Monday, 23 December 2013

God Will Make A Way - Week 4

1. Pastor Bill said that the path God takes often travels through human impossibility. What are some examples of this from Scripture?

2. Read Luke 1:26-38.

3. Pastor Bill said that when God makes a way through the impossible He usually calls a person. Why do you think God works through people? Can you think of a time when God worked through you? What happened?

4. Humble origins are fine with God. Have you ever allowed your past to define you or limit what you could be? How so? Is God calling you to more?

5. What stands out for you when you reflect on Mary’s response in verse 38? How have you responded to God in the past?

6. Pastor Bill spoke about laying claim in prayer to what God has called you to do. What does this mean? Have you done this?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

God Will Make A Way - Week 3

1. What is your favourite Christmas tradition or memory from growing up?

2. Read Matthew 2.

3. Pastor Bill said that this passage is full of incredible contrasts. What are some of these contrasts? What comes to mind as you reflect on these contrasts?

4. Pastor Bill said that God makes a way through the power of His voice. How does God speak in Matthew 2? How has He spoken to you?

5. Pastor Bill said that God makes a way through humble devotion/pure hearts. Who demonstrates a pure heart in this passage? What are the marks of a pure heart?

6. Pastor Bill said that God makes a way through the power of His Word. What prophecies are fulfilled in Matthew 2?

7. God is intervening in the situations of history and of our lives. How have you personally seen this to be true? Where do you need God to intervene in your life in the present?

Monday, 9 December 2013

God Will Make A Way - Week 2

1. Talk about a promise someone kept for you in spite of difficulty.

2. Read Matthew 1:1-17. What stands out for you most in this passage?

3. What are some of the highs and lows in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? In what ways do  you see yourself in these men?

4. Think of David. How can a person described as he is in Acts 13:22 sink as low as he does in the Bathsheba incident? How can we protect ourselves from spiritual falls?

5. Pastor Bill said that the genealogy in Matthew 1 is a testimony to the grace of God. What did he mean by this?

6. Share one of the ways in which God has brought light out of darkness in your own life.

7. Pastor Bill said that in Christ, generational sins (anger, addiction, etc.) can be broken. Are there

any such sins in your life that need to be broken? Pray for one another for deliverance.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

God Will Make A Way - Week 1

1. Share a time when you had to wait for something and the waiting seemed almost unbearable.

2. Read 2 Peter 3.

3. “God will make a way, though the time is very long.” What did Pastor Bill mean by this?

4. What happens to human beings when they need to wait for a promise to be fulfilled? Does hope grow? Does it wane? Does it depend on what the promise is?

5. How might a Christian grow in hope and expectation in regards to the return of Christ?

6. The power of God’s Word. How has God demonstrated the power of His Word?

7. God sees time very differently than us. What practical implications does this have? Does this knowledge encourage or frustrate you?

8. Why has Christ not returned yet? How should we live in the light of God’s patience?

9. Compare the first advent of Christ with the second.

10. What are you going to do this advent season to help build your hope and joy as you wait for Christ to return?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

God's Auto Correct - In Crisis

Sermon by: Debra

1. Have you ever been trapped outdoors in a horrible storm? Share about this experience. How did you find protection? What thoughts were going through your mind?

2. Read Acts 27:13-44.

3. Pastor Debra shared that in any crisis there are physical, emotional and spiritual challenges. Define each of these challenges. Share how all three of these challenges arose in a crisis you experienced in your own life.

4. When you've been in the midst of a crisis and your trust in God has begun to waver, how have you responded? What do you do in times of doubt?

5. How can we build our confidence in God?

[i. Take God at His Word (believe Scripture), ii. Recount stories of remembrance, iii. Come out of isolation and into community] Share specific examples of how these confidence builders have personally blessed you.

6. Who in your group needs confidence in God today? Pray for one another.

Monday, 18 November 2013

God's Auto Correct - Jesus Knocking on Your Door

Sermon by: Andrew Stuart

1. Did anything strike you in the sermon that you had never thought about before? Any new insights? Any new ways of thinking about something that you thought you “had a handle on”? Discuss.

2. A main of point of the sermon was that lukewarmness (feeling distance from God, or like God is less real) comes when we have somehow excluded Jesus in one way or another from our lives.

(a) Do you agree with this claim? Discuss how it is that excluding Jesus leads to lukewarmness. (think about who it is that we are excluding).
(b) What does this tell us about how we were made and how we are meant to live (think fellowship and intimacy with God).

3. How do you think the church of Laodicea got to the point where it had excluded Jesus? What is the relation between
(a) being wealthy, having lots of clothes, and having good medical care and
(b) excluding Christ? Are wealth, clothes, medical bad in themselves? How we they misused by the Laodicean church? Discuss.

