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Message Discussion Questions

From October 17, 2021

Getting Started

  • Have you ever said something you later regretted saying? Share with the group a story from your life when you said something that got you into trouble.
  • What has been one of the most encouraging and uplifting things ever said to you and one of the most discouraging and hurtful things ever said to you?

    Questions from the Message

    • What are some examples of an untamed tongue? (See Proverbs 12:18-19, 16:27, 17:7, 18:8, 25:18, Matthew 7:15)
    • What is at stake when a Christian’s tongue is out of control?
    • How is it that we can lose awareness of just how powerful our words can be? What helps us grow in that awareness?
    • Read vs.10–12. What is the key to changing how you talk? How does what we say reveal what’s in our heart?

    Explore the Passage (James 3:1-12)

    Why do those who teach have greater accountability? (vs 1)

    According to James, what do bits and bridles have in common with rudders? (vs 2-4)

    In what ways does the tongue destroy like fire? (vs 5-6)

    Why is it impossible to tame the tongue? (vs 7-8)

    Read Matthew 12:34 and 15:18. What does Jesus say is the source of our problem?

    What metaphors does James use to illustrate the inconsistent use of the tongue in 3:11-12?

    Application

    What are some ways you have tried to tame your speaking habits? What has/hasn’t worked?

    Name three people you are going to encourage this week? How do you plan to do so?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

     

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From October 10, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • In what ways may we think one person is more important than another person?
    • In what way are ‘thoughts and prayers’ an inadequate response to those that are in real need? In what way does this relate to James teaching that, ‘faith without works is dead”? In what ways are prayers our best or only response?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
      What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. What password would you use to help you remember that “there will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others? Or a password to remember to integrate your faith with action? Some examples Dave shared…
    Forgive@h1m
    Forgive@d@d
    Forgive@m0m
    Faith@w0rk
    LoveMy3n3m13s
    2. Why is favoritism and discrimination such a big deal to James?
    3. In what way does James make a larger point by saying “even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror?
    4. How does the example of Abraham and Rahab reinforce James point that faith without works is dead?

    Explore the Passage (James 2)

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins with having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, and where in the text.)

    What practical example did James use to illustrate how favoritism was practiced in the church? (2:1-4)
    What has God promised to the poor of this world? (2:5)
    What do rich people have a history of doing to people in the church? (2:6-7)
    What is the royal law found in Scripture? (2:8)
    What does practicing favoritism do to a person who is trying to keep the law? (2:9)
    What does a person have to do to be considered a lawbreaker? (2:10-11)
    By what standards should a person speak and act? (2:12)
    What promise is made to people who judge without mercy? (2:13)
    Why should we be merciful? (2:13)
    What is the relationship between faith and actions? (2:14)
    What illustration did James use to explain how real faith affects a person’s actions? (2:15-17)
    How did James describe faith that has no accompanying actions? (2:17)
    What is wrong with having faith without actions? (2:18-26)
    What do the demons believe about God? How does it affect them? (2:19)
    What did Abraham do to show his faith? (2:21-23)
    What made Abraham righteous? (2:23)
    What did Rahab do? (2:25)
    How are faith and actions like the body and the spirit? (2:26)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    In what ways have you been a victim of favoritism or prejudice?

    How have you shown favoritism or prejudice toward other people?

    Why do we often treat rich people as more important than poor people?

    How do we use physical appearance, job status, and athletic ability to show favoritism toward people?

    *In what practical ways can we show genuine love to people of different races, cultures, and economic standing?

    Why is favoritism or prejudice often overlooked as a sin?

    Why would God condemn us as lawbreakers if our sins are only “minor” ones, such as prejudice?

    How is being a Christian supposed to change the way we live?

    What can a Christian do to help the people around him or her?

    What is one way to tell if a person has a real, living faith?

    What is difficult about applying what we hear in Scripture to our everyday lives?

    In what area do you need to integrate your faith with action?

    What are some of the biblical commands which are hard for you to live out?

    If God has forgiven us and promised us eternal life, what motivation do we have to live in obedience to Him today?

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From October 3, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • How have you experienced the frustration of thinking you had an agreement with someone (employee, kids, friend, spouse, co-worker) and found out they had ignored or completely forgotten what you had both said was important? What did you do about it? Why was it frustrating?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
      What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    In what important ways does the story of Snow White and God’s Word being a mirror reflect how we respond to God?
    Dave mentioned that there are two ways we often choose to respond to God’s word:

    1. Listen only to the parts that affirm us, our own “beauty”, or confirm our own biases.
    2. Walk away without doing what it says.

    Which one characterizes you most, why?

    Are there other ways we respond to the mirror of God’s word? (ie… We look into it and see things that aren’t there?)

    James connects our anger, our tongues, listening, filth, evil, and not caring for vulnerable orphans and widows as ways we fail to look into God’s word and not live them out. How do you see these types of things happening around us and in us?

    Explore the Passage (James 1:19-27)

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins with having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, and where in the text.)

    What instruction did James give about the relationship between speaking, listening, and anger? (1:19)
    What is the relationship between anger and righteous living? (1:20)
    What things crowd out the life of Christ growing in us? (1:21)
    What is the relationship between listening to God’s Word and doing it? (1:22)
    What analogy did James use to describe a person who does not do what the Bible says? (1:23-24)
    What promise did James give to the person who studies God’s Word and practices it? (1:25)
    What does James say is the value of listening, looking carefully and not forgetting God’s message? (1:25)
    How is a person’s speech related to the credibility of his or her faith? (1:26)
    What did James describe as pure and genuine religion? (1:27)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    What makes it hard for us to be good listeners? What is the result of not listening well?

    How can being quick to speak and quick to anger get you into trouble?

    What attitudes and habits can inhibit our growth as disciples of Christ?

    What makes it hard for us to practice what we observe, see in God’s word?

    How does our speech reflect our relationship with God?

    How have you experienced freedom by doing the Word of God?

    Who may be “widow and orphans” in your life – ie those who are in distress and vulnerable?

    In what ways can the world, filth, evil crowd out God from taking root in our life?

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From September 26, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • Why would you agree or disagree with the statement, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to what happens to you”?
    • What are typical ways we respond when we are under pressure, experiencing trials?n?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
      What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    In James the church is experiencing persecution and have now become scattered throughout the Mediterranean. They are struggling and discouraged. In James 1, he begins by helping them gain perspective in the midst of trials, problems and discouragement. Dave points out three ways our trials and problems can become opportunities.

    1. They can reframe our faith.
    2. They can help us contemplate the eternal.
    3. They can help reframe our misconceptions of God.

    Of these three, which one may God be pressing on for you in the midst of your trials and problems? Why?
    In what way have trials, problems, discouragement become the means by which God reframed your perspective on faith? How?
    Who do you know is struggling with faith? In what way can we encourage and support each other in this area?

    Explore the Passage (James 1:1-18)

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins with having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, and where in the text.)

    What can we make of the fact that James writes this letter and who he writes it to? (1:1)
    What attitude did James tell people to exhibit when they are facing trials? (1:2)
    What is produced when our faith is tested? (1:3-4)
    What is God’s response when we ask for wisdom? (1:5)
    What effect does doubt have on a person when he or she prays? (1:6-8)
    What will eventually happen to the wealth of a rich person? (1:10-11)
    What reward awaits the person who perseveres under trial? (1:12)
    From where does temptation come? (1:13-15)
    How does sin start and end? (1:13-15)
    From where do all good and perfect gifts come? (1:16-17)
    How did James describe God’s relationship with the people He created? (1:17-18)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Why, in your opinion, does God allow people to go through trials and difficulties?

    How does a person’s relationship with God change as he or she goes through trials and problems?

    When do you find it hardest to pray?

    With what doubts have you struggled concerning God and prayer?

    How can doubting affect a person’s prayer life?

    In what way have material possessions disappointed you once you possessed them?

    How would you explain to a ten-year-old why a person does something wrong or evil?

    Why do we often blame God for tempting us when we sin?

    What can a person do to stop an evil desire from becoming an actual evil act?

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From September 19, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • What way do you prefer to work or accomplish a task… with a team, leading a team, alone? Why?
    • If you had to choose between these three options on a Saturday morning… leading a Bible study, praying with a group, sharing your faith over breakfast with someone, serving a meal to the homeless. Which one would you prefer…why?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave made the case from Acts 6 that this was a church in danger of breaking apart over a conflict. But, the church demonstrated that we are better together, particularly when we—
    -Care deeply about important things (things that matter to God and each other).
    -Acknowledge each other’s gifts and empower others for ministry.

    1. What are the pros and cons of caring deeply about things? When can our “passions” get in the way of being a church that is better together?

    2. In what ways can we better acknowledge people’s gifts and empower others to serve? How can this exponentially make us a church that is better together?

    Explore the Passage (Acts 6:1-7 )

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins with having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, and where in the text.)

    What complaint did the Greek speaking Jews have against the Hebrew speaking Jews? (6:1)
    What did the apostles—the Twelve—do in response to criticism? (6:2-4)
    Why did the Twelve choose prayer and teaching over caring for the poor? (6:2-4)
    What did the Twelve tell the other believers to do? (6:3)
    How did the group respond to the apostles’ proposal? (6:5)
    Who was selected to serve the widows? (6:5)
    Who chose the seven candidates? (6:5)
    How were the men given authority to do their task? (6:6)
    What was the effect of the appointment of certain people to serve the widows? (6:7)
    How did the church fare after the apostles delegated the serving of food to others? (6:7)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    In what ways do people at our church differ from one another?

    What different ethnic or cultural groups are there in your church?

    How can differences among believers cause friction? How can this be good? How can it be bad?

    What benefits and challenges arise from having different kinds of people in your church?

    How should we deal with tensions arising from differences between Christian brothers & sisters?

    What qualities must Christian leaders have to resolve differences between believers?

    How could your church ensure that no one group of people is neglected?

    About what do we tend to complain most?

    What complaints arise in your church most often?

    How can we learn to channel our complaints into solutions?

    In what ways can you use your gifts and skills in your church?

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From September 12, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • Name some things that families often argue about? How has taken sides in an argument ever disrupted or broken a relationship?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    What does a community without any unity look like?

    Without “over-thinking” it, why is unity such an important, essential issue for the apostle Paul?

    In what ways can we create unnecessary division with others that has nothing to do with “the message of the cross”?

    What issue is dividing the church in 1 Corinthians 1 and how do we get trapped in similar issues today?

    Explore the Passage (1 Corinthians 1:10-18 )

    On what basis did Paul appeal to the Corinthian believers? (1:10)
    Why did Paul ask the Corinthians to agree with one another? (1:10)
    What kind of action did the Corinthian church need to take? (1:10-17)
    What specific problem were the Corinthian Christians having? (1:11-12)
    How was Paul a part of the Corinthians’ problems? (1:13-17)
    How did baptism cause division in the Corinthian church? (1:13-17)
    What can result from preaching the gospel with “words of human wisdom”? (1:17)
    What did Christ enable Paul to do? (1:17)
    What danger is there in dividing a church? (1:17)
    What danger was Paul trying to avoid? (1:17)
    What’s wrong with preaching the gospel with “words of human wisdom”? (1:17)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    How did Paul show his concern for the Corinthians?

    What difference does local church unity make?

    What does it mean for Christians to be “perfectly united in mind and thought”?

    Why is it important for Christians to be united?

    How should we respond to arguments among Christians today?

    How can division among Christians empty Christ’s message of its power?

    What witness does a unified church give to a lost world?

    What social and cultural forces present the greatest threat to the unity of Christ’s church today?

    How can Christians avoid becoming distracted by petty disagreements?

    What can your church do to build unity and guard against division?

    What practices can help us be more united with other Christians?

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From September 5, 2021

    Getting Started

    • How has the last 18 months impacted your mental health specifically in regard to loneliness?
    • Where are some places you have felt a sense of community in the absence of normal community (like family gatherings, etc.)?

    Quick Reactions

    1. Are you someone who typically is resistant to asking for help from others, or do you have no problem asking for help?

    2. Respond to the statement Steve made “If you separate yourself from the people of God, you separate yourself from the power of God.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?

