Message Based Studies

Christmas at the Movies

How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

Matthew 2:1-18

Revelation 19:11-16; Luke 19:1-10

(December 16-22, 2018)

The original animated movie "How The Grinch Stole Christmas!" (1966), based on a book by Dr. Seuss, has become an annual favorite of children and adults alike to watch during the Christmas holiday. When it comes to Christmas, are you more like the Grinch (grumpy inside and out), Max his loyal dog (just following instructions to get by) or Cindy Lou Who (selfless and finding joy in Christmas for the right reasons)? 

Answer and discuss the following question with your group 

1. Summarize the plot of the original movie, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas!" What are some things you like about the movie? 

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!”

Herod receives word that a king had been born. Some wise men show up in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, that is where the palace was. He must be there, so they ask, "Where is this king? We would like to pay our respects."

To say that Herod is disturbed by this news is to put it lightly. If this is true, which he believes is not true because he has not fathered a child, and if there is an attempt to overthrow him from his throne, there will be massive consequences. He had done this before. He had three of his sons killed. He had his wife killed. He was a murderous old man. The Roman Empire said it was safer to be Herod’s pig than to be Herod’s son.

He was a mean one. Upon Herod’s impending death, he had moved his residence to Jericho. He gave orders that a collection of the most distinguished citizens come to Jericho. He had them arrested and thrown in prison, and when he died the order was to kill them all. He was aware that on his death no one would shed a tear. So, he was determined that someone would cry at his death.

He was a mean one.

The wise men go and find the King. They worship him and give him gifts. It is all good. An amazing trip. They found the baby, they found Jesus. Their mission complete. They had found what they were looking for. In fact, I think they found more than they were looking for. 

Read Matthew 2:1-18 and Revelation 19:11-16 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2. Explain how King Herod was more like the Grinch and how the three wise men were more like the Whos in Whoville. Compare and contrast King Herod with the three wise men in terms of their motivations after learning about Jesus' birth (vv. 2, 13), their actions in response to Jesus' birth (vv. 11, 16) and the condition of their hearts (vv. 3, 10). Why do you think the birth of Jesus caused these strong reactions? 

3. Based on Matthew 2:15 and 17, how do the events surrounding Jesus' birth support his divine identity?

4. Although the passage from Matthew focuses on the baby Jesus, explain how Jesus is described in Revelation 19:11-16. Does this description of Jesus intimidate you, like King Herod, or cause you to worship Jesus, like the three wise men?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!”

No one liked a tax collector. Zach was no exception. He had become massively wealthy and powerful. He had a big, big house with plenty of servants. He was king. But Jesus was coming to town. This was a big deal. He wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

The Bible says that Zach was short. No one was letting him up front on the parade route. My guess? Lots of pushing and shoving. A few elbows. Zach was taking notes. This was going to cost these people. So he climbs up in a tree. He wants to see this teacher.

There he is, and he stops, stops at the tree and says to him, "Come on down, I want to have lunch with you."

What? Is this madness. Why would Jesus of all people go to the Grinch’s house? Does he not know who he is talking to? He is off limits. No one has lunch with Zach. Can’t you just see it, Jesus and Zach walking up the lane to his mansion? No one has even been in that house.

Read Luke 19:1-10 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5. Zacchaeus was another kind of Grinch, collecting taxes from his fellow Jews for the Roman government and collecting extra for himself. His heart, like the Grinch's, was "two sizes too small." However, unlike Herod, Zacchaeus met Jesus and had an open heart to his teaching. Explain why Zacchaeus' "small heart grew three sizes that day."

 6. What external actions of Zacchaeus reveal his internal change of heart?
What did Zacchaeus think was important before meeting Jesus and after meeting Jesus? 

Reflection and Wrap-up 

7. Explain how the description of Jesus in Revelation 19:11-16 should influence your decision to follow Jesus today.

8. How can being sacrificial (like the Grinch in the animated movie and the actual account of Zacchaeus in the Gospel of Luke), instead of being selfish, help you realize the true reason to celebrate Christmas? 

9. When Jesus called, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately," Zacchaeus responded. How have you responded?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about the message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Matthew 1:21

·      John 1:14

·      Galatians 4:4-5

·      Isaiah 7:14



Christmas at The Movies

Home Alone

(December 9-15, 2018)

There is a deep spiritual hunger in this country. The real epidemic in our culture is not only physical heart disease, but also what I call emotional and spiritual heart disease. The profound sense of loneliness, isolation, alienation, and depression that are so prevalent in our culture with the breakdown of the social structures that used to provide us with a sense of connection and community. It is, to me, a root of the illness, cynicism, and violence in our society.

We are creatures of community. Those individuals, societies, and cultures who learned to take care of each other, to love each other, and to nurture relationships with each other during the past several hundred thousand years were more likely to survive than those who did not. Those people who did not learn to take care of each other often did not make it. In our culture, the idea of spending time taking care of each other and creating communities has become increasingly rare. Ignoring these ideas imperils our survival.

                                                                        - Dr. Dean Ornish, MD. https://www.ornish.com 

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    What does it take for a person to feel connected to others rather than lonely through a holiday season?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Home Alone”

Jesus is born – God with us. The invisible becomes visible.

Isaiah 41:13 NLT [says], “For I hold you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’”

He could literally do this – and what a wonderful picture! Walking hand in hand with Jesus. With those amazing words, “I am here to help you.”

He was here to help. So we would not be afraid – he is with us. Christmas. One of Jesus’ main themes when he was on earth was don’t be afraid – I am with you.

Even his very lasts words to his disciples before he leaves the planet… “And I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” 

Read the passages and answer/discuss the questions.

2.    Read Mathew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14. We know that the Son of God being born as the baby Jesus was the moment this promise began to be true. Scan the Gospel of Matthew and list a few other moments in the life of Jesus when people were award that Jesus was “God with us”. 

3.    Scanning again through Matthew chapters 1 & 2, make a list of some moments when Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus’ birth brought people together. 

4.    Read John 14:15-21. The Christ follower is promised the presence of God – the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus. How would you describe your awareness, or struggle to have an awareness, of God’s presence with you in the past 30 days?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Home Alone”

That is one of the reasons that God gave us the church. We are called not to just believe in God but to belong with each other. We have always been created for community. Yes, we have a personal relationship with God through Jesus, but our faith is not private. We belong to each other.

We read in Romans 12:5 NIV, “in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

To be a “member” of a church means that we are vital to each other. The church is a body not a building. We need each other. One of the things that I notice about spiritual decline is that often the first sign of that is sporadic church attendance. We are slowly disconnecting. Rick Warren writes that the person who says “I don’t need the church” is either arrogant or ignorant. The church is so important that Jesus died for the church. 

Read Romans 12:5-16 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    From this passage, which of these actions do you experience occasionally or frequently when you attend a church service on a Sunday?

6.    From this passage, which of these actions happens (or could happen) by being involved in a small group of believers that meets regularly?

7.    What is this passage challenging you to do or to change?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    Take a moment to describe a person you know who is a clear, positive example of experiencing the presence of God in their life AND being connected to the people around them.

9.    From this lesson on loneliness and togetherness, what will you do this Christmas season to experience God with you as an individual and God with us with the people you will be around during the holiday? 

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Isaiah 41:10-13

·      Psalm 23

·      Romans 12


Unfinished – Not Finished in Me

Philippians 1:3-6
December 2-8, 2018

“If you have done ministry stuff, if you have given yourself over to the cause, there is a realization that you are really making a difference for all eternity. You get to be a part of some of the most important moments of people’s lives.”

– Mark Chitwood, Not Finished in Me (this message).

 Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    What have you done or been a part of that will last for a long time? How long do you think it will last? 1 month/year/decade? More?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Not Finished in Me.”

One of the ways that many of you partner in ministry is by giving. Your gifts make it possible to do so many things that advance the good news of Jesus. From paying staff to providing equipment and scholarships for camps, your gifts make things possible.

Recently I was having a conversation with a person. He said this, “I am never going to preach a sermon or sing a song, but I can make money. I know I am good at that. And I can help make a difference with my generosity.”

That is so true. Your gifts that you give – big or small – make an impact. 

Refer to Philippians 4:15-19, to answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    Reflect on a situation in which you were generous toward someone’s need. How did you feel?
Have those feeling changed about that situation since then. If so, how?

3.    Think about how giving to support a missionary or a preacher (such as Paul) advances the purpose of Christ. How would you explain to someone the ways giving to a church advances the mission of Christ?

4.    How can Paul’s attitude toward giving and receiving enable you to be a better giver? 

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Not Finished in Me.”

Jesus began a good work in you! And he is just getting started. His goal is to make you and me into something amazing. A work of art. It is as if Jesus is painting a picture of you and when he is finished it is going to be amazing.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

I am not an artist. I can’t draw or paint a picture. I want to and I suppose if I really wanted to I would take some lessons. I just can’t see stuff and put it down on a canvas. I was talking to an artist. I asked him how he decided what to put on the canvass. He said, “I have to decide what not to put on first.”

