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Engaging and Encouraging Others Through Our Experiences

1. As you consider the meaning of experiences, do you feel the pressure to present your life to others as a series of great experiences?

2. We have all had difficult experiences. How has your experience of Jesus helped you to understand your difficult experiences?

3. Read Romans 5:17. How does the life experience of Jesus change everything for us if we believe?

4. Read Hebrews 4: 14 -16. How does knowing you have a sympathetic High Priest change the way you understand your experiences, both the good and the difficult experiences?

5. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3.  Has there been a time when a friend brought the comfort of God to you because he or she had known Godś comfort in a similar experience?

6. Read 1 Peter 2:4-5 and 9-10. What does it mean for you to be a living stone and for the church to be a royal priesthood?

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Discovering the Purpose of my Personality

Read Mark 12:28-30

1.  Review the four personalities addressed in the sermon: talker, feeler, thinker, doer.

2. While you are a mix of all these personalities, which one best describes you? Share the reasons with your group.

3. Pastor Christian talked about the purpose, weakness, and a warning for each personality. Discuss with your group how those apply to your personality.

4. Now that you have a better understanding of your personality, what are some areas in which God can use you in ministry according to your SHAPE?

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Using My Abilities

Read 1 Peter 4:10-11

1. What is your vocation?

2. What are other jobs or skills in which you have experience?

3. Write down all of your abilities from this list (feel free to add to the list): 

Administration - Animal Care - Arts/Crafts - Athletics/Sports - Audio/Visual - Baking - Catering - Coaching - Computers/Technology - Conversing - Cooking - Counseling - Data Entry - Decorating - Drawing - Electrical Work - Facilities Management - Finance - Graphic Design - Insurance - Landscaping - Linguistics - Maintenance/Repairs - Musical - Organizing - Painting - Performing Arts/Drama - Personnel Management - Photography - Planning Trips or Events - Plumbing - Public Speaking - Recruiting - Scenery Production - Secretary/Office Support - Set-up/Tear-down - Sewing - Sound System - Strategic Planning - Typing - Vehicle Driver - Vehicle Maintenance - Videography - Web Design - Writing... 

4. God matches your ministry with your abilities. How might God use your abilities for Ministry?

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Following My Heart

Read Philippians 2:13 and Proverbs 27:19

The second key factor in discovering your S.H.A.P.E. is to listen to your heart. Your heart tells you what you are passionate about, and your passions are clues as to where you should be serving. For example, some people are passionate about working with children or senior adults. Others are more attracted to a certain task, such as preparing financial reports or construction. Still others desire to address a cause, such as poverty or hunger in an inner city or third world country.

1. What are you passionate about?

   a. A role (what you would like to do):

   b. A people group (whom you like to help):

   c. A cause (what you would like to see changed or supported): 

2. What are some "spiritual/emotional heart stoppers" that are keeping you from following what God has put in your heart? Disappointment, fear, guilt, bitterness, rejection, etc...

3. How can Jesus heal your heart?

4. How can you use your God-given passions and interests to serve others effectively? 

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Unwrapping My Spiritual Gifts

Read 1 Corinthians 12:1; 4-11

Go to www.spiritualgiftstest.com or www.giftstest.com and take the spiritual gifts assessment.

1. What have you discovered about your spiritual gifts? Did you already know what they are?

2. Identify your spiritual gift(s) and describe it by using one or two of the bullet points below.

  • How did you recognize your gifts?

  • How does what you’ve learned through the gifts inventory seem to

    fit with your past ministry experiences?

  • Do you feel that these gifts do, or will, bring satisfaction to you?

  • How do you think God might want you to use your gifts in service

    to the Body of Christ, or are you already using them in ministry?

  • Where might you begin to develop your gift(s)?

3. Allow other group members to sensitively ask questions to bring further clarification to what gift(s) you may have.

4. Affirm each person following his/her time of gift-sharing.

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I am a Minister

Read Isaiah 60:1-22

1. Where in the range of "darkness" (v.2) to "radiance" (v. 5) are you this week?

2. What aspects of Christian life have lost their shine since your salvation? Which have gained new sparkle?

3. What can help you shine more brightly?

4. In this Scripture, God says He shines His light on you so that you can shine it in the world. What areas of your everyday life can you find opportunities to shine light into darkness?

5. Reflect on this truth: "I am a minister with a specific purpose at an opportune time to make an eternal difference." Out of all the times in history, God chose you to live here and now. Who has God placed in your sphere of influence that needs to see His light?

6. You are a minister. Share with the group where you see God developing ministry through you.

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Checking My Baggage

Read John 5:1-15

1. How do you think the man in this story who had been disabled for 38 years felt? helpless, dependent, bitter, angry, discouraged, depressed, resigned to his condition?