    3. What are some of the benefits you have personally seen through Christian community?

    Explore the Passage (Hebrews 10:21-25)

    Why is Jesus referred to as “our Great High Priest?” (vs. 11-14)
    How are we allowed to go right into the presence of God? (vs. 19-21)
    What does it mean to draw near to God with a sincere heart? (vs. 22)
    What is the promise referred to in vs. 23? (vs. 16-18)
    How do different bible translations translate vs. 24? (ESV, NIV, NLT, NASB)
    What do the acts of love and good works refer to? (vs. 24)
    Why is it specifically important to encourage and motivate one another to love and good deeds? (vs. 25)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    The text mentions that some have gotten in the habit of not meeting together. What are some of the biggest barriers you face that can keep you from meeting regularly in small group or going to church?

    How does seeing biblical community in terms of what you give as opposed to what you get change the way you look at church/small groups?

    Why do you think the author of Hebrews insists so strongly that we not give up meeting together? How would you describe what happens when we meet together, which can’t happen when we are alone?

    Application

    How can you as a small group encourage, and motivate one another to acts of love and good deeds?

    What ways can your small group challenge you and help you remain faithful over the coming week?

    Take time to encourage and pray for one another as a group. Send a follow-up email to all the group members sometime this next week reminding them to continue to pray for the specific needs that were discussed.

     

     

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From August 29, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
      What period or season in your life did you struggle the most with loneliness? What were the circumstances and why?
    • In what way can we be lonely even if we are surrounded by people?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1.  In what way does the first “crisis” in the Bible inform us about the importance of relationships and Christ-centered community?

    2.  Agree/Disagree – A symptom of loneliness is not just having too few relationships, but relationships that don’t go very deep.

    3.  What is the aim of biblical community? Take a moment to re-read Ephesians 4:11-13. How is biblical community different than friendship or a social group?

    4.  In what ways can you develop community forming habits?

    Explore the Passage (Genesis 1-2 )

    Read Genesis 1:1-2:3 with a focus on God creating Adam and Eve and the nature of God existing as One, in Three Persons.

    How did the author describe the earth at the beginning of creation? (1:1-2)
    What important events did the author describe in these verses? (1:1-2:3)
    What did God create on days 1-5 of creation (1:3-25)
    What did God create on the sixth day of creation? (1:24-26)
    How did God create man? (1:26-27)
    What instructions did God give the man and woman after he created them? (1:28)
    What did God give to man and woman? (1:29-30)
    How did God describe what he had created? (1:31)
    In what ways is this similar? In what way was it different?
    What did God do on the seventh day of creation? (2:1-3)

    Read Genesis 2:4-7; 15-24 with a focus on God creating Adam apart from Eve.

    When and how did God create man? (2:4-7)
    For what purpose did God put man in the Garden of Eden? (2:8, 15)
    What command did God give man? (2:16-17)
    What did God say was not good? (2:18)
    How did God create woman, and what was Adam’s response to her? (2:21-23)
    What would be the result of man becoming united with his wife? (2:24)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    1. 1.What does the creation story reveal about God’s character?
    2. What does the creation story tell us about humankind?
    3. How should the fact that human beings are created by God impact the way we see life?
    4. What does the fact that God made us in his image tell us about people?
    5. How does the fact that people are made in God’s image affect the way you feel about yourself?
    6. How does the fact that people are made in God’s image affect the way you treat other people?
    7. What difference does it make that people are created in the image of God?
    8. What can we learn from God’s resting on the seventh day of creation?
    9. How is it significant that God created man and “breathed into him the breath of life”?
    10. What does the fact that it was not good for man to be alone tell us about the importance of relationships?
    11. What is the significance of the fact that Adam felt no shame at being naked?

    Application

    Can you identify any chinks in your armor? What do you need to do in order to become more fully equipped?

    What area in your life have you found yourself giving in to the enemies attacks? How can we pray for you?

    Too often, we see putting on the armor of God as individual. What are some ways you can help each other put on the armor of God and stand together in spiritual warfare?

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From August 29, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
      What period or season in your life did you struggle the most with loneliness? What were the circumstances and why?
    • In what way can we be lonely even if we are surrounded by people?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1.  In what way does the first “crisis” in the Bible inform us about the importance of relationships and Christ-centered community?

    2.  Agree/Disagree – A symptom of loneliness is not just having too few relationships, but relationships that don’t go very deep.

    3.  What is the aim of biblical community? Take a moment to re-read Ephesians 4:11-13. How is biblical community different than friendship or a social group?

    4.  In what ways can you develop community forming habits?

    Explore the Passage (Genesis 1-2 )

    Read Genesis 1:1-2:3 with a focus on God creating Adam and Eve and the nature of God existing as One, in Three Persons.

    How did the author describe the earth at the beginning of creation? (1:1-2)
    What important events did the author describe in these verses? (1:1-2:3)
    What did God create on days 1-5 of creation (1:3-25)
    What did God create on the sixth day of creation? (1:24-26)
    How did God create man? (1:26-27)
    What instructions did God give the man and woman after he created them? (1:28)
    What did God give to man and woman? (1:29-30)
    How did God describe what he had created? (1:31)
    In what ways is this similar? In what way was it different?
    What did God do on the seventh day of creation? (2:1-3)

    Read Genesis 2:4-7; 15-24 with a focus on God creating Adam apart from Eve.

    When and how did God create man? (2:4-7)
    For what purpose did God put man in the Garden of Eden? (2:8, 15)
    What command did God give man? (2:16-17)
    What did God say was not good? (2:18)
    How did God create woman, and what was Adam’s response to her? (2:21-23)
    What would be the result of man becoming united with his wife? (2:24)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    1. 1.What does the creation story reveal about God’s character?
    2. What does the creation story tell us about humankind?
    3. How should the fact that human beings are created by God impact the way we see life?
    4. What does the fact that God made us in his image tell us about people?
    5. How does the fact that people are made in God’s image affect the way you feel about yourself?
    6. How does the fact that people are made in God’s image affect the way you treat other people?
    7. What difference does it make that people are created in the image of God?
    8. What can we learn from God’s resting on the seventh day of creation?
    9. How is it significant that God created man and “breathed into him the breath of life”?
    10. What does the fact that it was not good for man to be alone tell us about the importance of relationships?
    11. What is the significance of the fact that Adam felt no shame at being naked?

    Application

    Can you identify any chinks in your armor? What do you need to do in order to become more fully equipped?

    What area in your life have you found yourself giving in to the enemies attacks? How can we pray for you?

    Too often, we see putting on the armor of God as individual. What are some ways you can help each other put on the armor of God and stand together in spiritual warfare?

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From August 22, 2021

    Getting Started

    • How do you prepare to go on a vacation?
    • Is there a checklist you go through or a supply list you need? How do you get your kids/spouse ready (or help them get themselves ready)?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. Are you more likely to see demonic activity around every corner or doubt the existence of the demonic altogether?

    2. Why is it significant that Paul doesn’t tell us to “beat back the enemy” but rather “to stand?” What does it mean “to stand?” How do we do it?

    3. Steve talked about the 3-headed monster of evil that we are up against. What did this include? (evil rulers and authorities in this world, our flesh, Satan and his demons) Of these 3, which one do you seem to be less aware of in regard to their influence in your life?

    Explore the Passage (Ephesians 6:10-20)

    Who are our real enemies? What does Paul tell us about them? (vs. 12)
    What is the significance of the 4 different types of evil Paul mentions? (vs. 12)
    What is the purpose of the armor of God? (vs. 11, 13)
    How do we prepare for this battle? (vs. 11, 13)
    What did Paul mean by the shoes fitted with the readiness of the Gospel of peace? (vs. 15, I Peter 3:15)
    What weapon are we given that extinguishes the lies and attacks of Satan? (vs. 16)
    Which piece of armor given is used as a weapon and not just defense? (vs. 17)
    Why is prayer not given a piece of armor? (vs. 18)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    1. Steve mentioned that the point of the armor of God was that it is forged and furnished by God Himself. He has given us everything we need to succeed in our battles! How does knowing this change your attitude in regard to the struggles you are up against?

    2. Read I Peter 5:8. What are some ways we can be alert, pay attention, and aware of the enemies schemes?

    3. Paul tells us that prayer needs to pervade all of our spiritual battles. Why is that?

    4. One of the main reasons we need the armor of God is because we cannot handle the enemy on or own. We need to rely on Jesus to stand our ground. Why does God require us to depend on Him rather than to remain self-sufficient?

    Application

    Can you identify any chinks in your armor? What do you need to do in order to become more fully equipped?

    What area in your life have you found yourself giving in to the enemies attacks? How can we pray for you?

    Too often, we see putting on the armor of God as individual. What are some ways you can help each other put on the armor of God and stand together in spiritual warfare?

     

    Message Discussion Questions

    From August 8, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • What has been your best experience working for someone else? Why/what happened that made that experience good?
    • What has been your worst experience working for someone else?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave highlighted 4 principles about work in this passage—

    1. What you do matters less than why you do it.
    2. Who you serves matters more that what you do.
    3. Ultimately, God signs your paycheck
    4. Your title, position, authority does not impress God.
    • Do you Agree/Disagree?

     

    • Which principle do you need to make your own in your workplace or school? Why?

     

    • In what way can you begin to see your work as your ministry?

    Explore the Passage (Ephesians 6:5-9)

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins with having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, and where in the text.)

    Why did Paul tell slaves to obey their masters “with respect and fear”? (6:5)
    What did Paul tell slaves to do? (6:5-8)
    What responsibilities did slaves have to their masters? (6:5-8)
    In what way, given the circumstances of the first century was Paul trying to elevate the work and status of a slave? (6:5-8)
    How could slaves serve the Lord while working for their masters? (6:5-8)
    With what attitude should the slave serve his master? (6:7)
    What reward for Christian service could the slave expect? (6:7-8)
    What directives did Paul give masters? (6:9)
    Why did Paul warn those in charge against abusing slaves? (6:9)
    How does God view rank, title or social status? (6:9)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Why did Paul call slaves to obey and not to revolt? How is our modern-day system different? What is not different in our modern world? When and how should Christian’s work for social justice?

    How did Paul’s words for employees and employers relate to the teaching in the rest of his letter to the Ephesians? (Consider, marriage, parents, children)

    How does God want us to treat people who may be in authority over us? Why?

    How does God want us to conduct ourselves if we are in authority over others? Why?

    As Christians, what are some situations, circumstances we should not continue to work in or submit to an employer’s demands?

    How does God want us to treat all people with whom we work?

    What importance do you attach to rank, title or social status?What importance should we attach to rank, title or social status?

    What attitude, motive about your work needs to change as a result of this passage?

    Fill in the blank—
    In order for me to “work with enthusiasm, as though I was working for the Lord”, I will need to _____________.

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From August 1, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • If you found buried treasure in your backyard, what would you do first? Why? How would finding this impact your life? marriage?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. What is your perspective of society’s view of parenting?

    2. In what ways did Christ become obedient?

    3. Have you ever been put in a hard position of obeying your parents or obeying God? How did you work it out?

    4. Why do you think family relationships are so trying?

    5. Have you ever felt called to do something “more important” than parenting? If you aren’t a parent, have you seen this in the lives of those around you or in your own family?

    Explore the Passage (Ephesians 6:1-4)

    Who is Paul addressing in verse 1?
    Who should children obey? Why?
    What is the promise for those who honor their father and mother?
    Fathers are called to avoid what?
    Parents are called to bring children up in ________ and _____________?
    What have we previously learned in Ephesians, chapters 1-5, that help us understand this chapter?

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Why is it important to obey your parents as a child? How do you think obedience has changed through the years?

    Why is it important to honor your father and mother? How has this been difficult or easy in your own life? What does honor look like as an adult?

    Why do you think this is the first commandment with a promise?

    Have you ever experienced your parents’ exasperation? Or have you been exasperated by your own kids, or if you don’t have kids, have you seen exasperation in parents around you? Do you have ways to avoid this?

    Do you think the parent/child relationship is a reflection of God’s relationship with us? Why or why not?

    How does training and instruction differ? Can you do one without the other?

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From July 25, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • If you are married (or widowed), share how you met, what attracted you to your spouse? What is one quality that is most needed to sustain a good marriage?
    • If single, either share something you like about your parent’s marriage or a difficulty. What is one quality that is most needed to sustain a good marriage?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. Agree or Disagree … Everyone is imitating someone or something?

    2. Agree or Disagree, and why… Who or what we imitate matters because imitation runs downhill into the choices we make?

    Of the three points Dave made about how we imitate Christ (walking in self-giving love, walking in light, walking in wisdom).

