Interacting with the Sermon
Synopsis of the Sermon
Rich began by talking about the decline of the influence of Christianity in the western world. It is important that we not only be physically fit, but we must be spiritually fit. In the passage from 2 Peter, Peter draws a sharp contrast between 2 kinds of Christian live. First, one that is ineffective and unproductive. Where they aren’t sure how to attain a authentic Christian life. But God has given us everything we need to become the kind of people He wants us to be. Some people may try to get what they need to live the good Christian life by sheer will power, but we cannot do it apart from Christ’s power. And through that power, we have access to God’s promises of rest, hope and guidance. The problem is that most of us are not “making every effort.” We take the path of least resistance. To grow we need to take it one step at a time. We need to “furnish out” our faith with other qualities of the Christian life like knowledge & self-control. We also need vision in our lives to change. Vision is what sustains us through opposition. Otherwise we end up “nearsighted” and we can’t see the promises of Christ for our future.
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?
- What are some of the qualities from 1 Peter 1:3-11 that you want to see in your life in the new year?
Rich talks about this list not being in any particular order but that it starts with faith and ends with love. What does faith and love look like? Jesus talks about this in one of his last speeches to his disciples before he is crucified.
Read John 15:5-17
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
- VV. 5-6 & 16 (observation) What does Jesus say is the purpose for which the branches exist? How are the branches effected by their dependence on the vine? Jump down to verse 16. It says we are chosen by God. Why are we chosen? (Interpretation) What do you think “bearing fruit” looks like? Does it look different for different people? (see Galatians 5:22-23 for more ideas)
- VV. 7-8 (interpretation) What do you think it means to “remain in Jesus” and have his “words remain in us”? What are some practical ways we can do that? (interpretation) What effect does remaining in Jesus have on our prayer life? (“ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”). What is the reason for us bearing fruit in our lives? (for God’s glory).
- (Application) Do you feel you are remaining in Jesus? Are you remaining in his love? What are the challenges you are facing? What successes have you experienced? How are you feeling in your prayer life? How would you like to grow in your relationship with Jesus this year?
- VV. 9-11 (observation) What is the result of keeping God’s commands? (we will remain in his love) (interpretation) What does the Father’s love for Jesus look like? What did Jesus’ love for his disciples look like? (interpretation) People often think of Christianity as a joyless observation of commands. What answer to that idea is contained in these verses? (application) Is it your experience?
- VV. 12-13 & 17 (observation) What does Jesus clearly command his disciples to do in verse 12 & 17? (love each other as he has loved us). What does that love look like? (“lay down our life”) (interpretation/application) What does “laying down our life” look like practically? Can you think of some examples? How could we “lay down our lives” for each other in this group?
- VV. 14-15 (observation) What does Jesus call us if we do what he commands? (friends) (interpretation) What do you think it means to be called “friends” instead of “servants” (also observation, in verse 15 Jesus says that he will tell us “his Father’s business” – what could that look like?)
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.
- Many of us have been following Jesus for a long time. Others have been following only for a short time. Both groups though often don’t take time to allow that initial introduction to Jesus to deepen into an intimate knowing.
David Benner says in his book, The Gift of Being Yourself:
“Though we glibly talk about a personal relationship with God, many of us know God less well than we know our casual acquaintances. Too easily we have settled for knowing about God. Too easily our relationship with God is remarkably superficial.”
Break into smaller groups of 2 or 3. Discuss, do you feel that you are a friend of God or a servant? Do you feel chosen by Him? Do you feel loved unconditionally by Him? Why or why not? What is holding you back from really receiving God’s love? Pray for each other to be able to receive the love of God and understand their place in Him.
- Many Christians have used a practice called imaginative prayer to have a deeper encounter with Jesus. Practice this with your group. You can use this passage or another of the gospel accounts that you would prefer. Read aloud Luke 18:35-43. Read it slowly and intentionally. Allow your group member to absorb the words. The first time, read it and have everyone listen (no one reading along with you). No need to journal or do anything. Then read it aloud again. This time tell everyone to put themselves somewhere in the story while you read. Maybe they are an observer or they are the blind man himself. Ask them to pay attention to their feelings while they are in the scene. How do they feel about Jesus, frustrated? Amazed? Curious? What do they want to do? How do they react to Jesus from where they are in the story? Finally, read it one more time while they put themselves in the scene again. This time, write down your reactions and feelings at being in the scene. Break into small groups and discuss your experience with this kind of prayer.