Deep – Wide – Multiplied (discussion questions)

Deep-Wide-Multiplied Series Gfx_4x3 BackgroundHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Deep – Wide – Multiplied,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was our ministry kick-off weekend as a church.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are you looking forward to most in your life as you move from Summer into Fall?
  1. This weekend we are focusing our attention on starting well with God as we kick-off our ministry year together at Eastbrook. We are anchoring ourselves in Psalm 1. Before starting this study, ask God to clearly speak to you in meaningful ways. Then, whether you are alone or with others, read Psalm 1 aloud.
  1. Psalm 1 describes the life that is “blessed.” From what you read here, or what you know about other parts of the Bible, what other words might you use to describe what it means to be blessed?
  1. Identify at least five specific ways – maybe more! – in which you have experienced the blessing of God in your life these days.
  1. Pastor Matt focused us in on three main words this weekend: deep – wide – multiplied. Let’s focus on the first of those words: deep. From Psalm 1:1-2, what would you say are some key aspects of going deep with God?
  1. How are you growing deep now? What is one way that you want to grow deeper with God individually or with other during these next twelve months?
  1. The second word, “wide,” conveys the sense of God’s blessing moving out from our lives into the lives of others. Read Abraham’s call from God in Genesis 12:1-3. What does this passage remind us about the intention of God’s goodness and joy in our lives?
  1. One area of focus for us this year is actively sharing our faith with others. Who is one person with whom or what is one sphere of your life where you sense God calling you to boldly enter conversations with others who are far from God?
  1. The seeds of the fruit remind us that the good and happy life God gives to us should be multiplied into the lives of others. What do you think it looks like for you to help develop others around you into fruitful, life-giving trees of God?
  1. What is one way God is speaking to you about your life with Him in the coming year? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about these things together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

Our Cross-Shaped Calling

In Hebrews chapter five, we find a striking picture of how Jesus developed in His calling through humility. Read these words:

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears…and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8)

If Jesus needed to ‘learn obedience’ from what He suffered, how much more do we need to learn obedience from our sufferings? If we want to become like Him in every way, then we must enter His school of obedience through suffering. Suffering is not something to be avoided, but something to be embraced as God gives us grace to learn through it. Jesus calls us into an active life of developing discipleship, not Read More »

I No Longer Live But Christ Lives in Me (Galatians 2:20, part 2)

I continue my reflections on Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20 today by looking at the second phrase: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

If through Christ’s death we participated in death, then through Christ’s risen life we participate in life. We die with Jesus and rise to life in Jesus. Elsewhere Paul writes, “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him” (Romans 6:8). In John’s Gospel, Jesus consistently teaches about a real, indwelling relationship that we can have with Him. Praying before His arrest, Jesus asks the Father that future followers would experience the unity with one another like they – the Father and the Son – experience with one another: “that they may be one as we are one – I in them and You in Me” (John 17:22-23).

Jesus lives within us as a community of followers of Him, but also lives within us individually. Augustine said this unifying bond of love between the Father and the Son was the Holy Spirit. So, the unity we experience of Jesus (“I in them”) comes by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Because of this, Paul can describe us corporately as “the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16), but also individually saying “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Both the corporate and individual aspects are true. How could it be otherwise?

Here in Galatians, though, Paul is referring to himself as individually being completely overtaken with the life of Christ. He is, as he states in another letter, “a new creation” in which “the old has gone” and “the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Boiling it down to the basic level in another place, he says: “for to me, to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).

Lord, I never though it would be good to stop living, but thank You that You live in me.
Thank You for the gift of life that I experience with and in You.
May it be true for me that to live is Christ.

I Have Been Crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20, part 1)

Since my message, “The Real Gospel,” I have been thinking about Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

These words are so familiar to me, yet they have a depth of meaning I often overlook. Over the next few days on my blog, I will reflect on these words for our lives. Today, I’m considering the first part of that verse: “I have been crucified with Christ.”

Paul writes elsewhere: “we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:6-7). As Jesus Christ was physically crucified on the Cross, our own sinful nature was crucified.

Jesus’ death on the Cross was a historical event that is not disputed by historians. Still, there is something personally effective for each person that occurred at the Cross in Jesus. “We are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Corinthians 5:14b). “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Taking upon Himself not only our sin but also our very selves, Jesus was crucified.

In His crucifixion, we – our old selves, that is – were killed. We suffered death with Him, though in God’s mercy to us only Jesus Himself experienced the literal weight of sin’s bloody death. When we come by faith to Jesus Christ, we choose to spiritually associate with His death and we, too, die. We die to our capacity to make ourselves right by acts of righteousness under the law, and we also die to our tendency to live in rebellion to God through selfish sin. It is a new beginning that begins with a final end to ourselves. “I have been crucified with Christ.”

Jesus, how can it be that one so innocent as You took all the pain and judgment?
How is it that you would suffer so much for me?
Thank You…thank You…beyond all words, thank You!