Wide: Changed with People (discussion questions)

Jesus Changes Everything Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Wide: Changed with People,” which is the third part of our series “Jesus Changes Everything” at Eastbrook Church.

  1. Answer one of the following questions:
    • Who do you find it most difficult to love? Why?
    • When have you felt most loved in your life? Why was that?
  1. This week in our series, “Jesus Changes Everything,” we look at various Scripture passages in order to better understand what it means to love people like God. Whether you are on your own or with a small group, begin your study in prayer and ask God to draw you into His truth and life.
  1. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus summarizes all the commandments of God with the call to love God with all of who we are and our neighbor as ourselves. In 1 John 4:9, the Apostle John tells us that God showed His love among us by sending His Son into the world. What do you think it means to learn about love from Jesus?
  1. Take a moment to read Matthew 4:1-11. Before His public ministry, the devil tests Jesus to accomplish God’s purposes in a manner that was not God’s way. What were the main temptations placed before Jesus? How did He resist these temptations?
  1. In contrast to the devil’s temptation, we want to learn how Jesus actually exhibits God’s love to the world. One way to do this would be to read through one of the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and highlight or write down notes on how you see Jesus relating to people. For the sake of this study, let’s just look at four chapters of the Gospel of John. Read through each of these chapters and identify specific characteristics of Jesus’ love for others:
    • John 3:1-21 – Jesus with Nicodemus, the religious teachers
    • John 4:1-38 – Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well
    • John 5:1-15 – Jesus with the invalid at the Bethesda Pool
    • John 9:1-41 – Jesus with the man born blind and the religious leaders
  1. Stepping back from everything you just read, what do you notice most about Jesus’ love for others?
  1. What is one specific way that you need to grow in love that looks like Jesus’ love for people? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and then take extended time to pray about what you share. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

Deep: Changed with God (discussion questions)

Jesus Changes Everything Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Deep: Changed with God,” which is the second part of our series “Jesus Changes Everything” at Eastbrook Church. This study walks through Philippians 2:12-13.

  1. When have you experienced the need for a total change in your life? What lead you to that place and what happened next?
  1. We continue our series, “Jesus Changes Everything,” by looking at two verses from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi found in Philippians 2:12-13. Begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak into your life, and then read Philippians 2:1-18 aloud.
  1. The Apostle Paul is writing from prison to the believers in Philippi about their life with God. He begins chapter 2 by expressing his desire for them to in unity as a community by relating to one another selflessly (2:1-4). Jesus is an obvious illustration of what this looks like (2:5-11). He then returns to his discussion of their life together as a community beginning in verse 12 with a call to obedience. Why do you think Paul begins this next section with the theme of obedience? To whom are they to be obedient? What does that obedience look like?
  1. Verse 12 continues with the call to “work out your salvation.” From Paul’s other writings we know that this does not mean “work for your salvation” (see Ephesians 2:1-10). What do you think this phrase means?
  1. Paul says that they are to work out their salvation “with fear and trembling.” What does fear and trembling have to do with this sort of work?
  1. With verse 13, Paul clarifies that, of course, we must rely on God to do this and to fulfill God’s purposes in our lives. How does the knowledge of God’s work in our lives encourage you in the process of growing with God?
  1. Last week, Pastor Mark Lynch talked from John 2 about how Jesus changed water into wine, and how that illustrates how Jesus changes everything about our lives. What is one area that you know you need God to change in your life? Take a moment to pray, simply expressing to God your desire to put that area of your life into His hands. Sit quietly and surrender every aspect of the situation, every person involved, every feeling you have, every timeline…Simply ask Him to take it all and transform you.\
  1. What is one specific way that you sense God is calling you to grow more deeply with Him these days? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about what you share together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

 

Exile Community (discussion questions)

Exiles Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Exile Community,” which is the final part of our series “Exiles” on the book of 1 Peter. This study walks through 1 Peter 5.

