PRAYERS OF PAUL- GOD’S WILL

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

On the final week of our Prayers of Paul sermon series, we’re looking at Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church. The church allowed false teaching that mixed Greek philosophy with Christian theology: they added to the requirements for salvation. Paul’s letter stated the case for Christ being the fullness of God, the all-sufficient Savior. And in his prayer, he asked that God would “fill” the Colossians with “the knowledge of His will”, which would give them a greater understanding of the supreme Savior.

SCRIPTURE

9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is your IF/THEN? (If you could just have Jesus…AND… _____________, THEN…)

In this series we’ve already looked at three prayers. Read Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 3:17, and Philippians 1:9. What is Paul asking for in these prayers?

Read Colossians 1:9-12. The passage begins with “For this reason”. What is “this reason”?

List what Paul is requesting in this prayer:

Why is knowledge of God’s will and spiritual wisdom necessary for believers?

What can you learn from this prayer about finding God’s will for your life? (See also Romans 12:1-2.)

Are you REALLY interested in knowing God’s will for your life? Or are you afraid of what He might ask you to do? How can you overcome this fear and follow His will? (See Matthew 11:28-30.)

APPLICATION

Do you know God’s will for your life? If so, do it. If not, pray that you would be filled “with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”.

Pick three people to pray for this week using the four prayers of Paul as a guide (Ephesians 1:17-19; Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-12). Write an action plan for how you will accomplish this: When will you pray? How long will you pray for? Ask someone in your Fellowship group or a close Christian friend to hold you accountable to do this each day this week.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Compare Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-12 to Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. What do you learn from the similarities and differences in these prayers?

Both Philippians and Colossians mention “fruit”. What do you learn about “fruit” from the following passages? How can you apply what you learn to your life?

  • Matthew 3:7-10
  • Matthew 7:15-21
  • John 15:1-16
  • Romans 7:4-6
  • Galatians 5:16-25
  • Ephesians 5:5-13
  • Hebrews 12:11
  • James 3:17-18
  • Hebrews 13:15

PRAYERS OF PAUL-ETERNITY

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

The Book of Philippians brims over with often quoted passages: “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6), “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21), and “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (4:13). Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians in appreciation for all they had done for him. And though they were in the midst of persecution, they remained faithful and grew spiritually, which was a great encourage to Paul. He begins this letter with gratefulness, and then prays a prayer for them with eternity in mind.

SCRIPTURE

1To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:1-11

GROUP QUESTIONS

If God answered all of your prayers this week, what (outside of your own personal life) would change?

Read Philippians 1:1-11. What is the overall tone of this passage? What do you learn about how Paul feels about this church?

List what Paul prays for the Philippians in verses 9-11.

Commentators suggest that when Paul prayed “that your love may abound more and more” he was praying for a “continual overflowing increase of super abounding love”. How would this kind of love change your view of the world and your interaction with it?

What is the relationship between love and knowledge?

How do you define “discernment”? What is the relationship between knowing God and being able to discern what is best?

What is “the day of Christ”?

Paul prays that the Philippians would be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ”. What is this “fruit”?

Is this how you pray? If not, how will this passage motivate your prayer life?

APPLICATION

Each day this week, pray Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:9-11 for you. Also choose at least one other person to pray this prayer for.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

“The Day of Christ” is connected with “the Judgment Seat of Christ” and “the Day of the Lord”. Look up the following verses and write what you learn about this “day”.

  • Matthew 16:27
  • Acts 2:20
  • Acts 10:42
  • Romans 2:16
  • Romans 14:10
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10
  • Ephesians 6:8
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:2
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:2-4
  • 2 Peter 3:10
  • Revelation 20:11-14

PRAYERS OF PAUL: LOVE

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

God, the Creator of heaven and earth, has all power and unlimited resources. He longs to pour His power and love into your life through His Spirit. As you continue to trust Him, your relationship with Him grows. In Ephesians 3, Paul is moved to pray that the power and love of God would be known fully by believers. God is able! Have you restricted this power in your life?

SCRIPTURE

14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

GROUP QUESTIONS

  • What is your most fervent prayer?
  • Read Ephesians 3:14-21. Paul begins with “for this reason…”. What is the reason he is praying this prayer?
  • List what Paul prays for in this passage. What stands out to you?
  • The word “kneel” means to lay prostrate. In Paul’s time, Jews stood when they offered prayers. Only in extraordinary times or in unusual passion would they kneel/prostrate themselves. Why do you think Paul was so concerned about the Ephesians that he “knelt” in prayer for them? (See Revelation 2:1-7.)
  • Joe shared that the word “dwell” has the connotation of inviting Jesus to make Himself at home in your life. Does the thought of Christ living in your life in such a complete manner make you excited, or does it make you uncomfortable? Why?
  • What does it mean to be strengthened “with power through His Spirit in your inner being”?
  • Do you think it is truly possible to understand the full extent of God’s love? Why or why not?
  • How would you describe God’s love? What experiences have you had that inform your understanding of God’s love?
  • How do you expect to change as you become more confident of Christ’s love and more filled with His power?

APPLICATION

Do you feel like the power of God is pouring out of you? Or is it a slow trickle? Read through the three ways Joe shared that can restrict your access to the power of God and determine if there are any bottlenecks in your life:

* Your attitude toward God: Are you making decisions based on what you want rather than what would bring a smile to God’s face? Is God being squeezed out of your busy schedule? Are your priorities pushed to the limit and God is getting your leftovers? If so, surrender to Him. Physically prostrate yourself before Him, acknowledging that He is God.

* The inner man: When life gets tough do you give up? Question God? Are there areas of your life that you need to daily surrender to Jesus? Ask Jesus to make Himself at home in your life. Pray that He would give you the inner strength that pushes you towards seeing, thinking, and doing the right thing in every situation.

* Locked doors: Have you kept Jesus in certain areas of your life and out of others? Surrender the mess to Him…all the thoughts, actions, addictions, and pride. Let Him come into those areas of your life and painstakingly clean them up. Give Him access to the ugly parts of your life…and He will give you freedom like you’ve never experienced!

FOR FURTHER STUDY

How does the prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 compare to the prayer in Ephesians 1:17–21?

What do the following verses say about God’s power in relation to believers?

  • Acts 1:7-8
  • 2 Timothy 1:7
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9
  • Colossians 1:28-29
  • 1 Corinthians 2:2-5
  • Ephesians 1:18-21
  • 2 Peter 1:2-4

PRAYERS OF PAUL- THE POWER OF GOD

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Do you believe prayer matters? That prayer makes some type of difference? As a church, we believe that God hears us when we pray, and that prayer actually makes a profound difference, both in our own personal life, and also in the world around us. Over the next four weeks, we will look at four powerful prayers of Paul and discover timeless truths about hope, love, righteousness, and God’s will.

SCRIPTURE

15For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, 19and His incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:15-19a

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group how you have seen prayer make a difference in your life.

Read Ephesians 1:15-19a. Paul mentions hearing about what two characteristics of the Ephesians Christians? Do you notice these things? If so, does it stir your heart to prayer?

Why do you think Paul was so appreciative of the faith of the Ephesians?

What word/phrase emphasizes the fact that this was not just a one-time prayer Paul prayed?

What do you think these four requests of Paul mean?

  • “give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation”
  • “that you may know Him better”
  • “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”
  • “that you may know the hope to which He has called you”

Aaron mentioned the difference between “know” (gnosis*) and “know” (epignosis**). Paul uses the word “epignosis” in verse 18. How can you “know” (epignosis) God more?

Do you believe all prayer should be for spiritual things? Why or why not? (See Philippians 4:6.)

How often do you pray for health issues, protection, finances, etc.? How often do you pray that you or others may know God better?

Read Psalm 2:8. God is not short on power; we are short on faith to access His power. How will you access more of His power this year?

*gnosis = to have cognitive knowledge

**epignosis = to have experiential knowledge

APPLICATION

Pick up the journal at church and write it in daily.

Text 21PRAY to 797979 to sign up for daily prayer encouragements from Fellowship. As the texts arrive, spend time meditating on the words and Scripture that have been sent.

Pray this for yourself and at least one other person this week:

1) that God would give you/them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know Him better; 2) that the eyes of your/their heart would be enlightened; 3) that you/they would know the hope of His calling; 4) that you/they would know the riches of His glorious inheritance; and 5) that you/they would know His incomparable great power for those who believe.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

* Ephesians 1:18 speaks of the “hope to which He has called you”. When you think of the things you hope for, what are they?

* According to commentaries, “the word ‘Hope’ (elpis) expresses a desire of some good with the expectation of obtaining it. Hope in Scripture is the absolute certainty of future good. Not ‘I hope so’ but strong confidence that God is going to do good to us in future. It is an expectation or confidence.” Read the following verses and write what you learn about our “hope”.

