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INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
Pastor Rich opened this message by encouraging struggling believers that history has at its center the story of Jesus through whom God is redeeming the whole universe from evil. And He is renewing it in glory. The whole world is encompassed in God’s loving purpose. In Jesus’ death God has identified with all of humanity in our wickedness and our evil, in our suffering and in our death. In Jesus’ resurrection the new creation has begun in one human being – the man, Christ Jesus. And in Jesus’ future coming God is going to take all of creation beyond all evil and all death into the glory of his presence.
In response to whatever struggle we’re encountering, 1 Peter encourages its listeners to “think through the meaning of suffering” (v. 1). Pastor Rich shared a helpful formula in which to understand how our beliefs affect our behaviors. A-B-C = Activating Event read through our Belief Structure(s) results in Consequences. The way we think about our experiences – the grid through which we read life – affects how we react to it. Next, we’re to think about the meaning of “Christ’s suffering”. One important B, of the A-B-C, is that “suffering does not mean that I am abandoned”. Another is that “suffering does not mean that I have failed”. Suffering also doesn’t mean that “this is the end of the story” but it does mean “an end to sin” (v. 1).
The text moves on and Peter encourages early Christians to think through not only the meaning of suffering, but also the meaning of “time” (v. 2). Time in the present: life in the flesh v. life in the Spirit. Epithumia – means “over-desire’” of the flesh. The problem of over-desire, the great temptation in taking the wrong path in life, is that you over-desire good things. The wrong path for our lives is not just that we desire wrong things; it is that we over-desire good things. Instead of always choosing the path of least resistance, always giving in to your over-desires, you can allow yourself to be controlled by what God wants – to walk the hard path, the narrow way, the more challenging route, allowing God and God’s Spirit to control your thinking and to control your emotions. The question was posed, which way are you growing – toward Christ or away?
The final thing to think about is the “meaning of the end” (v. 7). We believe in a happy ending that comes from God in Jesus. In Jesus’ death on the cross, God paid for our sins. And in Jesus’ resurrection God began the new creation. Right now, God, by his Spirit, has sent the church out into the world with a mission of communicating to people the good news of God’s love and the hope of God’s coming. One day there is going to be an end to the story. God is going to come back to this world in Jesus. And he is going to redeem his children and the rest of creation beyond evil and beyond death into the glory of his own presence.
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.
•What are one or two things from this weekend’s sermon that really stood out to you?
•Leader – this might be a good opportunity to share a bit from your own journey with Christ. What has God done in your life – where have you learned to not walk in “the flesh” but in God’s Spirit? What have you been learning about walking in the Spirit lately?
•In what ways does the Church and your small group support and encourage your life in the Spirit?
Read Galatians 5: 16-26:
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
• V. 16 Paul tells us to “walk in the spirit.” Looking at verse 16 Why does he tell us to do this? What happens as a result of us walking in the Spirit? Think back to Rich’s sermon. What about living as an end-times person coincides with walking in the spirit?
• V. 17 What ways are the sinful nature and the Holy Spirit in conflict with one another? What are some battles you experience between the Holy Spirit and your flesh? What does it feel like to be led by the Holy Spirit? Can you think of some times in your life when you were ruled by the flesh? What did it take to overcome those times?
• Why does Paul use the metaphor “walk in the Spirit?” Why does he not say “run” or “sprint” in the spirit? What do you think is the significance of this?
• Much of the sermon this weekend about being an end-times person focused on our thinking? How we think about life… How we think about time… How we think about our suffering… our present, our past. Does this transformation happen quickly or does it take time? When you find yourself wanting to change the way you think or change a sin of the flesh do you find that you approach it more like a sprint or more like a walk?
• What are some practices that can help us to more sustainably allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into end-times people? What are some practices that can help us to see more of the fruits of the spirit in our lives? Give some examples of your own experiences with this…
• How will more of the Holy Spirit’s fruit in your life transform your outlook on trials and sin struggles?
• Read v. 24 and Romans 6: 1-4. Compare these two verses. What does it mean to belong to Christ? What comes to mind when you hear the phrase crucified the sinful nature or that we are baptized into Christ’s death? In light of this, how can we be more encouraged when we are in times of trial or struggling to overcome sin?
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.
• Ask Jesus to show you the way to freedom from sinful gratification. Pray for grace, that this would be an unyielding liberation. Ask the Lord to show you one thing that he desires to put to death in your life. Ask Him again to lead you in how to take practical steps to do this.
• Which fruit of the Spirit is most lacking in your life? Pray for more of the Spirits fruit in your life
• Reread versus 22&23. Try to commit them to memory this week. Pray that the fruits of the Holy Spirit would be more on your mind each day.