4. Can you think of any similarities between the city of Laodicea and the city of Toronto? If we can describe the “spirit” of Laodicea as one of self-sufficiency or self-reliance, how might we describe the “spirit” of the city of Toronto?  Discuss.

(a)In the sermon it was mentioned that the church of Laodicea looked no different than the city of Laodicea - that the spirit of the city (self-reliance) had infected the church with the same spirit. What does this show us about how TAC ought to relate to the city of Toronto. What are the dangers might there be that threaten the fruitfulness of the church in such a big city? What do we need to be careful of?

5. Can you think of any other examples in the New Testament where Jesus sits down to have a meal with people? What stories come to mind? (Zacchaeus in Luke 19; the Lord’s Supper in Mat 26:17-30//Mark 14:27-31//Luke 22:7-23//John 13

(a)How might the scene in Revelation 3:20 have something to do with the Lord’s Supper? Discuss

6.At the end of the sermon, a variety of possible areas of life were suggested as potential areas where we can exclude Jesus (ex: relationships, finances, marriage, work, school, emotions). Did the Holy Spirit bring any such areas to mind for you? Any doors that Jesus was knocking on for you?

7.What are some ways we can be making sure that our doors are kept open for Christ? Any disciplines we can undertake to make sure we are not excluding Jesus?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

God's Auto Correct - Faith In Place Of Intimidation

Isaiah 37

Small Groups – Week of November 10, 2013

1. Share a time when you trusted in someone and they proved themselves trustworthy in spite of seemingly difficult circumstances.

2. How would you define a simple faith in God? What would this faith look like in practice?

3. Read Isaiah 37.

4. Pastor Bill said that we will be challenged and mocked for simply trusting God. Have you ever experienced this? Share your experience. What helped you stand firm?

5. Pastor Bill said that another challenge we have is to trust God and Him alone. Does Hezekiah demonstrate a confidence in God in this passage? If so, how?

6. What are you tempted to trust in besides God?

7. What is one thing in your life that you need to take to God in faith-filled prayer this week?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

God's Auto Correct - Blessing For Curses

Ezekiel 25:1-7

1.Describe the situation that is being painted in these verses.  What is it that the Ammonites were doing and why is their behaviour so repulsive to God?
What comfort is in this text for those who are mistreated, even while under God's discipline, as they were?

2.In what ways are those who mistreat people whom God wounds short sighted?  Look up the following passages:
Jeremiah 33:6-9
James 4:6
Matthew 12:36-37
Deuteronomy 32:35

3. What is the 'high road' for followers of Christ when we are mistreated?  Look up the following:
1 Peter 2:21-24
1 Peter 3:9
1 Peter 2:1
What do we learn from Christ example that is helpful for us here?
Any stories from your personal life to encourage the others where you took the high road when mistreated and what the result was?

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Gods Auto Correct - Discernment in Face of Deception

Small Groups – Week of October 27, 2013

1. This is a children’s game, so you’ll need to lay aside your dignity for a few minutes. Play three rounds of broken telephone.

2. Have you ever received and acted upon a message (email, text, phone call, etc.) that was intended for someone else (but you thought was for you)? Describe this experience.

3. Read Jeremiah 23:9-40.

4. How do you know when God is speaking to you? How do you personally discern whether a message you receive (from someone else, a voice in your mind, a nudge, etc.) is from God?

5. Pastor Bill said that in a true messenger from God there is hunger to know God. What are the marks of someone who hungers to know God?

6. Pastor Bill said that a true messenger of God will be affected by the message. What is a message from God that has impacted you deeply in the past few months?

7. Pastor Bill said that the character of a messenger of God is a big deal. Is this true in society in general? Defend your opinion.

8. Pastor Bill said that a true messenger of God will be marked by godly fruit. What are some examples of godly fruit?

9. Do you actively seek to hear from God? If so, what listening disciplines do you utilize? Share an experience or two of when you believe God spoke to you.

10. In pairs share about an area of your life where you need God’s wisdom. Pray that God would speak clearly into each other’s lives.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

God's Autocorrect - Dependence rather than being self-made

Deuteronomy 8:10-20

1.Why is this question (v. 17) such an important issue for us?  What is at the root of it?  What are we forgetting when we make such claims?
2.What are the marks of the 'self made' person, from this passage?  How does this thinking arise?  What does it lead to?  What is that person blind to?
3.Any examples you wish to share from your own life where you struggle taking credit for what is not yours?
4.What is at stake (18-20) for those who push that system of thought?
5. What does the text say is key to acknowledging God as our source? 

6.How can we more openly live acknowledging dependence on God? 

7.John 3:21.  Read it.  Celebrate God as your source. 