2. How do you think the man felt when Jesus asked him, "Do you want to get well?" Insulted, cared for, challenged, mocked, hopeful, cynical?

3. How can you relate to this story in terms of your life? 

4. Do you have "baggage" that is holding you back from growing this year?

5. Can you name your "baggage"?

6. Do you want to get well?

7. What ailments - physical, spiritual, emotional, financial, or otherwise - do you need Jesus to treat in your life?

Read Galatians 5:1 and Psalm 71:20

1. Do you believe Jesus has set you free?

2. How can He restore your life in 2018?

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Pressing On to Lay Hold in the New Year

  1. Read Philippians 3: 12-14

    1. Have you been laid hold of by Christ Jesus?

    2. How do you know? Briefly share your experience.

  2. Read John 15:16: Why is it important that Jesus chose us rather than us choosing him?

  3. The sermon emphasized the importance of learning to preach the gospel to ourselves. How do we do this and how does it help us?

  4. Read Hebrews 12: 1-2: How does fixing our eyes on Jesus our forerunner help us to run the race?

  5. The sermon listed 5 typical practices that produce spiritual weariness:

    1. Insensitivity to our own sin.

    2. Unforgiveness toward others.

    3. Unconfessed complaining.

    4. Hidden disobedience.

    5. Lack of spiritual food and exercise (Bible reading, prayer, church attendance.)

Share with the group what practices you believe cause your own spiritual weariness, and then pray for another for repentance and rejuvenation.

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He will be called...Prince of Peace

Read Isaiah 9:6-7

1) How would you describe your normal state? Very peaceful? Mostly peaceful? Occasionally stressed? Off-the-charts high strung and anxious? Explain why?

2) Read Philippians 4:6-7. Describe a time when Jesus was with you in the midst of chaos and he gave you an unexplainable peace.

3) Jesus is the Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace. Can you describe a time when Jesus used the “absence of peace” to get your attention?

4) Are you at peace with God (through Christ)? Talk about why or why not.

5) If you are experiencing chaos in your life right now, pray with your group and ask Jesus to guard your heart and mind according to Philippians 4:7

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He will be called...Everlasting Father

Read Isaiah 9:6

1. What are some father-like qualities of Jesus?

2. In what ways have you projected the image of your earthly father onto your Everlasting Father?

3. If so, has that hindered your relationship with Jesus in any way?

4. How is your Everlasting Father different than your earthly father?

5. How has Jesus provided for you?

6. How has Jesus cared about you?

5. How does seeing the Everlasting Father more clearly affect your relationship with Him?

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He will be called...Mighty God

Read Isaiah 9:6 

1. How is Jesus different as a child and as a son?

2. How is Jesus "Mighty God" as you know him?

Read Colossians 1:16-17, 1 Peter 3:22, and Matthew 28:18 

1. What is the nature of Jesus' power?

2. What does Jesus have power over according to these verses?

Read Matthew 7:29; 8:26-27; 11:2-6; Hebrews 4:15; Acts 2:24

1. What evidence is found in these verses that Jesus is the Mighty God?

2. What are some benefits of Jesus' power?

3. How is his power working in you?

4. How is his power working for you?

5. How is his power working through you?

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He will be called...Wonderful Counselor

Read Isaiah 8:19-22

1. How does Isaiah bring out the contrast between mediums and spiritists and God?

2. What should the people be seeking?

3. What "black-out" will result from their refusal to do so?

4. The nation of Israel was looking for guidance in the wrong places. Where do you look for guidance outside of Jesus?

Read Isaiah 9:1-7

1. Of the names given in verse 6, which fit Jesus as you know him?

2. How is Jesus wonderful?

3. How often to you go to Jesus for counseling? What does that look like?

4. What keeps you from calling out to the Wonderful Counselor at times?

5. How challenging is it to listen to the Wonderful Counselor?

6. Has Jesus ever asked you to do something you did not want to do? What was that experience like?

7. According to 1 Corinthians 1:24, Jesus is the power and the knowledge of God. How can he empower you to do what he asks you to do?

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We are Generous

Read Malachi 3:7-10

1. How had Malachi's peers robbed God? With what results?

2. How does the Lord challenge the people to put him to the test (vv 10-12)?

3. Can you trust God in providing for your needs? Why or why not?

4. Can God trust you to be a responsible manager of his resources?

5. Read Psalm 24:1, Job 41:11, Haggai 2:8, and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. How do you respond to the fact that everything, including yourself, belongs to God?