Jesus is starting over with us and is deciding what should go on the canvass and what should not be put on it. Bob Goff said it like this, “We can’t be new creations if everything stays the same.”

Refer to Colossians 3:12-14 to answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    Which of the characteristics found in this passage are part of Jesus’ new work in you?
In what ways are you different now than when you started to follow Christ?

6.    Our new nature is like putting on new clothing for a new purpose in life. Describe how one of the characteristics in this passage especially helps you accomplish Christ’s purpose?

7.    Looking at Colossians 3:14, what do we read about how love binds all the characteristics together in a consistent whole?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    We are to be motivated by love in our giving. How will you make sure your generosity is motivated by love rather than self-interest? 

9.    Describe a season of spiritual growth in your life that was started or strengthened by a commitment you made to be generous.

Pray Together as a Group

 Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      John 3:1-21

·      2 Corinthians 5:14-21

·      2 Corinthians 8:1-9











Unfinished -- Not Finished in All the World

Luke 10:1-3 and 10:25-37
Acts 9:10-15

(November 25-December 1, 2018)

According to J.B. Cachila in the article titled, “Why Is It So Hard to Love Others?” the Lord Jesus told us that we ought to love our neighbors as ourselves. This command is non-negotiable: we should love our fellow Christians and those who are not Christians around us and around the world. Many of us, however, find it really hard to love others. We find it difficult, even impossible, to do. And no matter how much we try to reach out to others, we just can't sustain it; we end up walking away wounded and more unable to love others with God's love. (Christianity Today, March 2018)

Answer and discuss the following question with your group

1. Do you agree with Cachila’s statement that many of us find it difficult to love Christians and those who are not Christians around the world? Why or why not? 

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1
An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Not Finished in All the World”.

So Jesus says – what is written in the law? How do you read it? The lawyer knew the answer. You would have had to be living under a rock not to know that answer if you grew up as a Jew. Maybe the lawyer had another question to ask – a real zinger. This was the set up. But he answers, “Love the lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” The way you loved God like that? Keep the Law of Moses. You keep God’s law – you keep God happy. Love God and love your neighbor. “OK,” Jesus says, “Do this and you will live.” End of conversation. End of story. This is what it is all about. This is what Moses was all about. This is what the entire Old Testament is about. Jesus takes it to an interesting place. Love for God looked a lot like love for your neighbor. Anyone who had mistreated a neighbor didn’t love God. You can’t love God and not love your neighbor.  

Read Luke 10:25-37 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2. From Luke 10:30, we know a man was traveling from one city to another just a typical activity. On the way he was robbed, stripped, beaten and left for dead. Many believers and nonbelievers in our world also experience things in their everyday life that leave them feeling stripped and beaten. What are some examples we read about in newspapers, online or see on the news?

3. In Leviticus 19:18, God told the people of Israel to love their own people (neighbors) as they would love themselves. In Luke 10:31-33 we read about three different individuals coming upon the man who had been robbed:

1) a priest who represents the religious community and was specifically not to touch the unclean;
2) a descendent of Levi who would have been right behind the priest in society standing;
3) a Samaritan who was a mixed race of people considered to be inferior and hated by the Jews. 

     Based on this information what surprises you about the men’s reactions and which ones might reflect how you react to the needs of others in the world?  

4. Based on Luke 10:34-35, how did the Samaritan meet the needs of the man who had been robbed?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2
An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Not Finished in All the World”

For the longest time no one took the gospel past Judea. It was a struggle, “Is this really for everyone? Does God really love the world?” For a while the early disciples nodded at it. Perhaps believed it, but no one did anything about it. So, God got involved. He tapped a man named Saul on the shoulder. “You are going to be my guy to take the good news to the Gentiles.” We have got to get past these borders, past the people who think and look just like us.

Read Luke 10:1-3 and Acts 9:10-15 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5. Luke 10:1-3 tells us 70 disciples were sent to spread the good news of Jesus ahead of him. In Acts 9:10-15, we see God choosing a very unlikely character. Paul, a man well educated in the Jewish traditions who was out to destroy Jesus and his followers.
- What was different about God’s plan for Paul than the 70 disciples? 

6. If we believe that Jesus is the Lord of the Harvest (Luke 10:2) and that he has called us to love our neighbors (Luke 10:36-37), what implications does this have for us as individuals and for StoneBridge as a church? 

Reflection and Wrap-up

7. What changes might you have to make to share the gospel and take care of believers and nonbelievers around the world? 

8. As you consider the Unfinished campaign and the establishment of 10 churches in India, how can your group pray faithfully for these efforts?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

 If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about the message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Matthew 28:16-20

·      Matthew 5:13-16

·      1 John 2:2

·      Romans 10:16-18


Unfinished -- Not Finished in Our State 

Luke 15:11-32

Acts 1:8

(November 18-24, 2018) 

Jojo was a man who thought he was a loner

But he knew it wouldn't last

Jojo left his home in Tucson, Arizona

For some California grass



Get back, get back

Get back to where you once belonged

Get back, get back

Get back to where you once belonged

Get back Jojo, go home

--"Get Back" by The Beatles with Billy Preston

The Beatles' "Get Back" may not be your first choice for a hymn to celebrate the prodigal son's return, but it does reflect that we have all tried to follow our own way. Although "a person may think their own ways are right" (Ps. 21:2), some come to realize their need to get back home where they belong. In addition to the message to "go home," however, "Get Back" is notable because it is the only song The Beatles credited to a non-Beatle. Despite being released in the turbulent and racially-charged environment of the 1960's, the Fab Four added to their ranks and this song's credits an African-American keyboardist named Billy Preston. Similarly, the church today needs to be the leader in disregarding differences, actively taking the gospel to everyone and being a place where anyone can join our ranks and find their way back home. The gospel of John informs us that "Jesus replied, 'All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.'" (John. 14:23) What is your role in helping StoneBridge become such a church in our city, state and world?

Answer and discuss the following question with your group

1. Do you think there are qualifications or conditions on a person's ability to attend and even be welcomed at church? Why or why not? 

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Not Finished in Our State”.

Did you catch it? The older brother looked at his brother and was unwilling to let him in. He himself had stayed out of trouble. He could not stand the fact that his brother had messed up and that he now wants to come home. He was so bothered by it he didn’t even go to the party. He complained. I never messed up like that and I never got a party, but this son of yours – not but "my brother", nope, but "this son of yours" ­– blew his money on all kinds of horrible things and you throw a party for him.

Now he is mad with this dad. He moved from being disappointed with his brother to being disappointed with his dad.

My fear is that I have been way too much like the older brother – that churches have been that way, too. We need to be running to, not from. That is really what is at the heart of StoneBridge. We believe our number one priority as a church is to run to people who are far from God.

Jesus told this story in response to the fact that Jesus welcomed sinners and eats with them. Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost, and when they are found then we can throw a party.

Read Luke 15:11-32 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2. Jesus' parable of the "prodigal" or "lost" son is an illustration of our heavenly Father's never ending love for us, even when we reject him. However, the father's response when the prodigal son returns home is also a critical part of the parable. Based on verse 13, what led the son to leave and believe for a time he did not need his father? What motivated the son to come to his senses and return home?

3. Explain the father's response upon the son's return – both his emotions and his actions. Compare and contrast the division caused by the sin of the younger son with the unity created by the loving father.

4. Based on the father's response to his son's return, in terms of both his heart and his actions, how should churches today actively reach out to those who are far from Jesus?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2
An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Not Finished in Our State”

Last weekend we started this message series called Unfinished. Our mission from Jesus is this. Acts 1:8: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere--in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." These are some of Jesus’ last words that he tells his disciples. They are massively important. He chose his words carefully.

Last weekend we talked about our "Jerusalem." Today let’s talk about our "Judea." The Good News of Jesus was not to be confined to just a city, it was to become regional and global.

Read Acts 1:8 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5. Judea during Jesus' ministry was a large region, similar to a state with borders in modern times. Judea had many large and small cities, including Jerusalem, Bethany, Bethlehem, Hebron, Gaza, Emmaus and Jericho. Judea bordered Egypt to the south, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the Dead Sea and portions of the Jordan River to the east, and the region of Samaria to the north. With this background, explain what Jesus meant in Acts 1:8. What kinds of sacrifices do you think the initial followers of Jesus made so people they did not know in places they did not live could receive the gospel?

6. Based on the description of Judea above, what areas would be "our Judea" where StoneBridge is located today?

Reflection and Wrap-up

7. When it comes to inviting and accepting people to church who may be different from you, are you more like the father of the prodigal son, who loved and welcomed the son home, or the older brother, who just saw his brother's sin?