Friday, 11 October 2013

God's Autocorrect - True Vision for Myopia

Jeremiah 33:10-11

1. Can you think of any movies, novels or sports matches that seemed devoid of hope but things turned around? Share.
2. Read Jeremiah 32:1-33:13 (long but helpful - Sunday's passage was 33:10-11).
3. Do you think it significant that Jeremiah received the word of God while he was shut up in the court of the guard? Why or why not?
4. Pastor Bill said that we need to live out of the vision that God gives us. Are there any visions of hope that keep you going (biblical)? Has God ever given you a message of hope? Share. What can keep us from clinging to the word of God?
5. Do you pursue any disciplines that help you listen to God? How have these disciplines helped you in the pursuit of God?
5. In pairs, share one situation in your life for which you need God's hope and power. Pray for one another with this need in mind.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

God's Autocorrect - Renewal for Discouragement

Isaiah 40:27-31

1. When you are feeling down or tired, what is your favourite thing to do to be refreshed?
2. What are some core theological concepts that you cling to? How do these truths impact your daily living?
3. Is there any example from your life when you allowed difficult circumstances to negatively impact your view of God? Please share this with the group. How did you overcome this struggle?
4. Look over the convictions Isaiah points out concerning the greatness of God. If need be, take some time to explain what each of them means. How might knowledge of these convictions help someone who is going through a difficult time?
5. Have you ever experienced or known someone to experience a divine renewal of energy or a divine change of strength? Describe this. What was the person like before the experience? How about after?
6. What does it mean to wait for God? Has waiting for God been an easy or difficult practice for you? How have you personally benefited from waiting for God?
7. What is one struggle in your life for which you need God's energy? Pray for each other, that God would meet you in your troubles.

Monday, 16 September 2013

God’s Autocorrect - Faith for Despair

The main passage: Numbers 13:25-14:45
Other passages to consider: Matthew 12:30-37 and 25:14-30

Imagine you are one of the Israelites awaiting the return of the twelve spies who have gone into the promised land on a military reconnaissance mission. Maybe you are a wife of one of the men will have to fight; or maybe you are one of the men who will go into war. The news you are likely hoping for from the spies is this: “The people in the Promised Land are not well organized and should be easy to defeat and the land is quite beautiful and fruitful. We will be able to take the land, The morning after the spies come back into camp, you quickly grab the newspaper and read the front page. You are anxious to read the report of the spies. Yet, you are shocked to read that there are two reports!

Report #1: “Indeed, the land is plentiful, just as God has promised. But there is no possible way by which we can defeat the peoples there, as they are huge, well organized, and have fortified cities!Signed: Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sether, Nahbi, Geuel

Report #2: “Having spied out the land, we have determined that we will surely overcome those living in the land; by all means, we should mount an attack as Signed: Caleb, JoshuaAnd inside yourself you hear two voices. (1) There is one voice that echoes the frightened voice of the first report: “There’s no way that we can go into the land, it just doesn’t make sense! And we’ll get slaughtered! Besides, these are ten great leaders within Israel - who am I to question their assessment!” (2) But there is a second voice: “Why would God lead us to the edge of this land and then kill us?! Surely Joshua and Caleb are right, for we’ve seen how God works miracles and often saves us and so we can trust Him to give us the land.” With these two voices echoing in your mind as your head hits the pillow, you fall into an uneasy sleep.You wake up the next morning to another report, written by those who wrote the

Report #3: “We repeat, there is no way that we can take this land! Do not even consider the report of Caleb and Joshua. In fact, even our own report was too optimistic. It is not just that the people in the land are big, it is that they are huge. If we battle with these people, it will be as if grasshoppers were trying to topple a human being! As well, although we initially reported the fruitfulness of the land, we now revise our statement: the land is not even worth it! The land itself will starve us and kill us!Signed: Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sether, Nahbi, GeuelTaken aback by this third report, you gather with a group of friends to discuss:


1) Given these two voices as shown in the three reports, which voice do you and your family support? Why? (Here we are still imagining that we are Israelites.)

2) What is a situation that you have faced where there were two contrary voices calling for your support? What did you do?

3) In my reckoning, at the heart of Bill’s message was the fact that there are two voices echoing inside the Christian. (1) One of these voices calculates in terms of human ability without listening to God’s promise; or, perhaps there is a rejection of God’s goodness or ability to provide. (2) The second voice is really that of the Holy Spirit inside, Who tells you to trust in God’s promises. Have you ever had this experience where two voices issued reports about what you should do or feel? Give an example if you can.

4) As Bill said, the words that we find ourselves agreeing with and that we reinforce with our very own words and emotions (either fear/unbelief or confidence/faith) reflect our view of God and His character. Read Matthew 25:14-30.

