JESUS FRIENDSHIP QUESTIONS

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JESUS FRIENDSHIP QUESTIONS

Friendship Questions

From the book, Can You Hear Me?: Tuning in to the God that Speaks

I believe Jesus is saying to you today, “I am your friend. I am not your psychic hotline.  I’m not interested in impressing you or making you seem impressive to others. I want intimacy. So before you rush ahead and ask me to lay out the future of the world for you, would you be willing to be my friend for a while? Would you like to hear my feelings and sorrows, joys and hopes?”

Go somewhere quiet, where you can focus. Try asking God a number of friendship questions. Perhaps you can develop some of your own as well. Before you start, take time to “dial down” and invite the peace of God to enter into your heart and mind.

·       Jesus, what’s grieving you these days?  Why?

·       Jesus, what’s exciting you these days?  Why?

·       Jesus, what do you like about me?  Why?

·       Jesus, what do you see when you look at me?

·       Jesus, when was the last time you wept over me?  Why?

·       Jesus, when was the last time you laughed over me?  Why?

·       Jesus, if you could meet me anywhere face-to-face, where would it be?

·       Jesus, if my heart is your home, what does that home look like?

·       Jesus, if you could play a game with me, what would it be?  Why?

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What Happens When You Love Jesus

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What Happens When You Love Jesus

What Happens When You Love Jesus

Philippians 2:19-30

Right before this passage (Phil 2:19-30), Paul had just laid down some serious theology about how Jesus humbled himself to save us. Then he stops right in the middle of the letter to talk about two people in his life, Timothy and Epaphroditus. The timing seems kind of odd; usually Paul would mention people at the end of his letters. But he didn’t do this on accident. Paul was so eager to give us real examples of what life looks like when you really love Jesus. 

Paul says he has no one like his first example, Timothy. Why? (Vs. 20) Because Timothy is the only one who genuinely cares about the people’s welfare. 

  • Have you had a time in your life where you experienced genuine care from another person? (Not just out of obligation or curiosity, or because they wanted something in return, but a time that someone really cared for you) Share about that experience and how it impacted you. 

A chief indicator of our closeness to Jesus is the level of care and concern for those closest to us. 

Let that sink in for a minute and then take a few moments and reflect on where you are at with this personally.

Now write down five of the closest people to you and then spend five minutes in prayer and reflection. Ask God how you can genuinely care for these people’s needs. After some time in prayer, make a list of practical ways that you will show your genuine care for these 5 people this month.  

  • Examples: Pray for them by name daily, give a phone call, a word of encouragement, take time to listen, buy their meal, support them financially if they are struggling, sacrifice your free time and make time for them.

The second person Paul talked about was Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus was the one who was sent to take care of Paul while he was in prison. There’s a chance that Epaphroditus and Paul may not have known one another all that well, if at all, before this encounter. Not only that, these men were very different from each other. Paul (once a Jewish Pharisee) and Epaphroditus (a gentile) were on two completely different sides of the ethnic spectrum. Yet despite their differences, Epaphroditus RISKED his personal comfort, safety, and even his very life for the sake of Paul’s life. 

God comforts us so that we can go and get uncomfortable for the sake of others!

Have you spent much time investing in people who are totally different than you? Share. Who? How have they impacted your life? What have you learned? Has anything about the friendship surprised you? 

On Sunday night, we talked about an incredible opportunity we're pursuing this year called, SAN CLEMENTE LOVES SKID ROW. What thoughts/feelings come to mind when you consider the opportunity to go to skid row and hangout with the marginalized, the disenfranchised, and those rejected in our society? 

True Godly love is giving, sacrificing, and loving, knowing that the other person can’t give you anything in return. This is how God showed his love for us. We had nothing to offer him, yet he pursued us and gave his life for us anyway. 

Remember, everyone is worth pursuing, and everyone matters to God.  

Will we love like Jesus? 

End in prayer as a group. 

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Philippians: This is Living

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Philippians: This is Living

Philippians

This is Living

Do you have a day from your childhood that you remember as “the best day ever”? Share about that day.  

It’s funny to look back on our “best day” and recall how we literally thought life couldn’t get any better than at that moment. Of course those were really fun times, but I think we could all agree that life has become even better since…hopefully. Maybe you've been blessed with great friendships, a community to belong to, job opportunities, a place to live, marriage, a child...and you've realized that life is even better than that perfect day you remember from your childhood. Who would have thought! 

Read Philippians 1: 12-26 and then (re-read verse 21 in the NIV) 

Sunday’s message focused on Paul’s statement in verse 21. We spent time making three observations centered around this question: “To live is what?” 

Observation #1- To Live is TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE

Paul says, For to me, to live is CHRIST... 

Paul knew his identity was IN CHRIST, not in his job, past mistakes, personality type, strengths, weakness, or even what anyone else thought about him. 

Do you feel totally confident about who you are in Christ? Do you ever feel the pressure of being something you’re not so that people will like you? Or, that you will feel "worth it?" 

How do you think your life would change if you stopped trying to be what others wanted you to be? How would that affect those around you?

Observation #2- To Live is TO KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING

Paul says, For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is GAIN...

Paul knew where he was going after he died, so he lived with confidence, boldness, and joy. 

Do you think about heaven often? Does the thought of heaven excite you or scare you? 

If you’re honest with yourself, do you ever live like this is all there is, like there’s no life after this? If so, share how that has plays out in your life. 

What would it look like to live with courage instead of fear...knowing confidently where you're going?

Observation #3- To Live is TO KNOW WHAT LIFE IS ABOUT

Paul says, For to me, to LIVE is Christ...

Because Paul knew who he was and where he was going, he knew what life was really about...LIVING the Christ-life.

As followers of Christ, we should be the most joyful, passionate, loving, kind, and generous people in the world AND there shouldn’t be an ounce of pride within us, because this life isn’t something we earned, it is from God alone!  

Do you think people around you clearly know what you believe “life is all about” based off your actions and words?

The word used here for "live" is ZOE in the Greek. ZOE life is the eternal, abundant, overflowing, rich and satisfying life that only Jesus offers (see John 10:10...the word for life is ZOE again). The Bible tells us that many people are merely existing, but only Jesus followers are truly living. 

Are you truly experiencing and overflowing the ZOE life? If not, in what specific ways would you like to? 

LIVING IT OUT:                                                                              

  • Take 5 minutes to sit quietly.
  • Ask God how he specifically wants you to live a Zoe life for him, not someday, but now.
  • Listen, God wants to speak to you! 
  • If you feel comfortable, share whatever you feel God has put on your heart. 
  • Lay hands and pray over each person that shares. 

