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INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
In this week’s message, John addresses the myth that only “super-Christians” need to be disciples. The general belief is that we are not qualified or competent enough to be part of God’s plan, and that everyone else is more qualified than we are. However, this is not what we read in the Bible, and in order to break free of that lie we need to realize that being a disciple does not require any prior qualifications or competence. We don’t need to prove ourselves – it’s simply a matter of being called by God. The essence of discipleship is getting close to Jesus and staying close to Jesus, and that’s all that being a disciple requires! Every member of the body of Christ, each and every disciple, is crucially important to God getting His purposes done in the world today. The body of Christ, the church, can’t get anything done without each member contributing its part, big or little, showy or behind-the-scenes. Every disciple is therefore indispensable to the body of Christ
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.
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.
•In John’s sermon we learned that being a part of God’s kingdom requires no prior qualifications or competencies, just a reliance on Jesus. Sometimes, God will use us in ways that are so unexpected it is almost humorous! Share some funny stories of times when you found yourself in situations where you’ve felt incredibly unqualified but God still used you anyway.
•Have you ever worked with someone who seemed to be incompetent at their job? How was that person treated by others or by you? In light of John’s sermon, how might you view that person differently then before.
•Think of a time when you felt overlooked for work that you have done. Contrast that with a time when you were acknowledged unexpectedly. How did those moments make you feel? Briefly share.
Read Ephesians 4:1-16:
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high he lead the captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9 (What does he ascended mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
•In vv. 1-3 Paul urges the Church in Ephesus to live a life that is worthy of their calling from Jesus. Discuss the characteristics of a “worthy life.” How does this reflect your life personally; your small group; the church as a whole? Please discuss
•One of the appeals of Paul in this letter is for unity in the church. What are some of the barriers of unity today? Have you personally felt some of these barriers? Please explain.
•Paul refers to himself here, as well as other times in Ephesians, as “a prisoner of the Lord.” Knowing that Paul literally was a prisoner at the time of writing this letter, how does that change the nature of Paul’s appeal for unity, humility and love in your mind? Think of a time when you felt like “a prisoner.” A time you were under spiritual attack, persecution or in a time of trial. How easy or difficult did you find it to live out a life of humility, gentleness, patience and love? Briefly share
•In vv 4-6 Paul uses the word one 7 times and emphasizes the unity of the church as a whole, the unity of peace that comes by the spirit and the unity that believers have in sharing the hope that comes from Jesus’ resurrection. What is Paul saying is central to believers being united? Who must we rely on?
•At v. 7 Paul seems to change gears from the larger church to the individual. What does Paul say Jesus does for the members of the church body (vv. 7&8)? What is your reaction when you read v. 7? Do you believe that God has specifically given gifts to you? Do you believe that only the “super-disciples” receive His gifts?
•According to vv 11-13 what is the purpose of the gifts God gives to us? Are they for our own use or to bless others or both? Think of some times when you really saw your gifts being used to help others become more mature in their faith. Briefly share with the group
•V. 16 is a great summary of the previous versus, emphasizing that any growth in the body comes ultimately from Jesus, but that the church is built up as each member gives away what was given to it. Discuss ways that you see this being practiced in your community?
Below you’ll see some options for ministry time with your group. We always encourage you to reserve time in your group to pray for one another and wait on the Holy Spirit.
•Do you believe that God has gifts for you or that they are only reserved for the few? Ask those who feel comfortable to share if they are struggling with identifying how God has gifted them. Pray that Jesus would reveal and bless your group with gifts and direct you in how to use them.
•Consider how your small group together might bless those in the community around you? Again, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to direct you.
•Hebrews 10:24 – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Encourage each other! Call out the gifts that you see God has given everyone in your small group. Take some time to acknowledge each other for the work that every person does and what it means for the community of the church as a whole. For this is how the church “grows and builds itself up in love!”
•Pray and thank God that He pours out His gifts on us for exactly who we are! Ask for more! Pray for yourself and the members of your small group that Jesus would teach you how to draw nearer to Him this week.