5) Without drawing an analogy of what a “talent” might mean for us, and without getting hung up over the the man taking the talent from the wicked slave and giving them to the others, and without being frightened by this harsh judgement, first ask yourself whether or not you think that Christ is good and loving. And if Christ is good and loving, what is the Gospel? That is, what is the Good News - the Good Report that comes with Christ, just as a good report came from Joshua and Caleb?

• {If you are struggling to answer this question, see Romans 5:6-11}

6) How do you find God encouraging you with this Good Report on a daily basis? Do you find that the Spirit warms your heart? Do you find that you are more at peace?

7) How does the Good Report effect how you speak to and with others?

8) What are some ways we can dispel the doubting voice, which tells us to bury and not believe in the Gospel and God’s goodness and salvation?

• {Possible answers if the group is struggling to come up with some: Read the Scriptures; give thanks daily; pray; allow others to encourage you; sing hymns}

Sunday, 16 June 2013

A Vision for Effective Fathering

1. Share a good memory you have of fatherhood (relating to your father or a father you’ve see in action). What makes a good father? What makes a bad father?

2. Read Acts 20:17-31.

3. What are the four essential components that Pastor Bill spoke about in relation to fatherhood? [i. It takes is all you’ve got. It is a calling that demands our all. We need to be a living example going before the kids. We need to be an encouragement telling them that we believe in them and that they can do what is put before them. We are the best teacher that our child will have. From your personal journey as a parent or as a child, share with your group why this principle is true. Pastor Bill said that humility keeps the way open. What did he mean by this? How can a parent show humility? ii. Don’t go through life without goals. What should be the ultimate/primary goal for Christian parents? How can we communicate our goals and encourage our children to walk in these goals? Iii. Don’t mess with my kid. How can a parent protect their children? (solid teaching, our holiness, by our example, by our prayers). iv. Keep your stick on the ice. Be on your guard. Be active, engaged, ready for anything. It is a calling to be a parent. How can a parent remain ready to parent?

4. Are there any people in your life who grew up without a father and still (visibly) suffer because of this? How do they suffer? What might you do to introduce them to or demonstrate the love of God the Father to them?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Spirit Filled Life Week 6: Pentecost Sunday

Small Groups – Week of May 19
1. Share a time when you were waiting for something very special to happen or to be given to you (eg. a certain birthday present). How did you feel as you waited?  Sunday was Pentecost Sunday. Look through Acts 1 and 2. Review what happened on the day of Pentecost. What was the church doing before the day of Pentecost?

2. Question 1: Why should I be filled with the Spirit of God? [Because it is a command of Scripture. It was His plan that we should live out of His strength.] Can you think of a reason why someone would not want to be filled with the Spirit?

3. Question 2: What does the Spirit-filled life look like? [Contrast it with the flesh – don’t be drunk on wine. On the day of Pentecost members of the church were empowered to speak different languages. God can anoint us to do what we have never done before. In Acts 3 Peter heals someone and then he and John display incredible courage before the Council.] What experiences of the Spirit-filled life have you had or seen?

4. Question 3: Why are we not filled with the Spirit automatically and at all times if we are given the Spirit? It is often the case that there is a barrenness or dryness. A dry creek with the capacity for water. [i. There are things that we need to repent of. Things that we can be filled with besides the Spirit: anger, jealousy, drunkenness, etc. ii. If we have been schooled in legalism, one of the reasons that we are not filled with the Spirit is because we keep thinking that we have to get to a higher level of perfection and holiness before we can expect God to do anything in us. We put it off because we consider ourselves too imperfect. We need to ask.]

5. How can we be filled with the Spirit? [We must repent of our sin. We must ask Him to fill us.]

Read Luke 11:5-13 together. Pray for one another, that you would receive the Holy Spirit. Pray for empowerment for righteousness and for service.

Spirit Filled Life Week 5

Small Groups – Week of May 12

1. Pastor Bill said, “The church without the Holy Spirit is just a social club.” What did he mean by that?

2. As a group read 1 Corinthians 12-14. What is one thing which stands out to you from this passage?

3. What are the marks of the presence of the Holy Spirit? Why is it helpful to know these marks?

[1. The Holy Spirit always points to Christ. This is important because it helps us evaluate various manifestations – are they from God or not? Deeply sensational experiences can come from various sources. But what is being said about Christ? The Holy Spirit will never speak badly of Christ. 2. He is colourful. He manifests Himself in a variety of ways. Every child of God is given at least one special ability, enabling us to serve in an effective way. There are various gifts that He gives. The Church is to be a spiritual and a supernatural body, as if Christ were here. What Christ would be if He were here is what we are. We need each other and each person is important – we are meant to be combined together in mission. We must be careful not to elevate one gift to an essential-for-all place and not to make God mono-coloured in His giving of gifts. 3. He works in our midst for the common good. He wants to minister through you to the next one.  We are needy but anointed to serve. If these gifts are given for the common good, the love must rule the day (see 1 Corinthians 13). All of our gifts should be used in love.  4. God is the source of all. Do not withdraw and think that you have no gift. Do not be arrogant and spurn other’s gifts.]