6. Read Deuteronomy 8:17-18. Do you believe that what you have or what you have accomplished is solely a result of your hard work? Or do you believe it is God who gave it to you?

7. How can you put God to the test with your finances? What does that look like in your life?

8. God gives a promise in Malachi 3:10-12. How would you rewrite verses 10-12 as personal promises to you from God?

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We are Lovers of the City

Read Matthew 5:14-16

1. Why does Jesus call us the light of the world?

2. What is it that brought us light?

3. What makes us different from the rest of the world?

4. How can we be a counter-cultural community within the city?

5. In what ways are we tempted to keep our light hidden?

6. What is the purpose for letting our light shine?

 

Read Jeremiah 29:7

1. What does the Shalom (peace and prosperity) of the city looks like?

2. In the city there are commuters, survivors, consumers, and natives. Which one are you?

3. What does it mean to be a lover of the city? How can you love the city?

4. How will you prosper if the city prospers?

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We are a Movement

Read Matthew 16:16-18

1. What comes to mind or what do you feel when you hear the word "church"?

2. What do you think Jesus meant by "church" on verse 18?

 

Read Matthew 28:19 and Acts 1:6-8

1. What does it mean the church is a movement?

2. How can Bridge continue to be part of this movement that started in the 1st century?

 

Read Acts 2:42-47

1. Can we replicate the 1st century church? Why or why not?

2. How can we be the 21st century church?

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We Are Reformed

Bonus question: Can someone in the group name the "5 Solas"?

Bonus question: Can the group collectively explain each one?

1. In this passage, Paul divides a Christian's life into two periods. What are they? Who controlled you in the first period? What was the result?

2. If we are "dead" because of sin (v.1), how are we made alive (vv.4-5)?

3. What is the relationship between God's grace and good works? 

4. What has God's grace meant to you in your life?

5. What good work do you feel God may have in mind for you?

6. How can you give glory to God alone at home, school, work, church, etc.?

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Born Again

Read John 3:1-16

1. Jesus confronts ever facet of Nicodemus' world (read vs. 1). Why is that significant? What is John trying to communicate?

2. There's a part of us, our flesh, that doesn't like the idea of fully letting go and fully accepting Jesus' message on his terms. There's a part of us that wants Christianity only to the degree that it's safe, where the cost isn't too high, and we still get to maintain some control. What is that for you?

3. Nicodemus attempted to confirm Jesus' Messiahship by seeing if Jesus fits into his religious paradigm. Are there times you try to put Jesus in a box to fit your religious paradigm? Share a story when you found yourself doing that.

4. "Born" in the Greek is in the aorist tense, which gives the verb a quality that is ongoing and repeating with a continuing state of relevance. Why is this important for you to know? How does it change the way you read this passage?

5. Where are you now in your spiritual journey? In light of this, what is God's invitation to you?

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One Prayer

Read John 17:20-26

1. Who is the focus of Jesus' prayer in this passage?

2. What kind of unity exists between God and Jesus that we should copy?

3. What is the "glory" Jesus mentions on verse 22 (See also John 17:4-5)?

4. What does Jesus' ultimate desire (v.24) reveal about his love for us?

5. How do verses 25-26 sum up the major concerns of Jesus in chapters 13-16?

6. How important to you is unity with other believers? With whom do you share this unity?

7. How can you experience more unity?

8. How can you become the answer to Jesus' prayer?

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Unity in Diversity

Read Ephesians 4:1-16

1. Of the qualities listed in verse 2, which did you demonstrate the best today? The worst?

2. What is God’s purpose in giving gifts to his people? Why is it important that each part of “the body” does its work?

3. According to this passage, what’s the problem with trying to live the Christian life apart from the church? In what ways do you need others?

4. On a scale of 1 (apart) to 10 (together), how unified is your church? How are you doing at fulfilling your call to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (v.3)?

5. How might we reach unity in the faith (v.13)?

6. What is the goal of the unity of believers (v.13-15)?

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One Church, One Mission

Read Romans 10:9-21

1. What would you say is the general view in the world today about how a person can get to heaven?

2. According to verses 9-10, how is one saved?

3. How do the questions that Paul asks in verses 14 and 15 challenge you?

4. What does it mean to confess “Jesus is Lord”? How does it tie in with belief?

5. Recall when you confessed Jesus is Lord and believed God raised him from the dead.

6. The central affirmation of the early church was “Jesus is Lord”; everyone else was saying “Caesar is Lord.” Who or what are some gods that compete with your allegiance to Christ?

7. Discuss with your group the possibility that you can attend the Missions conference on January 27th together as a group. Visit www.allsent.org/conference for more details. The discount code is John 2021.

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