The Pattern of Prayer

Today’s sermon discussion will be replaced by a time of prayer following the ACTS pattern of prayer.

Read Isaiah 6:1-8

1. Take turns lifting up prayers of Adoration to God according to verses 1-4.
What do these verses tell you about God? His majesty, glory, greatness, holiness, etc…

2. Take turns lifting up prayers of Confession to the Lord. In verse 5, Isaiah confesses his sinfulness in light of God’s holiness. What is your response to seeing God’s glory, holiness, and perfection in light of your imperfection?

3. Take turns lifting up prayers of Thanksgiving to God. In verses 6-7, by means of a sacrifice, God graciously moves towards Isaiah to forgive him. For this salvation, Isaiah is thankful. Take some time to express your gratitude for Jesus’ saving grace and Gospel truths (the promises that are true for you in Christ).

4. Take turns lifting up prayers of supplication to God. In verse 8 and following, Isaiah responds to and obeys the call of God. More than asking God to supply your needs, take this time to pray and let your heart increasingly imagine, dream about, and long for transformation and renewal. Ask God to work in you, through you, and despite you to bring Him glory and to fulfill His mission.



When God Says No

Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

1. How has Paul’s “thorn” affected his life?
2. What name does he give to his thorn (v 7)? What does that say about God and suffering?
3. Do you identify with Paul’s suffering? Do you have a thorn in your flesh? Share with the group if you desire to do so.
4. What was Paul’s conclusion after praying 3 times and his thorn was not removed (vv 9-10)?
5. How do you usually react when God doesn’t seem to answer what you feel is an urgent, pressing request?
6. How do you feel about verse 9 as an answer in those times? Why doesn’t God just take the hurt away?
7. How have you seen God work in and through you during a time of suffering? 
8. How does Jesus give you hope for your suffering?
9. Share your God Box prayer requests and pray for one another.



Persistence in Prayer

Read Luke 11:5-13

1. What does the parable in verses 5-8 teach about prayer? How do verses 9-10 relate to the parable?

2. What attitude is implied in verses 9-10?

3. How do verses 11-13 clarify the intent of verses 9-10?

4. What have you been diligent about in your prayers lately? Think about it. Be honest.

5. Do you have something in your life you think is so hard that you are not even praying about (someone with cancer, salvation)?

6. Have you stopped praying for something because you got tired? Discouraged? Hopeless?

7. The challenge for you this week is: Would you consider asking God not only for bread but for the Holy Spirit also?

8. Share some of the prayer requests from your God Box. Pray for one another and encourage one another to persist in prayer.



The Power of Prayer

Read Exodus 17:8-13

1. What do you think is the significance of Moses’ raised hands in this story?

2. How is prayer the pipeline to God’s power (James 5:16)?

3. Why is prayerlessness not fundamentally a discipline problem but, at its root, a faith problem (Matthew 17:19-20)?

4. When have you needed your faith propped up by someone else?

5. What battle do you need God to win in your life?

6. Share some of the prayers in your God Box. Spend time praying for one another.



Praying like Jesus

What’s the biggest hindrance to your prayer life right now?

Have you gotten into the habit of praying through Bible verses in the Psalms, the Gospels, and in the New Testament letters so we are praying according to God’s will (1 John 5:14-15)

How can you grow in praying for unity in our church here?  (Example—commit to praying for two people every day)

How can you grow in praying for joy and for the mission of the church?  (Give specific examples of things you could pray for in your own and other’s lives.)

How have you seen God answer your prayers for unity, strength, holiness, or joy in your life?

What are some ways you can trust God through prayer and obedience to minister to others in deed and word?

How might God be calling you to pray for and serve in your neighborhood to bring healing to those who are hurting or needy in some way?



Praying for Revival

Revival is the intensification of the ordinary operations of the Holy Spirit (conviction of sin, conversion, the giving of assurance, and sanctification -- making us holy).
One of the marks of revival is prayer beyond the ordinary.
Today, let us take some time to pray together.

1. Ask God to bring deep conviction of sin, spiritual brokenness, a holy fear of God and genuine repentance among His people. 