  • Colossians 1:27
  • 1 Timothy 1:1
  • Titus 2:11-14
  • 1 Peter 1:3

* Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and 2:6-7. List all of the things that could be considered “the riches of His glorious inheritance”

WHO IS JESUS? JESUS IS OUR PEACE

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

The last two weeks we’ve been studying Colossians 1:15-20. Paul makes the exact same point six different ways: 1) [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God (v 15a); 2) [Jesus] is the firstborn over all creation (v 15b); 3) By [Jesus] all things were created (v 16); 4) [Jesus] is before all things (v 17); 5) [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church (v 18); and 6) God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in [Jesus] (v 19). In this passage, Paul is saying that Jesus is God. But as God, He didn’t come as a conquering king, or a super hero; He chose to come as a baby, and He chose to be born into extremely humble beginnings. And He came offering “peace to men on whom His favor rests.”

SCRIPTURE

15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20

GROUP QUESTIONS

How have humans tried to achieve peace? How effective have we been?

Read Colossians 1:15-20. How does Jesus “reconcile to Himself all things” and “make peace”? What are “all things”?

Why does reconciliation and making peace with humanity matter to God?

Read Luke 2:6-14. What is your definition of peace?

Aaron defined peace as “wholeness, completeness”. Does this definition change how you view peace?

The angels declared “peace on earth” at the birth of Jesus, but has there been “peace on earth” since His birth? If not, what do you think the angels meant by this declaration?

Read Isaiah 9:6. What are the four titles of Jesus in this prophecy?

The Hebrew phrase “Sar Shalom” is translated “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6. According to Aaron, “Prince of Peace” means “Chief of Rest”, “General of Wholeness”, “Captain Completeness”. Is this how you experience peace in your everyday life?

APPLICATION

All of the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—would be properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies by making peace through Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross. This is the reason for the season. This is why you celebrate. This is why Jesus left the perfection of heaven and entered the chaos of His creation. He came to be your peace…not just a feeling; emotion, or experience based on your surroundings, but Sar Shalom…the redemption, restoration, and reconciliation of every broken part in you. Meditate on this during the next week as you celebrate Christ’s birth!

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read the following Scripture verses in at least three different translations. Journal what God is speaking to you through these passages.

  • Psalm 55:22
  • Psalm 119:165
  • Isaiah 26:3
  • Isaiah 54:10
  • John 14:27
  • John 16:33
  • Romans 12:18
  • Romans 14:19
  • Philippians 4:6-7
  • Colossians 3:15
  • 1 Peter 3:8-12

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WHO IS JESUS? JESUS IS OUR GUIDE

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Our world is confused over who Jesus is…many say that He was a good man and a great moral teacher but not the incarnate Son of God. This is the teaching that crept into the church at Colossae and the reason why Paul wrote the Book of Colossians.

SCRIPTURE

15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20

GROUP QUESTIONS

What are some of the different views you have heard for who Jesus is?

Read Colossians 1:16-20. Does “firstborn over all creation” mean Jesus was created first? If not, what does it mean?

Read the following passages. What is the range in meaning of the word “firstborn”?

  • Psalm 89:27
  • Luke 2:7
  • Romans 8:29
  • Hebrews 11:28
  • Hebrews 12:22-23
  • Revelation 1:5

Paul wrote Colossians because the people in the church had become confused about who Jesus was (God). If Paul were to write to the Church today, what false beliefs do you think he would address?

Why is the deity of Christ important to your faith?

Discuss the meaning of these phrases in verses 17-18:

  •  “He is before all things”
  • “In Him all things hold together”
  • “He is the head of the body, the church”
  • “He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead”
  • “In everything He might have the supremacy”

Why is it important that Christ is supreme? What impact should this knowledge have on the way you live your life?

APPLICATION

Aaron re-read Colossians 1:17-18 with the understanding the Jesus is FIRST:

17 He is before all things, [So, Jesus is FIRST in everything] and in Him all things hold together. [because He’s FIRST] 18 And He is the head of the body, the church; [So, Jesus is FIRST in the Church…and…] He is the beginning [which means He’s the FIRST] and the firstborn from among the dead [again, Jesus is FIRST].

Is your view of Jesus full and complete? How will you give Him the position of FIRST in your life?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read the following passages and list how Jesus is described. Spend time this week mediating on Who He is.

  • Matthew 22:41-45
  • Mark 9:2-8
  • Luke 5:17-26
  • John 1:1-18
  • Hebrews 1:1-14

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WHO IS JESUS? JESUS IS OUR EXAMPLE

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

This is a season most of us love – lights, cookies, decorations, traditions, festivities, family. Christmas is now several months long; in 2013, the United States’ retail industry generated over $3 trillion during the holidays. For the next three weeks, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, we are going to look at Colossians 1:15-20 and answer the question “Who is Jesus?” to help us re-discover the significance of Christmas.

SCRIPTURE

15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Colossians 1:15-16

GROUP QUESTIONS

If you could ask Jesus ONE question about Himself, what would it be?

Read Colossians 1:15-20. What stuck out to you the most in this passage?

Why is it significant that Paul uses the term “image” to describe Jesus? (See Exodus 20:4, Hebrews 1:3, and John 1:18.)

What does it mean to be “the firstborn over all creation”?

Read the following passages. What do they tell you about Jesus’ relationship to creation?

  • Genesis 1:1, 26
  • John 1:1-3, 14
  • 1 Corinthians 8:6

What “invisible” things has He created?

What are the “thrones”, “powers”, “rulers” and “authorities”?

Since “all things have been created through Him and for Him”, this means that He created you for Himself. How does that make you feel?

APPLICATION

Each day this week, read through Colossians 1:15-16. Think of how Jesus is described in these verses, and then meditate on the incredible humility of His birth. Spend time in prayer thanking Him for being Emmanuel (God with us).

FOR FURTHER STUDY

In Colossians 1:15-16, Jesus is called “Image”, “Firstborn”, and “Creator”. Read the following passages and list the other names of Jesus. Which of these names are most meaningful to you?

  • Isaiah 7:14
  • Isaiah 9:6
  • Luke 2:11
  • John 1:1
  • John 1:29
  • John 1:41
  • John 6:35
  • John 8:12
  • John 8:58
  • John 10:9
  • John 10:11
  • John 11:25
  • John 14:6

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HAPPY LIFE: MONEY IS A TRADEMARK

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Over the last two weeks we’ve looked at how money is a tool God gives to advance the kingdom, and how it is a test that reveals your heart. But how you use your finances is also the Trademark of a generous God! What does God’s Trademark look like?

SCRIPTURE

6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (MSG)

GROUP QUESTIONS

What saying best describes the way you view money?

  • “Waste not, want not.”
  • “Eat, drink, and be merry.”
  • “You can’t take it with you.”
  • “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
  • “Penny wise, pound foolish.”
  • “The one with the most toys at the end wins.”

Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. List the principles and promises related to giving in this passage. Do any particularly stand out to you? Why?

What does it mean to give “under compulsion” (v. 7)? Have you ever done this?

Do you believe it is possible to have a vibrant faith and yet be ungenerous towards others? Why or why not?

If you are to reveal God’s Trademark of generosity, why is your motive for giving important?

Joe shared that the lack of generosity conceals God’s Trademark in three ways; what were those ways?* Have you noticed these in your life? If so, what does that say about generosity in your life?

Joe also said that generosity reveals God’s Trademark in what three ways?** How have you seen these revealed in your life?

If generosity is God’s Trademark to show an unbelieving world that you belong to Him, do you reveal or conceal God’s Trademark?

*How generosity conceals God’s Trademark:

  1. Fear rules your heart and mind.
  2. Distractions take priority.
  3. Self-centeredness becomes your natural position.

**How generosity reveals God’s Trademark:

  1. You trade the worthless for the worthy.
  2. You move from consumer to contributor.
  3. Your head and heart align.

APPLICATION

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being not generous and 10 being very generous), rate your level of generosity. What is one tangible step you can take to grow in your level of generosity?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Psalm 112. What does it mean to fear the Lord? To be blessed?

What are some of the specific ways that God says He will bless you? Do you feel God has already blessed you in any of those ways?

Is God promising financial wealth and security in this passage? Why or why not?

Paul quotes Psalm 112:9 in 2 Corinthians 9:9. Who is the “they” in this passage? What do you think it means that “they have freely scattered their gifts to the poor”?

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HAPPY LIFE: MONEY IS A TEST

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Last week, Dave Oakley reminded us that God never intended money to be a tool used for personal happiness, but rather, a tool to advance His purposes in the world. Money is a gift given to us by God; it’s a tool to be used, not for our own personal advancement, but primarily for the fulfillment of God’s purposes in the world. Money is also a test of where your heart’s allegiance lies. Whom do you serve?

SCRIPTURE

17As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up to Him and fell on his knees before Him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18“Why do you call Me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 20“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” He said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:17-22

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is the most valuable thing you’ve ever owned?