8. As you consider the Unfinished campaign, what can you do personally to be a part of StoneBridge's expansion not only in Omaha, but throughout Nebraska and beyond?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study 

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about the message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Romans 5:6-8

·      Luke 5:32

·      Acts 2:38-39

·      Acts 20:21

Unfinished – Not Finished in Our City

November 11-17, 2018

Jesus didn’t tell his friends, “Go into all the world and make Christians.” But he did tell them to go into the world and make disciples. In fact, the Bible uses the word disciple 269 times. As Dallas Willard writes, “The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples.”               - John Ortberg, Eternity is Now in Session

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    What do you think is the difference between a Christian and a disciple? Why do you think the word disciple is so prevalent in the teachings of Jesus? 

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Not Finished in Our City.”

What are they (the disciples) supposed to do?

Go and make disciples of all nations – baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – teach them to observe all that I have commanded you…

That is it. Here is what Jesus wants us to do. All of us. Not optional stuff. We all get to play a part of getting this done. Since he has all authority we are to go and make disciples of all nations. This is for everyone. Not just you guys. Not just folks in this town. It is for everyone. Jesus is for everyone.

Refer to Matthew 28:16-20, and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”  Where did that authority come from?

3.    In whose name(s) were the disciples to baptize the new disciples? 

4.    What were the disciples told to teach the new disciples?  Why do you think Jesus thought it was important to include this in his instructions? 

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Not Finished in Our City.”

Every generation of Christians is required to engage their generation with the claims of Jesus. Are you ready to defend your decision to follow Jesus – because you care about your generation. 

Most people who walked away from faith walked away for reasons that had almost nothing to do with Jesus. They walked away from the rules and regulations of a church. They walked away from Christians who seemed more concerned about right and wrong than love and justice.

Refer to 1Peter 3:15-16 & Philippians 3:10-14 to answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    How can we be prepared to “give an answer” when asked about our faith?  

6.    Why would someone ask us about our faith? How can others see our hope in Christ? 

7.    In Philippians 3:10 and 11, what does Paul say he wants for himself?

8.    How determined does Paul sound in Philippians 3:12-14? 

Reflection and Wrap-up

9.    How would you relate Paul and Peter’s comments to the discipleship, or the “great commission” that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28?

10. To whom can you model being a disciple? How can you prepare to be an effective model of a disciple to them?

Pray Together as a Group 

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Mark 3:13-15

·      Luke 24:44-49

·      John 8:31-32

·      John 13:34-35


The Greatest Showman-The Impossible Comes True

Believe & Be Alive

John 11:1-44

(November 4-10, 2018)

“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 TLB

These words were written down by the apostle Paul, to help us see that we are living a new life just as much as the people Jesus miraculously brought back to life. This lesson from John 11 tells us about Jesus calling his dead friend Lazarus out of the grave after being dead four days. Lazarus was still Lazarus but he was alive - given a new life. Once dead but made alive. Belief in this miracle of Jesus places our heart and mind in a position to believe that our dead soul can be made alive in relationship with Christ. The old things of life are not merely dead and gone – “passed away” – but, “behold, they are become new” (ASV). It is a regeneration of an old, ruined life into a full and amazing new life that lasts forever.

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    List some aspects of current culture or personal struggles in life that you think many people around you wish could be totally different, new or vibrant?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Believe & Be Alive”

“God causes things to happen at exactly the right time! Your job is not to figure out when, but to make up your mind that you won't give up until you cross the finish line and are living in the radical, outrageous blessings of God! The more you trust Jesus and keep your eyes focused on Him, the more life you'll have. Trusting God brings life. Believing brings rest. So stop trying to figure everything out, and let God be God in your life.” (Joyce Meyer quote)

So often we try to figure out God. His timing and his goodness. Perhaps this is why Jesus had such a great relationship with Mary and Martha and Lazarus – they simply trusted. “Your brother will rise again…”

Read John 11:1-27 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    Jesus set his own timeline in responding to a desperate message from his friends – “Your friend is dying.” What insights does this give you concerning expectations when you tell Jesus your problems (in prayer)?

3.    What do the disciples fear (verses 8, 16)? 

4.    Looking at Thomas’ response in verse 16 have you ever (like Thomas) felt Jesus was calling you to do something risky? What happened?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Believe & Be Alive”

The impossible becomes true. Lazarus is alive!

“Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

His body had been wrapped. His body anointed with spices. He could not move his arms. He could not see. He could just shuffle. That’s it! He needed to be let loose. Now he is free. Free to live again. Free to love and laugh and breathe again. Joy is all around! From tears of sorrow to tears of joy. From death to life. He had come alive.

By the way, Jesus still calls dead people to life.

Read John 11:28-44 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    Since Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus (11:11), how do you explain Jesus crying (11:35)?

6.    How does Martha’s objection to opening the grave (11:39) contrast with her confidence earlier (11:22)?

7.    How does Jesus’ responses to people and his actions – including crying – help you trust him more through your challenges?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    When have you been faced with a tough situation recently that stretched your faith? What would be different for you if that struggle had just been avoided? 

9.    Spiritually, do you see yourself as: Dead and buried? Alive but wearing grave clothes? Alive and set free? Explain.

Pray Together as a Group 

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      1 John 5:10-12

·      Colossians 3:1-4

·      2 Corinthians 5:16-21





The Greatest Showman-The Impossible Comes True

Desperate for Relief (Dead Made Alive)

Mark 5:21-34

(October 28-November 4, 2018)

Paul Singafus, in his blogpost, When You Don’t Fit in at Church, states we don’t need to belong everywhere. When you can’t find a sense of belonging in communities or relationships that don’t matter much to you, leaving (or just not joining) is an obvious and easy choice. But in places or relationships that do matter, belonging is indispensable. Feeling like an outsider in your own church, marriage, family, or any community or relationship that you cherish isn’t just ironic; it’s devastating. We rightfully look to those places for connection, meaning, and identity. But when authentic belonging remains perpetually out of reach in a relationship or a community that you value, you’re left with pretty painful options: leaving or pretending.
                                                                                        - http://paulsigafus.com 

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    Why is it important to feel like you fit in at church? 

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Desperate for Relief”

“When they land they are met by a man named Jairus. He is the leader of the synagogue. He is not a priest. He does not do the priestly duties, but he is like the chairman of the board of elders. He is highly respected. His daughter is ill. She is 12 years old. He throws himself at the feet of Jesus and begs. He normally would not have had anything to do with Jesus. Jairus would have viewed Jesus as an outsider – a trouble maker – a blasphemer. He probably did not know him, but he had been told about him.

Refer to Mark 5:21-34 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    Considering the message excerpt and scripture passage, what brought Jairus to Jesus and what barriers might have prevented the meeting?

3.    From the passage, we know the woman came to Jesus after she had spent all of her money on doctors to make her well. Her illness was embarrassing and humiliating – but it was worse than that – it made her religiously unclean and shut off from the worship of God and the fellowship of her friends.
What experiences, life circumstances or events cause people to feel shut off from God and their friends?

4.    In your opinion, what did these two people believe about Jesus that brought them to him?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Desperate for Relief”

My guess is that some of you listening today have felt just like this woman did – shut out. For whatever reason something might have even shut us out from our family, or our church. You need to reach out – reach out to Jesus. Not only can he heal you, he can restore you.

Answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    What barriers or fears do people experience when they come to a church for the first time or consider returning for another visit? 

6.    As you think about the worship experience at StoneBridge Christian Church, how are people able to experience Jesus?

7.    Sometimes people who come to church need to meet Jesus through others.  What are some things everyone can do to be Jesus to those who come to church?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    As you reflect on this lesson, what do you need to ask God to do in your life to bring others to church or help those that come feel accepted?

9.    What is one thing you can do each Sunday to help people feel accepted at church?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      John 3:33

·      Acts 8:14

·      Romans 15:7

·      Acts 11:1-10





The Greatest Showman: Walking on Water 

Matthew 14:22-33

Job 9:8; Psalm 77:19

(October 21-27, 2018) 

         In C.S. Lewis' story "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the characters Susan and Lucy ask Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan (the character in the story representing Jesus).  Mr. Beaver explains:

         "Aslan a man? Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the woods and the son of the great Emperor beyond the Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”

         “Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

         “That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

         “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

         “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about being safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1. Explain a time when you showed, or when you saw someone close to you show, great courage. What made this event so memorable?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Walking on Water”.

Don’t be afraid. Take Courage. It is I.

Would the presence of Jesus in your life bring you hope? Or scare the living tar out of us? Not everyone would want him around, even when there is a storm. Maybe you have been through a storm in your life, things were pretty rough, you didn’t know what to do. You blamed God for the storm and you didn’t want anything to do with him. Paddled for as long as you could, away from Him. Even when he came your way, it wasn’t what you wanted.

But now when you look back, if only you would have listened to his voice of strength.

Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.

His presence alone in the midst of the storm is enough. 

Read Matthew 14:22-27; Job 9:8 and Psalm 77:19 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2. The account of Jesus walking on water (as told by Matthew, a disciple of Jesus) informs us that "the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves" (Matthew 14:24). How does this important context support the validity of Jesus' miracle? Explain how this miracle, when read in the context of Job 9:8 and Psalm 77:19, supports Jesus' divine identity.