    3. Which convicted you most? Which connected most with you? Of the people you are in relationship with, which of the three do they need to see you most emulate?

    Of the three ways to walk in wisdom (Carefully consider your life, Make the most of the present, Prioritizing what’s important)…

    4. What most needs your attention? Why?

    5. What simple goal could you establish over the next month in this area?

    Explore the Passage (Ephesians 5:21-33)

    What responsibility do we have to one another? (5:21)
    What responsibility does the wife have to her husband before the Lord? (5:22)
    What responsibility does the husband have to use his influence in a marriage? (5:23)
    How is the relationship of the church to Christ an example to wives? (5:24)
    How are husbands commanded to love their wives? (5:25)
    What was the result of Christ’s submission and sacrifice for the church? (5:26-27)
    What is the result for a man’s wife when he loves his wife the same way Christ loved the church? (5:28-30)
    How is the bond between husband and wife greater than the bond between parent and child? (5:31)
    How does the bond between Christ and the church illustrate the love of a husband for his wife? (5:32)
    In sum, what are the responsibilities of the husband and wife toward each other? (5:33)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    How should both husband and wife imitate Christ in their marriage?

    Why would unselfishness be an essential part of a Christian marriage?

    What should a Christian wife do to care for and help her husband flourish?

    What should a Christian husband do to care for and help his wife flourish?

    In what way would imitating Christ in marriage lead to oneness, unity, love and respect with one another? In what way does Paul’s vision of Christ and the church from Ephesians 4:15-16 inform his view of marriage?

    What is one thing that requires you to take responsibility to love, honor and respect your spouse that stands apart from what he or she is or is not doing?

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From July 18, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • In what ways have you observed in life that ‘what you value gets imitated’? (kids, work, culture, friendships, parenting etc.?)

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. Agree or Disagree … Everyone is imitating someone or something?

    2. Agree or Disagree, and why… Who or what we imitate matters because imitation runs downhill into the choices we make?
    Of the three points Dave made about how we imitate Christ (walking in self-giving love, walking in light, walking in wisdom).

    3. Which convicted you most? Which connected most with you? Of the people you are in relationship with, which of the three do they need to see you most emulate?Of the three ways to walk in wisdom (Carefully consider your life, Make the most of the present, Prioritizing what’s important)…

    4. What most needs your attention? Why?

    5. What simple goal could you establish over the next month in this area?

    Explore the Passage (Ephesians 5:1-20)

    How are Christians to imitate God? (5:1-2)

    What things ought imitators of Christ not practice? (5:3-6)

    What are the consequences of remaining in these kinds of practices? (5:5-7)

    Why are we to not participate with the ‘things’ these people do? (5:7-8)

    How does life in darkness contrast with life in the light? (5:9-20)

    In what ways ought we to live our lives? (5:15-20)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    What is the basis/foundation for imitating God and following the example of Christ?

    What are some wrong motives for imitating God? How can we avoid those?

    Why does Paul use these specific examples in verses 3-7 to help us understand that are wrong/broken patterns for the Christian to follow in?

    What does he say we should do instead? Why is thankfulness to God important?

    What is the difference between participating with immorality verses being guilty through association? In what ways as followers of Jesus can we be “associated with sinners” without participating in its corrupting influence?

    BONUS THOUGHT—QUESTION ??
    Why is it important to integrate who we are in Christ (our experience as Christians) with what we believe (theology) with Christian ethics/morality (i.e. how we conduct ourselves as Christians? For example—in Ephesians Paul weaves all three together. We are of ultimate value to God as His dear children (Christ died for us), so, as His dear children, we believe God is most concerned for our ultimate good. Therefore, we seek to copy His behavior (we see this most clearly in that God has become flesh in Christ to demonstrate this for us). So, it stands to reason that we would seek to avoid those things (actions, behavior) that harm ourselves, others and displease God.

    In what ways does this inform how we interpret Paul’s behaviors that he says we ought not to participate in?(no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed. No obscene jokes, foolish talk or course jokes) How does this inform how we are to understand the consequences of consistently, unrepentantly, over time walk in these ways? (vv 5-7).

    In what way does light both make dark things visible and also transform what it shines upon? What does this mean for us in terms of sharing Christ with others?

    Dave said, when we imitate Jesus—it pleases God, but it also turns out well for us and others. In what way does this change the way you think about how what you do or don’t do matters to God?

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From July 4, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is something that you picked up from a parent, coach, teacher or influential adult in your life that became part of your life?
    • Let’s say you have a bad habit and want to change. How do you go about changing? Do you start with your mindset or your behavior?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. Why is it important to remember who you are IN CHRIST? How does this simple truth inform how you live your life?

    2. How would you define the “new nature” that Paul is telling us to put on as Christians? Steve mentioned a good definition from Pastor Tim Mackie: “The version of you that is created to perfectly reflect the image of God.”

    3. Steve mentioned a quote from John Stott in the message, “Self control is primarily mind control.” How have you experienced this truth in your life?

    Explore the Passage (Ephesians 4:17-32)

    Paul describes how the ungodly live. What are the chief characteristics of the ungodly? (vs. 17-19)

    What 3 stages of transformation does Paul list in vs. 22 – 24?

    Who is doing the renewing of your thoughts and attitudes? (vs. 23)

    Is anger a sin? What is the sin involving anger? (vs. 26-27)

    What does it mean to bring sorrow to or grieve the Holy Spirit? (vs. 30)

    What is our motivation for forgiving one another? (vs. 32)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    1. Paul describes the life of those who choose to reject the message of Christ in vs. 17-19. Do you believe this view is accurate? How have you see this played out in the lives of non-christians in your life?

    2. All the actions listed in vs. 25-32 have to do with relating to others. Why is it so important to Paul that we understand how to treat one another?

    3. Why is it necessary to replace old, bad habits with new, God-honoring practices? How have you experienced this in your own life?

    Application

    What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?

    How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From June 27, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • If you had to define what “Christian maturity” looks like, how would you define it? Why?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave shared that ‘growing up’ in Christ involves growing up in unity and growing up into our gifts.
    1. How is this different than ways that we typically think about growing as a Christian?

    2. Why do you think Paul stresses these two things as hallmarks of becoming more like Christ?

    3. Of the virtues Paul points out in the opening verses (humility, gentleness, patience, making allowance for others’ faults, making every effort to keep yourselves united).

    How can you envision that if we are all striving to do these things in a church body it will more accurately
    reflect the heart and mission of Jesus?

    Of these, which is most difficult for you? Why?

    4. Dave mentioned 3 things that prevent us from growing up in Christ (v14—immaturity, instability, gullibility)

    Why would these things keep us from becoming more like Jesus?

    How can people acting in these ways impact a church body?

    How can we “grow out” of these things?

    Explore the Passage (Ephesians 4:1-16)

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins with having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, and where in the text.)

    What did Paul urge the Ephesians to do? (4:1)
    What three virtues foster unity among Christians? (4:2)
    How should Christians conduct themselves toward each other? Why? (4:2-6)
    What are the seven elements of Christian unity? (4:4-6)
    How is Christian unity related to the nature of God? (4:4-6)
    How are we enabled to live at peace with each other? (4:7)
    Who gives grace to each believer? (4:7)
    How did Paul confirm God’s giving of gifts? (4:8)
    What commentary did Paul make on the Old Testament passage he quoted? Why? (4:9-11)
    With what kind of people does God fill the church? (4:11)
    What is the purpose of spiritual gifts? (4:12-13)
    What results from gifted believers equipping the church? (4:14-16)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Why did Paul stress the theme of Christian unity to the Ephesians?

    What is God’s prescription for helping us grow more like Jesus? In what way may this be the hardest thing of all?

    How have you benefited from the influence of people who have lived out of their calling and gifts?

    What is your responsibility to help others in the body of Christ?

    In what way do you need to show humility, gentleness, patience and tolerance with someone you are at odds with?

    In what way can you serve someone else that needs to receive the gift of your Christ-centered influence in their life?

    In what way can you speak the truth lovingly this week?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
      What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?
    2. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From June 20, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • If you found buried treasure in your backyard, what would you do first? Why? How would finding this impact your life?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave shared the Law of Familiarity: All things of value will, with the passage of enough time, be taken for granted.

    1. How have you seen this is to be true in everyday life?

    2. In what way is this a real danger to us growing in Christlikeness?

    3. Read together Revelation 2:2-5—In what way did Paul’s concerns for the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 3:1-13 become a real problem for them in the book of Revelation?

    4. How is this instructive to us? To our church family? What can we do to keep our faith “fresh”?

    5. Dave used the unique geography of Sequoia trees (narrow band west of Sierras, unique environment and grow best in groves) to illustrate that we must be rooted in the right soil/story to grow and become like Jesus.  From the message, what story do we need to plant ourselves in? What false stories do we plant ourselves in that jeopardizes growing in God’s grace?

    Explore the Passage (Ephesians 3:1-21)

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins with having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, and where in the text.)

    To what mystery did Paul refer? (3:2-3)
    How did Paul receive insight into the mystery of Christ? (3:4-5)
    Who revealed the mystery of Christ to Paul and when was it disclosed? (3:5)
    What was God’s plan? (3:6)
    What task was Paul given? (3:7)
    How did Paul see himself in light of being given this responsibility? (3:8)
    What “vehicle” is God’s wisdom communicated? (3:10)
    In light of God’s work, how may believers approach Him? (3:11-12)
    Why were Paul’s trials something the Ephesians should feel honored? (3:13)
    When Paul prayed, what posture did he assume? (3:14)
    To whom is God the Father? (3:14-15)
    Through whom would the Ephesians be empowered? (3:16)
    How would Christ dwell in the believers’ hearts? (3:17)
    Why did Paul want the Ephesians to be rooted in God’s love? (3:17-19)
    What did Paul want the Ephesians to grasp, take hold of? (3:18)
    What does the love of Christ surpass? (3:19)
    How did Paul close his prayer? (3:20-21)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    If Paul was your prayer partner, how might he encourage you to pray, to see yourself in light of God’s grace and to grow spiritually?

    In what way do you need to become firmly rooted in love?
    How have you allowed God to become too small in your life (i.e.. too easy to explain)?

    Of the four directions that we grow in God’s grace (Down, Up, Within and Out) which one needs some ‘tuning up’ for you?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
      What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?
    2. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From June 13, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What group of people do you feel the strongest sense of community with; family, coworkers, friend group, church, neighbors, etc.?  What is it about that group that makes you feel so comfortable?
    • Share about a time you felt like an outsider to a group. Did you eventually break-in and get to know people?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. Why do you think Paul wanted the Gentiles (and us) to remember their former alienation from citizenship in God’s kingdom?
    2. How does the grace of God put to death disunity and unite people from all different cultures, backgrounds, and opinions?
    3. Re-read vs. 19-22. Paul uses strong language here to describe the church and their connection to one another. What are some ways you can take steps toward getting to know and become better connected with others in the church that are different than you?

    Explore the Passage

    What did Paul tell the Gentile believers to remember? (vs. 11)

    What were the barriers between Jew and Gentile before Christ? (vs. 12-15)

    What is the difference between Jesus “being our peace” and Jesus “bringing peace”? (vs. 14)

    What did Jesus put to death in vs. 16 and how did He do it? (vs. 16)

    What 2 kinds of reconciliation did Jesus accomplish on the cross? (vs. 16)

    What are the 3 illustrations Paul uses to describe the New Community believers are called to? (vs. 19-22)

    What is the foundation for Christ’s new community? (vs. 20-22)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    1. In what ways do you see Christians allowing their tribal affiliation/identity to define who they are more than their commitment to Christ?
    2. Respond to the statement: “In order to be at peace with others, you need to be at peace with God.” How have you seen this play out in your life?
    3. How does this passage inform us on how to interact with others in our church or in our community who think/act/look/live different than us?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
      What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?
    2. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From May 30, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • Have you ever shown mercy to a person that deserved condemnation/judgement? Or visa versa? What happened? (If you can’t think of a specific personal instance, think of a time in a news event, or a movie where this was true.)

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave shared a story of an atheist who had a near-death experience who did not attribute it to anything spiritual or from God, but it did awaken him to seeing life differently, to experiencing a new life.
    1. How does Paul’s use of this imagery of being dead in our sin and being brought to new life accurately describe our spiritual condition? How may it be different?