Read Mark 10:17-22. What does the question the man asked reveal about him?

Why do you think Jesus asked the man, “Why do you call me good….No one is good – except God alone”?

Read Exodus 20:1-17. Which of the commandments did Jesus mention? Which ones did He leave out? Why do you think He didn’t include these in His question?

How did the man respond? Do you believe he was telling the truth?

What was the “one thing” Jesus said the man lacked?

Why do you think Jesus didn’t say anything about grace, faith, or being “born again” (see John 3:3)?

What did the man’s response reveal about his attitude towards his possessions?

Read Mark 8:34 and Philippians 3:7-9. How do these verses relate to Jesus’ response to the man to sell everything?

How do you think Jesus’s instructions to “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor” apply to you today?

APPLICATION

There was one thing holding the man back from God. One thing keeping him from experiencing the happy life. One thing that kept this man from experiencing the fullness of God in his life; and it had everything to do with the allegiance of his heart. Jesus said that you cannot serve both God and Money. This week, consider what one thing is God calling you to “sell” in order to follow Him. This is not limited to material possessions – it can be pleasures or plans or dreams or even comforts and securities.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Aaron said that Money is capitalized in this passage because Jesus personified money as a rival to God. He suggested that money has intrinsic power that seeks to dominate. Money can be god-like, and because of this, Jesus knows that money is the chief competitor for your heart. Look up the following verses and list the principle you learn about money.

  • Psalm 24:1
  • Proverbs 3:9
  • Proverbs 11:28
  • Proverbs 22:9
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10
  • Matthew 6:1-4
  • Matthew 6:21
  • Matthew 6:24
  • 1 Timothy 6:10
  • 1 Timothy 6:17-19

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HAPPY LIFE: MONEY IS A TOOL

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

There are 2000+ Bible verses on money, wealth and possessions. Jesus spoke about money a lot and 11 out of His 39 parables touched on it. God knows that money, though morally neutral, can capture your heart and make you enslaved to it. However, when money is used as tool to invest in God’s kingdom, it becomes a powerful instrument for His purposes.

SCRIPTURE

38As He taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” 41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:38-44

GROUP QUESTIONS

Are you a “saver” or a “spender”?

Read Mark 12:38-44. What is Jesus’ warning about the “teachers of the law”?

What does it mean to “devour widows’ houses”?

Why do you think Jesus sat down near where the offerings were gathered?

What is the difference between the widow’s offering and everyone else’s?

Was the widow looking to be noticed? Do you think she knew Jesus was using her as an object lesson?

Discuss what it means to contribute “out of … wealth” and “out of … poverty.”

While Jesus held the widow up as an example of sacrificial giving, what other statement did He make about the religious, political, and social establishment?

Do you view money as a tool for God or as a tool for you?

APPLICATION

Examine your financial records in the last year. Write down your annual income, the amount you gave away (and where you gave it), and the amount you spent on possessions. Bring these figures before God and ask Him if He would like you to change the distribution of your income. Write down anything you sense Him telling you to do.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Mark 12:38-44, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, and 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. List principles of giving you learn from the 2 Corinthians passages.

How do these principles compare with the kind of giving Jesus commends in Mark 12?

Compare your list of principles with your current giving patterns. In what ways should you re-evaluate/change your giving in light of these teachings?

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HUNGER AND THIRST: REMOVING BARRIERS TO WORSHIP

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION: Last week we looked at David worshipping God with abandon as he brought the ark back to Jerusalem and asked, “What type of worship pleases God?” This week, we’ll look at how Michal’s, David’s wife, responded to David’s worship, and ask, “What is blocking you from truly worshipping Him with all of your heart, your soul, and your mind?”

SCRIPTURE

16As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. 17And they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts 19and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house. 20And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord. 22I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” 23And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death. 2 Samuel 6:16-23

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is your first reaction when you see someone worshipping differently than you do?

Read 2 Samuel 6:12-15. How would you have reacted had you seen David worshipping like he did?

Read through the following and discuss what you learn about Michal: 1 Samuel 18:20-29, 1 Samuel 19:9-18, 1 Samuel 25:44, 2 Samuel 3:13-16.

Read 2 Samuel 6:16-23. What did Michal focus on as she watched David? Why do you think this was her main focus rather than focusing on the ark (presence) of God?

Why do you think she was not worshipping with the rest of Israel but rather was watching from above?

Besides dancing, how else did David worship God?

What were the three barriers Joe mentioned that blocked Michal’s worship? *

Do you see any of those barriers in your life? If so, what will you do to remove them?

* critical heart, self-absorbed attitude, unresolved baggage

APPLICATION

This week do a self-evaluation as to what is blocking you from truly worshipping Him with all of your heart, your soul and your mind. Is it a critical heart, a self-absorbed attitude, or some unresolved baggage? Something else? Ask God to free you from whatever is hindering you from worship.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Many consider “worship” and “music” synonymous. We have learned in the past two weeks that worship that truly pleases God comes from the heart in many different forms. Read each passage, and note what you learn about worship.

  • Genesis 4:1-7
  • Genesis 22:12-14
  • Malachi 1:1-14
  • Mark 12:41-44
  • Luke 7:36-50
  • Luke 22:41-43
  • Acts 5:1-11
  • Acts 16:24-26
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31
  • Colossians 3:17

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HUNGER AND THIRST: A LIFESTYLE OF WORSHIP

INTRODUCTION: There are different types of worship because there are different types of people. Some worship quietly, others exuberantly. Some raise their hands, dance, tap their toes…. No matter your background; preference, or perspective, when it comes to worship, the most important question is: What type of worship pleases God?

SCRIPTURE

12Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, 15while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. 16As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. 2 Samuel 6:12-16

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group your favorite way to worship.

How did Aaron define “worship”? How would you define “worship”?

Read 2 Samuel 6:1-11. What did the Ark of God represent to the nation of Israel?

Have you ever been in a situation that felt unfair or simply unjustified, so you became angry with God? What did you do when this happened?

Aaron stated that David lost perspective of God’s greatness and His Power, and so he turned from God for a time. If this has happened at some point in your life (or you are in the midst of this), share your story with your group.

Read 2 Samuel 6:12-16. What prompted David to try again to bring the ark back to Jerusalem?

Why do you think he was successful this time? (See also 1 Chronicles 15:1-4,11-15.)

David’s joy in worshiping God overflowed into dancing; what does it feel like for you when you are enjoying God most? How does it outwardly express itself in your life?

Is your worship God-focused or “me”-focused? If it is “me”-focused, what can you do to re-focus your mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God?

APPLICATION

Re-read 2 Samuel 6:14. Pray and think through these questions this week:

  • Does your sense of pride affect your worship?
  • What stops you from worshipping God with “all your might”?
  • How can you better prepare yourself to worship God both personally and corporately?
  • Does your worship please God?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Next week we will look at Michal’s reaction to David’s worship. In preparation, read the following Scripture and record what you learn about Michal.

SCRIPTURE NOTES
 

1 Samuel 18:1-30

 

 

1 Samuel 19:1-18

 

 

1 Samuel 25:44

 

 

2 Samuel 3:13-16

 

 

2 Samuel 6:12-23

 

 

1 Samuel 14:49

 

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PURSUE WHAT’S NEXT

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

PURSUE WHAT’S NEXT | OCTOBER 28, 2018

INTRODUCTION: We believe that God is asking each of us to embody a number of values, both as individuals and as a community of believers. These values are: 1) ON MISSION (joining Jesus in reclaiming humanity | Luke 19:10, John 20:21); 2) TEAM TOGETHER (leading with unity, wisdom, and humility | Ecclesiastes 4:9-12); 3) SECOND MILE, SECOND NATURE (serving others beyond what’s expected | Matthew 5:41); and 4) PURSUE WHAT’S NEXT (embracing God’s leading into the future | Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 1:6). Aaron shared on Sunday what it means to PURSUE WHAT’S NEXT.

SCRIPTURE

13During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. 17“Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it. 2 Samuel 23:13-17

GROUP QUESTIONS

Discuss as a group: tap water, filtered water, or bottled water?

Read 2 Samuel 23:13-17. What strikes you most from this passage?

What did David do with the water that the “three mighty warriors” risked their lives to bring him? Why do you think he did this?

What characteristics does this deed highlight in the “three mighty warriors”? What does this show about their relationship with David?

How can their example help you to embrace Jesus and pursue the next thing God has for you?

Discuss as a group your answers to the questions Aaron asked on Sunday:

  • Is your allegiance, affection, and loyalty to Jesus such that as He leads so you GO?
  • Is your allegiance, affection, and loyalty to Jesus such that you will pursue what He has next for you despite difficulty, discomfort, and opposition?
  • Are you willing to take risks to accomplish whatever He asks?

