Sunday, 25 November 2012

Imitating Christ: Love Each Other

Small Group Discussion Questions

1.      Describe a time when you learned that a close friend or beloved relative was going to move away from you. How did you feel? What thoughts ran through your mind? What did you do to cope with the troubling news?

2.      Read John 13:31-38.

3.      Share one thought from this week’s sermon that stood out to you.

4.      Jesus says: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him”. What does Jesus mean?

5.      In verse 34 Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Pastor Bill suggested that the love we are called to is new in its measure (it stoops low, is self-sacrificial and inclusive), it is new in its capacity (we are given a new capacity), and it is new in its fruitfulness. Keeping this in mind, reflect on the love Jesus has for His disciples. Share some passages from the Bible that highlight His love. Describe His love. What thoughts/feelings run through your mind as you think of His love? How should we respond to this love?

6.      Why might some feel despair over such a command? Why is there no need to feel this despair?

7.      How does love demonstrate that we are followers of Jesus Christ? Have you personally been drawn closer to Christ by what Bill calls the “mission of attraction”? Describe this experience.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Imitating Christ: Doing Great Works Like Christ

Small Group Discussion Questions

1. What is the “coolest” or “most amazing” thing that you have ever seen (eg. the Human Cannonball or a performance by Cirque du Soleil)? Spend a few minutes describing this marvel.

2. Refresh your memories on the works of Jesus. Have each person look up one of the works Jesus does in the Gospels and share this work with the rest of the group.

3. How do the works that Jesus did differ from the works of someone like Gandhi (if you don’t know much about the life of Gandhi, have some people in your group quickly skim through some of his actions in Wikipedia)?

4. What do you think Bill meant by saying that miracles/signs are inadequate, and that we should not be silent? As Leslie Newbigin once wrote: "We have to keep hold of both parts of the truth. Our evangelism will be futile if it is mere words not authenticated by deeds. But our deeds will be futile if they do not eventually find their full meaning in the message of the Gospel which has to be proclaimed by words."

5. Read John 14:12-14. What were the main points of the sermon? What is one thing that stood out for you from the sermon?

6. Recall some of the works of the early Church. Read Acts 2:1-13, 3:1-10, 5:12-16 and 20:7-12.

7. Have any of you ever seen or performed a work similar to these ones (or do you have a friend who has)? Describe this experience.

8. Many Christians in Canada wonder why we do not see more of these mighty works. Reflecting on today’s passage and on other passages which come to mind, what possible reasons can you find for this?

Monday, 12 November 2012

Imitating Christ: Sent Out

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Small Groups – Week of November 11
Preparation (do this prior to attending your small group)

Read: John 17:18
Reflect: Reflect on Jesus being sent into the world. What was He to do in the world? What reception did he get?
Pray: Pray that God would raise up servants to speak for Him in Toronto and in the world.

Small Group Discussion Questions

1.       Describe a time when someone prayed for you (or you knew of someone praying for you). What difference did this prayer make in your life?

2.       Have a few people from the group share an experience they had in sharing the Gospel message. What reception did you receive? What was the outcome?

3.       What is one thing which struck you from Sunday’s sermon?

4.       Read John 17. Share one thing which stands out for you from this prayer of Jesus.

5.       Read Matthew 28:16-20. What is included in the process of making disciples? What difference does knowing that Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth make to you? What difference does it make knowing that Jesus is always with us?

6.       Read Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. What gift or gifts do you believe God has given you? Does anyone in your group see any gifts in you that you have not noticed yet? In what capacity do you believe God has called you to exercise your gift or gifts? John Perkins writes: “I’ve run across a lot of fiery-eyed young people who declare, ‘God has called me to come here.’ Then two weeks later, when things get a little bit rough, they’re on the bus headed back home. God’s call doesn’t work that way. I believe the call of God is sort of a trap-He pushes us in and then closes the door. We can’t just run in and out. God’s call is when God nails your feet to the floor. One proof that you’re really called of God is that you can never get away from that call. I’ve met men in old folks’ homes who tell me that years before God called them with a message, but they didn’t carry the message. They are some of the saddest old men I’ve ever met. You can say no to God’s call, but you can never be at peace without obeying it.” Is there a sense of calling on your life that you have not yet acted upon?

7.       Read Luke 10:2. Spend some time praying for “our” missionaries. Pray that God would raise up more servants to go into the world and speak for Him.

8.       In concluding, have each person share one way that this small group experience has been of benefit to you.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Imitating Christ: Persecution

Small Groups – Week of November 4

Preparation (do this prior to attending your small group) 
Read: Romans 8:28
Reflect: Think about the passage you’ve just read. What does it mean? Do you truly believe it? Does this passage bring comfort to any areas of your life? 
Pray: That suffering would not harm your faith. Pray that in the midst of suffering you would turn to God for comfort and trust that He is using your suffering for good. 

Small Group Discussion Questions 

1. How do you respond to physical pain? Are you heroic? A martyr? A silent sufferer? Do you share your suffering with everyone you meet? Are you a whiner? Feel free to share any stories that demonstrate your PPSS (physical pain suffering style).

2. What has helped you deal with pain in the past (any type of pain)?

3. Have you ever encountered anyone who believed that suffering had no place in the Christian life? If so, share some of this person’s thoughts. 

4. How have you suffered for being a Christian? Share a story or two. In the light of suffering, what keeps you going as a Christian?

5. Read John 15:18-27. Share one thing which stood out to you from this week’s sermon. What were the main points from the message?

6. Read Hebrews 5:8. Amazingly, Jesus learned obedience through suffering. What implications does this have for 
your life?

7. Read Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46. By looking at how Jesus dealt with difficultly here, what principles can you discern to apply to your own life in the midst of suffering?

8. Read Acts 7:54-8:1. How does God use suffering to bless the church?

9. Read James 1:2-4. How do trials lead to your Christian growth? Discuss the steps James lists thoroughly and share personal examples of how you have seen this happening in your own life. Have you ever been able to go through a trial with joy? Describe this experience.

10. In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis writes: “We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the ‘intolerable compliment’. Over a sketch made idly to amuse a child, an artist may not take much trouble: he may be content to let it go even though it is not exactly as he meant it to be. But over the great picture of his life—the work which he loves, though in a different fashion, as intensely as a man loves a woman or a mother a child—he will take endless trouble—and would, doubtless, thereby give endless trouble to the picture if it were sentient. One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and recommenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumbnail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.” In your opinion, does C. S. Lewis do a good job of showing that suffering is actually evidence of God’s love and not of His indifference? How might reading this help you with suffering in the future?