3. When have you needed to hear Jesus tell you, "Don't be afraid, take courage, I am here"? When you are in the midst of one of life's storms, do you blame God or hold fast to him as an anchor to steady you despite the heavy waves?

4. A phrase often heard today is: “Sometimes God calms the storm, sometimes he calms the child." What does this phrase mean to you? Can weathering a storm actually strengthen our faith? Explain.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, "Walking on Water".

What an amazing moment as Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on water. Here is the second miracle. Peter is walking on the water. By the way, this is the point of the miracle. Peter walked on the water. Now Pete does sink. He does look around, he takes his eyes off of Jesus, fear grips him again…he starts to realize, "I should not be out here." But Pete does walk on the water. Besides Jesus, he is the only human to do this.

What if we asked this question to Jesus, "Lord if it is you, tell me to come out there?" Where do you think we would end up? You might end up having coffee with your co-worker who is struggling with depression. You might end up on a mission trip building houses in Mexico. You might end up working for a non-profit. You might end up helping at Open Door Mission.

Only if you decide to get out of the boat. The real miracle here happens when you get out of the boat. Some of you have stayed in the boat, even when Jesus called you out. You have never known the moment of trust when you have to leave the safety and security of the boat for the wind and the waves of the sea. You see, I think he is constantly calling us out to something we would have never dreamed possible. To something so crazy that the only way to stay above water is to keep looking at Jesus.

My guess is that you have some excuses for not getting out of the boat, too busy, too scary, not qualified, disqualified, too sinful….

Read Matthew 14:28-33 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5. Peter had the courage to step out of the boat before Jesus' calmed the storm. Compare and contrast the consequences of Peter's faith in Jesus during the storm with Peter's fear of his circumstances during the storm.

6. How can Peter's fear and doubt encourage you when you experience fear and doubt? Where did Peter look to for safety during his fear and doubt?

Reflection and Wrap-up 

7. Do you think God wants you to stay in the safety and security of your boat or to take steps of faith to grow spiritually? Have you had the courage to ask Jesus what he wants you to do?

8. Peter looked to Jesus when he struggled in his circumstances. Do you think courageously following Jesus in your relationships, marriage, job, finances, parenting, etc., could improve these circumstances? Explain.

9. Explain how Jesus "isn't safe. But he's good."

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about the message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Isaiah 43:2

·      Mark 6:45-52



The Greatest Showman: What Do You See?

Luke 19:1-10

October 14-20, 2018 

I will follow you

Follow you wherever you may go

There isn't an ocean too deep

A mountain so high it can keep me away

 

I must follow you

Ever since you touched my hand I know

That near you I always must be

And nothing can keep you from me

You are my destiny

 

I love you, I love you, I love you

And where you go I'll follow, I'll follow, I'll follow

You'll always be my true love, my true love, my true love

From now until forever, forever, forever

                                                I Will Follow You, Ricky Nelson

Where you go, I'll go
Where you stay, I'll stay
When you move, I'll move
I will follow

All your ways are good
All your ways are sure
I will trust in you alone
Higher than my side
High above my life
I will trust in you alone

                                                                                    I Will Follow,             Chris Tomlin

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    These are only 2 of many songs about following. Why do you think so many popular songs are about following? What do you think it means to follow Jesus?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “What Do You See?”

Maybe there’s someone at your office, school, neighborhood, maybe even your family and you know without a doubt that they are NOT a Christian:

   They don’t go to church.
   They brag about sleeping around.
   They brag about getting wasted.
   They speak constantly using bad language.
   They cheat.
   They lie.
   They abuse alcohol.
   They worship other gods.
   They worship no god.
   They may even be hostile towards Christians.

What do you see when you see that person at your office, your school, your neighborhood or your family? How do you think Jesus sees that person?

Refer to John 21:1-14, and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    Have you ever been on a fishing trip with friends where you caught nothing? How would you have responded if someone from the shore said you need to fish off the other side of the boat?

3.    Do you think the disciples were expecting to see Jesus that morning? How did it affect them when he arrived? How did they respond?

4.    Think of someone you know who may fit the description in the message excerpt above. Now, answer the questions at the end of the excerpt (above). Finally, how do you think Jesus saw the disciples? How do you think Jesus sees you? 

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “What Do You See?”

I want to be clear; God does not endorse sin.  He does not sit in the bleachers cheering on sinful behavior. You would not find Jesus doing strip club evangelism. But, what Jesus does see is…

·      What a person could be;

·      The life they could have in Christ;

·      The freedom from guilt and shame;

·      And the healing and transformation that could happen.

God wants to bring His most treasured creation – people – back to his family. Jesus came to seek and to save what was lost. 

Refer to Luke 19:1-10 to answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    How did the people of Jericho see Zacchaeus? What did they say when Jesus said he was going to Zacchaeus’ home?

6.    How did Zacchaeus respond to the invitation from Jesus? How did spending time with Jesus affect the way Zacchaeus was living? What did it mean to Zacchaeus to follow Jesus?

7.    Why do you think Zacchaeus had lived a different life prior to meeting Jesus?

8.    What did Jesus say about Zacchaeus and the Son of Man at the end of his visit? (v. 9-10)

Reflection and Wrap-up

9.    Do you think you have encountered people in your life that are/were similar to Zacchaeus?  How have you shown that you noticed them? 

10. Jesus saw opportunities to show compassion and grace. How can we be better at noticing those who could benefit from our own compassion and grace? How can doing so make us better followers of Jesus?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Luke 5:1-11

·      Matthew 9:9-12

·      John 10:22-30

·      John 21:15-19


The Greatest Showman: The Impossible Comes True

“Water into Wine”

John 2:1-11

October 7-13, 2018 

“Distrust your religion unless it is cheerful, unless it turns every act and deed to music and exults in attempts to catch the harmony of the new life.”
            – Phillips Brooks; pastor & lyricist of the hymn, "O Little Town of Bethlehem".

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” – C. S. Lewis; author

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    Describe a time that your life in Christ could be described as joyful, cheerful, delightful, or festive. How could that be a more frequent description of your life?

 Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Water into Wine”.

John is writing this to let the Greeks know that – you have your stories, your fables, your legends. You all know those are made up. You know they are not true. But Jesus has come to do what you have always dreamed that your gods could do. He has come to make the impossible come true.

This was impossible. This could not have happened, but it was not some fairy tale or wild story. John makes sure we know that this is real, but more than that, John was wanting us to know something even more than turning water to wine.

You see without Jesus life is dull. Without Jesus life is like a party without good wine. Life is flat and stale and cheap. But with him life is thrilling and fun. It is a party! 

Refer to John 2:1-11 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    What is the most surprising part of this story from the life of Jesus?

3.    Mary, Jesus’ mother, asked him to solve a problem. Describe a time that you helped solve a problem more because someone asked for your help rather than that you noticed the need yourself. 

4.    Describe how important (or not important) the stories of Jesus’ miracles are to your faith in Jesus.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Water into Wine”

You see, I think heaven is going to be more like a parade or a wedding than anything else, and if living on earth is preparation for heaven, then life here should be like a parade or like attending a wedding. Jesus came to bring us life – not just eternal life – but life! And life to the full!

My guess is that when John is writing this all down he included this story not only because it was the first of many miracles, but because for him – wherever Jesus went – it was as if he was turning water into wine. He was letting us know if you follow Jesus your life will change, and it will be like turning water into wine. 

Refer to John 10:7-15 to answer/discuss the following questions.

6.    What has Jesus done (and what does he continue to do) that gives us real life?

7.    Following Jesus brings a satisfying, abundant life. Describe 2 or 3 ways that your everyday life may be full of a satisfaction and joy that come only from your relationship with Jesus.

8.    Read Romans 14:16-18. How would you describe the connection of living life like it’s a joyful party and living a life of goodness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit? 

Reflection and Wrap-up

9.    What point in your life was significant in terms of “putting your faith in Jesus” or of “hearing the voice” of the Good Shepherd (Jesus)?

10. How do you keep your heart and mind focused on hearing Jesus’ voice and trusting in his power to make the impossible happen around and for you? How do these bring you joy?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Nehemiah 8:1-12

·      Psalm 95

·      Philippians 4:4-9

·      Revelation 19:1-9




“Money Works”

Trust

Proverbs 3:9-10, Malachi 3:8-10, Luke 6:38

September 30-October 6, 2018 

“In God We Trust,” goes the motto of the United States. In God, and apparently little else.  Only a third of Americans now trust their government “to do what is right”—a decline of 14 percentage points from last year, according to a new report by the communications marketing firm Edelman. Forty-two percent trust the media, relative to 47 percent a year ago. Trust in business and non-governmental organizations, while somewhat higher than trust in government and the media, decreased by 10 and nine percentage points, respectively. Edelman, which for 18 years has been asking people around the world about their level of trust in various institutions, has never before recorded such steep drops in trust in the United States.”
                                                                        - Uri Fiedman, Jan. 21, 2018, Atlantic Monthly

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.     Why do you think it is difficult to trust people, organizations and the government?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Trust”

How do you know if you can trust God? Well that is a great question. You have to investigate. So you read the Bible and you have to decide if the Bible can be trusted as well. Is it reliable? And that can take a while to figure out. If things are going to move forward in any relationship you have to decide, “Can I trust them?” If not, the relationship stands still at best. And if you find, “I can’t trust them” then usually the answer is, “I am out of here.”