APPLICATION

Pursuing what’s next is more of a mindset and attitude than action and doing. It is a posture of the heart that sits as a lifelong learner. It is an openness to the next thing God is doing and embracing that rather than embracing the status quo. Spend time this week with Jesus, asking Him what He is looking for you to pursue next, and then boldly step forward as He speaks.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read 1 Samuel 22:1-2. Where did these “mighty warriors” come from? Why do you think they “gathered around” David?

Do their humble origins encourage you in your spiritual walk?

Read 2 Samuel 23:8-39 and 1 Chronicles 11:10-47 and list the names of the mighty men, along with the deeds for which they are known:

How many men are listed in all? What names stand out to you?

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VISION SUNDAY

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

The history of Israel began in Genesis 12 with the covenant God made with Abraham, promising Abraham that He would make Abraham a great nation, that his descendants would be too numerous to count, that He would bless them and they would bless the nations, that God Himself would be their God and they would be His people, and He promised them a land to call their own. Abraham’s great-grandson, Joseph, was sold into slavery in Egypt but rose to great power and brought his family to live there. In Egypt, the nation of Israel grew so large that eventually they were made slaves. But God remembered His people, and He chose Moses to lead them out of Egypt. Through a variety of plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea, God delivered the Israelites; they settled at Mount Sinai as a free nation. God gave them their constitution (the 10 Commandments and the law) and they built the tabernacle as their meeting place. The Book of Numbers begins with the Israelites preparing to travel north into the land of Canaan. In Numbers 13, the Israelites are ready to send leaders to explore the Promised Land.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Discuss with your group a time when you either moved out in faith and took a risk, or when you missed out on something special because of fear. What was the result of your action or inaction?

Read Numbers 13:1-16. Why do you think God had Moses send out leaders to explore the land?

What conditions does God put on the Israelites to obtain the land?

Read Numbers 13:17-29. How long are the leaders gone?

What do they report about the land?

POSITIVES                                                               NEGATIVES

__________________________________                  __________________________________

__________________________________                  __________________________________

__________________________________                  __________________________________

What do they spend more time discussing – the positive aspects or negative aspects of the land?

Who were the Anak? (See also Numbers 13:33 and Genesis 6:1-4.)

Since God did not put any conditions on obtaining the land (“Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites”), what kept the nation of Israel from taking the land?

Read Numbers 13:30-14:4,10a. How do the leaders deal with their fear? How did that impact the whole nation? What did they want to do?

Read Numbers 14:5-9. How do Caleb and Joshua show their depth of understanding of the nature of God? (See also Jeremiah 32:7 and Matthew 19:26.)

Since nothing is impossible with God, discuss as a group your answer to the Vision Sunday question, “How will you Take the Land?”

APPLICATION

On Sunday, the Preaching Team shared three areas that we will target to “Take The Land” and one giant to conquer:

  • Build Our People (Alpha, Global School of Influence, Intern Program)
  • Build Our Culture (Fellowship Groups, Fellowship Teams, 2nd Mile 2nd Nature, Love The Land)
  • Build Our Brand/Presence (Make Christ Known, Pop Up Worship Nights, Online Presence)
  • Eliminate Our Debt

This week, begin praying about YOUR part in Fellowship’s vision. Where do you fit? How will God use you? How will you open your eyes, prepare your heart, and extend your hand?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Numbers 14:10-38. What does God propose to Moses? How does Moses respond? What does that tell you about Moses’ character?

Put yourself in Moses’ shoes…how do you think you would have responded?

God listens to Moses’ intercession for the people and forgives them. What does this tell you about approaching (praying to) God with humbleness and selflessness?

Though God forgives the people, what were the consequences from their lack of faith?

What significance do you see in the fact that the Israelites would 40 years wandering in the wilderness – one year for every day the leaders were exploring the land?

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THE OTHER GUYS: MALACHI

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF MALACHI

  • Date: 432-425 BC (Persian Empire)
  • Theme: Are you robbing God of what belongs to Him?
  • Key Verse(s): Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “TBP Synopsis” for Malachi.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Discuss how you felt when you had something stolen from you.

Read Malachi 1:1-14. Why do you think God begins His message by telling the Israelites He loves them? Why do you think they doubt His love?

Do you ever doubt His love?

God made some harsh statements about Esau/Edom in this passage. How do you reconcile the fact that God is just and loving with these statements?

Joe mentioned that the people of Israel responded to God’s questions like children. Read the following passages and note God’s statements and the peoples’ responses:

SCRIPTURE GOD’S STATEMENTS PEOPLES’ RESPONSES
1:6-8  

 

 

 
2:13-14  

 

 

 
2:17  

 

 

 
3:6-12  

 

 

 
3:13-14  

 

 

 

Do you have similar responses to God? In what ways do you treat God as less than who He is?

Joe stated that the Israelites 1) robbed God of His image; 2) robbed God of His provision; and 3) robbed God of His legacy. Discuss what these three statements mean, and how they relate to you today.

APPLICATION

God doesn’t want obligation: He wants you to bear His image. He doesn’t want part of your life: He wants to provide for all of it. He doesn’t want temporary: He’s looking for eternal. This week, consider where you are robbing God (image, provision, legacy). Write down some changes you will make in order to give God what is rightfully His.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Malachi 4. This is the last known message from God for 400 years, until Matthew 1. What stands out to you in this last chapter of the Old Testament? What do you think this chapter means?

What was the main lesson you learned from each book of the minor prophets?

  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

Match the name of the prophet below with the meaning of his name. How do you see each name relating to their message from God?

_____     Hosea                    A      Comforter

_____     Joel                         B      The Servant of the Lord

_____     Amos                     C      Embrace

_____     Obadiah                D      The Lord Hides

_____     Jonah                     E       Jehovah Remembers

_____     Micah                    F       Salvation

_____     Nahum                  G      My Messenger

_____     Habakkuk             H      Dove

_____     Zephaniah             I        The Lord is God

_____     Haggai                   J        Burden Bearer

_____     Zechariah              K      Festal

_____     Malachi                 L       Who is like the Lord?

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THE OTHER GUYS: ZECHARIAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF ZECHARIAH

  • Date: 520-518 BC (Persian Empire)
  • Theme: If the people will put their trust wholly in God, their future will be a bright one.
  • Key Verse(s): Zechariah 2:4-5 – …and said to him, “Run, speak to that young man, saying, ‘Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. 5 For 1,’ declares the Lord, ‘Will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst’.”
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Zechariah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group a time you were discouraged. What did you see God do during this time?

Read Zechariah 1:1-6. What does it mean to return to the Lord?

What does God promise if the people return to Him? What does God mean by this?

Zechariah’s dreams/visions are recorded in the first six chapters. Why do you think God spoke to Zechariah in dreams/visions?

Scan through the following passages and record the eight dreams/visions of Zechariah. Discuss with your group what these visions were about, and why they would be an encouragement to the people of Jerusalem.

VERSES                                                   VISION                                          MEANING

Zechariah 1:7-17                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 1:18-21                ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 2:1-13                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 3:1-10                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 4:1-14                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 5:1-4                    ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 5:5-11                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 6:1-8                    ____________________________    ____________________________

One of the more well-known verses in Zechariah is 4:6. How often do you rely on your own strength to get things done? How can you return to God and rely on His Spirit more?

Zechariah ends with a message of hope for the people of Israel – Jerusalem will be secure, never again to be destroyed. When do you think this prophecy was or will be fulfilled?

APPLICATION

Write on an index card a serious problem you are dealing with now. On the back of that card, write out Zechariah 8:13b: “I will save you and make you something good. Do not be afraid. Let your hands be strong.” Carry this card with you throughout the week, reading it at least three times a day.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Malachi for next week.

  • Monday 8/27               1-2
  • Tuesday 8/28               3-4
  • Wednesday 8/29         1
  • Thursday 8/30             2
  • Friday 8/31                  3-4

FOR FURTHER STUDY

There are a number of Messianic prophecies (prophecies that point to the ultimate Hope, the Messiah – fulfilled in Jesus Christ) in the Book of Zechariah. Read the following passages, then write how the prophecy was fulfilled. Look up other passages as needed.

SCRIPTURE                                                            PROPHECY                                     FULFILLMENT

Zechariah 3:8, 6:12-13

Romans 15:7-12

——————————————————————————_——————————————————

Zechariah 9:9

Matthew 21:1-9

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Zechariah 11:12-13

Matthew 26:14-16, Matthew 27:3-10

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Zechariah 12:10-14

Matthew 24:30, John 19:34, Revelation 1:7

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Zechariah 13:1

I John 1:7

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Zechariah 13:7

Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:48-50

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THE OTHER GUYS: HAGGAI

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF HAGGAI

  • Date: 520 BC (Persian Empire)
  • Theme: If the people will dedicate themselves to God’s work, He will bless them.
  • Key Verse(s): Haggai 1:3-4 – Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?”
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Haggai.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What projects have you been involved in that started strong but you didn’t finish? Why do you think this happened?