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Philippians: What Really Matters

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Philippians: What Really Matters

Philippians 1:3-11

What Really Matters

Warm-up: Can you think of something from your past/childhood that you spent a lot of your time and energy thinking or worrying about, that you now look back on and realize wasn’t that important after all? 

Read Philippians 1:3-11 on your own. 

Once everyone has finished reading the passage, have one person read Philippians 1:9-11 out loud. 

Many of us can look back on our lives and laugh about some of the things that meant so much to us as a kid or a teenager. It seems silly that we spent so much of our time and energy caring about stuff that now seems insignificant in the grand scheme of life. But the reality is, just because we’ve grown up in age, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve grown up in our awareness of what really matters in life. One way to put it into perspective is to ask yourself: Will the things that matter to me now matter 10 years from now? 20 years from now? 50 years from now? Will the things that matter to me now matter in eternity? 

So that is the big question: WHAT REALLY MATTERS? 

Have you ever thought about the day that you will stare into the eyes of Jesus? Imagine that you are standing in front of him face to face, in that moment, what do you think will really matter?  Take a minute to really sit with this question before you answer it. 

Here is the key to it all…The only way to know what matters in life is by getting to know the Author of life. 

In verse 9, Paul encourages us to “keep on growing in knowledge and understanding”. Do you feel like this is a consistent part of your life? How do you personally gain a deeper revelation of Jesus on a daily basis? What does that look like? How has this impacted your life?

Paul reinforces this idea in this verse…

 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

What do you think this verse means? How would your life look different if you actually lived this way? 

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, his answer was simple, “Love God and love others.”

What Jesus is saying is: YOUR LIFE COMES INTO FOCUS WHEN YOU DON’T MAKE IT ABOUT YOURSELF.

What are the most important things in your life right now? (Relationships, job, free time, money, friends, family) How could you make JESUS the focus of your relationship, job, money, etc. and begin looking for ways to serve the people in your life instead of looking for them to serve you? 

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Philippians: Slaves & Saints

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Philippians: Slaves & Saints

PHILIPPIANS // SLAVES & SAINTS

Before we jump in and start reading the letter Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, let’s take a minute to recall who Paul was. What do you know about Paul’s past?  How did God change him?

If God can use Paul, don’t you think he can use you?! Often times we feel inadequate, or we think that our “past” disqualifies us from being used by God in powerful ways. But Paul’s life allows us to see God’s redemptive work in action. 

Read Philippians 1:1-2

Focus on verse 1. Why would Paul introduce himself with this title? What tone do you think he is trying to set for the rest of the letter? 

When you first read “slaves of Christ Jesus”, what thoughts, feelings, historical images come to mind? 

After learning more about bondservants on Sunday, and understanding the cultural-historical framework in which Paul was writing, what do you think he meant by calling himself a “slave of Christ Jesus?"

A key point that Paul wants to get across at the beginning of his letter is…The ONLY one he is going to serve is the ONLY One that came for him!

We live in a society with SO many options. We literally have options for everything (Jon used the example of working out). With so many options, it’s easy to treat important areas of life optional. This can even creep in to our relationship with God. 

Do you ever find yourself treating God like an option? Do you rely on him when it’s convenient for you or only come to him when you are desperate? How has this affected your intimacy with God, and your growth as a believer? 

Now lets focus on the next part of the scripture passage. When we take on the posture of a slave, what position does God now give us? (How does Paul address the church in Philippi?) 

If God calls us saints, do you think that gives us license to sin/do whatever we want? Why or why not? 

What do you think God’s purpose is in giving us the position of a saint? How are we to use this God-given position? 

When we take on the posture of a slave, God gives us the position of a saint, so that we may live fueled by grace and peace

How has God specifically blessed your life with the gift of grace and peace? 

In what way(s) does our world today need grace and peace? How are you partnering with God to offer this gift to those around you? How will you start if you are not? 

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TOGETHER

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TOGETHER

TOGETHER

WARM UP: Which do you prefer, group projects, or working alone? What are the pros and cons of each?

Read: ECCLESIASTES 4:9-12 (NLT)

What sticks out to you from this passage?  

In your opinion, is Solomon only referring to two individuals or could the lesson apply to a greater number of people? Why is this significant?

What are the differences between a group of people and a team?

 

Some people are so goal-oriented that they do not show much, if any, concern for those around them. Solomon was like this during part of his life. After looking back on his life, he did not think it produced what it should have. 

Do you have this tendency to achieve while neglecting those around you? If so, what happens as a result? 

 

The scriptures teach that, WE ARE NEVER BETTER THAN WHEN WE ARE TOGETHER

The problem is, because of our culture, we make most of God’s promises and dreams just about ourselves.  

Read EPHESIANS 3:20 carefully

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within US, to accomplish infinitely more than WE might ask or think.” 

God’s promises are for WE not just ME! Success is different than significance…and Jesus said the way we live lives of significance is by working together, being known and fully knowing our brothers and sisters in Christ, and loving each other.

What have you found to be the biggest obstacle when it comes to doing life together with other believers?

Has this discussion helped you see your need for people in any new ways? If so, please share.

 

Living it out:

Our faith is personal, but it’s never private. We don’t just need God…We also need people to walk through life with!

Read HEBREWS 10:24-25

Spend some time and think of ways that you can encourage (literally put courage) into a friend this week. Maybe go for a walk, or grab a coffee. Taking time for people is ALWAYS worth it. Remember…People are God’s Plan!

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Tuesday Worship

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Tuesday Worship

TUESDAY WORSHIP

What do your mornings look like? Are you someone who is frantically trying to get out the door with all your belongings, or do you have a specific routine that you follow everyday? 

On Sunday, Jon said, "When I’m running errands or at work, I usually keep pretty good track of my things. I know where my wallet, keys, and phone are because I need them. But when I get home, it’s a different story. When I walk through the door after a long day, it’s like my mind switches off and I completely lose track of all my things…Because I no longer have a need for them, until the next morning of course, when I'm back to my frantic search yet again."

Our spiritual lives can often follow the same pattern. On Sundays we know where God is, we feel him, we need him. We come to church prepared to connect with him and to worship him. 

Mondays are typically a pretty solid day of worship as well, not as great as Sundays, but we are still riding the high from yesterday’s “spiritual buzz." But then, TUESDAY always seems to come. The buzz has worn off by now, but we haven’t even hit hump-day yet, so we’re just stuck in Tuesday. 

Can you relate to the feeling of being so close to God on Sunday, but then Tuesday rolls around and you feel totally lost, unable to find God anymore, or feel him? 

For you personally, when Tuesday comes and you can’t “find” God, what is your next step/response? 