4. Spend some time encouraging each other in relation to the spiritual gifts. Two options: 1. We did this exercise a short time ago, but perhaps your group missed it/needs it again: Which spiritual gift(s) do you believe you have? If you are unclear on which gift(s) you have, what steps could you take to figure this out? Which gift(s) do you see in others in the group? How have you seen these gifts active? 2. Have you been adequately using your spiritual gift(s) lately? Share about the way you have used your gift(s) or how you could/should be using it (them). What are the benefits of you using your gift(s)? What are the consequences of not using it (them)?

5. Pray for one another: for love, for empowerment, for courage, for fruitfulness.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Spirit Filled Life Week 3: The Spirit Who Transforms Us

1. The Transformers are robots that have the ability to switch between humanoid form and vehicle (or animal, electronic device, etc.) form. If you had the ability to transform into something else, what would it be? Why?

2. Read Romans 8:1-17.

3. The Spirit sets us free from condemnation. What does this mean? How has this knowledge impacted you, knowing that you have God’s approval? Do you know, in your heart, that you are free from condemnation and guilt? Do you have a deep peace related to this knowledge? Perhaps take some time at this point in the study to pray for peace for one another, particularly if someone is struggling in this area.

4. The Spirit enables us to please God. God brings us life and peace. God wants us to have a mind under the control of the Holy Spirit. How do we get such a mind? [a. become a Christian, for the Spirit is given to us, b. let Him lead]. Why might someone be reluctant to let the Spirit lead? Are there any areas in your life where you are not letting the Spirit lead? [Christ is Lord and has trouble with selfish ambition, pride, lust, etc. in our lives. He wants to lead us out of these sins.]

5. The Spirit, who lives in us, will give life to our mortal bodies. God makes dead things live again.

6. The Spirit causes us to belong. We are adopted into God’s family. What was it like growing up in your family? Describe the relationship you had with your parents. Did you feel as if you belonged and were loved? How has your relationship with your parents influenced your relationship with God?

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Extraordinary Life Week 8 - Blessed are those who are persecuted

Small Groups – Week of March 17, 2013

1. Read Matthew 5:1-12. Is there anyone in the group who can say this passage from memory? Try to recite it.

2. Pastor Bill said that persecution will come. When it does we should rejoice. Why might a Christian be persecuted? Why should we rejoice in the midst of persecution? How do the words of Christ in verses 10-12 strike you? Is there any type of persecution that we should not rejoice because of?

3. Pastor Bill shared four reasons why we should rejoice in persecution. Try and recall them and share some of the things Pastor Bill said about them:
[i. It is an indication that we are maturing in Christ [we are known by how we react to things; God uses suffering to shape us; we must change – bitterness is not an option, not forgiving not an option, etc.]; 

ii. People see Christ in us [we are persecuted because of righteousness; righteousness is being right with God at its most basic level, it is also a longing to be free from the control of sin and the desire to sin – it is to be pure with and like Christ; it is a path that puts us at odds with the world and we feel the loss if we don’t line up with the world; will the Christian participate in the unrighteousness or choose righteousness?]; 

iii. Because there is reward in heaven [any loss we have is compensated for greatly in heaven; whose reward are we living for? – earth’s or heaven’s? if we live for earth’s it will mean denying Christ; we all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10); issue of rewards will be at stake for us (1 Corinthians 3:10-15);] iv. Because we don’t belong to the world [we feel the disconnect with the world; we belong to God]]

4. Share a time when you stood up for righteousness and you were persecuted for it in some way. Was it worth it? Why or why not?

5. Spend some time reflecting on the sermon series. What is one thing God shared with you that you need to put into practice? Share this with the group.

6. Spend time in closing by praying for the members of your group and for TAC. Pray that the beatitudes would be evident in our lives.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Extraordinary Life Week 7 - Blessed are the peacemakers

Small Groups – Week of March 10, 2013

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

1. How would you define peace? [Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Evangelical Theology explains: In English, the word "peace" conjures up a passive picture, one showing an absence of civil disturbance or hostilities, or a personality free from internal and external strife. The biblical concept of peace is larger than that and rests heavily on the Hebrew root slm (salom), which means "to be complete" or "to be sound." The verb conveys both a dynamic and a static meaning "to be complete or whole" or "to live well."]

2. God is the original peacemaker. Through Christ we now have access to God and He took the cost of peace upon Himself. Read Romans 5:1 and 5:8. How does this knowledge impact you personally?