    2. How is understanding our sin nature as total depravity important in illuminating Paul’s idea that we all human beings share this nature in common, even though we may experience it differently? In what way does this help us understand how dead we were in our sin and in need of a Savior?
    Dave made a point to say that outside of Christ we are all dead/unresponsive even though we may have different “conversion experiences”. Of the three conversion experiences he listed: The Dramatic, Discovery (slow awakening) or Anchored (always knew)–what would best describe your experience?
    What would you say was the moment or season in your life that you realized you were dead in sin, but made alive in Christ? What brought you to this place?

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Why was your position “hopeless” before you put your faith in Christ?
    What one thing has changed the most about you after you put your faith in Christ?

    In what way do you now see that both your sin nature, and the Commander of the unseen world worked in tandem to blind you from seeing and receiving Christ? In what way does this give us compassion for those who are not Christians and inform our prayer life and how we approach sharing our faith with others?

    Why hasn’t anyone ever deserved God’s grace, or mercy?

    In what way may it be “easy” to slip into thinking that we can take credit for salvation?

    In Christ we have new life with a new position, a new purpose and new perspective? Considering Paul says you are God’s Masterpiece, designed to do good things he planned for long ago… what does that mean to you personally? What would you do differently tomorrow if you embraced that you are God’s Masterpiece today?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
      What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about as a result of engaging with this passage?
    2. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From May 23, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • When you pray, what consumes your prayers? Is it typically physical obstacles and meeting physical needs or is it about spiritual challenges and change?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. Steve talked about the importance of reframing our identity as Christians. The truth is, Christians are no different than anyone else and can easily get caught up in aligning our identity with what we do, how we look, or what we own. How have you experienced this identity confusion in your own life?

    2. Paul prays that believers would “Know” the hope, inheritance and power found in Christ. How is this knowledge different than just head knowledge that puffs up?

    3. If God’s power for us is so great, why do so many Christians fall into harmful sin patters seemingly unable to get free?

    Explore the Passage [Ephesians 1:15-23]

    What had Paul heard about the believers in Ephesus? (vs. 15-16)
    What does Paul mean by “His rich and glorious inheritance”? (vs. 18)
    What 3 things does Paul pray the believers will know? (vs. 18-19)
    Paul talks about the hope that we are called to in vs. 18. What is that hope? (vs 18)
    Where is Christ seated? What does that mean? (vs. 20)
    What does it mean that God has put all things under the authority of Christ? What does Christ have authority over? (vs. 22)In what ways was the power of God manifested in Christ? (vs 19-22) 

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Steve mentioned that understanding the hope to which we are called in vs. 18 is realizing that the present circumstances don’t get to determine the meaning of your life. In what ways has your hope in Jesus and eternal future helped you get through a difficult situation or season in your life?

    Christians are called to live by taking a posture of hope throughout life. How would you rate yourself on a hope scale today?

    How would you define the resurrection power Paul talks about in vs. 19-21? How does this/can this power reframe your attitude throughout a normal week? (It’s power to make the most sinful, selfish human beings into people who are life-giving. It’s power to reverse the brokenness and death we experience and bring life and resurrection out of it.)

    Application

    1. As a group, take time to pray vs. 17-19 for one another; specifically that you would know God’s hope, the riches of God’s inheritance, and the immeasurable power that is available to us through Christ.

    2. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
      What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
      How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From May 2nd, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Growing up in your church tradition—how did you understand the meaning and purpose of baptism? How is it similar or different from your understanding today?

    Quick Reactions

    • Which baptism testimony was most encouraging or moving to you and why?
    • Have you been baptized and/or publicly shared your story of coming to Christ? Share your experience or whether you haven’t been baptized.

    Explore the Passage [Colossians 2:6-23]

    How did Paul tell the Colossians to continue in Christ? (2:6-7)
    What false teaching was Paul concerned about? (2:8)
    What did Paul affirm about Christ? How? (2:9-10)
    What did God give the Colossian believers? (2:10)
    Why do Gentile Christians have no need to conform to Jewish rules and regulations? (2:11-12)
    What symbol does Paul use to replace “circumcision”? (2:12)
    How did the Cross cancel your past record? (2:13-14)
    From what did Christ deliver us? How? (2:15-17)
    How did Paul encourage the Colossians to practice their freedom in Christ? (2:16)
    How did Christ fulfill what the Old Testament foreshadowed? (2:17)
    Whom did Paul accuse of trying to rob believers of their spiritual rewards? (2:18)
    What were the characteristics of the false teachers? (2:18-19)
    How did Paul challenge the legalism that had infected the church? (2:20-21)
    What are the failings of human commands and teachings? (2:20-23)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Key Context for studying Colossians (from gotquestions.org)
    As with all the early churches, the issue of Jewish legalism in Colosse was of great concern to Paul. So radical was the concept of salvation by grace apart from works that those steeped in Old Testament law found it very difficult to grasp. Consequently, there was a continual movement among the legalists to add certain requirements from the law to this new faith. Primary among them was the requirement of circumcision which was still practiced among some of the Jewish converts. Paul countered this error in Colossians 2:11-15 in which he declares that circumcision of the flesh was no longer necessary because Christ had come. His was a circumcision of the heart, not the flesh, making the ceremonial rites of the Old Testament law no longer necessary (Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4, 9:26; Acts 7:51; Romans 2:29).

    1. In what ways do you think we make “additions” to faith in Christ within the Christian community? (e.g. to be acceptable to Christ, to His community, you need Jesus + these things)

    2. What “Christian rule” did you think was very important to follow 5-10 years ago, but now you see is either non-essential, debatable, or not as important as you use to think it was? Why?

    3. In light of Colossians 2, how can we better discern the difference between what is essential (faith in Christ alone) and yet uphold important “moral” commands that God gives us? What is our responsibility and not our responsibility? In what way may verses 6-9 help us to know our responsibility?

    4. What would you put in the category of “empty philosophy” and “high-sounding nonsense” today? What is our responsibility in light of those things?

    5. Paul seems to be encouraging people to look back to their baptism (v12) in order to remember who they belong to and what He has accomplished for you. In what way can our baptism remind us that Christ is sufficient and all that we ever need?

    6. What does it mean that you were dead in your sins, but now alive with Christ?

    7. In what way can we “keep on following the rules of this world; don’t touch, don’t taste, don’t touch?

    8. How does Paul describe the soul sucking, life draining consequences of following human teaching and pious devotion? Why don’t they provide help to conquer the desires we would like to see die off?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From April 18, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • In your opinion, what does the perfect church act/live/look like?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. What is the connection between offering yourself to God / renewing your mind in verses 1-2 to being part of the body of Christ?

    2. Why does Paul use the image of a body to describe a Christian community? Do you think there’s a better analogy that could be used?

    3. Steve mentioned there are no lone ranger Christians. What does this mean and have you ever experienced a period in your life where you have felt like a lone ranger Christian?

    Explore the passage [Romans 12:1-8]

    Why does Paul tell us to give our bodies to God? (vs. 1)
    How does God transform us? (vs. 2)
    What is the link between pride and unity in the body of Christ? (vs. 3-4)
    What does Paul mean when he says “we all belong to each other?” (vs. 5)
    What is the purpose of spiritual gifts? (I Cor. 12:7)
    Are spiritual gifts something sought after or given? (vs. 6)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    In what specific ways does the presence and proximity of other Christians in your life help you grow as a disciple and follower of Jesus? How have you experienced this in your life?

    What does it look like to move from renting to owning in regards to your involvement with the local church?

    What are some ways you can become more involved in the life and work of Westwood Church?

    How have you seen the diversity of God-given spiritual gifts used in the church?

    To the best of your knowledge, what are your spiritual gifts? Are you currently using them to serve?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From April 11, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • How have your expectations of the church changed and shifted since you were younger?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave highlighted in Acts that it begins with the mission of Jesus (1:8), the believers gathering together in Acts 2:42, but, the church doesn’t begin to move outside the confines of Jerusalem and into the complete mission of Jesus until the death of Stephen.

    • In what ways can we lose sight of the fullness of God’s mission?
    • How can we mistake the point of the church only as Acts 2:42 without Acts 8 and 12?
    • In what way do you expect more from the church, than Jesus even expected the church to deliver?
    • What does it mean to you to declare “We Are the Church?”

    Explore the passage [Acts 12:1-19 ]

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins with having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, and where in the text.)

    Why was King Herod so cold-hearted toward the church? (12:1-3)
    Whom did King Herod arrest? (12:1, 3-4)
    Whom did the king have put to death? (12:2)
    What did Herod do with Peter? Why? (12:3-4)
    What did the king plan to do with Peter after the Passover? Why? (12:3-4)
    What did the church do while Peter was in prison? (12:5)
    While in jail, why didn’t Peter seem to fear for his life? (12:6)
    What happened on the night before Peter’s trial? (12:6-11)
    Who enabled Peter to escape? (12:7-10)
    How did Peter escape from prison? (12:7-10)
    When did Peter know that what he had experienced was real? (12:11)
    Where did Peter go once he realized what had happened? (12:12)
    What happened when Peter appeared at Mary’s door? (12:13-16)
    Once inside the house, what did Peter say? (12:17)
    How did the soldiers react when they discovered Peter was gone? (12:18)
    What did Herod do? (12:19)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    James, the brother of John is killed in verse 1. This is the same James in Mark 10, who with John asks Jesus to be on his right and left and Jesus responds, “can you drink the cup I drink”? In what way is it easy just to pass up this important event in a story like Peter’s escape?

    In what way does Peter and the gathered church deal with a difficult ruler? How may this inform how we ought to follow Jesus in opposition and hardship? What ways do you seeing Christians deal with this poorly?

    In what ways are our complaints about the church, or what is wrong with the church out of sync with passages like Acts 12? What ought we be asking of ourselves in light of passages like this?

    Dave asked us to consider three different ways God may be asking something different of us…

    Begin… Consider how what you expect of church may be different from how God calls you to be the church? In what way am I looking for a church to give to me, verses sharing what I have for the benefit of others? Be honest.

    Build… In what way is God asking you to shift your mindset from consuming religious services to investing yourself for the sake of the Kingdom of God? In what way am I serving (investing time, talent or finances) for the sake of someone else in Christ’s name that actually costs me something?

    Battle… In what way do you need to die to yourself; to wage a battle against your desires, selfishness in order to advance the Kingdom of God for the sake of others?
    WHAT APPLIES TO YOU MOST? WHY?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From March 28, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • How have you experienced the benefit of good and/or bad leadership in your life? (e.g. Work, home, school, church.) If you had to define in one word or sentence why it was good/bad, what would you say?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. This section of Scripture details what we know as the Triumphal Entry of Jesus. Why do we call it the triumphal entry?

    2. Jesus rides into town on a donkey forcing people to make a decision about Him. What are the two options Jesus gives them? (Crown me as King or kill me)

    3. Steve mentioned that what we think we need is almost alwys shallow compared to what we truly need. Share an example of this in your own life.

    4. Read John 12:25. What does it mean that “those who care nothing for this life will keep it for eternity?” Is Jesus saying we should hate this life?

    Explore the passage [John 12:9-26]

    • Why was there a crowd in Jerusalem? (vs 9, 12)
    • What is the significance of the people waiving the palm branches? (vs 13)
    • What does the word “Hosanna” mean? What is the significance of this word in the context?
      (vs 13, Psalm 118:25-26)
    • What was the expectation that the crowd had of Jesus as He rides into Jerusalem? (vs 17-18)
    • What is the fear the Pharisees have regarding Jesus? (vs 19)
    • Read Mark 11:2. What is the significance of the young donkey in the story? (vs. 2)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Verse 16 tells us the disciples didn’t understand the significance of the triumphal entry and the fulfilled prophecy until after the fact. Share about a time in your life you weren’t able to see the significance of what God was doing until after the fact.

    In the triumphal entry, we see that Jesus came into town not to take power by killing, but to lose power and dying. How does Jesus example challenge us in how we live or lives? (vs. 24-26)

    Steve mentioned the phrase “God will always give us what we need, and not necessarily what we want” in reference to the crowds desire for Jesus to save them from Roman oppression. In what ways have you experienced this in your life?

    John points out in vs. 17-19 that Jesus is the King of the world, and not just King of the Jews. The barriers that divide us whether they are race, gender, culture, or creed then become insignificant when we worship at Jesus feet. How have you seen and experienced this in your own life?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?