Around 586 BC, the Israelite captivity began with the sacking of Jerusalem. The Babylonians, under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar, destroyed the great temple Solomon built. The Babylonians took most of the Israelites into captivity, where they spent the next 70 years. Eventually, Babylon was conquered by Persia, and King Cyrus decreed that the Israelites could return home. He ordered the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem and even provided some funding for its completion. As the exiles returned, they began to work on the temple, but ran into obstacles and the work stopped – for about sixteen years. Read Haggai 1:1-15. What was God’s issue with the people of Judah (vs 2-4)?

What did God say was the result from the Israelites choosing not to work on the temple (vs 5-11)?

Do you believe blessing always follows obedience? Why or why not?

What was the people’s response (vs 12-15)? Why do you think they were so quick to obey?

What message of hope and encouragement did God give the people?

Read Haggai 2:1-9. What were the promises that God made? What do you think these promises meant?

Read Haggai 2:10-23. Haggai uses the phrase “consider” or “give careful thought to” numerous times throughout his message. What are the people to “consider” in 2:15 and 18? What consequences are they reminded of in 2:16, 17, and 19? What promise is given?

How would you react if God told you He would be with you and bless you if you obeyed Him?

What does it mean for God to bless you? What would that look like in your life?

APPLICATION

If someone were to watch your life for a week, what do you think they would say your priorities are? What do you want your priorities to be? What changes need to be made to reflect those priorities?

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Zechariah for next week.

  • Monday 8/20         1-2-3
  • Tuesday 8/21         4-5-6
  • Wednesday 8/22   7-8-9
  • Thursday 8/23       10-11-12
  • Friday 8/24            13-14

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Instead of continuing to rebuild the temple, the people of God became distracted and focused on their own wants and needs. Read the following passages; write what you learn about the pursuit of affluence versus wholehearted devotion to God:

  • Haggai 1:6
  • Haggai 1:9-11
  • Haggai 2:1-9
  • Haggai 2:10-19
  • Matthew 6:19-20
  • Philippians 4:11-13
  • 1 Timothy 6:7-8
  • Hebrews 13:5

Read Matthew 6:25-34. What does Jesus say should be a believers’ priority?

Jesus promises to add everything He knows we need in life when we seek Him first. Why is it so hard to live this?

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THE OTHER GUYS: ZEPHANIAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF ZEPHANIAH

  • Date: 607 BC (Babylonian Empire)
  • Theme: God will act, but a remnant will be saved.
  • Key Verse(s): Zephaniah 3:11-12 – In that day you will feel no shame because of all your deeds by which you have rebelled against Me; for then I will remove from your midst your proud, exulting ones, and you will never again be haughty on My holy mountain.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Zephaniah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What made your parents most proud of you when you were a child? If you are a parent, what makes you most proud of your children?

Read Zephaniah 1:1-18. God has always been very clear about what His promises are for His people, as well as what he expects from His people in return (see Exodus 34:11-14). Do you feel God’s judgment in Zephaniah 1 is too harsh? Why or why not?

What sins will the people be judged for? Are these sins prevalent today? If not, what sins do you think God will judge our culture for?

What does it mean to be “complacent” (NIV) or “stagnant in spirit” (NASB) (Zephaniah 1:12)? Does this sin seem to be pervasive in the American church? At Fellowship? How do you battle complacency in your life?

Read Zephaniah 2:1-3. In verse 1, what does Zephaniah urge the people to do? Why do you think this was so important?

What is the only way the people of Judah might escape the coming judgment?

How do you seek God?

Why do you think that seeking God wasn’t a guarantee that the people would escape judgment?

Joe said that sometimes God’s mercy to us is shown through acts of discipline. Read Hebrews 12:6-11. What are the reasons given in this passage for why God disciplines His children?

One of the reasons God disciplines you is to create dependence on Him. How difficult is it for you to acknowledge your dependence on God? What are some things that you tend to depend on instead of God?

What can you do to break your dependence on other things and build your dependence on God?

Probably the most recognized verse in Zephaniah is 3:17. What do you think about the idea of God rejoicing over you with singing? What does this tell you about your worth in His eyes?

APPLICATION

As part of his sermon, Joe said that the way from God’s judgment to God’s promise is through repentance. What are your sins? What are your gods? Are you complacent? Materialistic? Selfish? Independent from or indifferent to God? The people of Judah had the choice to repent…and so do you. Spend time in honest conversation with God, with a repentant heart, and bring a smile to God’s face so that He “rejoices over you with singing”.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Haggai for next week.

  • Monday 8/13         1
  • Tuesday 8/14         2
  • Wednesday 8/15   1
  • Thursday 8/16       2
  • Friday 8/17            1-2

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Zephaniah continues the theme of the Day of the Lord first discussed in Amos in this series. Compare what the Day of the Lord will be like for an unbeliever (Zephaniah 1:14-18) and a believer (Zephaniah 3:16-20).

UNBELIEVER                                                                      BELIEVER

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

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THE OTHER GUYS: HABAKKUK

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF HABAKKUK

  • Date: 609–598 BC (Assyrian Empire/Babylonian Empire)
  • Theme: Why doesn’t God punish the wicked?
  • Key Verse(s): Habakkuk 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Habakkuk.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is the most unfair thing that happened to you?

Read Habakkuk 1:1-11. What was Habakkuk’s complaint to God? How did God answer Him?

What was Habakkuk’s response (1:12-2:1) and God’s next answer (2:2-20)?

Do you think it was wrong for Habakkuk to question God so directly? Why or why not? Have you questioned God’s fairness (justice) in an honest discussion with Him?

As God begins His answer, He says that “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness”. What do you think this means?

Read the following verses in Habakkuk 2. What is the warning (woe)? How do you see some of the same practices in our culture today?

  • 2:6-8
  • 2:9-11
  • 2:12-14
  • 2:15-17
  • 2:18-20

Read Habakkuk 3. How has Habakkuk’s attitude changed? How can his new attitude be an example to you in your relationship with God?

The Book of Habakkuk begins with frustration over God’s seeming lack of justice, and ends with a change of attitude to joy because of God’s faithfulness. How is it that Habakkuk can rejoice when he knows what is coming? Have you experienced joy even though your circumstances seemed hopeless?

APPLICATION

Following Habakkuk’s example in chapter 1, take time this week to make a list of your “complaints” (concerns). Be specific about injustices in your world. What do you think would be God’s response to your complaints? Considering your list and God’s character, write a response to God following Habakkuk’s example in chapter 3.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Zephaniah for August 12 (Baptism Party on August 5!)

  • Monday 8/6           1
  • Tuesday 8/7           2
  • Wednesday 8/8     3
  • Thursday 8/9         1-2
  • Friday 8/10            3

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Common themes of the minor prophets include the sinfulness of the people, God’s judgment to come, God’s love for His people, God’s redemptive plan, and of the hope of the coming Savior. Review the prophet’s we’ve already covered; what patterns do you see thus far in our sermon series?

  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk

There are several incidences in the Bible where “bad things happen to good people” – circumstances that could cause believers to question God. Look up the following passages and list the “unjust” treatment and the “just” outcome. What do you learn from these stories about God’s sovereignty?

PASSAGE

UNJUST TREATMENT PASSAGE

JUST OUTCOME

 

Genesis 37:18-28

 

   

Genesis 45:3-8

 
 

Daniel 6:1-24

 

   

Daniel 6:25-28

 
 

Acts 16:16-24; 37

 

   

Acts 16:25-34

 

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THE OTHER GUYS: NAHUM

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF NAHUM

  • Date: 663-654 BC (Assyrian Empire)
  • Theme: God is slow to anger, but will punish evildoers.
  • Key Verse(s): Nahum 1:7-8 The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him. But with an overflowing flood He will make a complete end of its site, and will pursue His enemies into darkness.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Nahum.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What attribute of God is your favorite (see partial list on back)?

It’s not likely that anyone named God’s wrath as their favorite attribute. But the Book of Nahum chronicles God’s wrath against a nation and city. Read Nahum 1:1-6. What description of God stuck out to you?

How can you reconcile Nahum 1:7 with the previous verses?

What does Nahum’s name mean?* Why is the meaning of his name appropriate, despite the seeming doom and gloom of his message?

To Nahum (and Jonah before him), the city of Nineveh and the country of Assyria were the embodiment of evil. Is there anyone you believe embodies evil? As a Christ-follower, how do you balance mercy with a desire for justice?

Following Jonah’s message, the repentance of the city of Nineveh (Jonah 3), though remarkable, did not last. Read Nahum 3:1-3. How is Nineveh described? Discuss God’s patience in giving them ~100 years after their repentance to “get it right”. What does this reveal about Nineveh and what does it reveal about God?

Read Nahum 2:13. How would you feel if you heard those words directed to you?

Read Romans 8:31. What is the promise for believers in this verse?