3. Peace making can be very costly. Why does God bother with making peace with us?

4. Pastor Bill said that it is hard to be a peace maker when we don’t have peace in our own hearts. Read John 14:27. How has the peace of Christ helped you be a peacemaker?

5. How can we be peacemakers? Pastor Bill suggests four ways: 

i. Be peacemakers in our whole lives, not just at work or in the public eye. We must extend grace in our homes to our parents, siblings, spouses and children. 

ii. Be peacemakers in the church. Purse the path of love and unity there, and not division. Forgive when offended and apologize when you offend. Welcome those who are different from you. 

iii. If there is oneness, there must be grace. Step into broken lives and refrain from being
afraid of the darkness and hurt that is there. Notice those on the fringes, pull back from
the crowd personally and minister into their lives. 

iv. Lead people to Christ. There is no greater peace than the peace God offers. This is both an objective peace (we are no longer God’s enemies) and a subjective peace (we feel internal peace).

Spend some time talking about each of these four categories. Have people in your group share experiences of when they witnessed or participated in peacemaking in any of these categories. What difference di d the peacemaking make in people’s lives? Are there any specific relationships that God is asking you to be a peacemaker in? Share some of the details.

6. Pray for each other, that we would both know the peace of God and spread peace in our many relationships.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Extraordinary Life Week 6 - Blessed are the pure in heart

Matthew 5:8

Extraordinary Life Week 6 - Blessed are the pure in heart by Tacblogs on Mixcloud

Small Groups – Week of March 3, 2013

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

1. Spend a few minutes reviewing the beatitudes we have examined so far (Challenge: can you memorize them together?). How have these beatitudes manifested themselves in your lives over the past two months? Have two or three people share.

2. Read Matthew 5:8 Mark 7:1-20.

3. What does it mean to be pure in heart? (Reflect on the nature of God. God is pure. How does your knowledge of God inform your understanding of being pure in heart? How does the impurity of humanity inform your understanding of being pure in heart? Reflect on the idea of an undivided heart.)

4. How can you tell if you are pure in heart? Can you tell if you are pure in heart? Can others tell if you are pure in heart?

5. Have a piece of paper and a pen available for everyone. Spend fifteen minutes (or more) privately journaling. Think of a ministry that you are regularly involved in. Is your heart pure as you participate in this ministry? Describe what it is that you do. Reflect on the last time you participated in this ministry. Why did you participate? What thoughts and feelings went through your mind as you were ministering? Can you honestly say that you were ministering out of love for God and love for neighbour? Were you ministering primarily to meet one of your own personal needs? Generally speaking, in which areas of life do you struggle with purity? Record these areas. Privately repent of these things.

6. In small groups of two or three (of the same sex) share one thing you learned about yourself as you were journaling. Pray for each other – that God would create in you a clean heart and give you victory over impurity.

7. Close by reading Psalm 27 to the group.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Small Groups – Week of February 17

1. Nathan Kwan (our missionary apprentice) shared his testimony of how God led him to pursue missions. Do you have a story relating to how God opened up your heart and mind for missions (perhaps a calling to go overseas yourself, a great passion to pray for a specific country, a strong urge to give generously to God’s work around the world, etc.)? Please share this story with your group.

2. Who is part of your sphere of influence today? [Think of work, school, other nationalities,
neighbourhood, etc.] How have you influenced one person in your sphere of influence for
Christ? What keeps you from increasing your sphere of influence?

3. Read Acts 10 together. Have each person share one thing which stands out for them from this passage. How was Peter’s sphere of influence increased in this passage?

4. How might God want you to expand your sphere of influence in 2013? [A new ministry at TAC? A new cultural group? A new religious group? A different socioeconomic group? A new country – short or long-term?] Consider regularly praying to God for wisdom, courage and love so that you can step into a greater sphere of influence for the sake of the kingdom of God.

5. Would you be willing to allow God to move you into this new sphere of influence? If not, what is holding you back?

6. This Sunday TAC made available handbooks for our iMission week. Please conclude your time together by reading through the specific prayer requests for the missionaries included in the booklet and by praying for them and their families.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Small Groups – Week of February 10, 2013

1. What is the difference between the way that an earthly kingdom grows and the way the
kingdom of God grows?

2. Can you recall some of the encouraging statistics which Rev. Ford shared in regards to the
kingdom of God. [eg. 3500 new churches a week, 3000 new believers an hour, 28,000 new
believers in China each day, number of Muslim Background Believers in Central Asia growing
significantly since 1990 (when there were 100), etc.]

3. What are some biblical passages which affirm that Christ is the only way to God? How does
knowing that Jesus is the only way to God shape your life?

