how will your heart be affected? If you regularly speak positive words, how will your heart be affected?

When are you most tempted to use negative words? How can you be aware of this temptation and overcome it?

What types of images (or anything we look at) can impact your heart negatively? How can you use your eyes to positively impact your heart?

When are you most tempted to look at unhealthy images? How can you be aware of this temptation and overcome it?

How can the places you go harm or help your heart?

When are you most tempted to go places that will hurt your heart? How can you be aware of this temptation and overcome it?

Make a list of three things you can do this week to guard your heart. Ask at least one other person to pray for you this week as you work on these items.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Following Jesus Means Embracing His Mission (Mark 5)

What is the best thing that has happened to you this week?

Read Psalm 9:1–2. Make a list of 3–5 things God has done for you this week.

How often do you spend time “recounting all of God’s wonderful deeds”? How do you think your life would be different if you kept in a prominent place a list of God’s wonderful deeds?

What is the most remarkable thing you’ve ever witnessed God do in your life or in someone else’s life?

Read Mark 5:1–20. What parts of this story stand out to you? Why?

How grateful do you think the healed man was? How do you think he felt about God? Have you ever felt this way about God?

Read Mark 5:18–20. Why did Jesus not let the man follow Him?

How would you describe the mission Jesus had for this man to accomplish?

If you were sent to “proclaim how much Jesus had done” for you, who would you go to? What would you tell them?

Rather than pulling us away from the world and into a “holy huddle” Jesus sends us to our family and friends to tell the story of how He has changed our lives.

Jesus didn’t let this man “follow him”, he sent him on a mission instead. How might our time spent at church get in the way of our ability to accomplish our mission? Can we truly “follow Jesus” and ignore our mission? Why or why not?

What will you do this week to participate in the mission to which Jesus has called you?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Use Prayer To Prepare Your Heart and The Hearts of Others (Mark 4)

Read Mark 4:1-20.
Why do you think Jesus began by saying, "Listen!"? Why is listening important?
Read the following verses about listening. In each verse, identify one principle about how listening can help you grow.
Proverbs 16:20 Matthew 7:24 Luke 11:28 James 1:22
The story Jesus told in Mark 4 describes four different types of people and how they respond to God's truth. In your own words, describe each of the four types of people.
The good soil talked about by Jesus represents a person with a receptive heart. How would you describe a heart that is receptive to God?
How would you describe a heart that is hardened to God? Has there been a time in your life when you've felt a hardness of heart toward God? How did He soften you?
Jesus explained that some people receive the truth at first but then fall away. In your experience, what causes people to walk away from God?
Since listening to God is important, take a moment and think about what God wants to say to you. If He was going to speak to you about one area of your life, what would it be? What would He say to you?
What is one thing God wants you to give up? What is one thing He wants you to begin doing?
Write down the names of 3-5 people you know who haven't yet accepted the truth about Jesus.
What is one thing you can say to them this week that might help them think about what God wants from them? How can you say it in love?
Take some time and pray for each of the people on your list. Pray that:
  • God will soften their heart toward the truth
  • God will reveal to them how much He loves you
  • God will cause them to be curious about Jesus
  • God will use you or someone else to speak the truth to them
  • God will convict them of their sin and cause them to desire a new life
  • Finally, pray that they will give their life to Jesus and begin following Him.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Disappointed? Jesus Knows Exactly How You Feel

Read Hebrews 4:15 and Hebrews 2:18. How do these verses make you feel about Jesus?

Rewrite each of these verses in your own words.

What types of temptations did Jesus experience? How did Jesus suffer during His life?

When do you think Jesus experienced disappointment during His life? When do you think he experienced emotional hurt?

Why was Jesus willing to go through temptation, pain and disappointment?

Read or quote John 3:16. Why did God send His Son? Repeat the following statement to yourself a few times: “God loved me so much, He sent His Son.”

How have you experienced pain, disappointment or temptation recently? How did you respond?

Read James 1:2–4. How does God use our difficult times for good? How have you experienced this in the past?

How does it help you to know that Jesus has suffered in the same ways you do?

Take a moment and silently pray. Don’t ask for anything, simply tell Jesus about your struggles. Be confident that He is listening and He understands.

If Jesus is in control of your struggles, you can focus on doing good. What are the good things He wants you to do this week?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

True Siblings of Jesus are Children of God (Mark 3)

Have you ever been so committed to finishing a project that you forgot to eat? What was the project? How did it end up?

Read Mark 3:20-21.

Why do you think Jesus’ family claimed he was “out of his mind?”

Do you think Jesus’ family agreed with Jesus’ personal mission? Why or why not?

How do you respond when people think you are “foolish” for following Jesus?

Read Acts 1:14. Notice who was in the upper room with Jesus’ followers.

What do you think changed for Jesus’ mother and brothers? What happened in your life to change your mind about Jesus?

Read Mark 3:31-35. Pay special attention to verse 35.

How would you summarize verse 35 using five words or less?

If someone asked you to teach them how to do the will of God, what would say?

How do you think you did the will of God today? How could you have done better today?

What is one area of your life that needs to be more in line with God’s will. How can you work on that area this week? Who can help you with this?

Who can you encourage in their spiritual walk this week?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Are you a Fan or Follower of Jesus? (Mark 3)

What does it mean to be a "fan" of someone? Is it a good or bad thing? Why?

What does it mean to "follow" someone? How are the two similar? How are they different?

Read Mark 3:7-19.

Make a list of all the characters in this story. With which characters do you most identify? Why?

Why do you think people came from so far away to see Jesus? How far would you walk to see Jesus? If you traveled that far, what would you want from Him?

If you could ask Jesus to do one thing for you today, what would it be?

Read through the list of the apostles names. Which apostles do you know the most about?

How would you have felt if you had been one of those selected? What questions would you have had for Jesus?

Why do you think Jesus chose Judas Iscariot to be one of His apostles? What does this selection teach you about Jesus?

Read verse 14 again. What is the one thing that was expected from the new apostles (if you can, look at several translations to see the different words that are used)? Do you think Jesus has this same expectation of you? How can you "be with" or "accompany" Jesus?

What do you think is the biggest barrier that keeps people from following Jesus? What barriers keep you from following Jesus?

Go back and read Mark 1:16-20.

When Jesus first called the fishermen, they immediately left their nets, boats and families behind to follow Him. If you are going to follow Jesus, what do you need to leave behind?

What 2-3 things will you do this week to enable you to follow Jesus more closely?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Open Your Hand (Mark 3)

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Read Mark 3:1-6. Make a list of all the characters in this story. For each character, choose three words which describe them well.
Do you think Jesus knew the Pharisees were watching him? Do you think everyone else knew? Why or why not?
When was a time when you felt people were watching and judging you? How did you deal with it?
Why do you think Jesus made the man with the bad hand stand in front of everyone? How do you think the man felt with everyone looking at him?
What flaws of yours do you try to hide from everyone around you? Why? Why is it difficult to talk about our shortcomings?
Read James 5:16. How do you feel about this verse? What specific steps should people take to apply this verse?
What words in verse five are used to describe Jesus' emotions? Do you think you have ever made Jesus feel that way? Why?
How does Jesus feel about you today? Read Romans 5:8. What did we do to earn Jesus' love?
The man in this story had to stretch out his hand in order to be healed by Jesus. Stretching out our hands often signifies letting go of something. We all have habits, hurts and hangups which we need to let go.
What do you need to let go of in order to experience the fullness of Jesus healing?
What one thing will you do this week in response to this study?