2. Pray that God will bring loving unity in our churches and a deep harmony between our churches. 

3. Pray for God to bestow spiritual hunger in His people and draw them to a deeper love of His Word. 

4. Pray for God to fill His people with a passion to see people saved. 

5. Pray for God to give His people a passion for missions and church planting. 

6. Pray that God will raise up workers for the ministry.

7. Pray that God will pour out his life-giving Spirit to bring healing to our community. 



Born is the King - Peace

Read Isaiah 9:6-7 and Luke 2:14

1. What is the opposite of peace?

2. How would you define peace? According to the sermon, peace is the presence of what?

3. What does this verse mean "Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end"?

4. Read Philippians 4:7. How does the peace of God guard your heart and mind?

5. What are the three disciplines to develop Christian peace? Describe each one of them.

6. “Only love of the immutable can yield tranquility.” How does loving Jesus above everything else bring lasting peace?

7. Who do you know that is in need of peace? Discuss with your group ways that you can share what you have learned about peace with this person. 



Born is the King - Joy

Read Luke 2:8-11

1. Fill in the blank, "I bring you good news of ____________." Why is joy so important?

2. What is the difference between worldly happiness and Christian joy?

3. How can Christian joy grow stronger even during difficult circumstances?

4. What are some "signposts" of joy that we experience now? What do these "signposts" point to?

5. Discuss this quote: "While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life's joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world's sorrows, tasting the coming joy." - Tim Keller.

6. How do we get this Christian joy? What is so good about the good news announced by the angels?

7. What are some opportunities you have to share this "good news that will bring great joy" with your neighbors, coworkers, classmates, family, friends, etc? 



Born is the King - Hope

Read Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Hebrews 6:13-20

1. What are the promises God made according to these passages?

2. What effect did God's promises have on the descendants of Abraham? How does this affect Christians now?

3. How do these promises relate to the fact that our hope is firm and secure?

4. What do you think is meant by the description that hope is an “anchor for the soul?”

5. What promises of God are your anchor?

6. There are three kinds of hope: wishful, expectant, and certain hope. How did Jesus' life, death, and resurrection guarantee that our hope can be certain?

7. Job 8:13(TLB) "Those who forget God have no hope." Israel needed constant reminders. How do you get reminded of God's promises in order to keep your hope? How can you remind others so they can have hope in God?



The Reason for the Season

Read Matthew 6:1-4

1. What does this passage tell you about the approach Jesus wants us to have toward giving?

2. What does hypocrisy in giving look like? Sound like? Feel like? What is its reward?

3. What is the opposite? What is the reward of giving in "secret?"

4. What would it feel like to give in secret?

5. Where do you need growth in the area of giving?

6. How does Jesus redeem your motivation when giving?

7. Think as a group about some opportunities to give to the needy this holiday season.



When Darkness is My Only Friend

1. With what glimmer of hope does the sick and discouraged psalmist begin (vv 1-2)?

2. Who does he blame for his afflictions (vv. 6-9)?

3. What is Heman's argument in verses 10-12?

4. How does he experience God (vv. 13-14)?

5. On what note does the psalm end?

6. Why do you suppose this psalm is in the Psalter?

7. Is it possible for devoted believers to go through dark times that last a long while? Depressed? Feel forsaken?  

8. Can comfort be found in this psalm?

9. How can grace be found in the midst of suffering?

10. How can suffering make someone a person of greatness?

11. How can we practically shine the light of Jesus in the midst of dark times?



Doctrine of Grace - Perseverance of the Saints

1. Try to recall the definition of Irresistible Grace from last week.

2. Read Romans 8:31-39.

3. How does Paul settle the fears of those who may still be asking questions about the security of God's love for us?

4. How might the forces mentioned in verses 38-39 try to unsettle our trust in God's love? Which is most threatening to you?

5. How do verses 31-34 support Romans 8:1?

6. "The gospel is not the first 'step' in a 'stairway' of truths, rather, it is more like the 'hub' in a 'wheel' of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom." – Tim Keller. What is your response to this quote?

7. Why did Paul say that we are "more" than conquerers through Christ?



Doctrines of Grace - Irresistible Grace

1. Try to recall the definition of Limited Atonement from last week.

2. Read Ephesians 2:8-9

3. Which is more important: Grace or works? Why?

4. Is "faith" itself a "work" or a "gift"? Why?

5. Read Ephesians 2:4-5. What is the difference between "mercy" and "grace"?

6. What is the difference between "common grace" and "efficacious grace"?

7. Read Jeremiah 32:40 and Titus 3:5. Why is efficacious grace irresistible? What is the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation?