Answer/discuss the following questions 

2.    Think of someone you consider trustworthy. What makes them worthy of your trust?

3.    We all know the national motto “In God We Trust.” However, not everyone trusts in God.  What are some reasons people give for not trusting God? 

4.    Read Romans 3:21-24. As Christians we trust God for our salvation. While God is fully worthy of our trust, we often act like we don’t trust him. What would be some examples in your life where you don’t trust God or act like you don’t trust him?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Trust”.

To me (and there are a lot of things that establish trust with God) when Jesus says that he is going to die and then in three days come back to life…to me that is the kicker, because that one is a big deal. Dead people don’t come back to life. So if he says he is going to do it and he doesn’t, pretty sure trust goes out the window because it doesn’t take much to blow trust up.

Answer/discuss the following questions.

5.     Read Proverbs 3:9-10. What does it mean to you to honor God with your wealth and first fruits?

6.    Read Malachi 3:8-10. According to these verses, what do you think it means to cheat God and put him to the test?

7.    Read Luke 6:38. People say you can’t out give God. What do you learn about how God responds to our giving?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    God promises when we give he will provide for us in a manner that is overflowing. What are some ways you have experienced God’s overflowing goodness?

9.    God calls us to test him to see if he will be faithful. What is one area in your life that you need to trust God with your money?

Pray Together as a Group 

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Psalm 25:2

·      Psalm 31:14

·      Isaiah 26:4

·      Isaiah 12:2









"Money Works"

Contentment

Psalm 23:1-3; Matthew 23:23

Philippians 4:10-19

(September 23-29, 2018)

When I can't see, you lead me;

When I can't hear, you show me;

When I can't stand, you carry me;

When I'm lost, you will find me;

When I'm weak, you are mighty;

You are everything I need

                                                                                                (Lauren Daigle, Everything)

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1. Wile E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons sought fulfillment by trying to catch the Road Runner. He schemed, chased and set traps using all kinds of materials he acquired from the Acme Company. Despite his pursuits, catching the Road Runner proved elusive. What kinds of things do people chase after today trying to find fulfillment and contentment? Make a list.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Contentment”.

What if my life could look like that? Wouldn’t that be amazing? That I could get to a place where I could say, "I have everything that I need."

Now I think we have a mistaken idea of what that looks like. When I tend to look at this passage you know what I see? I see myself at an all-inclusive resort. It has been paid for and all I have to do is decide when I want to get out of bed and what I am going to wear that day. That is it! It is wonderful! I make my way from the bed to the beach, and on the way there I get whatever I want to eat and drink. And I just keep doing that. It is that easy. It truly is amazing. I totally recommend it.

I just don’t think that is what David is talking about in the 23rd Psalm. He is talking about the shepherd leading us. And if we let him do that – if I don’t start wandering around all by myself, but if I stay under his leadership, guidance and protection – he does what for me? He will lead me to places of contentment because he is guiding me in the right direction.

This will require obedience. It will require that I follow.

Read Psalm 23:1-3 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2. Based on Psalm 23:1-3, what would you say is the true source of our contentment? What does the good shepherd give to the sheep that follow him?

3. Does true and lasting contentment depend on our own resources, or does it depend on our relationship with Jesus, the Good Shepherd? Explain.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, "Contentment".

Paul says that he had learned to be content when he had a little and when he had a lot. He had learned the secret, whatever circumstances he found himself in.

I do think that prosperity has done more damage to a person’s soul than adversity. Prosperity has caused us to trust in our money or ability to make money, and because I don’t want for anything I don’t have to trust God for anything. Did you catch what Paul had to say in Philippians 4:13? I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength. That is not a stand-alone verse. In context, Paul is saying that I can be content in any situation, and it will take a ton of strength from God to do it, whether I have a lot or whether I have a little I will find the strength from God. The longing for more is often a longing to fill something that is empty in my heart.

Okay, so let me get serious with you. I am going to encourage you to tithe. That today you will do the most spiritual thing you have ever done and sit down, get the financial picture for your family together and come up with a plan to tithe. Come up with a plan to live on 90%. The first decision you will make is to look at what you bring home and then figure the 10% of that and give it.

It is so easy to do that now you can go online, on our web site or on our app, and actually punch in the numbers and hit the button and it's all settled at that moment. You can choose to give every week or once a month. I am going to suggest that it is once a week, it is a little easier to get your head and heart around that, or whenever you get paid. Otherwise it will be startling. I want you to go from "I am giving how MUCH?" to "I am giving HOW much?" You will have to rely on Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me the strength."

Read Matthew 23:23 and Philippians 4:10-19 and answer/discuss the following questions.

4. Explain Jesus' point in Matthew 23:23 about not only tithing, but also having a compassionate and generous heart. Is there a connection between tithing and trusting God? Explain. 

5. Based on Philippians 4:10-19, what is Paul's "secret" of being content in any circumstance?

6. Can using your resources for God, and giving of your time, talents and resources to spread the gospel, actually lead to contentment? Explain.

Reflection and Wrap-up

7. Do you think selfish pursuits for worldly gain ever result in catching the Road Runner (having true and lasting contentment)? Are you chasing the Road Runner, or have you found contentment in following Jesus?

8. Based on this lesson, how would you explain the connection between giving of your resources and contentment? How does finding contentment through giving contrast with the world's view of pursuing contentment?

9. What steps of faith is God prompting you to take to trust in him?

Pray Together as a Group 

Additional Study 

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about this topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Proverbs 10:22

·      2 Chronicles 26:5

·      Malachi 3:8-10





"Money Works"

Top 10 Verses on Money (#6-10)

Matthew 6:24

 (September 16-22, 2018)

One of the dangers of having a lot of money is that you may be quite satisfied with the kinds of happiness money can give, and so fail to realize your need for God. If everything seems to come simply by signing checks, you may forget that you are at every moment totally dependent on God.  

– C.S. Lewis - Mere Christianity

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    What are some of the thoughts that lead us to think we are not dependent on God?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Top 10 Verses on Money”.

The Bible comes right out and tells us. It is super clear. God gives us more money than we need – for 1 reason only – not so that we can spoil our kids. Not so that we can buy more and more stuff. It is so that we can live generously. When we have more money we think, “God is really blessing us. This money is a blessing.” No, it is not. It is a test.

God distributes wealth unevenly not because he loves some folks more and some of us less, but so that his children can distribute it to their brothers and sisters on his behalf.

Read Matt 6:24, Matt 25:14-30, and 2 Cor 9:6-11 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    Do you believe that all that you have belongs to you or God?  When you think of what you “have”, what do you think of besides money?  Make as complete a list as possible. 

3.    Why do you think God gives you the gifts he does?  Reflect on this with respect to what Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 9, verses 10 and 11? 

4.    What do you think Paul means in 2 Corinthians chapter 9, verse 6?
How does his teaching affect the way you give? 

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, "Top 10 Verses on Money".

As your heart begins to be taken over by his heart, generosity will find its way in. So yes. That is in the brochure. And yes the church will talk about it from time to time and we will ask for you to give: 1) it gives us a chance to do things, and 2) it gives you a chance to have your heart grow just a little bit more. That is a good thing.

Read 1 Cor 16:1-2, Matt 6:20-21 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    How much does Paul say we should give in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2? When does he say we should set aside what we will give?  Why do you think he makes it a point to say when we should set it aside?

6.    How do you think a person stores up treasures in heaven? Do you find it easy to value heavenly treasures over earthly treasures?

7.    What do you think enables us to be generous?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    Read 1 Corinthians 13:3. Why do you think Paul says that even if we give all we have (time, talent, treasure, even life itself) that it is meaningless if not given in love? For whom is it meaningless?

9.    Do you think you will look at giving differently going forward?  Why or why not? 

10. What do you think God would do in your life if you were a more generous giver? 

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about this topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Ecclesiastes 5:10-12

·      Deuteronomy 16:17

·      Matthew 6:2-4


"Money Works"

Top 5 Verses on Money

Proverbs 23:4-5

 (September 9-15, 2018)

When God manages our finances, we need not worry. He is the master of the universe. It is His wisdom that we are seeking. We are still human beings and subject to mistakes, for even when we understand God’s principles, it is possible to step out of His will. But as soon as we admit the error and let God resume control, we are back under His guidance. Once a Christian truly accepts and experiences financial freedom, there will never be a desire to stay outside of God’s will.

