Come See for Yourself

Read John 1:35-51

1. What motivated the disciples of John to follow Jesus?
2. What was your motive for initially following Jesus? What were the circumstances that led you to do so?
3. How do you think Simon felt when Jesus changed his name to Cephas (meaning “rock”)?
4. If you are a believer, what is your new identity in Christ? If you are not a believer, what would you like your new identity to be?
5. What helped Nathanael overcome his initial skepticism about Jesus? How do you think Nathanael felt when Jesus spoke to him?
6. In verse 51, Jesus gives Nathanael, the other disciples, and you a promise. What would you like this promise to look like in your life and ministry?
7. What is one way you can follow Jesus more closely in the coming week? What is one way you can bring someone closer to Jesus?



The Marks of a Servant

Read Mark 10:35-45

1. What did James and John want? How did Jesus answer?

2. When do you find yourself desiring the first chair in God’s orchestra?

3. What made the other ten disciples indignant?

4. What new insights into servanthood does Jesus convey? How do these insights relate to our culture’s definition of servanthood?

5. How does Jesus practice what He preached?

6. How does Jesus’ model of a suffering servant influence your life?

7. According to Jesus, what is the essence of greatness?

8. Who are the people you know that you consider truly great? Why?

9. What is one way you could be a servant this week?



Living in the Outflow

Read John 7:37-39

1. Given that every day at this feast water would be poured out as a symbol of thanks for God’s provision, how is Jesus’ statement in verse 37-38 especially powerful? 
2. Comparing verses 37-38 with 4:13-14, what are some ways that the Spirit’s work relates to the work of Christ?
3. What is the relationship for you between believing in Christ and experiencing the refreshing power of the Holy Spirit?
4. Has the flow of the Spirit in your life lately felt more like a refreshing spring or a clogged faucet?
5. What evidence can you offer of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life?
6. What have you found helpful in releasing the stream of the Spirit’s water into the lives of those around you?



It's Not About Me

Read Philippians 2:1-8

1. Reading between the lines, what do you think was the problem with the church in Philippi?

2. How is unity related to humility? To witness?

3. “Vain conceit” means “glory-empty”. In what ways are you self-centered because you heart is glory-empty?

4. The antidote to self-centeredness is a heart that is full. How does the Gospel make your heart full?

5. If you had a second life to live in unselfish service to mankind, what would you like to do?

6. If you threw a party for the people who helped shape your life by their unselfish caring, who would you invite to your party?



Ever-Arriving Sustaining Grace

1. Have you ever thought about the variety of God’s graces in your life? Not only has He rescued you by giving you favor when you only deserved punishment (Romans 3.23-24) But now every part of your life is always carried, undergirded, enabled and empowered by His ever-arriving sustaining grace! Consider and discuss God’s undeserved sustaining grace to us in these, and other verses:

2 Corinthians 12.8-10, Hebrews 4.16, Titus 2.11-12, 1 Corinthians 15.9-10

2. Where would someone who knows you well (and loves you) say you struggle with obeying Jesus? 

3. How can God’s ever-arriving sustaining grace empower you to obey Him when you sometimes don’t even want to (question 2)? Consider Hebrews 4.14-16. How do we approach God’s throne of grace?

4. Think about a place in your life that continues to be difficult or painful, maybe even a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12.8-10) and share your story with your group.

5. Sometimes God graciously heals us, or lifts the pain. Other times He does not—see 2 Corinthians 12.9. Sunday, Pastor Gary shared this thought: “God’s sustaining grace is not a lesser grace than healing grace. Maybe it’s an even greater grace because it tethers us to The One who gives all grace.” Have you experience God’s all-ways sufficient sustaining grace in a difficult part of your life (question 4)? Share how He has carried you, and carries you even now.

6. Pray for one another, that we each would know his ever-arriving all-ways sustaining grace in those difficult places in our lives and relationships.



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?