    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From March 21, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • How have you experienced the benefit of good and/or bad leadership in your life? (e.g. Work, home, school, church.) If you had to define in one word or sentence why it was good/bad, what would you say?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave mentioned three characteristics of The Good Shepherd—That Jesus is recognizable to those who follow Him, uses His influence for the benefit of others and doesn’t use people for their own gain.

    How is Jesus contrasting the Good Shepherd from bad shepherds in His teaching? What language, images does He use?

    What does it mean to you that Jesus is “The Good Shepherd?”

    Explore the passage [John 10:1-16]

    • Who did Jesus say was a thief and a robber? (10:1)
    • What kind of relationship do sheep have with their shepherd? (10:2-4)
    • Why won’t sheep follow a stranger? (10:5)
    • What effect did Jesus’ words have on His audience? (10:6)
    • What did Jesus say He was? (10:7)
    • To whom did Jesus say the sheep did not listen? (10:8)
    • What did Jesus say would be the result of entering through Him? (10:9)
    • How did Jesus contrast His coming with the coming of a thief? (10:10)
    • Who did Jesus claim to be? (10:11)
    • Why did Jesus say the hired hand would abandon his sheep? (10:12-13)
    • What type of relationship did Jesus say He had with His sheep? (10:14)
    • What did Jesus say He did for His sheep? (10:15)
    • What did Jesus say He had? (10:16)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    In what way is Jesus like a gate? How has He been a gate in your own life?

    Why are motives and actions so important to Jesus in describing what a Good Shepherd does?

    As you consider the gospel of John, name an encounter or two that Jesus has had with people throughout the gospel and the Pharisees that are emblematic of His teaching about being the Good Shepherd?

    How is “knowing others” vital to leading and following?

    In what ways does Jesus expose the true motives of the Pharisees “leadership”?

    Why is sacrifice an important element in leading well?

    In what way is Jesus an example for us in leading well (church, home, work etc…)?

    How can we better hear the voice of Jesus?

    What tempts people to follow a stranger? Why?

    How has Jesus made your life full, abundant? In what do you experience the provision, protection and enjoyment of the Shepherding of Jesus?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From March 14, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • Discuss a time where you felt the most “free”? Why? When have you felt the least free? Why?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Jesus defines true freedom; 1. It is expressed in dependence, not independence, 2. is liberation from the institution of our sin nature, and is connected to the eternal, not the temporal.

    How does this contradict how our culture defines freedom?

    In what way is Jesus’ definition less of a burden for us?

    What would it mean for you to orient your life in a way that reflects this kind of freedom?

    Explore the passage [John 8:31-57]

    • What did Jesus say to the Jews who had believed in Him? (8:31)
    • How did the Jews respond to Jesus’ statement about freedom? (8:33)
    • Who did Jesus say is a slave to sin? (8:34)
    • How does Jesus distinguish a slave from a son? (8:35)
    • What is the result of being freed by the Son? (8:36)
    • What did Jesus say the Jews were ready to do? (8:37)
    • In what way were the Jews mistaken about Abraham? (8:39)
    • What did Abraham not do? (8:40)
    • What did Jesus say the Jews would do if God were their Father? (8:42)
    • What shocking fact did Jesus reveal about His audience? (8:44)
    • What is the devil’s native language? (8:44)
    • Of what did Jesus say the devil was the father? (8:44)
    • What did Jesus say that the person who belonged to God heard? (8:47)
    • How did Jesus respond to the accusation against Him? (8:49)
    • What did Jesus say would be the result of keeping His word? (8:51)
    • What question did the Jews ask Jesus? (8:53)
    • Whom did Jesus claim to know? (8:55)
    • What made Abraham rejoice? (8:56)
    • Before whom did Jesus claim He had existed? (8:58)
    • What did the Jews attempt to do to Jesus? Why? (8:58-59)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    How are you like your mother or father? (traits/characteristics that have been passed down).

    How does sin make us a slave?

    What does it mean to be set free?

    How does truth set someone free?

    How has the Son set you free?

    In what way can we act like “illegitimate children”?

    In what way is Jesus claiming to be God?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From March 7, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • What things, ideas tend to cause division among people today?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    What is most noticeable in our text is how utterly alone Jesus is and how widespread He has been rejected, AND we are only in Chapter 7!

    In what way is John pointing us to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior?

    How do you handle rejection or feelings of being alone?

    How might the experience of Jesus help us redefine loneliness, rejection, and self-giving love?

    How can we use categories, labels, confirmation bias from seeing what is true? Perhaps, more importantly how can these things prevent us from sharing Christ with others?

    Explore the passage [John 7:25-52]

    • What questions did the people begin asking about Jesus? (7:25-26)
    • Why was it significant that people knew where Jesus was from? (7:27)
    • What did Jesus cry out in the temple court? (7:28-29)
    • What did the people try to do? (7:30)
    • What reason did some of the people give for putting their faith in Jesus? (7:31)
    • What did the Pharisees do when they heard the crowd talking about Jesus? (7:32)
    • What did Jesus say the people would be unable to do? (7:34)
    • How did the Jews respond to what Jesus said? (7:35-36)
    • What invitation did Jesus offer on the last day of the Feast? (7:37)
    • What result did Jesus promise for those who believed in Him? (7:38)
    • Why hadn’t the Spirit been given yet? (7:39)
    • Why did the people get confused over Jesus’ identity? (7:41-42)
    • What did some of the people want to do? (7:44)
    • How can we infer that the temple guard recognized Jesus’ authority? (7:46)
    • Of what did the Pharisees accuse the temple guards? (7:47)
    • To what group did Nicodemus belong? (7:50)
    • What question did Nicodemus ask? (7:51)
    • What question was Nicodemus asked? (7:52)
    • What claim did the Pharisees make about Galilee? (7:52)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    What can you tell about a person from his or her hometown?

    How has your background shaped you into the person you are today?

    How does Jesus still cause division today?

    How might your loyalty to certain groups, people, ideas influence your opinions or beliefs more than Christ informs your ideas, opinions and beliefs?

    How might today’s religious leaders react to Jesus if He came back today?

    What does the Pharisees lack of curiosity about where Jesus is from, and their false accusation, “no prophet came from Galilee” (when there are up to 5 prophets that came from Galilee in the OT) say about them?

    How can we “misuse” our authority?

    What do you think about Nicodemus’ response?

    In what way could we be “guilty” today of having a river of living water flowing from us? That Christ is the source of our lives in which the Spirit flows out of us and blesses others?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From February 28, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • In what ways do you observe people today attempting to find satisfaction?
    • What needs do you spend the majority of your time trying to satisfy?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. In what way can you relate to the crowd and what they were seeking from Jesus?

    2. As a group, instead of bread, come up with a more contemporary word that Jesus would use to describe Himself to us today?

    3. Dave described that in this conversation with the crowd that Jesus was doing two things. He was identifying the symptoms of a dissatisfied life, while offering us what truly satisfies.

    Verses 26-34, Jesus is saying, what does not satisfy is pursuing things that don’t last and what will satisfy your deepest longings, is the enduring security of a relationship with me.

    Verses 37-58, Jesus is saying, you know you’re dissatisfied by what you are complaining about. What will truly satisfy your deepest longings is my enduring presence.

    In what way have you experienced this to be true in your own life? How can we struggle with this?

    Explore the passage [John 6:26-58]

    • Why did the crowd seek Jesus? (6:26)
    • What did Jesus say the Son of Man would give to these people? (6:27)
    • What did Jesus say was the work of God? (6:28-29)
    • What did the crowd ask Jesus to do? (6:30-31)
    • Who did Jesus say was the true bread of life? (6:32-33)
    • What did Jesus say would be the result of coming to Him? (6:35)
    • What did Jesus say He would never do to those who came to Him? (6:37)
    • Why did Jesus come down from heaven? (6:38)
    • What did Jesus say is the Father’s will? (6:39-40)
    • Why did the Jews begin to grumble? (6:41-42)
    • Who did Jesus say could come to Him? (6:43-44)
    • What did Jesus say would be the result of believing? (6:47)
    • What contrast does Jesus make between manna and the bread of life? (6:48-51, 58)
    • What did Jesus say about His flesh and His blood? (6:53-57)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    What things do we seek from Jesus?

    In what ways can we have a “demanding attitude” with God?

    When and why did you come to faith in Jesus?

    In what way has Jesus satisfied your hunger and thirst for acceptance, security and meaning in life?

    In what ways can we still feel empty?

    What situations cause you to feel insecure?

    When do you feel secure in your relationship with God? Why?

    How has the Christian life turned out to be different from what you expected?

    In what way is Jesus an example for us to follow?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From February 21, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • The season of Lent is here. What is something you have done in the past to help you reflect, focus, and pursue Jesus during this season? Do you have any specific plans to help guide you this year?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. Steve repeatedly mentioned the phrase “Don’t miss the forest for the trees.” What did he mean by that? In what ways can we be guilty of doing that?

    2. Do you think it’s possible to lose our love for God while remaining consistently religious in our practice? Have you every experienced this before?

    3. The Jews meticulously studied scripture, yet rejected Jesus. How is it possible to study scripture, yet reject Christ?

    Explore the passage [John 5:31-47]

    • Why does verse 24 teach us about salvation?
    • What does it mean to “pass from death into life?” (vs. 24)
    • Why would Jesus’ testimony about Himself not be valid? (vs 31)
    • How did John testify to the truth? (vs. 32)
    • What 3 evidences does Jesus point to to prove that He is from God? (vs. 33-39)
    • How are Jesus’ works greater than the witness of John the Baptist? (vs. 35-36)
    • Read vs 31 and 34. How can we reconcile these 2 seemingly contradicting statements?
    • What was the result of the Jews study of scripture? (vs. 40)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Read Deuteronomy 19:15. Jesus offers testimony in keeping with the Mosaic standard for a court of law. What is Jesus trying to accomplish by offering these witnesses?

    What do you think about Jesus’ statement in verse 40? Do you know people like this, who refuse to believe in Jesus despite all the evidence?

    Though the Jews prided themselves on their performance of the law of Moses, Jesus said that Moses would actually accuse them. (vs. 45) In what ways does our pride and performance in obeying God and His word actually keep you from believing Jesus?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From February 14, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • How have you seen how rules and regulations undermine relationships? (parenting, friendships, etc…)

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    •  What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. In what way can you relate to the man laying at the pool in your relationship with God?

    2. In what way can you relate to the Pharisees in the story?

    3. How do people struggle with the “fairness” of God? That Jesus heals this man, but not everyone at the pool?

    Explore the passage [John 5:1-17]

    • What event did Jesus go to Jerusalem for? (5:1)
    • Who came to the pool near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem? (5:2-3)
    • How long had the one invalid man been at the pool? (5:5)
    • What did Jesus ask the invalid man? (5:6)
    • How did the invalid man respond to Jesus’ question? (5:7)
    • What did Jesus command the invalid man to do? (5:8)
    • What happened to the invalid man after Jesus spoke to him? (5:9)
    • On what day of the week did this miracle take place? (5:9)
    • What did the Jews say to the healed man? Why? (5:10)
    • How did the healed man respond to the Jews’ question? (5:11)
    • What did the Jews ask the healed man? (5:12)
    • Why didn’t the man know who healed him? (5:13)
    • What did Jesus tell the man he had healed on their second encounter? (5:14)
    • What did the healed man do after he spoke with Jesus a second time? (5:15)
    • Why did the Jews persecute Jesus? (5:16)
    • Whose work did Jesus do? (5:17)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    What did breaking the Sabbath mean to the man that was healed?

    What did it mean to the Pharisees?

    In what way do you think life is unfair? When have you felt as if life has dealt you a bad hand?

    How can we lose sight of God, his purposes in rule keeping or breaking?

    Read Romans 3:20. What does Paul say the role of “the law/rules” are? What can it do? What can’t it do?

    Discuss why Jesus asks this man if he wants to get well? In what way may Jesus ask us the same question?

    What role does God play, and what role do we play when it comes to spiritual, physical, emotional healing in our life? In what way does this story speak to that issue?

    What things do we typically look towards that promise to give us rest, joy and peace? How do they fall short?

    Read Psalm 3:1-6 together. What does true rest look like regardless of our circumstances?

    Dave said that later when Jesus tells the man to ‘go and sin no more’ that He was helping the man understand that his greatest need was ongoing spiritual healing/freedom not physical healing. What do you think?
    In what way do you see this is true in your own life?