– Best-selling author, Larry Burkett, Your Finances in Changing Times

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    What are some typical financial errors that a person may make?
What is one of the worst financial error that a person could make?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Top 5 Verses on Money”.

It will never be enough. Have you noticed that you hit some financial goal – you are making more than ever – but you never tell your employer, “I’m good”? You don’t have to pay me anymore. And that sweet bonus at the end of the year, you can keep it for yourself. I have more than enough.

The real telling words there, “This too is meaningless.”

“He who dies with the most toys wins” is just a lie. It truly is.

Read Proverbs 23:4-5 & Ecclesiastes 5:10 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    What is the most fulfilling thing that you could use money for?

3.    List and compare 3 aspects of saving money for the future versus enjoying money now.

4.    What reasons can you think of that may be a factor in the sense of disappointment in what money can buy? 

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, "Top 5 Verses on Money".

We are working so hard to gain the whole world – but if we lose our soul in the process – it won’t be worth it.

No one sets out to do that. It is just subtle. A few more hours at work leads to this – you know Sunday is my only day to veg. Sometimes I even work on Sunday, but when I do, I just want to stay home, relax. And after a few weeks of that I am disconnecting from God. It is easy to justify because it will only be for a little while. Once I get some things under control. Then just a little drifting and after a while you don’t even miss it (your time with God).

Read Mark 8:34-37 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    From reading this passage, what stands out to you as the biggest benefit to gain? What is the biggest thing to lose?

6.    In what areas is it hard for you to put a higher priority on following Jesus than in accumulating financial assets for the future?

Reflection and Wrap-up

7.    Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Paul gives a pair of attitudes that a Christ follower lives by. What are those attitudes that drive our actions?

8.    What change do you see this study is challenging in yourself?

9.    What will it take for this change to take place in your life in the next 30 days?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about this topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Luke 16:1-14

·      Luke 6:38

·      Luke 19:1-27


“I Love My Job”

Ecclesiastes 5:16-20

September 2-8, 2018

Amit Alawhat, author and mentor, wrote that people enjoy working because they want to. They pursue work happily, passionately and productively and are 100% engrossed in work, enjoying it to the core. They do the work they want to do without anyone else putting undue pressure over them. When they don't feel like working or need to take a break or rest, they take 100% rest then. So it's either work or rest and never both of them happening together. Therefore, it's one's own choice when to work and when not to work, whether to work happily or sadly and whether to work under self-motivation or the pressure of some other person. Everything depends entirely upon you! (Quora, Sept. 23, 2015)

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    Do you believe that people enjoying working totally depends on them? Why or why not. 

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “I Love My Job”.

We are created by God and work is a way to add value to our lives. Work can be our garden. A place to shape and create and even connect with God. Still, when it comes to your job, God isn’t always concerned with what you do; but how you do it! As a person, you are created in the image of God.  As a members of the human race, we are instructed to be engaged in the work of caring for and developing the rest of God’s creation.

Refer to the following scriptures Ecclesiastes 5:16-20; Genesis 2:15 and

Genesis 3:17-19 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    When asked what we “do for work”, we usually state our job. However, people work in many different ways a lot of which we aren’t paid. As a group make a list of things people work at other than their job.

3.    Read Ecclesiastes 5:16-20. What do you learn about work from these verses?

4.    Genesis 2:15 tells us God designed work in the Garden of Eden as he gave Adam and Eve the responsibility to take care of the earth. Genesis 3:17-19 tells us that due to sin work became a struggle. What are some of the struggles that keep us from loving our work?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “I Love My Job”

How do I come to a place where I enjoy my job or maybe love it? How do I move a step closer? One of the biggest obstacles to enjoying our work is our mindset. Our perspective, our attitude about what work we are doing, or work we think we should be doing, or the situation we are in currently.

Refer to Colossians 3:23-24; Matthew 22:37-39; and James 4:13-17 to answer/discuss the following questions.

6.    Ecclesiastes tells us, “There is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work.” This leads us to wonder how we move a step closer to enjoying/loving our work. Read Colossians 3:23-24. From these verses what is the first step in moving closer to enjoying our work?

7.    How does knowing the Master we serve in our work is the Lord help change our mindset?

8.    Read Matthew 22:37-39. According to these verses, the first commandment is to love the Lord and the second one is to love others as yourself.   In your opinion, how does loving others help change your mindset about work? Remember, work is more than just the job you do for pay.

Reflection and Wrap-up

9.    Which area of work in your life do you need to change your mindset about and why?

10. Based on this lesson, what is one step you can take this week to change that mindset?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      3 John1-8

·      Exodus 34:21

·      1 Corinthians 15:58

·      Hebrews 6:10


"Mass Exodus"

Free at Last

Exodus 13:17-22; 14:1-31

Psalm 119:105

(August 26-September 1, 2018)

Aretha Franklin, "the Queen of Soul," passed away this week. She started singing gospel in the church where her father preached and later won countless awards. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is ranked #1 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the greatest singers of all time. In addition to her popular hits, she also recorded praise and gospel songs throughout her career. She remained a follower of the Lord and, despite her awards and honors, she once declared, "When God loves you, what can be better than that?" On her album The Delta Meets Detroit: Aretha's Blues, she sang B.B. King's song The Thrill is Gone with the lyrics "Yes I'm free, free at last." Can you declare that God's love is paramount in      your life?

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1. Have you ever taken the most direct route to a destination only to have your plans frustrated by traffic, an accident on the road ahead of you, or traffic lights that didn't work? How did it feel to be finally free of traffic and able to move on to your destination?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Free at Last”.

In an amazing display of comfort, the Lord provided direction. He was leading. It was clear to everyone; his presence was evident. There was no doubt. They did not know where they were going, but that was OK, they were free and they were following God.

When God moved they moved. When God stopped they stopped. It was that simple.

Don’t you wish it was that simple now? That there is this little cloud that is leading you, showing you were to go, all the time. Even at night!

Read Exodus 13:17-22 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2. In the prior lessons in this series we saw God's hand at work, step-by-step, to free his people from slavery. In this passage, it is time for the Israelites to move. What dramatic methods does God use to show his people not only the way to freedom, but also that his presence was continually with them day and night?

3. During this mass exodus of Israel from slavery in Egypt, what seemingly insignificant fact is noted in Exodus 13:19? Given Joseph's declaration 400 years before the exodus that "God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" and "then you must carry my bones up from this place" (Genesis 50:24-25), explain how Exodus 13:19 shows God's everlasting faithfulness.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, "Free at Last".

Now we might think that would be awesome to have a pillar of clouds or a pillar of fire leading us around. Go this way, stop now, go over here, turn left. I think it would be super helpful, but also I am not so sure I want it all the time.

Like on Sunday I am pretty cool with it, pretty sure that God would lead me to church, so that is great. But I am not so sure I want him to lead me after that.

God has a plan for your life and He wants to take the lead. But how do I know if God is leading, how do I know when to move and when to stay? If only I had a pillar of fire or something like that to help me.

We don’t have that. Well then, how am I supposed to know?

Read Exodus 14:1-31 and Psalm 119:105 and answer/discuss the following questions.

4. God displays his mighty power in parting the Red Sea to lead Israel from captivity. Israel is free at last. Explain how God's leading Israel toward the Red Sea (Exodus 13:18), instructing Israel to encamp by the sea (Exodus 14:1-4) and destroying Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:26) shows God's plan to guide and protect Israel.

5. Explain how the Bible, God's word, can lead us today. Explain the role prayer and an open heart can play in aligning our lives with God's will today.

6. How is Israel's freedom from captivity by following God like obtaining freedom from captivity to sin today?

Reflection and Wrap-up

7. Israel's role was to faithfully follow God, despite the fears and challenges they faced. They understandably needed Moses' encouragement, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today" (Exodus 14:13). When do you find it difficult to stand firm in your faith? Does it encourage you to know God has a plan for you?

8. Are there things you need to leave behind, or comfort zones you need to push through, to strengthen your journey with God?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about how following God, read and consider the following passages:

·      Psalm 23:1-4

·      Psalm 32:8

·      Isaiah 64:4

·      Isaiah 40:31

·      Psalm 40:1-2

·      Matthew 8:22

·      John 8:11-12


Mass Exodus - The Price of Freedom

(Aug 19 - Aug 25, 2018)

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. 

Refrain:
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blessed,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Blessed Assurance - Words by Fannie Crosby

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    In verses 2 and 3 (above) the writer starts with the words “perfect submission.”  What do those words mean to you? Do you think about that often? Why or why not?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “The Price of Freedom”.

For some time God was trying to convince Pharaoh who he is – that He is a better God than the gods that they are worshiping, because their gods won’t deliver. When you pray to a god that is not alive, it is just wishful thinking…. We see reminders from God all the time, that if you worship power, eventually it will eat you up. The last plague addressed the last god. The last god is Pharaoh. He and the people saw him as god. Supreme ruler and someone to be worshiped.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
Exodus 12:1-30; 20:1-6

2.    Why do you think Pharaoh was still refusing to let the Hebrews go even after God had demonstrated his power with the first nine plagues? 

