Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
Will Shearer preached this weekend on how small actions by God’s people can create large impact in the Kingdom of God. In the letter from James, he urges the followers of Jesus to press into displaying God’s love for the world by revealing their faith through actions. True faith, combined with the actions prompted by that faith, can reveal a believer’s heart. But even so, acts of sacrifice, kindness and obedience to God are still entirely the result of God’s grace. Ultimately, it is through these acts, by people like you and me, that the Kingdom of God is released in the world.
Will Shearer made the point that our deeds FOR the Kingdom allow the RELEASE of God’s Kingdom. Evil has its legs cut out from under it every time we sacrifice our time, our money, our safety, and our pride. When we serve out of our loyalty to Jesus – to feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, or help the sick – we are actually doing something meaningful in another person’s life that serves a felt need and points them to Jesus. In addition, Will cautioned us against self-reliance and instead he encouraged us to remember that we are not expected to be “super heroes”. God knows what we can and cannot do. He is the one who calls us and gives purpose to our actions and He is the one that releases His Holy Spirit in us to accomplish his purposes through us.
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?
· This weekend we were reminded of how small actions have the potential for large impact. Share a time when you or someone you know performed a small action that created large impact.
· Actions in our every day lives have impact as well. Share a small, intentional change in your life that has recently brought improvement to daily living.
Study Goal: The purpose of this study is to discover how God wants to partner with us in small ways for the advancement of His Kingdom. At the end of this study, you will have examined both public and private character qualities that God desires to nurture with His love so that He may produce deep roots of righteousness cultivated by obedience and faith.
Context: The book of James is believed to have been written by James, the brother of Jesus between A.D. 40-50. James is writing to an audience of a predominantly Jewish upbringing and relatively new faith in Jesus. This was a time of heavy persecution- their leader, Stephen, had recently been stoned to death; thus, producing feelings of discouragement and lack in clear direction amongst the community of believers. Being Jewish, their religious upbringing would lend itself to a law-based predisposition of faith. James addresses their vulnerable state and need for leadership with an appeal to their most basic cultural and religious understandings by providing clear directions for the next steps in faith as newly converted followers of Jesus.
Read James 1: 16-27
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror 24 and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. 25 But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continue in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
· What does James desire of his “Dear brothers and sisters?” (V. 19)
· James implies that if a believer humbly accepts the word planted in them, then righteousness is produced. Describe what James is referring to when he mentions the “type of righteousness that God desires.”
· What small, intentional, daily actions can we followers do that will produce a righteousness that God desires?
· What implications does Godly righteousness have on a believer’s private life? Public life?
· James appeals to the senses by urging the believers to examine how they listen, look, and speak. These actions extend beyond the passivity of simply eliminating immorality from their lives. Instead, they must completely restructure how they interact with others. What are the consequences (good and bad!) of choosing to/to not monitor their behavior.
· Will Shearer reminded us that in the Gospel of John (Ch 14 and 15), there are five different places Jesus equates loving him with obeying him. How does our love for Jesus impact the quality of our obedience to him?
· Just like any relationship, love and affection must be cultivated and cared for. How do we as believers in Jesus, fall in love and remain in love with Him?
· Will Shearer also emphasized – Our deeds release God’s Kingdom. It is God’s desire to partner with us to release His love into the world. What invitations is God giving to us (big or small) to partner with Him in the Kingdom?
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.
• We talked about the importance of managing our anger. Where do you fall in controlling your anger? Is this an area of your life the Lord would like to address and transform?
• We talked about ridding ourselves of moral filth and evil and exchanging it for a righteousness that God desires. How may the Lord desire to search your heart and show you where he wants to replace evil desires for his righteousness?
• We talked about small, daily, intentional actions that produce righteousness. What simple actions is God telling you to do that will produce a righteousness that He desires?
• We talked about how our love for Jesus impacts how we obey him. We are able to love because God first loved us. What space are you creating for God so that He may show you His love for you?
• We talked about how it is the desire of God to partner with us, and by doing so, he uses our deeds to reveal His love for the world and therefore advance His Kingdom. How is God tugging on your heart and asking you to partner with Him for the advancement of His Kingdom?