Read Romans 12:1-2 (The Message) 

Focus on the first verse. What stands out to you? 

According to Paul, where must worship begin? Why do you think it’s so important to start here? 

Has your definition of “worship” been challenged at all after reading this? How so? 

Here is Tuesday worship in a nutshell: 

What we DO motivated by what God has already DONE for us. 

What do you think the second verse means? 

How will you follow Paul’s instruction and live this out in your own life? What are some strategies you might use? 

“Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God.” – Eugene Peterson

Take 10 minutes right now and make a list of 3 things that you will offer to God in worship this week… For example: exercising, your drive to work, a household task, getting ready, etc. 

Partner up and share with one person your list. Take time and pray over each other. Ask God to guide and direct that person in the specific ways they’ve shared, and to help them make worship not just a once a week event, but a way of life.  

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Dream Big // Act Small

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Dream Big // Act Small

DREAM BIG // ACT SMALL

We all have dreams for our life…a dream job, dream husband/wife, dream house, dream vacation, the list goes on and on. But even more important than our dreams is God’s dream for our life. And his dreams are always bigger than our dreams.

But, how do we discover these dreams? The good news is that we don’t have to wait, or sit in a state of confusion; God wants us to partner with Him so he can help us discover and achieve these dreams. But the formula is probably different than what we are used to. God calls us to dream big and act small. Here’s what that looks like…

Dreaming Big and Acting Small: God’s dream for your life is bigger than you could ever imagine, and he wants you to discover it with Him step by step. In order to realize and achieve our God-given dreams, we must humble ourselves, put others first, and do the little things that build our character.

Often times we find ourselves out of this “sweet spot” because one of two reasons.

1.     We dream big and act big

  • We try to make ourselves look bigger and better than we actually are in hopes of impressing others.
  • We don’t have time for people who have nothing to offer us.
  • We are too good or too busy to do small tasks.
  • We want to see our big dreams fulfilled quickly and with as little effort on our part as possible.

2.     We dream small and act small

  • We fall into “whateverism.” “Whatever you want to do God, I’m cool with it.”
  • We have a false sense of humility acting like we play no part in God's plan.
  • We make sure to dream small so that we don’t fail, taking few, if any, risks in life.
  • We become lazy and bored with God and life itself. 

When you notice that you are not in the “sweet spot” where God wants you to be, is it because you are dreaming big and acting big, or dreaming small and acting small? Share how this has personally played out in your own life.

Read Ephesians 3:20 (NLT) out loud.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Now, read it in The Message paraphrase.

God can do anything, you know- far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. - Ephesians 3:20

Have you downsized your dreams because of a small view of God? If so, share. 

After reading this verse, what stands out to you or what do you feel that God is inviting you into?

Read John 13:1-5; 12-17.

After reading this story, what do you learn about God’s character? Does this surprise you?

What thoughts come to mind when you think of this statement: The same God that can do infinitely more than you could ever ask, dream, or imagine…is also the same One that took on the lowest position of a servant and washed the dirty, grimy, feet of his disciples.

God’s idea of being great is obviously much different than our world’s idea of being great. The world defines greatness as getting to a place where everyone serves you. That’s the dream job. That‘s the dream car. That’s the dream wife ;) Jesus defines greatness as being a person who finds joy in serving everyone else.

How does God’s view of greatness excite you? How does it challenge you?

The pathway to discovering God’s dreams for your life is by acting small and serving others. When we stop making life about ourselves, life begins to make sense. We were made to love God and serve others. It’s in this context that your dreams will become realized step by step.

Share personally about a specific God given dream you have. There is power in saying things out loud and stepping out in faith to share your dreams with others!

Pray over one another about your dreams as the Spirit leads.

 

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Moving Beyond Awkward in Evangelism

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Moving Beyond Awkward in Evangelism

Moving Beyond Awkward in Evangelism

Warm-up: Share about the most awkward experience you've had sharing about your faith with someone else OR when someone else shared about his/her faith with you.

The Bottom Line: Evangelism (sharing your faith) is awkward. It just is. And, for a variety of reasons, most of us would rather have someone else do the "faith sharing stuff," for us.

But, the reality is that people around us are in desperate need of Jesus. They need hope. Relationships are being torn apart. Addictions are suffocating people's lives. Violence is an easy solution to the world's problems. Hatred. Injustice. Fear. Worry. Anxiety. Stress. The list goes on and on.

We have the ONLY answer for the world. And it's not an idea, it's a person. JESUS. With that in mind, now think about the implications of sharing your faith as your read this quote from Beau Crosetto's book, Beyond Awkward:

“All along, God’s plan has been to use people, and there’s no back up plan. Jesus uses people to reach people. You won’t find a single person in the New Testament who came to faith in Jesus without hearing the gospel from another person.”

Beau spoke at LIVECOAST this Sunday night and shared a story from the book of Acts about Philip and an Ethiopian Eunich. It might be helpful to re-read the story quietly on your own. It's found in Acts 8:26-40. 

Share your observations about the story together as a group. What do you learn from the way Philip shared Jesus with the Eunich? 

In order to be used by God we must first listen and be led by His spirit. We learned that God speaks to and sends his witnesses. Is listening to God’s direction something that is a part of your everyday life? Do you leave space in your day to listen and be led by God? 

The reality is, if we want to see God move, then we have to be willing to step into the awkwardness. Beau said, “Awkwardness usually precedes God moving in a powerful way.”

Has feeling comfortable become something that controls your life? Ever think..."God, isn't it enough that I read my Bible, play worship music in my car on the way to work, and listen to sermon podcasts while I work out? People will just know that I live differently, so I don't really need to say anything about Jesus, right?"

Society tells us

  1. Don’t talk to strangers
  2. Don’t do things that make people feel uncomfortable
  3. Don’t press people about what is true/real

All three of these “social rules” must be broken if we are going to be effective in sharing Jesus with those around us.

Have you chosen to not share Jesus with someone because you were scared of looking weird or feeling awkward? 

Is there something or someone God’s been calling you to that you’ve been ignoring because it could be awkward to take the first step? 

What do you need personally in order to feel like sharing Jesus is worth the risk? 

Reflect

- How would you feel if God changed someone for eternity through you.

- Start making a mental list of ways that Jesus is good news to you.

- Take time to pray and ask God how he wants to use you this week.

 

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CALLING: What's In Your Hands?

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CALLING: What's In Your Hands?

CALLING: What's In Your Hands?

Warm-up: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up?"

On Sunday we were asked the question “What’s in your hand?” We are going to look at a man named Moses in the bible and learn from his story and the calling God placed on his life by what was put in his hand. 