3.    Do you think that God thought it was important to demonstrate to Pharaoh and the Israelites that there are no other gods before him (see v. 12)?

4.    God gave Moses and Aaron very specific instructions for the way the Israelites were to prepare for the Passover. Do you think every single Israelite followed God’s instructions completely?  What do you think happened if they didn’t, or if they decided which of the instructions were important and which were not?

5.    Do you think there was a relationship between the blood of the lamb and the life of the people of Israel’s firstborn sons?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “The Price of Freedom”.

This was going to be a terrible night and all of it could have been avoided if Pharaoh had surrendered. That is all that was required, but when you think you are god you never surrender… I am glad we have communion each week. It helps me get things back into perspective. It helps me to remember that Jesus paid for my freedom with His blood; that my sins would have caused me certain death, that I was not going to escape the punishment for me wanting to be God.
But because I decided to surrender, to the fact that he was God and I was not. That I decided to trust that Lamb of God to save me. I never want to forget or to take that for granted. In fact, the Passover is still offered to this day and it is available for anyone and everyone who surrenders.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
Exodus 12:29-33; John 1:29; Luke 22:14-16; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; 11:23-29.

6.    What price did Pharaoh pay for his stubbornness? What saved the Israelites from death when the Angel of Death passed over?

7.    In what ways do you think the death of the firstborn foreshadowed the death of Christ?  In what ways to you think the Passover celebration foreshadowed the communion that we have every Sunday?

8.    What were Jesus and the disciples celebrating the night Jesus was arrested (See Luke 22:15)?

9.    The Passover occurred nearly 1500 years before Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples. Why do you think Jesus considered it important to celebrate the Passover with his disciples?

Reflection and Wrap-up

10. Do you think you would have behaved similarly to Pharaoh had you been in his shoes? Have you considered whether there are “gods” in your life that you have placed before God? Will you consider placing God above all other gods today?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study:

·      John 10:14-18

·      James 4:6-8

·      Acts 20:7

·      2 Timothy 2:22-26

·      Isaiah 53:7-12


Mass Exodus

“When It Can’t Get Any Worse”

Exodus Chapters 9-11

August 12-18, 2018

I had received an eviction notice to move out of my apartment. I looked for work wherever I could. The truth of the matter was that I couldn't find any job, not even a menial one. I was denied employment at McDonald's because I was "overqualified." No one would hire me even for a manual-labor, minimum-wage job…

When I finished talking to my mother, I made it into the shower. In the midst of my tears, I reconciled myself to the fact that it was time for me to go home. "Things cannot get any worse for me," I thought. At that very moment, a massive earthquake hit the city of Los Angeles. I started slipping and sliding in the shower with soap and water flying everywhere. All of a sudden, the voice of the Lord spoke to me and said, "Things can always get worse; they can get much worse."

Hearing the voice of God made me realize that as long as I was alive and had breath in my body, there would always be hope. There are times when hope is the only thing we have to cling to. I didn't have a job, I didn't have any food, and I didn't have any money, but I always had hope.

Excerpted from "Keeping the Faith" by Tavis Smiley (Doubleday)

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    Think of a time when it was more true that “Things are going from back to worse!” than “Things can’t get any worse.” Share that with your group.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “When It Can’t Get Any Worse”.

An unexpected health issue drives a lot of us to realize that we are not God, that life is fragile, that life is final. Many of us have turned to God at those moments when we hear the worst possible news from the doctor’s office. It brought us to God.

For some we ended up like Pharaoh. Our hearts grew hard toward God. We held it against God. We know that God could click his fingers and make it all go away. Why didn’t he rescue my mom? Why didn’t he save my child?

Those are the tough questions that go unanswered. I really don’t have answers for why those prayers go unanswered, the way we would like it to be answered. I do know this: we can either turn to God for strength or curse him.

Refer to Exodus 9:13-21 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    God has a plan for the people of Israel and for Pharaoh. How does Pharaoh respond to the message about God’s plan? Why do you think he responded this way?

3.     What does Moses see behind Pharaoh’s response?

4.    Do you think God could have accomplished his purposes without the plagues? If so, how?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “When It Can’t Get Any Worse”.

The first thing that God spoke to get things started was – “Let there be light.” You can’t live in darkness.

(John 8:12, NLT) “Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

You can try to live in darkness, but it will be frustrating and scary. All we need is just a little light to give us hope.

Answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    We read about Pharaoh’s heart being hardened in Exodus 7:3, 13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 12, 34-35. Read these verses as you consider this question: what is different in Exodus 10:1-2 about the way the Lord tells Moses that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened?

6.    What part did Pharaoh have in the spiritual hardening of his heart?

7.    Describe how Pharaoh attempts to diffuse the pressure from God to change his mind (heart)?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    Reflecting on John 8:12 and 1 John 1:5-7, how can living in the light (words) of Jesus turn around our spiritual lives?

9.    How can walking in the light prevent our hearts from becoming hard?

10. How do you find hope when it’s always possible that things could get worse?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about the message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      2 Peter 3:9-15

·      Colossians 1:27

·      Hebrews 6:13-20

·      James 4:6-8


 

 

“Mass Exodus”

“When You Don’t Want to Listen to God”

Exodus Chapters 5-8

August 5-11, 2018

“Poor listeners "hear" what's being said, but they rarely "listen" to the whole message.  They get distracted by their own thoughts or by what's going on around them, and they formulate their responses before the person who they're talking to has finished speaking. Because of this, they miss crucial information. Good listeners, on the other hand, enjoy better relationships, because they fully understand what other people are saying.

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    How good are your listening skills with:

a.    Family members

b.    Co-workers

c.     God

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “When You Don’t Want to Listen to God”.

Most of us are ok with spiritual stuff. “Hey you got your belief system; I have mine.” “Just keep yours to yourself and we will be fine; but when you start thinking that your God is better than mine, then we have a problem.” “Your God cannot tell me how to live my life.” We even say stuff like, “Well that is not my truth – this is my truth.” “That might be true for you but that is not my truth.” “I don’t want your God telling me what to do.” “Who does he think he is that he can tell me what to do?” So God answers that question.

Refer to Exodus 5:1-2 and 6:1-8

 and answer/discuss the following questions. 

2.    Exodus 5:1 tells us Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”  As a group make a list of the things you recall God has said.

3.     In Exodus 5:2 Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” While we may not be as blunt as Pharaoh, sometimes our words and actions look like we aren’t listening to the Lord either. What are some ways that we ignore what God has to say?

4.    Read Exodus 6:1-8 listening for what the Lord says about himself. After reading this, determine which of the following characteristic encourages you to listen to him.

·      He is the God with a mighty hand.

·      He is the God of a covenant with his people.

·      He is the God who hears his people.

·      He is the God that redeems his people.

·      He is the God that takes us to be His people.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “When You Don’t Want to Listen to God”.

Our hearts get hardened toward God because we believe that we can find happiness and fullness somewhere else.

Answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    Describe a time you didn’t want to listen to God.

6.    Read Exodus 8:1-14. Pharaoh was willing to listen to God when times were bad, but the frogs went away so did his wiliness to do what God said. Can you relate to Pharaoh’s reaction and why?

7.    Exodus 8:16-19 tells about the plague of the gnats. Gnats are annoying and can spoil setting outside or a picnic. What are some things in your life that spoil your willingness to be listening to God?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    Reflecting on this lesson, what is there about God that encourages you to listen to him?

9.    In what areas of your life do you need to listen to God and how can your group pray for you in this area?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about the message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Proverbs 19:27

·      James 1:19

·      Malachi 3:19

·      1 John 4:6

·      John 10:10

 


 

"Mass Exodus"

Using What God Has Given You

Exodus 4:1-17

John 9:13-34

(July 29-August 4, 2018)

Men and women of God have been making excuses with God since the Garden of Eden, when Adam blamed Eve for his disobedience and Eve, in turn, blamed the serpent. (Genesis 3:12-13) Moses, as we will see in this lesson, made many excuses why he was unable to lead Israel from captivity. (Exodus 3-4) Sarah, Abraham's wife, claimed to be too old to have a son and continue the legacy God promised Abraham. (Genesis 18:12) Gideon told God he was too insignificant to be used in battle. (Judges 6:15) Jeremiah claimed to be too young to communicate God's word. (Jeremiah 1:6) Jonah fled from God to avoid preaching to people he disliked. (Jonah 1:3) There are other examples in the Bible, but the good news is that God did not expect any of these ordinary people to go it alone. He remained with each one. God approached Adam and Eve to restore their relationship and he covered their sin. (Genesis 3:21) God promised Moses, "Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." (Exodus 4:12) God responded to Sarah's doubts by promising Abraham, "I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son." (Genesis 18:13-14) God promised Gideon, "I will be with you and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive." (Judges 6:16) Jeremiah was instructed, "Do not say, 'I am too young'" because God told him "I am with you." (Jeremiah 1:7-8) Jonah obeyed God's command to proclaim "the message I give you" (Jonah 3:2) and Nineveh was saved from destruction.