The language that is used in Nahum 3:4-6 is graphic. How does the descriptive language give you a sense of the way God feels about sin?

Though the judgment of Nahum concerns the Assyrians, the book itself is addressed to the people of God. Aaron shared that the message is one of hope: no matter what, God is God, God is good, and God’s good is for YOU. Nahum himself says that God “cares for those who trust in Him” (1:7). Do you trust that God’s good is for you?

* Nahum means “comfort”

APPLICATION

Write down specific actions you will do to implement the message of hope in Nahum by choosing to trust and take refuge in God (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Habakkuk this week:

  • Monday 7/23          1
  • Tuesday 7/24          2
  • Wednesday 7/25    3
  • Thursday 7/26        1-2
  • Friday 7/27             3

FOR FURTHER STUDY

A number of God’s attributes are on display in Nahum, including His justness, goodness, and wrath. Read through the verses below. Write down anything that strikes you in the verses describing His attributes, and meditate on them this week.

  • God is infinite. Romans 11:33
  • God is just. Psalm 75:1-7
  • God is holy. Revelation 4:8-11
  • God is merciful. Deuteronomy 4:29-31
  • God is omnipresent. Psalm 139:7-12
  • God is omniscient. Psalm 139:1-6
  • God is self-sufficient. Acts 17:24-28
  • God is omnipotent. Jeremiah 32:17-18, 26-27
  • God is good. Psalm 119:65-72
  • God is transcendent. Psalm 113:4-5
  • God is immutable. Psalm 102:25-28
  • God is love. 1 John 4:7-10
  • God is sovereign. 1 Chronicles 29:11-13
  • God is wrathful. Nahum 1:2-8
  • God is faithful. Psalm 89:1-8
  • God is wise. Proverbs 3:19-20

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THE OTHER GUYS: MICAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF MICAH

  • Date: 735-710 BC (Assyrian Empire)
  • Theme: God will punish His people for their injustice, then He will restore them.
  • Key Verse(s): Micah 7:9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will see His righteousness.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Micah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group a time that you deliberately disobeyed your parents. What were the consequences?

Read Micah 1:1-9. What do you think he means when he calls “Jacob’s transgression” “Samaria” and “Judah’s high place” “Jerusalem”?

Read Micah 1:7, 3:9-11, and 6:10-12. What specific sins does Micah mention? Read Micah 5:13, and 6:6-8. What is God’s remedy for these sins? What is His ultimate remedy (Micah 5:2)? Who was the fulfillment of this prophecy?

Read Micah 3:1-12. Who is being condemned and why? Does this situation seem similar to your culture? Why or why not?

Read 1 Timothy 6:10 in the Amplified and The Message versions. How does this verse expand your understanding of what God was condemning the leaders for in Micah 3:9-12?

Though the Israelites knew what God asked of them, they did not follow His commands, and Micah contains their judgment for their lack of obedience. Read Luke 6:46-49, John 14:15, and James 1:22-25. What do these verses have to say about your obedience to God?

Micah ends with a beautiful description of God. Read Micah 7:18-20 and list the characteristics attributed to God in this passage. How do these characteristics make God unique among other gods/religions?

Knowing that no one is like God, why do you at times follow the things of this world instead of worshipping God alone?

APPLICATION

Transformation isn’t in the information, it’s in the application” (Aaron DeLoach). This week, focus on listening to the Holy Spirit and DOING what God is calling you to do.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Nahum this week:

  • Monday 7/16 1
  • Tuesday 7/17  2
  • Wednesday 7/18 3
  • Thursday 7/19  1-2
  • Friday 7/20 3

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Micah follows an interesting pattern of judgment and restoration. Read through the passages and note whether it describes judgment or restoration:

  • 1:2-2:11    ____ Judgment     ____ Restoration
  • 2:12-13    ____  Judgment     ____ Restoration
  • 3:1-12        ____ Judgment     ____ Restoration
  • 4:1-5:15    ____ Judgment    ____  Restoration
  • 6:1-7:6      ____ Judgment     ____ Restoration
  • 7:7-20      ____  Judgment     ____ Restoration

Micah is filled with the message of God’s forgiveness and restoration. Read the following verses and list the hope or promise:

  • Micah 2:12
  • Micah 4:1
  • Micah 4:3
  • Micah 4:5
  • Micah 5:2
  • Micah 7:18-19

Micah 4:3 contains a similarly-worded phrase used a couple of times in Scripture. What is the phrase? Read Micah 4:2, Isaiah 2:3-4, and Joel 3:10 and write in your own words what this phrase means.

Phrase __________________________________________________________________________

Meaning __________________________________________________________________________

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THE OTHER GUYS: JONAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF JONAH

  • Date: 760 BC (Assyrian Empire)
  • Theme: God loves and cares about all nations, even when His people don’t.
  • Key Verse(s): Jonah 4:2-3 He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Jonah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?

Discuss with your group a summary of chapters 1-2.

Read Jonah 3 and 4 (they’re short chapters!). Jonah despised the Ninevites, and probably had good reason to do so. Read Nahum 3:1-4, which is a description of Nineveh. What were the charges against the city?

God gave Jonah a second chance to warn Nineveh of the coming judgment. How did Nineveh respond? What were the signs of their repentance? What was God’s response to their repentance?

Read Jonah 2:1-9 and 4:2-3. What is the difference in Jonah’s attitude in these two prayers? What does this reveal about Jonah’s heart?

Are you surprised at Jonah’s attitude? Why or why not?

Have you ever been angry because of God’s forgiveness toward someone else? If so, why?

What does Jonah 4:11 reveal about God’s compassion for the lost? How do you view the lost?

How do you feel about the fact that God loves your “enemies”, and desperately wants them to accept the same grace offered to you?

The book ends abruptly with God asking Jonah “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh.…?” What do you think Jonah did next?

APPLICATION

Is there something God has called you to that you are not doing? Or an attitude you have towards others that you know is not from God? Pray, asking Him to show you what needs to be changed. Ask the Spirit to give you the courage and desire to do what is necessary to have God’s heart for the lost.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Micah this week:

  • Monday 7/9            1
  • Tuesday 7/10          2
  • Wednesday 7/11    3-4
  • Thursday 7/12        5-6
  • Friday 7/13              7

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Matthew 8:24-27. How is this story similar to Jonah’s in Jonah 1? How is it different?

Jesus mentions Jonah in Matthew 12:38-41 and Luke 11:29-32. List below the similarities and the differences between these two passages:

Who approached Jesus? What did they demand from Him? Why would this elicit the reaction it did from Jesus?

Why do you think Jesus used Jonah as an illustration?

What do you think He meant by “the sign of the prophet Jonah”?

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THE OTHER GUYS: OBADIAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF OBADIAH

  • Date: 835 BC (Assyrian Empire)
  • Theme:  Proud Edom is about to be punished.
  • Key Verse(s): Obadiah 1:3-4 The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Obadiah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group your most embarrassing moment.

Read Obadiah 1:1-21. What indictments and accusations does God bring against Edom?

What is the definition of pride?

What were the sources of Edom’s pride? Do you have pride in any of these things?

Read the following passages and note the history between Israel and Edom. How does their shared history inform your understanding of the relationship between the nations, and of God’s judgment in Obadiah?

  • Genesis 25:21-26
  • Genesis 25:27-34
  • Genesis 27:30-36
  • Genesis 27:41
  • Genesis 36:1-8
  • Numbers 20:14-21
  • 1 Samuel 14:47
  • 2 Samuel 8:14

C.S. Lewis said “Pride is the worst sort of sin because we hate it in others while simultaneously being unconscious of it in ourselves. Others smell the odor of our pride and are repulsed by it, but so often we are oblivious to our own stench.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

How does pride affect your relationship with others? With God?

APPLICATION

Aaron said on Sunday that God gives you a choice—YOU can either deal with pride in your life, or God will deal with it for you. Below is a list of seven indications of pride* with a brief description of each. This week look over the list and pray for God to open your eyes to any of these subtle symptoms in you. Read Psalm 139:23-24, and ask Him to show you where you are being prideful.

  • Fault-Finding: Seeing faults in others and not seeing God’s goodness in them.
  • A Harsh Spirit: Speaking with contempt, irritation, frustration or judgment about others’ sin.
  • Superficiality: Being more concerned with others’ perception of you than the reality of what is within your own heart.
  • Defensiveness: Becoming frustrated or defensive when you feel challenged or rebuked.
  • Presumption Before God: Forgetting Who God really is; not knowing Him well enough.
  • Desperation for Attention: Seeing glory from people or from God.
  • Neglecting Others: Gravitating or looking to associate with people of higher standing because it makes you feel or look more important.

*Jonathan Edwards, 18th century American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and theologian

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Jonah this week:

  • Monday 7/2          1
  • Tuesday 7/3          2
  • Wednesday 7/4     3
  • Thursday 7/5        4
  • Friday 7/6             1-4

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read the following passages and note what God says about pride and humility. Why do you think God hates pride? How can you cultivate humility in your life?