Before we pick up in chapter 4, here’s a little background: Moses is in the desert in a place called Midian, he’s tending a flock of sheep, and he sees something strange in the distance… a bush on fire, but not burning up. He walks over, and as he does he hears a voice calling his name. This voice turns out to be the voice of God. At this point, God calls Moses to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt into a new life of freedom.

Let’s pick it up from here…

Read Exodus 4:1-5

The big idea: God’s calling for your life may be the very thing that’s in your hand right now. And the question is: how will you handle it?

To discover our calling/what’s in our hand, we can ask ourselves three practical questions:

What excites us, what burdens us, and what have we heard?

Let’s take time to answer those questions out loud together…

  • How are you wired? What brings you to life? What fills you with passion and excitement?
  • What burdens you? What justice do you wish to see in the world? Maybe there is a past struggle that God wants to now use YOU to help others heal?
  • How have other people affirmed you in a way that confirms your calling? In other words, what have other people told you that they see in you?

In Exodus 4:3 God told Moses, “Throw it down on the ground.”

  • What do you think God is asking of Moses by telling him to throw his staff on the ground?
  • What would it look like personally for you to throw down whatever you currently have in your hands?

In Exodus 4:4 God said, “Reach out and grab its tail.”

  • Why do you think God purposely asks Moses not only to pick up a snake (scary enough), but also to pick it up by its tail?
  • What specifically would it look like in your own life to trust God and do what he says, even if it doesn’t seem like the most logical or practical thing to do? 

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IDENTITY: Who Are You Really?

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IDENTITY: Who Are You Really?

IDENTITY: Who Are You Really?

Warm-up: What is your favorite holiday? Why?

Since the Fourth of July was just a few days ago, we’ll use that as an example… Many of us spent our day either at the beach, BBQing, lighting off fireworks, watching office chair races, etc. If you’re anything like me, you may have found yourself so caught up in the activities and food that you forgot about the purpose and significance of the holiday itself…the independence of the United States! (‘MERICA!) The same thing can happen with God and us. We can begin to focus on the byproducts of God instead of God himself.

Do you remember when you accepted Christ into your life for the first time? Share about that moment/season of your life: What were you feeling, experiencing, etc.

If you have been a follower of Christ for any amount of time, you know that along the way we begin to make faith about: Bible translations, theological arguments, worship style, who’s right, who’s wrong, and a plethora of other things. We lose the childlike wonder we once had, and maybe even lose faith altogether.

Have you lost the awe and wonder you once had for the Lord, maybe now or at another point in your life? If so, what do you think contributed to this?

Read John 1:10-13

  • What stands out to you most in these four verses?
  • Why do you think God identifies us as his children? Why is this so important?

When we misplace our identity in anything or anyone besides our trusted, loving Heavenly Father, it causes us to live in a state of worry, fear, and anxiety. Have you walked through this personally? If so, share about your experience.

Read Romans 8:14-17

What observations can you make about God’s character in this passage?

Everything changes when we root our identity in being a son and daughter of the father of love!

Three key things that change:

1)    Confidence - Romans 8:14

  • You are now led by the spirit of God.
  • The love of God becomes the authority of your life.
  • There’s no fear of failure because he’s already won any and every battle that can be won.
  • You can trust him with every detail of your life (big and small).
  • You can risk and adventure with God, knowing He will provide for you.
  • You were once filled with fear, but you are now filled with faith!

2)    Closeness - Romans 8:15-16

  • You’ve been adopted, your father chose you.
  • You now have the same closeness that Jesus shares with God, we can call him “Abba, Father”, just like Jesus did.
  • We don’t have to worry if we are saved, we know who we are and whose we are.

3)    Inheritance - Romans 8:17

  • Our old life and “debts” are completely canceled out, we become literal children of God
  • Everything Jesus gets, WE get!
  • Eternal life now and forever!

Living it Out:

  • Are you taking full advantage of these three gifts that God is offering his children (you and me)? (confidence, closeness, and inheritance)
  • If not, which one do you need to fully “receive” for your life?
  • Take 5 minutes and write down what you imagine would change in your life this week if you chose childlike faith over fear, worry, and anxiety. 

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The Question's We're All Asking: What About Sex?

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The Question's We're All Asking: What About Sex?

The Questions We’re All Asking: Love, Sex, & Relationships

What About Sex?

Warm Up: How was the topic of sex viewed in your home growing up? Were your parents open about it, was it taboo to talk about, or somewhere in between?

The message on Sunday addressed probably the most talked about, sung about, written about, thought about topic in our culture today…SEX. But even more than that, it was about how we view God. We learned that what we believe about God will determine how we go about sex.

Read Genesis 1:27-28

The fact that sex was created before sin entered the world is significant. Why is this important/what does this mean to us?

God created sex to be good, to be pleasurable, to be enjoyed between one man and one woman…for life.

This may be a new idea for some of us. In the past, what did you believe about the way God viewed sex? Bad, good, dirty, indifferent?

It was when our forefather and mother, Adam and Eve sinned, something happened to us, and in turn something happened to sex.

In what ways do you think sex has been affected by culture and moved away from God’s original design and purpose?

How has our culture’s view of sex affected you personally?

We’re now going to split up: guys with guys, and girls with girls, for the remainder of the evening conversation. Find a space where you can have a comfortable and quiet environment.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes a letter to the church in Corinth. Ancient Corinth was like a modern day Vegas. Corinth was near Athens, home to Plato and Aristotle, who came up with the idea of dualism, that taught the physical world and spiritual world were completely separate.

With that idea in mind, read Paul’s words to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

How has your sexual life been related to your spiritual life? Have you kept the two separate?

How do you define “sexual sin?”

When we live in this state of sin, sex becomes about getting instead of giving. Have you experienced this personally? How so?

Many people think sexual purity, expressed within the context of marriage, is just a Bible thing or moral thing. However, there are two other realities to consider:

Science: Our brains are created beautifully complex. And, the way our brains work confirm what the Bible says about God's design for sex. Two chemicals are released during sex: Dopamine  (the pleasure system) and Oxytocin (the bonding system). Dopamine makes sex feel amazing, and Oxytocin relationally bonds two people together.

Statistics: “The people who report the lowest levels of sexual satisfaction are promiscuous singles with frequent sexual encounters. And, study after study shows that people with the best sex lives are married couples who have had few or no partners before marriage. Reality is 180 degrees removed from what culture tries to tell us.” – John Mark Comer, LOVEOLOGY

What do you gather from these two realities? What do you think both science and the statistics are telling us about God’s design for sex? Why would he create it only to be enjoyed between one man and one woman within the context of marriage, for life?