8. Read Hebrews 9:12. Why is grace so costly? 



Doctrines of Grace - Limited Atonement

1. Try to recall the definition of Unconditional Election from last week.

2. Read Romans 3:21:26

3. What is the "righteousness from God" (vv 21-22)?

4. Have different people look up the meaning of "justification," redemption," and "atonement." How would you translate these terms into everyday English to explain what God did for us in Jesus?

5. “Christ so died that he infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved, but are saved, must be saved and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved.” - Charles Spurgeon. What is your response to this quote?

6. In verse 22, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe," Arminians emphasize "all" while Reformers emphasize "who." How do you read this verse?

7. If you had to explain the gospel from this passage alone, what would you say?  



Doctrines of Grace - Unconditional Election

1. Try to recall the definition of Total Depravity from last week.

2. Pastor Christian briefly described Unconditional election as "God choosing to save those who, apart from His sovereign choice and subsequent action, certainly would perish." How does the doctrine of Unconditional Election relate to Total Depravity?

3. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
4. How has God taken the initiative in our salvation?
5. Do you believe you are chosen? Why or why not?
6. What does the "sanctifying work of the Spirit" look like in your life?
7. How does the doctrine of Unconditional Election inspire and promote evangelism?



Doctrines of Grace - Total Depravity

1. Can you name all five points of Calvinism?






2. Google the five points of Arminianism. Compare each one with the five points of Calvinism.

3. If you could choose one word to describe yourself, would you choose:

- Sinner

- Saint

Discuss your choice with the group

4. Read Ephesians 2:1-9

5. What does it mean to be "dead in sin": Helpless? Guilty? Lifeless? What has caused this death? Verses 1-3

6. What has God done to fix the problem? Verses 4-7

7. When God causes us to be born again and puts His Spirit in us, we have attained a position of righteousness that we need to then put into practice. What has God's grace meant to you in your life?



After God's Own Heart

1. Read 1 Samuel 13:14. Have you always understood this text to mean that David was patterned after God’s heart or pursuing after God’s heart? Discuss why.

2. Read 1 Samuel 16:13. The Spirit enables David to pursue God’s heart and praise God through all the problems he went through. Discuss how the Spirit enables you to live a promise-driven life versus a problem-driven life. 

3.  Read Psalm 63:1-4.  David is writing this in the wilderness after his son has murdered his firstborn son and chased him out of the city.  How does this impact you? 

4.  Read Psalm 63:5 in the Message version. Discuss how grateful reflection can transform a sleepless night. 



Agents of Change - Raul Palomino

The Church as the agent of the Holy Spirit in our communities, plays a key roll in the holistic transformational development in our communities. Jesus and the poor are inseparable. The homeless, beggars, the blind, the lame, the destitute and the hungry flock to him. The New Testament records ten times when Jesus was moved to compassion, and every time was a personal encounter with suffering people.
The county of San Diego ranks 4th in the nation with the number of homeless people in shelters, recovery programs and out in the streets. It is the work of Bridge (The Church) to be the agents of the Holy Spirit for culture change in our society. The time is now and we must answer the call to embrace our ministry to the least of us in San Diego.

How can we, (The Church) have a role in culture change?

Why is culture many times changing us, (The Church)?

How committed are you to be an agent of change?

How do you react when you encounter people suffering or in need?



Being the Body of Christ

Read Romans 12:3-16

Do you know your spiritual gifts? If not, Google a spiritual gifts test or ask others what they think yours are. If you do know them, what are they?

How are you currently using your gifts to serve the body of Christ (aka other Christians)? Are there other ways you can serve?

How has the body of Christ served you? How has that impacted you?

Paul illustrates the interconnectedness and interdependence of the church by comparing it to a human body. When you first encountered the church, how would you have described it? How about today? Has your perception changed? Why or why not?

The majority of Romans 12 deals with our relationships with God and others within the church. Why do you think it’s so specific to God and the church as opposed to simply being about our relationships with God and others in general?



Influential Church

Read Matthew 5:13

1. Consider salt. How does it function? How does it become useless? What prevails in its absence?

2. How then do Christians influence society? Or become useless?

3. Is your lifestyle salty or saltless? Why?

4. Jesus declares "You are the salt of the earth." How does Jesus empower you to be influential?

5. How can you help Bridge become an influential church?