  • Psalm 10:4
  • Psalm 138:6
  • Proverbs 11:2
  • Proverbs 13:10
  • Proverbs 15:25
  • Proverbs 16:5
  • Proverbs 16:18
  • Isaiah 13:11
  • Daniel 5:20
  • Romans 12:3
  • Romans 12:16
  • Philippians 2:3-4
  • James 4:6, 10

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THE OTHER GUYS: JOEL

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF JOEL

  • Date:  Debatable: 835 BC (Assyrian Empire) or 500 BC (Persian Empire)
  • Theme: Disasters are a time to turn to God.
  • Key Verse: Joel 2:13 – Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Joel.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is your biggest regret?

What does the name “Joel” mean?*

Read Joel 1:1-4. Joel begins just after a great disaster struck the nation. What is the difference between the various locusts? What point do you think Joel is trying to make?

Read Exodus 10:4-15 and Revelation 9:7-10. Do you think the purpose of the locusts in these three occurrences are comparable? Why or why not?

Read Joel 1:16-20. Why would God bring such devastation on His people?

Read 1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 51:16-17, Ezekiel 11:19, Hosea 6:6, Joel 2:12-14, and Micah 6:6-8. What is God ultimately looking for from His people?

Aaron stated that restoration doesn’t happen without repentance. What would true repentance look like in your life?

As a result of true repentance, what does God promise (Joel 2:19-27). What would it mean to “repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (2:25)?

Read Acts 2:14-21. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter quotes from Joel 2:28-32. Why do you think Peter used this passage to speak to the Jewish leaders about Jesus?

* The name Joel means Yahweh is God.

APPLICATION

Aaron closed his message with a call for repentance and restoration. Ask God to open your heart to any areas that you need to confess and seek restoration, whether it be with God Himself, or with those around you.

Read the Book of Amos by next Sunday:

  • Monday 6/18: 1-2
  • Tuesday 6/19: 3-4
  • Wednesday 6/20: 5-6
  • Thursday 6/21: 7-8
  • Friday 6/22: 9

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read the Book of Joel and find every occurrence of the phrase, “the day of the Lord”. How many different “days” do you believe Joel is describing? Is it one specific day or does it refer to multiple days?

Read the following passages and note what you learn about “the day of the Lord” from them:

  • Isaiah 2:17-18
  • Isaiah 13:6-9
  • Ezekiel 30:3
  • Joel 1:15
  • Joel 2:1
  • Joel 2:11
  • Joel 2:31-32
  • Joel 3:14-16
  • Amos 5:18-20
  • Zephaniah 1:7-9
  • Zechariah 14:1
  • Malachi 4:5-6
  • 2 Peter 3:10
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
  • Revelation 6:13-18

Though many of the verses above describe the “day of the Lord” as “dreadful” or “cruel”, God is described as gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in love, longing for reconciliation, and relenting over disaster. How do you reconcile these two seemingly paradoxical pictures of God?

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THE OTHER GUYS: HOSEA

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF HOSEA

  • Date: 755-710 BC
  • Theme: God’s faithful love for an unfaithful people
  • Key Verse: Hosea 3:1 – The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis from The Bible Project, click HERE.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Give a prize to the first person who can recite all 12 of the Minor Prophets in order.

What does the name “Hosea” mean?*

Read Hosea 1:2-3. Why did God ask Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman? How was this a picture of God’s love for Israel?

Has God ever asked you to do something that you did not understand and/or you did not want to do? Share with your group what that was, and if you obeyed, share the result.

One of the messages from Hosea is that your obedience has causality. Read Hosea 4:1-13. What charges (causes) does God level against the people of Israel, and what are the consequences (effects)? Could some/all of these charges be brought against you?

VERSES CHARGES CONSEQUENCES
Hosea 4:1-3
Hosea 4:6-11    
Hosea 4:12-13    

Why is idolatry so detestable to God (see Exodus 20:3-6)? What does it mean to be idolatrous in today’s culture (see Colossians 3:5-6)?

Many say that in the Old Testament God is harsh and full of wrath, whereas in the New Testament, God, in the form of Jesus, is more personal and loving. Most of the prophets spoke of God’s coming judgment, but almost always included the actions needed for restoration and reconciliation. Read Hosea 2:14-23. What words and phrases depict God as someone who relentlessly pursues those He loves?

Compare Hosea 6:6 with 1 Samuel 15:22, Isaiah 1:11, Micah 6:8, Matthew 9:13, and Matthew 12:7. What key trait is God looking for in your heart? How would you rate this trait in your life?

Hosea was used by God to warn the people of Israel of the punishment that would be brought on them because of their disobedience. Hosea also shared that God’s redemptive love was available to them if they repented of their idolatry and turned back to Him. Read Hosea 14:9. How do you interpret Hosea’s last words…as a command or as a challenge?

 * The name Hosea means salvation.

APPLICATION

Joe said on Sunday that the point of Hosea is that your 1) obedience has causality, 2) your God is consistent, and 3) your heart is central. This week, focus on how you can be obedient to what God is calling you to do, with a heart that is willing and open to Him, and spend time praising Him for the faithful love and grace He shows to you daily.

Read the Book of Joel by next Sunday.

  • Monday 6/11 (Chapter 1)
  • Tuesday 6/12 (Chapter 2)
  • Wednesday 6/13 (Chapter 3)
  • Thursday 6/14 (Chapters 1-2)
  • Friday 6/15 (Chapter 3)

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Hosea 1:4-5. Why did God tell Hosea to name his son Jezreel?

Jezreel refers to the Valley of Jezreel, where Jehu (the founder of the dynasty that put Jeroboam II, one of the kings of Israel in Hosea’s time, on the throne) massacred all the descendants of Ahab, thus establishing his throne (2 Kings 10:1-14). Why do you think God would judge Jehu for that massacre, which brought an end to the line of Ahab & Jezebel, considered by many to be the most evil rulers ancient Israel ever had?

In Hosea 1:6-11, what did God tell Hosea to name his other children? What were the meanings of their names? How do these names play a key part in his message?

Read Hosea 2:14-15. The Valley of Achor was infamous in Israel’s history. After God’s intervention caused the complete destruction of the city of Jericho, the people were told that everything in the city was to be devoted to God. Achan took some of the “devoted things”, and the end result of his sin was that he and his family were stoned to death (see Joshua 6:15-19 and Joshua 7:19-26). The place they were stoned was “called the Valley of Achor (Hebrew: troubled) ever since.” What significance do you find in the promise that God “will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15)?

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GOD’S PLAN FOR FELLOWSHIP

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Over the past four weeks, we’ve been looking at our identity in Christ; but over the last year, we’ve been in a process of re-discovering our identity as a church. We have found out what we have always known – that Fellowship lives by its name. Fellowship has always been characterized by fellowship with God and fellowship with others. God created you for fellowship, you are called to fellowship, and you are commissioned for fellowship. But what does fellowship have to do with the woman at the well in John 4?

SCRIPTURE

1Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that He was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—2although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but His disciples. 3So He left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. 4Now He had to go through Samaria. 5So He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give Me a drink?” 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to Him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” 11“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” John 4:1-15

GROUP QUESTIONS

Would you rather be stranded on an island alone or with someone you don’t get along with? Why?

Read Genesis 3:8-9 and 1 John 1:3. What do these verses say about fellowship?

Read John 4:1-15. Jesus was compelled to go through Samaria even though “good” Jews avoided it. Has God ever compelled you to go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go? What was the result?

In biblical times, the well was THE place for conversation, connection, and the central point of meeting in society. As Jesus sat by the well, a Samaritan woman came during in the heat of the day. It was unlikely that someone would go to the well at that hour unless they were avoiding people. Why do you think the Samaritan woman wanted to avoid the people in her town?

What are the reasons the Samaritan woman would not want to fellowship with Jesus? Why do you think Jesus chose to fellowship with her?

Have you ever felt that your reputation, gender, religion, financial standing, etc., has kept you from fully fellowshipping with other people? Explain.

Read the verses below; on the line provided, write down the reason given for why you are called by God to fellowship:

  • Proverbs 27:17
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
  • Romans 1:11-12
  • Galatians 6:2
  • Hebrews 10:24-25
  • James 5:16

Read John 4:28-30. The woman at the well, so excited about her encounter with Jesus, left her water jug and went back to town to tell everyone about Him. As a believer, your divine mandate is to make Christ known by sharing Him with others. How can you be more intentional about making Christ known and drawing non-believers into fellowship with God?

APPLICATION

This week think through and put into practice ways you can lean even more into fellowship with God and others.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

In John 4:10, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that He can give her “living water”. What is “living water”?

Read Psalm 42:1, Isaiah 55:1, Jeremiah 2:13, Jeremiah 17:13, and Revelation 21:6. How do these verses expand your understanding of “living water”?