Does this change your thinking in any way? If so, how?

Now, here’s the really good news if you’ve already messed up in this area (which is pretty much all of us in one way or another):

WITH God, there is: GRACE, FORGIVENESS, & FREEDOM

God isn’t trying to get you to follow his RULES.

God just wants you to experience his LIFE.

In this very moment do you feel like you are experiencing the life & freedom that Jesus offers? Why or why not?

God is the God of mulligans…he’s the King of fresh starts. It’s never too late. He wants to give you a rich and satisfying life…TODAY.

Spend 10 minutes in reflection and prayer and ask God for GRACE, FORGIVENESS, and FREEDOM for specific areas in your own life.

If you are dating, consider making a Relationship Covenant together for the things you will and won’t do in your dating relationship.

If you are single (or in a relationship), you could also make a Red/Green Chart, specifically committing to things you will and will not participate with both as an individual, and/or in your relationship. Red is, won’t ever go there, period. Green is: healthy environments to spend your time. Don’t forget to sign it. This accountability before God and with each other really helps things stick!

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The Question's We're All Asking: Love, Sex, & Relationships

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The Question's We're All Asking: Love, Sex, & Relationships

For this 3-week series, please discuss the following questions separately (guys with guys and girls with girls). It’s ideal to meet in a different location for these weeks. However, if that’s not possible, please discuss the questions in separate areas at your house or apartment.

The Questions We’re All Asking: Love, Sex, & Relationships

Warm-up: Who was your childhood crush? 

On Sunday we discussed a key point: The way we go about our romantic relationships is central to our relationship with God.

In your single, dating, or married life, how has this played out?  Has your romantic life been reflective of your relationship with God, or have you kept the two separate? 

3 ways we hope this series will impact you:

  • Freedom for those consumed by unhealthy patterns, broken relationships, guilt and shame. 
  • Hope for those who have given up on love because they don’t know if it exists, or because they have been hurt too many times.
  • Health for those seeking to live a Jesus-centered life by modeling his kind of love in their dating & marriage relationships.   

Out of these three things (Freedom, Hope, Health) which one are you hoping to attain most?  If you feel comfortable, share a little bit about where you’re at currently in terms of your romantic life. 

 

We have discovered 4 non-negotiables that must be present in every relationship…things you can’t compromise on, things you don’t settle for less in, things that you MUST have in order for it to be the kind of relationship that God wants to bless.

1. Chemistry: You’re a good fit, mix well, & compliment each other.

  • Physical attraction
  • Connect on the deeper things
  • You enjoy a similar kind of humor

2. Character: who they really are when you aren’t looking.

  • How that person treats strangers (generosity, kindness, compassion)
  • How that person treats those closest to them
  • Positive attitude
  • Work ethic

3. Confidence: How you’ve seen their character play out over time.

  • A follow-through person; they do what they say
  • A person you can be open and vulnerable with
  • A person you feel safe and protected around

4. Clarity: A clear sense of where it’s going.

  • Family and friends approve
  • God has given you a sense of peace
  • You’re not in a constant state of confusion or worry
  • Your future together excites you; it isn’t filled with a list of “what ifs” 

 

When talking about the “who” when it comes to relationships, we are really talking about two people: 1) The person you are looking for, and 2) You.

It is essential to know that who we are becoming is just as important as who we are looking for.

Why is it important that we have the same standard for who we are looking for and who we are becoming?

 

Who you’re looking for: Of these four non-negotiables, which has been a strong suit for you when it comes to your relationships? Which one has been lacking?

Who you’re becoming: Of these four non-negotiables, which area are you personally doing the best in, and which one needs the most attention?

 

The last “C” isn’t on the list because we believe it overrides everything else. There is no greater bond in a relationship than the bond of CHRIST. Marry someone who loves God more than they love you, and you will never regret it.

Think of it. When you marry someone who has the Holy Spirit living inside him/her and you have the same Spirit living inside you…guess what you share together? The SAME Spirit. The Spirit of God will unify your lives, help clarify your mission together, and impact people that come into contact with your relationship.

 

Living it Out:

1. If you’re single: What would it look like for you to spend less time hunting more time becoming? Make a list of 5 specific ways Jesus loved others. Put that list in spot where you can see and reflect on it for 5 minutes each day this week before you go to work or school.

2. If you’re in a relationship: Go back to the 4 Cs. Make a list of the specific ways your relationship has each “C” present. If there are some questions or concerns about areas that you feel are not present in your relationship, do two things: 1) talk to God about it and see what He says 2) Talk lovingly, openly, and honestly about it with your significant other.

The final thing: Don’t settle for less than God’s best!

Remember:

  • Short-term gain = Long-term pain.
  • Short-term pain = long-term gain. 

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Encounters with Jesus: Living Love

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Encounters with Jesus: Living Love

In tonight’s passage we will see how Jesus encountered a religious man. A religious man in that day would have represented someone who was in expert in the law, knew every answer to all the questions in church, and grew up in Sunday school. 

Warm-Up: What was your upbringing like…Did you grow up in the church? Go to a Christian school? If not, what was your idea of people who did?

Read Luke 10: 25-29

Before we start answering specific questions, what stood out to you most in those first few verses? 

In verse 29, the religious man asks Jesus a follow up question, “…who is my neighbor?” What do you think the man is really trying to get at by asking Jesus this? 

Have there been times in your own life where you asked God: Where is the line, boundary, or limit? When is enough, “enough?” How much do I have to continue loving, forgiving, pursuing?  Please share…

Read Luke 10:30-35

Upon seeing the Jewish man lying there, the priest immediately went to the other side of the road. The temple assistant went over and looked, but then he too went to the other side of the road. But when the Samaritan saw the man, it says he was filled with compassion. The Samaritan’s love actually led him to do something about it. He saw the need, felt the need, and met the need.

If you’re completely honest, which character do you identify with most…the priest, the temple assistant, or the despised Samaritan? Why?

What excuses do you think the priest and temple assistant used to justify their lack of care and compassion? Are any of these excuses similar to our excuses today?

What excuses could the Samaritan have offered as justifiable reasons why he should not help the Jewish man?

It’s important to note that the Samaritan was helping and caring for a man who would have likely made fun of him, marginalized him, not done business with him, and frankly, hated him. That takes “loving your neighbor” to a whole new level. 

Before reading this passage what was your definition of being a good neighbor? Has your understanding been challenged after reading this story? How so?

To whom specifically do you think Jesus is asking you to be a neighbor? Maybe it’s a person or people group totally different than you. Maybe it’s people you see daily but don’t pay any attention to. Or, maybe it’s even someone very close to you that you lack patience and/or compassion toward. Spend a few minutes thinking, and then share.  