4. Christ-centered. Spirit-empowered. Mission-focused. What do these terms mean? What would a
life look like if it experienced each of these realities?

5. The article that God used to lead me to Bible college is entitled Why You Should go to the
Mission Field by Keith Green:
article_id=1000008651. Skim through Keith Green’s 8 reasons describing why you should go to
the mission field. What do you think of his reasons? Do they resonate with you at all? Explain.
What do you think of the 15 excuses people give to get out of going to the mission field? Have
you ever used any of these reasons? What is keeping you from going to the mission field?

6. This week we will be participating in a Skype call with Victor and Betty Chin. Victor and Betty
are presently studying Spanish in Costa Rica in preparation for a ministry in Mexico. Operation
World is a work which helps believers pray for the nations. Read through Operation World’s
entry for Mexico: Spend some time as a group
praying for that nation.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Extraordinary Life Week 4 - Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6

1. Has anyone in the group ever participated in the 30 Hour Famine or another similar fasting event? How well did you do at going without food? What activities did you do to keep your mind off of food?

2. Pastor Bill said, “It is an extraordinary life when the deepest longings of the heart are met.” What are the longings people have today? How well are these longings met?

3. Think of a time in your life when you felt significant hunger pains or when you were so thirsty you would have gulped down muddy water if it were available. How does the body react when it is facing extreme hunger or thirst? How does the mind react? [I would like people to recognize that in these times nothing else in the world seems to matter compared to our hunger or thirst.]

4. What is the difference between hungering and thirsting for food and drink and hungering and thirsting for righteousness? What are the similarities? What evidences are there in the life of one hungering and thirsting for righteousness (what would such a life look like)?

5. In Christianity we speak of justification (God forgiving us/declaring us to be righteous/accepting us, eg. Romans 3:28)(Pastor Bill spoke about a hunger to be accepted by God), sanctification (God leading us into obedience, eg. Romans 8:12-14 and Philippians 2:13)(Pastor Bill spoke about the desire to be free from the power of sin and from the desire to sin) and glorification (us receiving glorified bodies and living with God, eg. 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 and Revelation 21:1-4). We can also speak about personal holiness (me personally living for God) and societal righteousness (a society doing what is right and just). Discuss how hungering and thirsting for righteousness might be experienced under these categories. Be sure to interact with Isaiah 58 and Matthew 7:21-23.

6. Where do you go for righteousness? Pastor Bill said that God is the source of righteousness, always. In pairs, share what is getting in the way of your desire for righteousness [is there a sin you are struggling with, is a relationship getting in the way of your commitment to God, is entertainment more important that holiness, etc.? Remember that honesty before God and not self-sufficiency, pride or dignity leads to righteousness]. Pray that God would give you a hunger and a thirst for righteousness that exceeds your love of the world.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Extraordinary Life Week 3 - Blessed are the meek

Matthew 5:5

1. Who do you think is the most meek person in literature or cinema? Defend your answer. [ClarkKent is a possible answer]

2. Define meekness i. In the eyes of the world and ii. In the eyes of Christ. [From The Free Dictionary: 1. Showing patience and humility; gentle. 2. Easily imposed on; submissive. From Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: “Late twentieth-century Western culture does not hold meekness to be a virtue, in contrast to the ancient Near East and the Greco-Roman world, which placed a high premium on it. This dramatic shift in values is problematic for contemporary biblical translation. Most modern versions replace the noun "meekness" by "gentleness" or "humility," largely as
a result of the pejorative overtones of weakness and effeminacy now associated with meekness. These connotations were not always predominant in the word, for ancient Near Eastern kings were not reluctant to describe themselves as meek in the same context in which they described themselves as mighty kings (Babylonian asru and sanaqu; Aramaic nh). What has prompted the discrepancy between the biblical and
contemporary attitudes toward this virtue? There are two essential components for this quality to come into play in the Bible: a conflict in which an individual is unable to control or influence circumstances [perhaps because it would be ungodly to do so]. Typical human responses in such circumstances include frustration, bitterness, or anger, but the one who is guided by God's Spirit accepts God's ability to direct
events ( Gal 5:23 ; Eph 4:2 ; Col 3:12 ; 1 Tim 6:11 ; Titus 3:2 ; James 1:21 ; 3:13 ). Meekness is therefore an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture. Meekness is not a resignation to fate, a passive and reluctant submission to
events, for there is little virtue in such a response. Nevertheless, since the two responses (resignation and meekness) are externally often indistinguishable, it is easy to see how what was once perceived as a virtue has become a defect in contemporary society. The patient and hopeful endurance of undesirable circumstances identifies the person as externally vulnerable and weak but inwardly resilient and strong.
Meekness does not identify the weak but more precisely the strong who have been placed in a position of weakness where they persevere without giving up. The use of the Greek word when applied to animals makes this clear, for it means "tame" when applied to wild animals. In other words, such animals have not lost their strength but have learned to control the destructive instincts that prevent them from living in harmony with others. Therefore, it is quite appropriate for all people, from the poor to ancient Near Eastern kings, to describe their submission to God by the term "meek" (Moses in Num 12:3 ). On the other hand, this quality by definition cannot be predicated of God, and therefore constitutes one of the attributes of creatures that they do not share with their Creator. Nevertheless, in the incarnation Jesus is freely described as meek, a concomitant of his submission to suffering and to the will of the Father (Matt 11:29 ; 21:5 ; 2 Cor 10:1 ). The single most frequently attested context in which the meek are mentioned in the Bible is one in which they are vindicated and rewarded for their patient endurance ( Psalm 22:26 ;25:9 ; 37:11 ; 76:9 ; 147:6 ; 149:4 ; Isa 11:4 ; 29:19 ; 61:1 ; Zeph 2:3 ; Matt 5:5 ).] Pastor Bill said that meekness was strength under control. How do you see this in the life of Christ? How do you see it in the life of Paul?