    How may God be calling you in your circumstances to “stand up, pick up your mat and walk”?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From February 7, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • Think of a time when a simple misunderstanding has caused confusion or a problem in a relationship. What happened? Did it get resolved?

    Quick Reactions

    •  How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. In what way can you relate to the woman at the well in your relationship with God?

    2. In what way do things (what divides us, distinctions, grievances from the past) keep us from moving into a deeper relationship with Jesus?

    3. In what way does what transpires at this well point to Jesus being the Savior of the World?

    Explore the passage [John 4:1-42]

    • (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins in having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, where in the text.)

    • What had the Pharisees heard about Jesus? (4:1)

    • What did Jesus do when he heard what the Pharisees were saying about Him? (4:3)

    • Why did Jesus sit down by Jacob’s well? (4:6)

    • What did Jesus say to the Samaritan woman? (4:7)

    • Where were Jesus’ disciples? (4:8)

    • Why was the Samaritan woman surprised that Jesus spoke to her? (4:9)

    • What did the Samaritan woman think Jesus was talking about? (4:11-12,15)

    • What did Jesus say would be the result of drinking the water He offered? (4:13-14)

    • How did Jesus respond to the Samaritan woman’s answer to His request? (4:16-18)

    • How did the Samaritan woman respond to Jesus’ statements about her situation? (4:19-20)

    • What kind of worshipers does God seek? (4:23)

    • What did Jesus say about God? (4:24)

    • Who did Jesus say He was? (4:26)

    • How did the disciples respond when they saw Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman? (4:27)

    • What did the Samaritan woman do after she had spoken to Jesus? (4:28)

    • How did the townspeople respond to what the Samaritan woman said? (4:30)

    • How did the disciples respond to what Jesus told them about food? (4:33)

    • What did Jesus say was His food? (4:34)

    • What did Jesus say about the fields? (4:35)

    • What did the woman tell the Samaritan people Jesus told her? (4:39)

    • What did the Samaritans urge Jesus to do? (4:40)

    • What did Jesus rely on to convince more people to believe in Him? (4:41)

    • What impact did Jesus’ words have on the Samaritan people? (4:41)

    • What difference did hearing Jesus for themselves make to the Samaritans? (4:42)

    • What did the Samaritan people believe about Jesus? (4:42)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    What surprises you most about this interaction Jesus has with this woman?

    What “groups” of people do you most feel uncomfortable being around? Why?

    How could things like people’s backgrounds, traditions, questionable moral character, identifications and associations become the things we see first in people affect what Jesus has called us to?

    How does “prejudice” affect our “witness” as Christians?

    What dry wells do we tend to keep going back to in order to quench our thirst?

    What barriers keep us from seeing Jesus for who He is? What barriers do we seem to stay stuck in, focused on that keep us from being more deeply united in a relationship with Jesus?

    What tasks, priorities get in the way, or compete for your attention in your walk with God?

    Who do you think Jesus is? (categories, like skeptical, prophet, messiah or savior?) What do you think influences people most in the way they think of Jesus? What could we do about it?

    What led you to believe in Jesus? In what ways do you think you misunderstood who Jesus is or what He came to do?

    How has someone’s “testimony”, or their story impacted your life or the lives of others?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From January 31, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • What people or images come to your mind when you hear the words “born again Christian?”

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Steve talked about the story of Nicodemus from John 3:1-21. Nicodemus gets so many things right yet he has one major, glaring problem; he doesn’t understand that salvation is a gift from God. Our new identity as a Christian is received and not something that can be achieved.

    1. What is something we can learn from Nicodemus in how he approached Jesus?

    2. Jesus used the popular metaphor of “being born again” to describe the process of salvation by grace through faith. It is something that happens to you, not something you do for yourself. What is another metaphor that could be used to describe this process?

    3. In what ways do you see yourself drawn to loving darkness rather than the light? (vs. 19)

    Explore the passage [John 3:1-21]

    • Why do you think Nicodemus visited Jesus at night? (vs. 2)
    • What facts about Jesus did Nicodemus get right? (vs. 2)
    • What does it mean to be born of the water and the Spirit? (vs. 5)
    • What are the two things Jesus tells Nicodemus can’t happen unless he’s born again?
    • Who is the “we” and “our” that Jesus refers to in vs. 11?
    • What is the connection between Moses lifting up the serpent in Numbers 21 and Jesus being lifted up? (vs. 14)
    • How does vs. 16 fit into the context of the story with Nicodemus?

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Why do you think Jesus was so direct with Nicodemus?

    What point is Jesus making by comparing spiritual birth to the wind?

    What happens to Nicodemus after this encounter? (John 7:50-51, 19:38-42)

    Being born again is a vivid image of the “new life” a Christian should experience when they come to faith in the Lord. How have you experienced this “new life” in your own walk with the Lord?

     

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From January 24, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • When it comes to appreciating organization, cleaning how would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
      1 (Disorganization doesn’t bother me) ——————————-10 (Yep, I’m a neat freak.)

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. How have you mostly understood this passage in the past?

    2. Does Jesus “anger”, making a whip and driving people out of the temple change your view of Jesus? Why or why not?

    3. Dave quoted from Larry Crabb saying, “The core problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things, but that we are not passionate enough about good things.” How does Jesus model this for us in this passage?

    4. What may it mean for us that Jesus has rights over our temple? In what ways may Jesus be overturning tables in the Big C Church and in the temple of our hearts?

    Explore the passage [John 2:13-25]

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins in having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, where in the text.)

    What time was it when Jesus went to Jerusalem? (2:13)
    What did Jesus find in the temple courts? (2:14)
    What did Jesus do in the temple courts? (2:15)
    How did Jesus respond to those who were selling doves? (2:16)
    What did Jesus’ disciples remember? (2:17)
    What did the Jews demand from Jesus? (2:18)
    How did Jesus respond to the demand from the Jews? (2:19)
    What temple did the Jews think Jesus was talking about? (2:20)
    What temple was Jesus talking about? (2:21)
    When did the disciples remember what Jesus had said? (2:22)
    How did the people respond to Jesus’ miracles? (2:23)
    What was Jesus’ response to those who believed in Him? (2:24-25)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    What was the significance of the Passover event for the nation of Israel?

    Why would Jesus be appalled to see merchants, the exchanging of currency, animals roaming around inside the temple court reserved for Gentiles to worship God?

    Was Jesus justified in his anger? In what ways can we be rightly justified being angry? How can we reference this text inappropriately to justify our anger?

    In what way does Jesus communicate that He is Lord of the Temple? That He has the right to clean house and restore it to its proper use?

    Considering that we are both a part of the visible church (i.e. ekklesia in which Jesus will build His church, e.g. Eph. 2:19-20) AND we are part of the invisible church (i.e. Christ in us, you are God’s temple, e.g. 1 Corinthians 3:16).

    —What needs cleaning? What is disordered and needs re-ordering under Christ as the Head of the Church?

    —In what way can we be part of the solution?

    Why do you think the Jewish leaders were appalled at Jesus statement? (vv 17-18)

    What is the significance of Jesus’ response to the religious leaders demand for a miraculous sign? (v20)

    In what way is Jesus telling us that He isn’t just another person in a long line of religious reformers, but He has come to replace the whole system?

    What is the point of John’s statement in verses 23-25? Why is Jesus skeptical of people “trusting him”–that people believed in Him, but He did not entrust Himself to them?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From January 17, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.
    • If you are married—What was your wedding like? (fancy, simple, were you anxious?) Did anything go wrong or was unexpected? What happened?
    • If you are unmarried—Describe a wedding that you attended that was your favorite? Why? Did you ever attend a wedding that was a “disaster”? What happened?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dr. Reynolds Price said, “If you were inventing a biography (not fiction) of Jesus’ life, who would invent for his inaugural sign, a miraculous solution to a social embarrassment?”

    1. In what way does John recounting this event re-affirm the reliability/truthfulness of the Bible?

    2. In what way is running out of wine at a wedding crucial to understanding the meaning of what Jesus does?

    3. In what way does this first sign/miracle point to Jesus having to pay for our sin?

    Explore the passage [John 2:1-11]

    (Yes, these questions can seem silly, however good discussion and interpretation of the Bible begins in having a proper understanding of the basic facts; who, what, when, where in the text.)

    Where did the wedding take place? (2:1)
    Who was at the wedding? (2:1-2)
    What did Jesus’ mother say to Him? (2:3)
    What was Jesus’ response to His mother? (2:4)
    How did Jesus’ mother respond to His reply? (2:5)
    What were the water jars used for? (2:6)
    What did Jesus tell the servants to do? (2:7)
    To whom did the servants take the water? (2:8)
    What happened to the water? (2:9)
    What was the banquet master’s response? (2:10)
    Why did Jesus perform this miracle? (2:11)
    How did Jesus’ disciples respond to this miracle? (2:11)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Take some time to consider all those who participated in this event. Discuss their roles in making the wedding a success? How may their roles communicate something important about Jesus?

    What may John be telling us that the master of ceremonies didn’t know that the wine he was tasting used to be water moments ago, but the servants did?

    Why does Jesus, at first seem reluctant to help?

    What does Mary’s confident response “do whatever he tells you” communicate?

    What is the significance of the six stone jars?

    Jesus saves a young couple and family from embarrassment and even from this couple being marginalized in the future by the wider community.
    1. On a relational/human level… what does this tell us about Jesus?

    2. On a spiritual level…what does this say about Jesus and who He is?

    Read the following Scripture verses (Isaiah 25:6-8 and Revelation 19:6-9)
    1. In what way does the first miracle of Jesus correspond with these passages of Scripture?

    2. What does this mean for us?

    Respond to Dave’s paraphrase from Tim Keller,
    Jesus sat at wedding party joyfully drinking wine knowing of His coming sorrow and suffering, so that all who believe in Him can sit in the midst of your sorrows and sufferings in order to drink in the wine of the coming joy.

    What things has Jesus done that have caused you to have faith in Him?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From January 10, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • Describe a time in your life when you were chosen for something (whether it was noteworthy or not)? Why was this important? How did it make you feel? Describe a time you were not chosen, or chose last? How did that make you feel?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave said, “Sooner or later when you want to take Jesus seriously, he’ll ask you the question: ‘What do you want’?

    1. Why do you think Jesus asks this question? In what ways has He you asked this question? How has your answer shifted, changed, matured over the years?

    Dave said, the selection of the disciples says much more about God, than it does about us.

    2. As you look at the disciples that Jesus chose how do you see this is true? In what way does this free us from the sin and tyranny of comparison, pride, or need to “build a legacy”?

    Explore the passage [John 1:35-51]

    Who besides Jesus had disciples? (1:35)
    What did John say when he saw Jesus? (1:36)
    How did John identify Jesus for his disciples? (1:37)
    What did John’s disciples do when John identified Jesus? (1:37)
    What did Jesus ask John’s disciples? (1:38)
    What did John’s disciples call Jesus? (1:38)
    What did John’s disciples ask Jesus? (1:38)
    What was the first thing Andrew did after he had followed Jesus? (1:40)
    Who was Andrew’s brother? (1:40)
    What did Andrew tell his brother about Jesus? (1:41)
    What nickname did Jesus give to Simon? (1:42)
    What words did the author interpret for us? (1:37, 41, 42)
    How did Jesus and Philip meet? What did Jesus say to Philip? (1:43)
    What did Philip do after he followed Jesus? (1:45)
    What did Philip tell Nathanael about Jesus? (1:45)
    Why was Nathanael skeptical that Philip had found the Messiah? (1:46)
    What did Jesus say when he saw Nathanael? (1:47)
    What convinced Nathanael that Jesus was the Son of God? (1:47-50)
    Why was Nathanael surprised? (1:48)
    Why did Nathanael call Jesus the Son of God and the King of Israel? (1:48-49)
    What were the greater things to which Jesus referred? (1:50)
    What did Jesus tell Nathanael he would see? (1:51)
    Who is the Son of Man? (1:51)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    1. What “convinced” you that Jesus was God? When did you “believe”? In what way is Jesus continuing to ask you “what do you want”? What do you think Jesus “wants”?
    2.  John the Baptist was an influential religious leader, but once he recognized that Jesus was the Lamb of God, he began to direct disciples (Andrew and John) to follow Jesus instead of him. What lesson can we take from his example in terms of discipleship, being a part of a church?
      Dave said, Jesus did not choose the most mature, or the fully formed, or the highly gifted, rather, the choosing of the disciples points to a much more important idea: how you are chosen. Out of His love, in His mercy and from His abundant grace. (cf. Ephesians 1:5-8)
    3. Based on Jesus’ selection process of the disciples, what does it mean to follow Jesus?
    4. Go back to the gospel account and spend some time looking at how John describes Andrew, Peter, Phillip, and Nathanael and the actions they take. What is unique to each of them? What is similar? What disciple do you most identify with and why?
    5. John ends the choosing of the disciples by Jesus using biblical imagery from Genesis 28:10-22 for Himself. Read the story then consider in what way is John (i.e. Jesus) helping us to see that Jesus is God?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From January 3, 2021

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • For a moment, in the group, take some time to talk about how we would describe God, if we could not use Jesus Christ, his ministry, life, death or resurrection? In what way is this difficult or incomplete?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    1. In what ways have you found it is difficult to adequately communicate or express your thoughts or feelings into words?