Read Luke 10:36-37

It’s important to note that in the beginning, the religious man asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” But, in verse 36, Jesus flips the question and asks him, “Who was a neighbor to the man?”

It’s not about defining who our neighbor is or isn’t; It’s about being a loving neighbor.

On Sunday we learned 2 things that will dramatically change the way we encounter people. We must realize that:

1.     People are more important than our plans.

2.    People are more important than our pride.

Which of these two resonated with you most?

Living it out:

Invite God to interrupt your week with people that need to encounter Jesus. It might feel scary or overwhelming, but remember, God has given you his Holy Spirit to give you everything you need in any situation you face. God just might be showing you that he has chosen you to be the Good Samaritan for that person this week. See the need. Feel the need. Meet the need. And look out for the increasing and expanding love you will start experiencing this week!

Break up in groups 3-5. Guys with guys and girls with girls. Spend some time praying with one another. As you pray, ask God, “Who would you have interrupt me this week? And, show me how I can love them more.”

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Encounters with Jesus: Can't Stop, Won't Stop

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Encounters with Jesus: Can't Stop, Won't Stop

Warm-up:  What is the one word that you would use to describe Jesus?

Read Matthew 15:21-28

The person that we are going to focus on in this story is the Gentile woman. While it is incredible that Jesus healed her demon-possessed daughter, I think he may be trying to teach us something even more profound. The woman had many obstacles in her way: she was an outsider (Gentile), a woman, the mother to a demon possessed little girl, and Jesus is seemingly ignoring her. Ouch. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you had your heart set on something, but that dream quickly came to a halt because a variety of obstacles or challenges got in your way. 

Why do you think Jesus ignored the woman? 

When he finally does say something to the woman it seems pretty harsh. What do you think the deeper meaning was behind Jesus’ response to her?

What are your thoughts on the way the woman responded despite the MANY obstacles in her way?

 

 

God was teaching not only the woman and the disciples the power of persistence, but he is also teaching us why it is so important to pursue him persistently in prayer.    

We all want things in life. And Jesus says to bring those requests to the Father (Luke 11:9-13). But, on Sunday, we heard that prayer is not about getting everything we want, it is about wanting Jesus above all else. (Read that again… Let it sink in) 

On Sunday we learned 4 major things about the power of persistence in prayer

It recognizes our need for God

It clarifies what we really want and what we really need

It gives us more passion for God

It grows our faith and builds our character

 

Let’s actually spend some time tonight practicing this. First, take some time now to sit quietly and alone with God. Spend the first 5 minutes in silent prayer. Spread yourselves out and find a comfortable place (life group leaders can facilitate this).

Ask God to: Help clarify your motives / Purify your heart / Forgive you of any unconfessed sin / Release you of any unforgiveness towards others / Forgive you for any doubt or disbelief in Him

After talking and listening to God, write down THREE of the biggest things in your life that you may have given up on too soon. It could be a relationship you desire, an unbelieving family member or loved one, a physical/medical need, a career path, etc. After you have written them down take time to pray separately about each one (Spend about 15 minutes here). We can follow the woman’s prayer model:

  • She doesn’t demand anything from Jesus
  • Even when Jesus is silent she comes before his feet and worships him
  • She doesn’t try to pray an elegant, wordy prayer, she simply prays, “God I need you!”
  • She equates herself to a household pet and will take anything Jesus will give her because she believes he is THAT good

Once the 15 minutes is up, take some time to share about your time with the Lord. Was this exercise refreshing, difficult, exciting, unexpected?

 

Living it out: Don’t let your persistence in prayer stop tonight. Remember…How much we want God will be shown in how hard we pursue him. Take 15 minutes each day and pray persistently for the same three things you prayed for tonight.  

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Encounters with Jesus: When I Don't Have Enough

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Encounters with Jesus: When I Don't Have Enough

Warm up: Do you think you would enjoy being famous and everyone knowing who you are? Why or why not?

Read Mark 6:30-31

The title of Sunday’s message was, When I Don’t Have Enough. And, it’s safe to say that this is exactly how Jesus and the disciples felt. The disciples had just returned from a long trip of doing ministry and Jesus (pretty famous at this point) has spent countless hours healing, listening to, and investing into the crowds of people that desperately wanted him to meet their needs. The text tells us that Jesus and his disciples’ schedule was so full, they didn’t even have time to eat.

Are there areas in your life that you feel are draining you physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually?

Talk about a time recently when you felt like you had nothing left to give…

(Examples: work, school, family dynamic, needy friend, relationship, etc.)

 

Read Mark 6:32-34

The disciples are worn out, exhausted, tanks on empty, ready and even deserving of a vacation. Yet, as they are about to land on shore, what do they see? How would you have felt?

Have you experienced a situation like we just read? Maybe a day where you had all your plans mapped out and ready to go, then someone or something began begging for your attention?

Or, maybe you just got done from a long day at work or school, you’re completely exhausted, and you get a phone call from a friend asking to talk or meet up for coffee because they’re going through something heavy. Be honest…how did you respond to this situation?

We see that Jesus doesn’t get angry, frustrated, or even complain that the people are there. He doesn’t say, “I’m off the clock!”

It says he was filled with compassion when he looked at them, because they were sheep without a shepherd. He spends all day teaching and healing them. He couldn’t help himself.

Although full of pain and exhaustion, Jesus made time for people.

When you make time for people, even in the midst of pain and exhaustion, Jesus often does his best work. How have you found this to be true in your own life?

 

Read Mark 6:35-38

Imagine you’re a disciple in this scene, and Jesus just asked you to feed 5,000 men, in addition to all the women and children (10,000—12,000 people). What are you thinking in this moment?

What could Jesus be asking you to do right now that doesn’t really make sense? (examples: time, money, relationships). What feelings are attached to the thought of handing this over to Jesus?

 

Read Mark 6:39-44

On Sunday, Jon said, “Jesus invites us to bring him what we don’t think is enough, so that we can see that when it’s in his hands it is always more than enough.”

Does it feel like if you can’t give everything to Jesus you shouldn’t try to give him anything? Have you allowed this to stunt, and maybe even stop your relationship with him? (examples: I’m not spiritual enough, talented enough, extraverted enough, financially stable enough, etc.)

Jon said, “Oftentimes it is when we feel like we don’t have enough that Jesus does his best work.” What thoughts or questions arise when you hear that?

How does it feel to know that Jesus wants to take the little, the few, the only that you have right now, so that with it he can do his best work?

 

Living It Out: What do you have in your hand right now that you feel isn’t enough that you can offer Jesus TODAY?  