3. Share an example of a time you saw meekness in action [remember Pastor Bill’s story of the man trained in martial arts who refrained from fighting a man who challenged him].

4. In our world it is the confident, type-A personalities who often seem to get ahead. How does this week’s message sit with such a person?

5. Look through some of these passages and discuss what they say about meekness: Gal 6:1, 2 Tim 2:25, 1 Peter 3:4, 1 Peter 3:15, and James 1:21.

6. Pray that city counsellors and staff would see the value of churches and leave all areas of the city open for churches to inhabit.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Extraordinary Life Week 2 - Blessed are those who mourn

Matthew 5:4

1. Think of recent movies or television shows you have watched. What are some things that people

mourn over in these movies and programs? What things in our culture cause people the most sadness?
2. This may sound like a ridiculously simple question, but reflect on why people (generally) pursue joy and fun in life and not mourning and sadness.

3. Spend some time thinking about things God wants us to mourn over. Here are two things to get you started:

i.Spiritual Poverty. Our Western society has radically changed its opinion of sin and
of guilt. It disagrees with many biblical pronouncements of what is wrong and what
is right, it removes personal blame in many instances by blaming bad behaviour
on society, one’s upbringing and genetics and it has minimized the seriousness of
disobedience to God. Paul teaches that people approve of those who sin (read Romans 1:28-32). For God, however, sin is serious business. Sin has cut us off from a personal relationship with Him and this relationship could only be restored at great pain and cost to God Himself. Read James 4:4-10. How should we respond in the light of our own guilt and of God’s view of sin? Everyone should prayerfully consider this next question but only a couple need to answer aloud: What sins in your own life have you not taken as seriously as God would have you take them? What are you going to do about them now?

The Lost and the Broken. Read Luke 19:41-44. Jesus mourns for the city of Jerusalem. There is a story told of Dwight Moody: While speaking in London, evangelist D. L.Moody was approached by a British companion who wanted to know the secret of Moody's success in leading people to Christ. Moody directed the man to his hotel window and asked, "What do you see?" The man looked down on the square and reported a view of crowded streets. Moody suggested he look again. This time the man mentioned seeing people--men, women, and children. Moody then directed him to look a third time, and the man became frustrated that he was not seeing what Moody
wanted him to see. The great evangelist came to the window with watery eyes and
said, "I see people going to hell without Jesus. Until you see people like that, you will
not lead them to Christ." Over sixty years ago, Dr. Bob Pierce prayed: “Let my heart be
broken by the things that break the heart of God.” In 1947, as a war correspondent and
evangelist, he traveled to China with Youth for Christ, and his heart was broken by the
needs of one little girl. Pledging a monthly sponsorship for her, Dr. Bob Pierce began
World Vision to help children orphaned in the Korean War. Who are the people that
your heart breaks for? Pause and in twos spend time praying for one another that God
would give you the opportunity to minister to those who you hurt for and that God
would break your hearts with the things that break His.

What are some other things (from the sermon or your own biblical knowledge) that
God wants us to mourn over?

4. Mourning and sadness are not the end of the story. God promises that those who mourn will be comforted. Included in the fruit of the Spirit are joy and peace (see Galatians 5:22-23). The book of Revelation teaches us that a time is coming when mourning will cease (Read Revelation 21:1-4). How might this knowledge help one live through periods of mourning?

5. Share of a time when God’s comfort has met you in a time of pain.

6. Is there anyone in your group going through a period of mourning right now? Or do you know of any friends, co-workers, fellow students or family members who are mourning? End your session by praying that God would comfort and bless the hurting.