  1. We conclude our series, “Exiles,” on 1 Peter by looking at chapter 5. Begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak into your life, and then read that passage aloud.
  1. Peter draws his letter to a close by discussing some final matters about the life as God’s exile community on earth. He begins by addressing “the elders among you,” which is a reference to the leaders of the church. What does Peter call these leaders to be and do in verses 1-4?
  1. What should motivate these leaders of the church, according to verse 4?
  1. With verses 5-6, Peter turns his attention to the rest of the church. It is most likely that “you who are younger” is less a reference to age than it is to the rest of the church who are not seen as ‘elders’ or leaders. What does Peter call the rest of the church to do in relation to the elders? What do you think this means?
  1. What should the defining attitude of the church be according to verses 5-6? Why?
  1. What do you think it means to “clothe yourself with humility”? What is one way you could clothe yourself in humility this week?
  1. In verses 8-11, Peter contrasts the work of the devil and the work of God. What is the work of the devil in relation to the sheep and the shepherds (compare to verses 1-5)?
  1. What should our response be to the work of the devil?
  1. According to verses 10-11 God is at work in the middle of all of this. What do we know about God and what can we expect from God?
  1. What does it mean to you that God will work with and for you according to verses 10-11?
  1. The personal greetings of verses 12-14 remind us that Peter himself lives as an exile (“in Babylon”) and is surrounded by others who are living out the exile faith-life with God. His summary statement is found at the end of verse 12. What is it and what do you think it means for you?
  1. What is one specific thing you sense God is speaking to you through this study today or through the entire “Exiles” series? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about what you share together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

Occupied with Suffering (discussion questions)

Exiles Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Occupied with Suffering,” which is part of our series “Exiles” on the book of 1 Peter. This study walks through 1 Peter 4:12-19.

  1. Have you ever personally experienced or heard about someone else suffering for their faith? What happened?
  1. “Exiles” continues as we look at 1 Peter 4:12-19. Begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak into your life, and then read that passage aloud.
  1. In this letter, Peter returns again and again to the theme of suffering as a Christian. In 1 Peter 4:12-13, what sort of attitude does Peter encourage his readers to have about their suffering?
  1. It may sound odd to encourage someone to rejoice in the midst of suffering. In verse 13, what reason does Peter give for the joy we can have in suffering now?
  1. With verses 14-16, Peter turns his attention to the practical reasons that we may suffer at the hands of others. If we are Christians, what does he say is the right reason for suffering and what is the wrong reason for suffering?
  1. In some ways, Peter is challenging believers to persevere for our faith, even in the midst of suffering. While most of us do not face threats of death for our faith, we still may suffer in some ways for our faith. What does it look like for you to persevere as a Christian in your everyday life?
  1. In verses 17-18, Peter unfolds an interesting idea that the judgment of God upon the world actually begins with God’s people. Comparing what you read in these verses with what he wrote earlier in 1 Peter 2:1-10, why do you think this might be the case?
  1. Peter suggests that the suffering to come upon “those who do not obey the gospel of God” (4:17) is worse than what the believers were experiencing presently. What does the Scripture say about this idea? What do you think Peter is talking about?
  1. 1 Peter 4:19 returns to some themes from throughout Peter’s letter: suffering, God’s faithfulness, and doing good. Why would Peter summarize this section on suffering for Christ in this way?
  1. What is one specific thing you sense God is speaking to you through this study? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about what you share together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

Hidden Victory within Suffering (discussion questions)

Exiles Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Hidden Victory within Suffering,” which is part of our series “Exiles” on the book of 1 Peter. This study walks through 1 Peter 3:13-22.

  1. When have you seen God use difficult circumstances in your life to show you or others more about who He is? What happened?
  1. Our journey through 1 Peter, “Exiles,” continues as we look at 1 Peter 3:13-22. Begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak into your life, and then read that passage aloud.
  1. One of the themes of 1 Peter is suffering that comes as a result of being a Christian. Peter continues with that theme in this passage. Based on what you read in verses 13 and 14, what would you say is the specific aspect of suffering that Peter is addressing?
  1. Make a list of some specific things Peter asks the believers to do in the midst of their life as exiles for Christ in verses 14-17. Which of these is most difficult for you? Why is this the case for you?
  1. As with other sections the letter, Peter ties his words about suffering into Jesus’ life and, particularly, the resurrection. From what Peter writes in verse 18, how do Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection provide a type or example for believers as they suffer for Christ?
  1. Verses 19 and 20 are some of the most debated and confusing verses in this letter. Take some time to consider what Peter is saying here. How do you think these verses help support or illustrate the theme of suffering in the midst of doing good?
  1. Verse 21 on baptism echoes the words of verse 16 about having a ‘clear conscience’ before God. How does baptism illustrate our salvation and clearing of our conscience?
  1. How might Peter’s words in verse 22 about the victory and authority of Christ encourage the believers who are suffering?
  1. What is one specific thing you sense God is speaking to you through this study? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about what you share together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

[Next week: We continue our “Exiles” series by looking at 1 Peter 4:1-11. Take some time to read the passage ahead of time and reflect on what God is saying to you.]