Examples:

- In your car on your way to work or school, instead of listening to the radio, spend that time listening/talking to God.

- Meet up with one person to grab coffee that you know God has put on your heart to invest in.

- Give generously to someone that you know can never pay you back (and don’t tell anyone about it). 

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Encounters With Jesus: What is Your Name?

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Encounters With Jesus: What is Your Name?

Warm-up:  How do you feel about your name?  Have you ever gone through a phase where you wanted to go by something different?  How about your last name?

Your name can identify your people: White, Male, Middle-child. 

Your name can identify your place: If you live in Detroit, you may be seen as tough. If you live in San Clemente, everyone else in the world is just simply jealous of you.

Your name can identify your purpose: Hi, I'm _______, and I'm a student, businessperson, surfer, server at a restaurant, etc. 

In the story we are about to read, we will see how our name relates to our identity. The way you name yourself makes all the difference in who you will choose to become.

Read Mark 5:1-2

In the beginning of this story we read that Jesus travels to the “other side” of the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.  This is important to note because the other side of the lake was not a place Jesus was particularly welcome.  In fact, it was a land filled with people who didn’t know or want to know about Jesus, and who were perfectly comfortable living in their sinful, dark ways.  Yet Jesus says, “I want to go there.”  It’s important to see ourselves in the story here.  Don’t we all have another side, a dark side “across the lake” that we’re not proud of? We go to great lengths to try and conceal it, yet it always eventually reveals itself. 

When he arrives, Jesus climbs out of his boat, and is met by a demon possessed man. At this point you may be tempted to check out, and dismiss this story as something that doesn’t relate to you. But the Bible says there is craziness in all of us. We are all broken, and if we allow our cravings, our desires, and our sins to control us, we can open our lives up to things that will inevitably destroy us. 

Read Mark 5:3-5

Below are some characteristics we learn about the man. Listen for qualities that may resonate with you personally:

The man could not be restrained

- Self-control seems impossible no matter how hard you try

- Other people’s help or advice doesn’t seem to work

- You keep going back to the very thing you despise most

The man is wandering        

- No purpose, direction or roots

The man is isolated

- You purposefully isolate yourself, and lack community and accountability

The man is living among dead things

- You hang around destructive things and unhealthy people because that is what you are comfortable with

- Your guilt and shame cause you to fall back in to patterns and habits you know are unhealthy, but you continue anyways

The man is acting out

- You don’t know how to manage your pain so you act out

- You inflict pain on yourself or others because you are in so much internal turmoil

 

Read Romans 7:15-24.

In what way(s) can you relate to the characteristics of the demon possessed man, and the struggle that Paul talks about in Romans 7?

 

Read Mark 5:6-9

Jesus asks the man, what is your name? This is one of the most important questions Jesus could ever ask, because your name = IDENTITY, and your identity will determine your destiny. 

Look how the man answers. He says his name is “Legion for the there are many of us inside this man.” The man answers by giving a number instead of a name.  On Sunday Jon talked about how “the enemy wants to make us a number, but Jesus wants to give us his name.”  What do you think this means? 

If Jesus were to ask you the same question, “What is your name?” how would you reply?

 

Read Mark 5:10-17

What is the crowd’s reaction and why do you think they responded this way?

On Sunday, Jon said that in order to experience true freedom in your life, the pain of remaining the same must outweigh the pain of change.” What do you think that means? Have you experienced this?

 

Read Mark 5:18-20

Why didn’t Jesus let the man come with him? What might Jesus be doing here?

Jesus tells the man to go back to his family, and share about the good things God has done for him; back to his people, back to his place, back with a new purpose. Jesus gives the man a new identity. He is now a Jesus follower and the first missionary to the ten cities in his region.

The man goes from deliverance to discipleship. The goal of freedom is never just deliverance from sin, it is discipleship to Jesus. It is only when we receive the grace of Jesus we can now freely give the grace of Jesus to others.

 

Living it out:

What is your name? What is your fundamental identity? 

Are you a sinner trying to love God, or are you a child of God that struggles with sin? How you answer this question will make all the difference in how you see yourself and your Father in heaven.

Make an intentional choice each day this week to reflect on and declare your identity IN Christ, and watch how everything else will flow from it.

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Encounters with Jesus: True Worship

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Encounters with Jesus: True Worship

Warm-Up: If you grew up in church, how would you describe your church’s worship culture? If not, what was your first worship experience like?

Read John 4:1-26 (NLT)

Share some things that stood out to you in the passage…(what do you notice about the environment, characters in the story, the questions, conversational themes, etc.)

 

What was the difference with the water that the woman was talking about and the water that Jesus was talking about?

What is the significance of Jesus knowing about her life? And, how does that relate to how we personally respond to him?

Focus on verses 19-20. What do you think the woman is getting at in her question about worship? How would you define worship? Is it a place, an event, an experience, a life style?

 

Simple definition of worship: giving worth to something or someone

 

If you were there on Sunday, Jadon talked about not limiting worshipping God to just a Sunday experience at church, but rather an activity that is a part of your daily life. What could that look like for you specifically?

How do you connect with God best? Is it while singing a worship song? Is it while reading the Bible? Is it while talking to God in prayer? Other?

 

Focus on verses 23-24. What do you think it means to worship God both in spirit and truth? Have you found yourself worshipping God in spirit but not in truth? What about truth but without spirit?

Why is it essential to worship God both in spirit and truth?

How does it make you feel to know that God is actively looking for those that will worship him this way?

Is there anything holding you back from worshipping God this way?

 

How might your life of worship change when you recognize that God knows everything about you, yet will stop at nothing to be with you?

Think about whether or not your worship is really aimed at Jesus? Is your life of worship reflected by your life choices?

 

Living it out this week: If you want to grow in your life of worship, talk through some ideas as a group of how that could begin to look this week in practical ways.

Some ideas could be:

- Get with a friend and read through some of the Psalms together. Meditate on the passages and talk about what you learn about worship.

- Solitude. Spend time alone reflecting why God is worthy of your worship. A good pattern could be: Who God is...What He has done...What He is going to do.

- Read, think, and pray through the lyrics of your favorite worship songs this week. Ask yourself, “God, how can I experience the truth of these lyrics in my life today?”

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Encounters with Jesus: When Grateful Becomes Thankful

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Encounters with Jesus: When Grateful Becomes Thankful

Warm-up: It’s Christmas Day. You wake up and discover gifts under the tree with your name on them. Were you able to tear through your presents as soon as you woke up and then go play outside? Or, were you required to wait for each person to open one gift at a time, and then after opening each gift, you had to get up and hug the person that gave it to you? What about Thanksgiving…was it a significant day where you would share what you were thankful for (maybe even in an awkward prayer circle), or was it a more casual day of food and football?  