    2. Dave asked, “How does the infinite communicate with the finite? An all-wise God with limited human beings. That God, in order to communicate with us, must accommodate Himself to our ‘baby talk’, our limitations. Ultimately, He stoops down to us in Christ, so that we may know Him. Why is this essential to understanding who God is and why He came?

    3. Dave said that John uses the language of both the Jews and the Greeks to communicate who Jesus is. In what way is this important for us to learn to “speak the language” of those around us?

    4. Not only does John use language to help us know God, but He says that God makes a home among us in Christ. In what way ought we “move into the lives” of people around us?

    Explore the passage [John 1:1-18]

    Who is the Word? (1:1)
    What is the relationship between the Word and God? (1:1-2)
    What was the Word’s role in creation? (1:3)
    How is the “life” bring light to everyone? (1:4)
    What was John’s role in relation to the light? (1:6)
    How did the light give light to every person? (1:9)
    Why didn’t the world recognize the light? (1:10)
    What changes for those who believe and accept Him? (1:12) How does John use the metaphor of birth to describe what it means to be a child of God?
    How and why did the Word make His home among us? (1:14)
    Whose glory did the Word reveal? (1:14)
    What did God give us through Moses? (1:17) In what way was it incomplete in knowing or revealing God?
    What did God give us through Jesus? (1:18)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    1. John uses the Greek, “Logos”, our translation, “Word” to describe Jesus. The Jews understood “Word” as “divine speech”, that words, in and of themselves had a unique, almost independent quality. The Greeks understood Logos, as the organizing principle behind the cosmos, that brings order out of disorder.
    2. In what way does John help bridge the gap for those who thought very differently about God?
    3. What is unique about John’s description about Jesus as “the Word of God”? Most often Christians refer to the word of God, as the words in Scripture—how is that at odds with John’s description? Why may this be an important distinction?
    4. Why does John make a point to draw clear lines between John the Baptist and Jesus? In what ways can we be tempted to not keep clear lines about those who give witness to the Light and the true Light? What role do we play as followers of Jesus?
    5. Although Jesus is the WORD of God, John says it was His own people that rejected Him. In what ways do God’s own people reject Him?
    6. In what ways can familiarity become an obstacle to knowing God?
      John clearly states the purpose for which God takes on flesh, that those who believe in Him and accepted Him would become His children.
    7. What does John assume about our spiritual state without Christ?
    8. This is the first time John uses the metaphor of birth, “reborn” to describe knowing God. Why is this important?
    9. What practical implications does it mean for us that God becomes human and made His home among us?
    10. In Christ, God is revealed to us (v18). Looking at verses 16-18 what does it mean for us that God is fully revealed in Jesus Christ?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From December 27, 2020

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • What in your life do you have such conviction about (a hobby, a product, an interest, a sports team, a child/family, a cause) that you could “sell” us on it today? Why is that?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Matt talked about how Jesus came as the Prince of Peace and is the only reason we can truly live peacefully with ourselves, with others and with God Himself.

    What kind of peace is Jesus offering to the disciples? Is it different from the peace He offers to us today?

    What kind of peace does the world offer us? How is the peace that Jesus offers to us different than the peace offered to us by the world?

    How can we tell if we are walking in the peace of Christ, or relying on the counterfeit peace of the world?

    Jesus seems to be saying that we have the choice whether or not our hearts are troubled and afraid. How is this possible? Does it have anything to do with His peace in our lives?

    How can we maintain the peace of Christ in our lives? With others? Should our life circumstances be a factor in our ability to abide in His peace? (Read and meditate on Colossians 3:15, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 55:22, and Isaiah 26:3)

    Is there an area in your life where your peace is disturbed? Is there an area in your life where your peace is gone? What do you need to do to have God’s peace ruling in those areas?

    Where are the areas of your thinking that you need to “FIX YOUR THOUGHTS ON what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

    Explore the passage [John 14:27 and Philippians 4:8]

    Why did Jesus use “peace” twice in the same sentence? “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you”.

    What were the disciples worried/afraid about?

    What do you believe Jesus preparing his disciples for?

    What does Paul mean by the word “think”? (Phil 4:8)

    What is the significance and meaning of all the things Paul tells us to think about?

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    Why is it necessary to “cast our burdens to the Lord”? What does it matter?

    How does “fixing our minds” (Philippians 4:8) and renewing our minds (Romans 12:2) work together?

    In what ways can Jesus be your Peace/Shalom as you enter into a new year?

    How can seeing Jesus as our Prince of Peace shape my prayers?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From December 13, 2020

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • Have you ever had a “brush with a celebrity”? (even if this person isn’t “famous” to other people). Who was it, and what was this encounter like? What affect did it have on you? Why?
    • How do we tend to define power and greatness? Why?

    Quick Reactions

    •  How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Isaiah prophesies 800 years before Jesus is born that his name will be “Mighty God”, El-Gibor, A warrior who will fight our battles.

    1. If you were an Israelite, considering they will soon be exiled by the mighty army of the Assyrians. What would your expectations be of this coming Warrior?
    2. In what way does Jesus re-define all the ways we look at power, strength and might?
    3. “In Christ, God displays His power in the birth of Jesus.”
      > As a group consider how the virgin birth displayed God’s power?
    4. “In Christ, his life, death and resurrection, God displays His power.”
      Considering that God could have revealed Himself in whatever way He choose too. For example, He could have come as a conquering, invading King like the Assyrians, but 100x fiercer and set things straight. Why not?
      > Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-19 together. How does Paul try to help us understand the message of God through the cross?
      > Read Colossians 2:13-15 together. What is the real problem that God resolved with human beings? In what way does the cross disarm and shame spiritual rulers and authorities?
    5. In what way does the demonstration of God’s power in Christ reveal to us how we think about power, strength and might? Why is this difficult to do in a world that views power as money, status, popularity?

    Explore the passage [Philippians 2:1-11]

    What four qualities mark unity with Christ? (2:1)
    How can Christians show the joy and unity of being in Christ in practical ways? (2:2)
    What did Paul say about self-centeredness? (2:3-4)
    What did Paul exhort believers to have? (2:5)
    What did Christ set aside when He became a man? (2:6-8)
    How did Jesus limit Himself? (2:6-8)
    How was Christ fully God and fully man at the same time? (2:6-8)
    How is Christ the best example of humility and unselfishness for us? (2:6-8)
    Why did Christ take on the limitations of being human even though He was of the same nature as God? (2:7)
    How did God exalt Jesus? (2:9)
    How did Christ win sovereignty over all people and over everything? (2:10)
    What confession will every person make? (2:11)

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    In what ways does our trust/union in Christ get revealed in the way we live in front of others? Why does this matter?
    In what ways are selfish ambition and pride at odds with Jesus and His will for us? How is it at odds with forming unity in a church family? What does God do with His infinite power and privilege?
    The word Paul uses for mind means to have understanding, to think, to direct your thoughts towards, to seek and aspire to a mindset that would work itself out into action.
    What kind of mindset does Christ want us to have? Why?
    How does Christ’s example of “equality, emptying, found in appearance as a man, humility and obedience” challenge the ways we tend to look at equality, being full of ourselves, appearance, pride, power, rights and privileges?
    What kinds of things do I need to lay down (petty disputes, rights,) in order to demonstrate the power of Christ?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From December 6, 2020

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?

    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together

    • How would you rate the year 2020?  0 stars to 4 stars?  Why?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?

    • What point/idea resonated most with you?  Why?

    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Before we begin, consider that Isaiah wrote chapter 9 with the awareness that Israel would be soon invaded by the powerful Assyrian kingdom.  This would force the nation, and families into exile and separate them from all that is comfortable, familiar and separate them from their land and livelihood.

    Read Chapter 8:19-20—What is Isaiah concerned about?  Why?  In what ways is it tempting to turn to other sources of comfort and wisdom when things are hard, difficult or even dreadful?

    Although we ought not compare ourselves with the exact same hardships and darkness that Israel was about to face, how have things like the corona virus, social unrest, difficult election season etc… disrupted the things we normally find “comfort”, “security”, “balance” in? Is this good, or bad?  

    In Isaiah 9, “God’s answer to what terrorizes us is a child”!  In what way does God’s answer seem like the most unlikely of solutions to our problems?  Why does it make sense?

    In what way do you need a “Wonderful Counselor”?

    Explore the passage [Isaiah 9:1-7]

    Although Isaiah had been preaching God’s judgment (particularly on the kingdom of Israel), what total reversal did Isaiah foresee in the future? (9:1) 

    What contrasting images did Isaiah use to set the scene of his prophecy? (9:2) 

    To what situations did Isaiah compare the joy that will be Israel’s? (9:3) 

    What did Isaiah predict God would do for Israel, causing her to rejoice? (9:4-5) 

    How does Isaiah describe the Ruler who will be provided by God for His people? (9:6-7) 

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    • What attributes of God are apparent in this passage? 

    • How is God’s promise of the coming child an answer to the real problems we face as human beings, and nations?  What are common ways we explain humanities problems that have nothing to do with our spiritual needs?

    • How would you explain the Light that came into your darkness?

    • Why might it be dangerous to downplay the seriousness of our situation whenever we encounter hardship? 

    • How much of the injustice Isaiah condemned in his time do you see in our own time?

    • As our “Wonderful Counselor”, Jesus is miraculously born to us to become an amazing advisor who marvelously works in all things for God’s purposes, for our good, that will result in victory!  

    • What victory?

    • In what way can Jesus be our true guide, anchor and north star this Christmas season?

    • How can seeing Jesus as our Wonderful Counselor shape my prayers?

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage

    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?

    3. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From November 29, 2020

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • As Americans, how do we tend to define fulfillment in life?  How or why do these definitions fall short, or leave us unsatisfied?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you?  Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Joseph, endured the humiliation of being sold into slavery by his brothers and the suffering of being falsely imprisoned for 16 years. The last 9 chapters of Genesis reveals another test, perhaps his greatest test. How will he handle the power he has as governor of Egypt?  

    Why, considering all the tests that Joseph has endured, do you think this may be his greatest test?  

    In what ways do you have power and influence in the lives of others?  

    Dave said, that the fulfillment stage of faith (a mature faith) is one in which God’s dream for your life will;

    1. Send you to places that serves others and
    2. Use your power for the benefit of others.
    3. In what ways do you see this most clearly in the life of Joseph?  How does this parallel the life of Jesus?
    4. What specific thing may God be calling you to do to serve others and use your ‘power’ for others?

    Explore the passage [Genesis 50:14-21]

    What worried Joseph’s brothers after their father died, and what did they do about it? (50:15-18) 

    There are a lot of emotions swirling around in verses 16-18; fear, potential revenge, appealing to the guilt Joseph may have over his dead fathers last words, appealing to God, acknowledgment of their wrongdoing, begging/groveling, forgiveness, Joseph weeping.  They throw the “kitchen sink” at Joseph.  

    • What “from your point of view” is going on here?  Is this sincere, insincere, a little bit of both?
    • What is Joseph’s response? (50:19-21)  
    • In what way would say his response is not what his brothers may have expected?

    Questions that helps us understand the significance of the text:

    • Joseph seems to cry easily…why is that?  How may honest emotions be connected to a maturing faith?
    • What makes forgiving someone who has wronged us so difficult?
    • How can God bring good out of evil? 
    • How does verse 50 shed any light on Romans 8:28 when the apostle Paul writes…

      And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 

    Application

    1. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage
    2. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    3. How can we pray for each other to live this out?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From November 22, 2020

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?

    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together.