What are some of the “broken cisterns” that you’ve put your trust in? What did it take for you to return to the source of “living water”?

Read John 4:28-30 and 39-42. What changes do you see in the life of this woman as a result of drinking at the well of “living water”?

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE ALIVE

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

If you are a Christ-follower, you have been given a new identity in Him: you are adopted, chosen, marked, and alive! Many do not live in the reality of this identity. Instead, our attitudes, speech, and actions give off the stench of death. Christ didn’t come so that we would continue to live in our old pattern of life. Instead, Jesus said that He came so “that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). What is keeping you from your true identity and “life…to the full”?

SCRIPTURE

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:1-5

GROUP QUESTIONS

Do you like to watch zombie movies? If so, what is your favorite one?

Read Ephesians 2:1-5. List all of the words or phrases that describe your life apart from Jesus. Which of these stand out the most to you, and why?

The tone of the passage changes in verse 4. What is your new identity?

What reasons does Paul give for God giving you this new identity?

On Sunday, Aaron shared the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Read John 11:1-44 aloud in your group. What impacts you most from this story?

In John 11:44, Jesus commanded that the grave clothes Lazarus was buried in be removed. Aaron mentioned that as believers, we sometimes walk around with our grave clothes on, looking, smelling, and acting like death. What are some things that you do that fit this description?

Since God has made you alive, how can you shed your grave clothes and live in your new identity?

APPLICATION

The Greek work for “alive” (also translated “quickened”) means “to make one alive together” (Strong’s Concordance). Though you (singular) are alive, YOU (the church) are alive together. List ways that your small group can be life-giving to those in your community. Pick a few of the ways from the list and put them into practice this week together.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Colossians 2:6-15. How can you be “rooted and built up in Him”?

What type of ‘hollow and deceptive philosophy’ typically leads people away from Christ in today’s culture? What can you do to protect yourself from being taken captive to it?

In verses 10-11, what are the “in/with Christ/Him” statements? What do these statement mean to you?

What does Paul reveal about God in verses 13-15? What all has He done for you?

Read the following passages. What traits/attitudes/actions characterize a believer who lives out their identity in Christ?

  • Romans 12:10-16a
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • Ephesians 4:29-32
  • Philippians 2:14-15
  • Colossians 3:12-17

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE MARKED

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

I love the song “Flawless” by MercyMe: “No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars, still the truth is the cross has made, the cross has made you flawless. No matter the hurt, or how deep the wound is, no matter the pain, still the truth is the cross has made, the cross has made you flawless.” In Christ, you were adopted, chosen, and marked…but your human nature reminds you of how flawed you are. Ephesians 1:13-14 reveals that in Christ, you can have confidence and security in the fact that you are marked by the Spirit…to the praise of His glory!

SCRIPTURE

13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

GROUP QUESTIONS

If you have a tattoo, share with your group what it is and what the significance of it is.

Read Ephesians 1:13-14. What two things do you learn about the Spirit in these verses?

What do you think it means to be “sealed…with the Holy Spirit”?

The Greek word for “listening” (or “heard” in some versions), akouō, has the connotation of listening AND understanding. Read Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23. What are the four types of “hearers” in this parable? Which of these “hearers” do you believe is “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit”?

The word for sealed is sphragizō (to stamp with a private mark for security or preservation) and the word for pledge is arrabōn (earnest or down-payment). In Christ, you are marked with the Spirit as an indication that you have already received part of an inheritance that is to come. What is this inheritance?

We live in a world where it is common for people break their promises, but this inheritance is guaranteed by God. Does this knowledge give you assurance that you are secure in His love and power?

This is the third instance in Ephesians 1 that Paul used a form of the phrase “to the praise of His glory” (verses 6 and 12). What does this tell you about why God created, saves, and blesses us?

APPLICATION

Are there hurts, habits, or hang-ups that create doubt and keep you from living with confidence that you are adopted, chosen, and marked? Brainstorm with your group practical things you can do when doubt arises.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The Holy Spirit does not just seal those in Christ; He has many roles. Read the passages below, and list His work in each.

  • John 3:5-8
  • John 6:62-63
  • John 14:26-27
  • John 16:8
  • John 16:13
  • Acts 1:8
  • Romans 8:26-27
  • 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
  • Galatians 5:16-26
  • Ephesians 4:1-6
  • Ephesians 5:18
  • Titus 3:5

Which of the above most impact you, and why?

What is the “fruit of the Spirit”?

What does it mean to be “filled with the Spirit”?

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE CHOSEN

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Last week Aaron DeLoach defined identity as “the truest thing about you”. This week, Aaron Tredway shared that identity is also whatever you think is the truest thing about you. Whatever you think is the truest thing about you (whether it is or isn’t true) has the power to define your identity. The Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 1 that if you are a Christ-follower, the truest thing about you is that you are “in Christ”. Since Christ has made you new, is this what most defines you?

SCRIPTURE

11In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, 12in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:11-12

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group what you wrote on your name tag last week in church, and why you wrote it. (If you weren’t there, share what you would write if you were at a party and had to fill out a “HELLO, I AM…” name tag with something to identify you other than your name.)

Read Ephesians 1:11-12. The Greek word for “chosen” is klēroō and means “to obtain an inheritance”. What do you learn about your inheritance from the following verses?

  • Romans 8:17
  • Romans 8:22-23
  • Ephesians 1:13-14
  • Hebrews 9:15
  • 1 Peter 1:3-4
  • Revelation 21:1-5

The Greek word for predestined is proorizō and means “to determine before”. What do you think it means to be “predestined”? How comfortable are you with this doctrine that states that “that those who freely come to God are those whom God has freely chosen” (The Gospel Coalition)? Discuss why this doctrine is controversial to some believers.

What does it mean that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:11)?

Why were you chosen by God (Ephesians 1:12)? How can you live this out in your daily life?

APPLICATION

Aaron stated that “We live like our identity is achieved; not received”. Has this idea that you are what you have accomplished influenced what you think is most true about you? If so, prayerfully brainstorm with your group ways you can correct this thinking.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Read through the passages below and write what now identifies you in Christ:

  • John 15:15-16
  • Romans 6:18
  • Romans 8:1-2
  • Romans 8:37
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • 2 Corinthians 2:15
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20
  • Galatians 4:7
  • Ephesians 1:5
  • Ephesians 1:11
  • Ephesians 2:10
  • Philippians 3:20
  • Colossians 1:22
  • 1 Peter 2:9-10

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE ADOPTED

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Henri Nouwen said there are three ways people identify themselves: 1) I am what I do (business man, secretary, mother); 2) I am what I have (money, power, friends); and 3) I am what others say about me (beautiful, ambitious, bossy). We all have the tendency to find our identity in these things. As we spend the next four weeks looking at our identity in Christ, we’ll be asking this question: “If Christ has made you new, what should most define you?”

SCRIPTURE

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—6to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:1-10

GROUP QUESTIONS

If you could pick a new name, what would it be?

Read Ephesians 1:1-10. What does the word “blessed” mean?

In the Greek, verses 3-10 are one paragraph with the theme of what it means to be “in Christ”. How many times in these verses does Paul use the phrase “in Christ” (or “in Him”)? What does it mean to be “in Christ”?

List the spiritual blessings that define your identity “in Christ” because of your adoption (verses 4-7):

  1. ______________________________________ 4.      ______________________________________
  2. ______________________________________ 5.      ______________________________________
  3. ______________________________________ 6.      ______________________________________

Paul writes that even before the foundation of the world God had already chosen those who would be adopted through Christ. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, how does it make you feel that you have always been a part of God’s plan?

Aaron explained that at the time Paul wrote Ephesians, Roman adoption meant that the adoptee had the rights of a fully legitimate child in the new family, an inheritance from the new family, and a complete break/erasure from the old family. How does this compare with what God offers you as His adopted child?

Read Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6. According to Dictionary.com, “Abba” is “an Aramaic word for father, used by Jesus and Paul to address God in a relation of personal intimacy”. Do you feel this way about God? Have you experienced Him as a loving Father?

APPLICATION

Spend time this week meditating on your spiritual blessings in Christ. If you are having difficulty believing or accepting any of them, prayerfully ask God to open the eyes of your heart to feel His love for you. Look for ways to share your blessings with others as a way to glorify your Abba, Father.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The doctrine of “predestination” can be difficult and controversial. Read through the following Scriptures and questions to help you gain a better understanding of this concept.

What does it mean to be “predestined”?

Read John 6:44, Romans 1:6, Romans 8:29-30, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, and 1 Peter 1:1-2. What do these passages say about being chosen or predestined?

Read Ephesians 1:5 and 9. On what basis does God predestine people?

What do the following passages say about God’s heart toward all people? Isaiah 55:7, Ezekiel 33:11, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:13, I Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9

Read Isaiah 55:8-9 and Romans 11:33, and write your thoughts on predestination below,

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