Read Luke 17:11-19

In this passage we find Jesus moving toward Jerusalem and entering a village where he comes across ten lepers standing at a distance.  If you were at LIVECOAST this last weekend we talked in detail about the condition of a person with leprosy. But, for those of you who weren’t, leprosy is a skin disease that attacks the body, leaving sores, missing toes, fingers, nose, ears, and damaged limbs. 

The physical pain is unimaginable, but the emotional pain lepers experienced was even worse. Lepers were deemed “unclean” in society both physically and spiritually. They were removed from their families, jobs, communities, and quarantined to leper colonies. If matters couldn't get any worse, they were forced to loudly yell “unclean!” if anyone happened to come near them, warning people to stay away. 

There was no medical treatment for leprosy; a miracle was the only way it could be cured.  That is exactly why the lepers cried out when they saw Jesus entering their village, “Master, have mercy on us!”

How would Jesus respond? The text says, "Jesus looked at them and said, 'Go show yourselves to the priests.' And, as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy."  

Lepers were known as the most “dirty” people in society of that day. They were people you would try your best not to look at, not only because their bodies were so disfigured, but also because people saw them as ones being punished for their sin. But the passage tells us that when Jesus heard their cries, he looked at them. Jesus wasn’t afraid to look at them in their state of leprosy and respond to their cries for help. Just like Jesus stops and sees the lepers and gives them his undivided attention, he sees us. How does it make you feel to know that a perfect, sinless, holy God isn’t afraid of your dirtiness, and that he is ready and willing to respond to your deepest needs? Have you experienced this in your own life? 

 

Of the ten lepers one of them when he was healed came back to Jesus to give praise, falling at his feet, thanking him for what he had done. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And then Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has saved you.” 

We learn that only one of the ten men (10 %) came back to Jesus and expressed thankfulness. All ten are healed, but only one is saved. All ten were grateful, but only one was thankful. On Sunday we learned that gratefulness and thankfulness are two different things.  

Gratitude is feeling thankful.

Thankfulness is gratitude in action

Have you ever been thankful but you weren't truly grateful? Why did you do it? Was it an expectation, or maybe you said thanks because it was the polite thing to do? Maybe you've found yourself making thankfulness more about how you look, rather than true appreciation toward the giver of the gift.

Have you ever been grateful but not really thankful? Maybe you have a genuine appreciation for where you live, your family, friends, job, church, God...but you wonder why your life doesn't have more purpose, passion, and joy?

Share how you’ve seen either of these scenarios play out in your own life...

 

What do you think kept the other nine lepers from returning to Jesus and giving him thanks?

There are many things that can keep us from being thankful.  A few of the big ones include: comparing ourselves to others, competing with others, playing the victim, or living with a sense of entitlement.  Of these four, which one do you identify most as the source for a lack of thankfulness? What is it about these things that make you thankless rather than thankful

 

On Sunday we heard something that may have been new for many of us, “What if thankfulness wasn’t about God, but was about us? God doesn’t need our thankfulness, we need our thankfulness”  What do you think this means?

How does a thankful life produce a joyful life? 

One pastor described the result of thankfulness this way, “When I’m thankful, my tank is full.

 

Thankfulness is a deliberate choice. It’s a discipline. And like any kind of training, it takes practice. There will be moments in life when you feel blessed beyond belief, and there will be times when you feel like your entire world is falling apart. Choosing to give God thanks, regardless of your circumstance, is not to build God’s self-confidence, but to build the kind of joy within you that cannot be taken away. Just as the scriptures say, “The joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

What if we were thankful not just on Thanksgiving, one day of the year? How would that shape us personally? As a community?

What do you think might happen to the world around us (your friends, family, co-workers, classmates) if we moved beyond just gratefulness, and started practicing true thankfulness? How might that inspire others, and point them toward Jesus?  

Living it out this week: Each day this week, express to God (out loud) one response to each of the following questions:

What are you grateful for today? 

Who are you thankful for today?

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Encounters with Jesus: Love, a little or a lot?

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Encounters with Jesus: Love, a little or a lot?

Luke’s Gospel emphasizes that Jesus came to save people who were lost. The passage before us (Luke 7:36-50) accentuates Jesus’ plan of salvation and the human conditions that accompany that plan. The good news is that everyone Jesus encounters, he desires to save from their sins, and his mission was more than sufficient to save all humanity. Nevertheless, not everyone accepts the salvation he brought. The encounter and dialog between Simon the Pharisee and Jesus concerning the sinful woman will shed light on why this is so.

 

Read Luke 7:36-39

What kind of invitation is Jesus given, and by whom?  What do you think the purpose was for inviting Jesus over?

What kind of woman is described here?  Why would she dare enter the Pharisee’s home? Do you think she already knows something of Jesus? 

Where does the woman position herself and what is she doing?  Why would a sinner do such things? 

What does the Pharisee say to himself when he sees Jesus permitting this display to continue? According to the Pharisee, Jesus has failed the test of being a prophet.  How does the Pharisee reason to that conclusion?  

 

Read Luke 7:40-43

Jesus presents a parable to Simon.  What is it about?  How do the two amounts compare to one another? 

Does either debtor have the money to pay the debt back?  What action does the moneylender take?  What is the key question this parable poses?  What is Simon’s response?  

 

Read Luke 7:44-50

Why do you think Jesus turns and faces the woman while still addressing Simon?  What contrast does Jesus make between Simon’s actions and the woman’s?  

In verse 47 Jesus makes a pronouncement about the sinful woman.  What do you think Jesus is saying?

Do you think this means people are forgiven because of how much they are able to love (by works)?  Or do people love much because they have come to realize the enormous debt already forgiven them (by faith)?  

In what way(s) did you see Jesus act unexpectedly in this story?

 

The first lesson of this incident is that Christ came to seek and to save sinners. A woman who was considered a great sinner by her peers was forgiven by our Lord, while those who thought themselves righteous went away unforgiven. 

The second lesson we can learn from our text is to recognize the characteristics of self-righteousness as evident in the life of Simon the Pharisee. To the sinful woman, Jesus was everything. To Simon, Jesus was an accessory.  

Do a heart check… Who do you identify with?  Simon?  The woman? Both?  After digging in, you may find that you are actually someone/something different than you realized.  If you feel comfortable share.

How could you practically model the sinful woman’s posture and attitude toward Jesus this week?  In what ways could you step out and humbly sacrifice your reputation or the way you might look to simply lay everything at his feet?

How will you treat Jesus as EVERYTHING this week instead of an accessory?  

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