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SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
The sermon this week began by holding up the mirror to the way most Americans view themselves. We learned that virtually every writer of the New Testament saw himself as a “doulos”, as a servant, a slave of Jesus Christ. Christ wants all of us, and being sold-out to Jesus means having the identity of a “doulos”. Pastor Rich exhorted us to get beyond the way(s) we’re wired and align ourselves with what the Father wants of us. There are no excuses – of gifting, of age, of inconvenience or insignificance. If we can really say “I am a servant; I am available to you, Jesus” we are choosing the way of the cross; we’re choosing the death of our flesh; we’re choosing to crucify ourselves with all of our preferences and inclinations. Above all, servant hood allows us to receive Christ and we then begin to look like him.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1.What have been your pet excuses for not serving? Have you ever had them blatantly exposed? How did you respond to that situation?
2.If you polled your close friends, or those who know you well, what 3 characteristics would they most likely say about you and your character? Then reflect briefly on whether you come by them naturally, or if they’re traits you’ve intentionally worked on in order to become more like Christ? What’s the difference?
3.Is there a recent story in which Jesus asked you do to something, particularly in the area of serving another person and you did it? What was the outcome? If you didn’t do it, reflect on why not?
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
2.Read Matthew 25: 14-28:
14Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ 23His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 28 ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
•Discuss the different characters and of this parable and who they represent. Who is the Master/the man going on a journey? (Jesus) Who are the servants? (Jesus’ followers) What do the talents represent? (gifting) What is being represented by “going on a journey” and retuning after a long time?
•According to v. 15 the talents are distributed according to the servant’s ability. We can interpret that as God distributing gifts to people according to their natural capacities or “wiring.” Discuss with your group examples of some of the gifts God has distributed according to your natural abilities.
•What kinds of responsibilities or gifting has God entrusted you with and how have you “put them to work?”
•In Pastor Rich’s sermon he says that we serve in order to come close to Jesus as well as look more like Jesus. In light of that, discuss the attitudes of the first two servants as they present their returns to their Master in v. 20 & 22. Discuss our different motivations for serving and using our gifts.
•What can we learn from the nature of the rewards that are given to the two servants who have been faithful with their talents (Vv.21 & 23)? Despite the difference of the talents entrusted to them, they both receive an equal reward. Our acts of service are not always rewarded with rest but with enlarged activity. We do not receive blessing based on how much we produce in service but by serving faithfully and obediently as preparation for our service in the coming Kingdom.
•V.24 What do you feel is the motivation of the third servant for burying his talent? Is it possible that the servant felt that he did not have enough to invest? Are there times when you do not serve based on feelings of inadequacy i.e. not having enough to give? Consider the Mustard Seed and the Yeast parables (Matt. 13:31-33) or Jesus using what little the disciples had to feed the five thousand (Luke 9: 10-17).
•Have you ever viewed Jesus as a “hard man?” Do you fear letting Him down, or others for that matter? Discuss this with your group
•Also, discuss areas where you feel you are not serving faithfully?
•Vv.28-29 What is the consequence of not using a gift? Disuse of a gift or faculty leads to the eventual loss, whereas continued use develops and increases our gifting.
3.Please leave room at the end of your group to wait on the Holy Spirit and invite Him to speak to and for each person. Encourage your group to seek God’s leading specifically in the area of who and where to serve.
Additional ministry areas below:
•What are your giftings and where is God asking you to use them? Consider writing out a list of spiritual gifts and identifying what gifts you believe God has given to you according to your abilities.
•Scripture tells us to “eagerly desire the gifts…” Pray for one another that you would receive spiritual gifts from the Lord.
•Discuss what gifts you have as a community and what you think the Lord is entrusting you with as a whole.
Small Group Leaders, We Need Your Help!!!
We still need 9 people for the 9:00 service, and 5 people for the 11:30 service.
For Lent this year, we are doing a sermon series entitled, “40 Days of Drawing Near to Jesus” where we will be studying the various spiritual disciplines found in the book of Luke, which we hope will help all of us draw near to Jesus. And for Easter weekend, we wanted to do something really special and have live cardboard testimonies as part of our worship time during our services.
If you don’t know what a cardboard testimony is, please click on this link to see an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvDDc5RB6FQ
Here is where we need your help. We are looking for about 100 people from our congregation who would be willing to share a cardboard testimony during our worship time in one of our Easter weekend services (25 people at each of our 4 services). We would like to ask if you would consider having your whole small group (or even just a few people) participate in this together. This would be a great opportunity for your small group to serve together in our church. And it would also be a chance to share the amazing Jesus stories of the people in your small group with our church.
We would like to encourage you to pray about this and talk with your small group and see if this is something that you might want to do together.
Here is one thing you can try: For worship time during your small group, show the video that I referenced above. And then you can ask people to share their own testimonies (just on a sheet of paper) during worship time. And if this is something that was meaningful for the group, you might ask if this is something that your whole group would do together on Easter (in front of 3000 people) to celebrate together what Jesus has done in our midst.
If your group is willing and able to help out in this way, can you please respond back to us at your earliest convenience and let us know how many people from your group will share a cardboard testimony on Easter? As noted above, we are looking for about 100 people.
We still need 9 people for the 9:00 service, and 5 people for the 11:30 service.
To respond, please contact Miriam Gray at 614-259-5235 or Miriam.Gray@vineyardcolumbus.org.