    Open

    Henri Nouen wrote, “To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”

    In what way has this been easier said than done in your life?  Why?

    How have you felt overlooked, forgotten, rejected or abandoned?  How did you deal with those emotions?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?

    • What point/idea resonated most with you?  Why?

    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave made the point that Joseph’s experience of being forgotten forces us to consider another perspective about God’s unfolding plans in our lives.  That being forgotten can be a gift (a severe mercy) guiding us away from spiritual dead ends.  God is guiding Joseph away from the dead end that defines security and influence only in terms of status, fame, privilege, or position.  God is guiding Joseph away from the dead end of pride that imagines how others will bow down to him, and instead God is leading him towards self-lessness that will save the lives of many.  

    How do you react to the idea that hardships (like being forgotten) can be a severe mercy?  

    Looking back at your life. What can you pinpoint as something that was a severe mercy?  Severe because it was real, it was painful, it hurt, and you would never want to endure anything like that again. But it is merciful in that God used it to form in you something important and enduring?

    As a group consider some things we wrongly assume will bring us life, peace, fulfillment and prosperity, but are spiritual dead ends.  How can we encourage and pray for each other, our children, friends etc… from taking those paths?

    Explore the Passage [Genesis 40:1-23]

    • Why were the cupbearer and chief baker imprisoned? (40:1)

    • What did Joseph ask Pharaoh’s officials, and what was their answer? (40:7-8) 

    • What did Joseph say about dreams? (40:8) 

    • What did the chief cupbearer dream, and what did Joseph say about it? (40:9-15) 

    • What did the chief baker dream, and what did Joseph say about it? (40:16-19) 

    • What happened at Pharaoh’s birthday party? (40:20-22) 

    • What did the chief cupbearer do? (40:23) 

    Questions that help us understand the significance of the text to us?
    1. Joseph helps interpret the dreams of these new inmates when he had already been falsely imprisoned for years.  What does this tell us about the kind of person Joseph was?

      The reason, a cupbearer, whose only job is to pour and serve drinks in the royal court is so important is because kings lived in constant fear of plots to kill them (such as poisoning).  Therefore, a cupbearer or baker must be the kind of person that the King had complete confidence in.

    2. Considering the cupbearers role, in what way can you see how God is preparing to elevate Joseph to essentially the senior advisor to the Pharaoh, even though he is unaware of it?

      In Genesis 40, the Hebrew word for dream comes from the word chalom.  It is different than dreams we have in our sleep, or a dream that we may have that leads to accomplishing a goal.  In this case it has a prophetic meaning and was considered the lowest class of prophecy (foretelling). 

    3. How ought we look at the significance of dreams?  What is distinct here with these dreams and the fact that Joseph accurately interprets the dreams?  Was there any “risk” to Joseph interpreting the dreams?  How ought this inform us in taking a risk with others?

    4.  What may be the significance of the cupbearer forgetting Joseph?  Was this intentional, unintentional, does it matter?

    Application

    1. What attitudes may God be working on in us, preparing in us, when we face being forgotten, overlooked, rejected or abandoned?  How may we redefine what God is doing in us when we feel forgotten?

    2. What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?

    3. What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?

    4. How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From November 15, 2020

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • As you take a look in the rear-view mirror of how your life has unfolded.  What is one thing you look back on and say, “I used to think that was a really big deal, insurmountable problem, or temptation, but now I see how God was using that to test my character?”
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave made the point that “God’s dreams/plans often have more to do with what they make of us, than where they take us”.

    1. In what ways does this stand out in the story of Joseph?
    2. In what ways has that been a struggle for you?
    3. If we are honest with ourselves, the character-building stage of faith may be the one we have the most difficulty with. Why is that?  (e.g. it’s painful, you don’t see the results quickly etc.…)
    4. God often tests (or allows) tests of character in our life through our temptations and our problems… In what ways can we be more “welcoming” to character building in our life? In what ways can we resist it?

    Explore the Passage [Genesis 39:1-23]

    • Who were the main people in these events, and what kind of people were they? (39) What did Potiphar’s wife ask Joseph to do, and what was his response? (39:7-12) How did Potiphar respond to his wife’s story? (39:19-20)
    • What happened to Joseph in prison? (39:21-23)
    • How did Potiphar’s wife react when Joseph refused her? (39:13-18)
    • What did Potiphar observe about Joseph, and what did he do as a result? (39:2-6)
    Questions that help us understand the significance of the text to us?
    • How do you generally respond when you do “the right thing”, but reap none of the reward?How did Joseph make the most of the bad situations in which he found himself? How should you respond the next time someone mistreats you?
    • How ought the story of Joseph shape how we look at our temptations and problems?  How can redefining our problems/temptations as God deepening and developing our character for His purposes give us new hope?
    • What value is there in resisting temptations when it may be a lot easier just to give in?
    • Why is it difficult to trust God when our tests of character do not seem to be rewarded?

    Application

    • What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage
    • How can we pray for each other?
    • What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From November 8, 2020

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • What in your life do you have such conviction about (a hobby, a product, an interest, a sports team, a child/family, a cause) that you could “sell” us on it today? Why is that?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Steve walked us through the starting point for Joseph in Genesis 37. The journey for Joseph started with 2 different dreams God gave him. Joseph had no way of knowing what would come of the dreams God had given him and how they would ultimately be fulfilled. God’s will exists on the top floor where to us it appears out of sight, while we live our lives on the bottom floor—with all its complexities, joys and sorrows.

     

    1. What was your starting point? Take time to share the starting point of faith for each person in the small group. For many, the seeds of faith were planted through a parent, friend, pastor, camp, Sunday school teacher, etc…
    2. In what specific ways have you seen the hand of God guide, direct and protect you throughout your life?

    Explore the Passage [Genesis 37:1-28]

    • What was the nature of the bad report Joseph gave to Jacob regarding his brothers? (37:2)
    • Why did Jacob love Joseph more than his other sons? (37:3)
    • What was the significance of the coat with many colors?
    • Why is the detail of a man giving Joseph directions included in this story? (37:15-17)
    • What was the brothers first response to seeing Joseph from afar traveling to meet them? (37:18-20)
    • How many symptoms of family disfunction can you see in Genesis 37? (37:3-5, 11, 18-19, 27-28)
    • What was the significance of the brothers tending the flock near Shechem? (33:18-34)
    Questions that help us understand the significance of the text to us?
    • Why did God choose to reveal to Joseph what he would someday become at an early and immature age?
    • How have you seen jealousy, favoritism, and anger destroy family and friendships in your life?
    • How is Joseph a shadow of or a picture of Jesus in the Old Testament?

    Application

    • What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    • What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    • How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From November 1, 2020

    Getting Started

    • What is one thing you are thankful for this week and what is one thing we can pray for you this week?
    • Remind each other of our simple expectations for meeting together
    • What in your life do you have such conviction about (a hobby, a product, an interest, a sports team, a child/family, a cause) that you could “sell” us on it today? Why is that?

    Quick Reactions

    • How would you summarize/paraphrase the message in your own words?
    • What point/idea resonated most with you? Why?
    • Did you disagree with something said, or what do you think should have been added or expanded on?

    Questions from the Message

    Dave walked us through chapters 21-28 by highlighting Paul’s confrontations with those who had the power to sentence him to death or set him free. At every turn, Paul holds fast to the message that he received about the Kingdom of God and the person of Jesus, regardless of the cost. At the heart of his long, painful road to Rome is a conflict over two Kingdoms, between those who hold power in our world, and the eternal Kingdom of God, where Jesus is Supreme.

     

    1. On a scale of 1-10, how “unsettled” are you about what may happen as a result of this upcoming election? Why? Do our reactions and responses matter? Why or why not?
    2. Why is it that Paul zeroed in on communicating to everyone about the Kingdom of God and persuading them about Jesus?
    3. In what ways do we struggle with confusing others about where our allegiance and trust really lies? (By our words, actions, our passions, convictions and causes?) In what way would God call us to use the things we already love, like our passions, convictions and causes to advance the good news about Jesus?

    Explore the Passage [Acts 27:17-21]

    • With whom did Paul first speak in Rome? (28:17)
    • In his presentation to the Jewish leaders, what significant points did Paul make? (28:17-20) What did Paul mean by “the hope of Israel”? (28:20)
    • What kind of response did Paul get from the leaders? (28:21-22)
    • How did the Jewish leaders in Rome show increasing interest in the apostle and his message? (28:23-24)
    • What did Paul do all day long while meeting with the Jewish leaders? (28:23)
    • How did the Jews in Rome respond to Paul’s teaching? (28:24-25)
    • To whom did Paul ascribe Isaiah’s words? (28:25)
    • How did Paul apply the words of Isaiah to his audience? (28:26-27)
    • What prediction did Paul make about the future? (28:28)
    • Though the Jews had turned away from Christ, what group had God promised will receive it? (28:28)
    • What did Paul do for two years in Rome? (28:30-31)
    Questions that help us understand the significance of the text to us?
    • Why is it important to understand that Jesus is trying to persuade a Jewish audience, rather than a Gentile audience? Read, Acts 17:22-31 to see how Paul persuades a different audience? How ought this inform our conversations with others?
    • Why do you think Paul’s teaching was hard for some followers of Judaism to accept?
    • What could you imagine was Paul’s intention in quoting from Isaiah and letting the Jewish leaders know before they left that the Gentiles would accept this good news?
    • Why do many people dismiss the message of God’s Kingdom and the good news of Jesus?
    • In what ways can we become hardened to God? How can we guard against hard-heartedness?

    Application

    • What do we learn about God and about ourselves in this passage?
    • What may God be asking you to change, do differently, repent of, pray about, as a result of engaging with this passage?
    • How can we pray for each other?

    Message Discussion Questions

    From October 25, 2020

    Reaction to the message…

    • What particularly struck you from Sunday’s message?

    Read together Acts 10:1-23

    Questions that explore what happened and help us understand the meaning of the text

    • What do you learn about Cornelius at the beginning of this chapter? (10:1-8)
    • Notice the detail Luke gives the reader about the times when Cornelius had his vision and when Peter had his? What does this tell you about how God works? (10:3,9)
    • Describe the ethnic, political, and social status barriers that would have existed between Cornelius and Peter.
    • Peter had been living his life respectful of Jewish dietary laws. (You could take a look at Leviticus 11 for background on this if you have a lot of extra time.) But Peter had already been challenged by Jesus about how to understand these “laws”. Read Mark 7:13-23 and consider what Peter may be struggling internally with in this vision.
    • What might be the significance of Peter having this vision “three times”? (10:16)
    • How does Peter’s vision challenge his opinions about what is or isn’t appropriate to do as a follower of Jesus? (10:15)
    • Notice that Peter’s praying left him perplexed and puzzled. What does this teach you about the way God sometimes uses prayer to shape us? (10:17,19)
    • What does this passage reveal about the personhood of the Holy Spirit? (10:19-20) What does this whole chapter reveal about what the Holy Spirit intends to accomplish in our lives? (See also Acts 1:8, 8:29)

    Read together Acts 10:24-48

    Questions that explore what happened and help us understand the meaning of the text

    • First, Peter invited Cornelius’ servants and attendant to spend the night where he was staying (at Simon the Tanner’s home), then Peter enters Cornelius’ home the next day (and stays with him for several days). What does it say to invite someone to stay with you in your home like this? (See 10:23, 25, 27, 48)
    • What had Peter learned about dignity and equality from this experience? (10:25-28, 47-48) Why does it take a dramatic push from the Holy Spirit to spur this kind of reconciliation?
    • Put on your theological hats and unpack the layers of Peter’s declaration: “This is the message of the Good News—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.” (10:36)
    • Finish this sentence: “Because Jesus Christ is Lord of all, _____________________.”
    • Notice in Peter’s message to Cornelius, he mentions that Jesus ate and drank with him (and several others). With this in mind, how did Jesus role model what he intended his followers to do? (10:34-41)
    • In 10:39, Peter refers to himself (and the other apostles) as “witnesses”. First, what did he “witness”? Second, what have you seen the Lord do that you could testify about?
    • What other elements of this chapter stand out to you and help you 1) understand God better or 2) understand how to treat others better?
    • How does Jesus shape our approach to others during this complicated 2020 year?
    • For follow-up later this week on your own, you could choose to keep reading and studying in Acts 11:1-18.

    APPLY

    Because Jesus Christ is Lord of all, what attitudes or tendencies may God be calling you to surrender this week?