Similar to the examples above, all followers of Christ have received a commission to spread the gospel. (Matthew 28:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:20) The good news, however, is that God will be with us just as he remained with Moses and the other people above. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever--the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17)

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1. Have you ever been asked by a close friend or family member for a big favor that was important to them? How did you respond?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Using What God Has Given You”.

One of the things that I really like about the Bible is that the heroes are not all that impressive. Moses struggles obviously. He has killed someone, he is tentative and argumentative, he has massive insecurity and it is recorded for us to read. The Bible doesn’t make out it’s heroes to be saints.

God asked him what he had in his hand. It was just a staff. It was a tool that he used every day to take care of his father in law's sheep. It was nothing special. But it became something significant when God got involved.

What do you have that if God got involved with it, it would help people believe? "Well I don’t know. I don’t have much." Just give what you have to God. He is not asking you to give what you don’t have. He is not asking you to give what other people have. What do you have that you can give to God?
You have your story. People might not believe the Bible to be the Word of God, but they believe you. You are their friend, they love and trust you. All you have is your story and that is enough. This is who I was before Jesus, this is me after Jesus. That is enough. They might even know you before Jesus, and that changed life is all that is needed.

Read Exodus 4:1-17 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2. As reflected in last week's study, Moses approached the holiness of God in the form of a burning bush and was given a mission to deliver the nation of Israel from captivity in Egypt. In Exodus 3, Moses responded to God's call with various protests and excuses. Summarize the excuses Moses continued to use in Exodus 4:1, 10 and 13 to avoid the mission God was asking him to accomplish.

3. How does God respond to each of Moses' protests? Explain how God's responses show that God will be with Moses on his mission.

4. How does Moses' act of grabbing the snake he feared, before it was turned back into a staff, reflect Moses' faith in God despite his fear? What does this account teach us about our need to take steps of faith in our ministries despite the weaknesses or fears we may experience? Explain.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Using What God Has Given You ".

Have you ever made excuses to God when he had asked you to do something? Probably. You might have even used the same lame excuses. "I am not good enough." "I am too tired." "I can’t do that." "I don’t know what to do." And you think that God will just use someone else to get the job done. Let someone else do that God. Quit asking. Find someone else.

God will never ask you to do something, he will never lead you to something, in which you don’t have what it takes to get it done because he is with you.

Read John 9:13-34 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5. The blind man in this account willingly shared his story of encountering Jesus. Did the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees, and their hostility to the blind man's message, stop the blind man from sharing his story? Explain.

6. What parallels can you draw between Moses delivering Israel from captivity in Egypt and Jesus delivering people from captivity to sin?

7. Based on the account of the blind man, explain how recognizing the grace God has shown you can lead to a willingness, and even a desire, to overcome excuses and share your salvation story with others.

Reflection and Wrap-up

8. Like Moses and the blind man, you have talents and a salvation story that can be used in God's kingdom to help deliver people from captivity to sin. What do you have that you can give to God? What's holding you back?

9. Moses embarked on his mission with his brother Aaron. If you want or need support in a ministry you can be active in or that is on your heart, what brother or sister in Christ can you partner with?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about how Christ followers are set apart from the world for holiness and how this affects our mission, read and consider the following passages:

·      Exodus 20:8

·      Leviticus 27:30

·      Hebrews 13:4

·      1 Peter 1:15-16

·      Isaiah 6:1-4

 

 


 

 

"Mass Exodus"

When God Calls Your Name

Exodus 3:1-14

(July 22-28, 2018)

I have tons of regrets, but I think that's one of the reasons that push people to create things. Out of their angst, their regret, comes the best from artists, painters and writers. – Sylvester Stallone

I live without regrets. There are certain things I have done, mistakes that I made, that I would change, but I don't regret them at all, because I've learnt from them. – Lindsay Lohan

I had a friend who worked at a hospice, and he said people in their final moments don't discuss their successes, awards or what books they wrote or what they accomplished. They only talk about their loves and their regrets, and I think that's very telling. – Brad Pitt

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    The “What if’s” or regrets of life can be very powerful. Looking at the above quotes from the film celebrities above, which do you identify with the most? Why?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “When God Calls Your Name”.

Fast forward 40 years. Moses is now 80.

Lots of things have changed since he left the Palace. He has a good life. He is married, has children, and he is a shepherd. It’s OK. No complaints, but what could have been? But maybe this is what I was meant to do with my life.

I have to wonder, did Moses think what if? What if I had never killed that man? What if I had stayed in the palace? Things would be a lot different.

Do you ever think about that in your life – what if?

What if I hadn’t?

What if I would have?

Read Exodus 3:1-8 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    We find Moses in this passage living a life that was not what he expected when he was younger. Make a list of some “what if’s” that Moses could have had.

3.    In calling Moses to take action, what does God use to get his attention, and what impact do you think this had on Moses at that moment?

4.    What actions did Moses take, and describe the obstacles that Moses faced in order to take these actions?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “When God Calls Your Name”.

I will be with you. My presence is enough to chase away the fear. You are not doing this alone. We have this together, but I need you to help me Moses. Rescue my people.

These words would be spoken thousands of years later to a group of folks who were faced with a monumental task. (Read Matthew 28:16-20)

Here is a group that is facing the task of going into all the world with the best news possible that Jesus is alive. I need you to go and do this. Make more disciples of all nations…baptize them and help them to obey everything I have commanded you.

My guess is that they looked at Jesus like Moses looked on the Mountain…. send someone else. So Jesus says, “I will be with you.”

Read Exodus 3:9-14 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    Moses had taken a big step of going to find out the reason the bush was burning but not consumed. Why do you think that the miracle of the burning bush was NOT enough to convince Moses to listen to God’s calling to free the people of Israel?

6.    How do you see God’s answers to Moses’ objections to the call from God being enough to move Moses to accept the call?

7.    Read Matthew 28:16-20. What parallels do you see in the call Moses received from God at the burning bush and the call the disciples received from Jesus?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    What call from God do you sense in your life right now?

9.    What objections do you have to doing what God is calling you to do?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about this topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Proverbs 16:1-3

·      1 Corinthians 10:31

·      2 Corinthians 5:14-21


Mass Exodus

(July 15 - July 21, 2018)

“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider to be the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”

“Honesty is always the best policy.”

“Few men have the virtue to withstand the highest bidder.”

“Without virtue, and without integrity, the finest talents and the most brilliant accomplishments can never gain the respect, and conciliate the esteem, of the truly valuable part of mankind.”

Quotes from George Washington

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    Do you believe it is important to have integrity? Why? How can it affect your life if you have a reputation for integrity (or lack it)?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the Stone  Bridge message, “Mass Exodus #2”

Look this way and that way – and seeing no one – he kills the Egyptian.


C.S. Lewis said – Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.
We truly are who we are when no one is watching. That is the place of integrity. Some stuff we do we would not do if when we looked to the left and to the right and no one is there. The boss isn’t there – our spouse isn’t there – our best friends are not there – our parent is not there - the policeman is not there. And when we think that God is not watching.
The real you and the real work – starts when no one is watching.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
Exodus 2:12-21, Philippians 4:8-9,1 Chronicles 29:17, 2 Corinthians 8:21

2.    What was thinking Moses when he killed the Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew? How do you think he felt after the Egyptian was dead?

3.    Thinking about the passage from Philippians, what can we do to keep us from acting out of anger? How can we focus on what is good and pure?

4.    When is God not watching?  How does God know whether we have integrity?  How do men know?

5.    In 2 Corinthians Paul says he and his fellow workers in Christ were taking pains to do what is right both in the eyes of God and men.  Why do you think he considered how God and men viewed them?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the Stone  Bridge message, “Mass Exodus #2”

The king of Egypt dies – and the misery of the people of Israel had been heard by God.

God heard and God remembered. – God looked and God knew. He was about to call on a deliverer. It had been 40 years. 40 years of taking care of sheep for Moses to be ready. He did not know it – but he was about to be used by God. God was going to call on him. It was going to take some convincing. We will learn that next week. But God needed a deliverer and Moses was ready – he just didn’t know it. God has been preparing you for service as well – you might not even know it.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
Exodus 2:23-25, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, 1 Samuel 16:7

6.    Why do you think God chose Moses to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt?

7.    Why do you think God chose Paul to spread the gospel to the gentiles?

8.    In what ways are the calling of Paul and Moses similar? In what ways are they different? Did either of them have reservations or fears? Did either of them have a perfect resume?

Reflection and Wrap-up

9.    Do you ever thought that there are things you could, or should, do to serve the Lord? What are they? What has held you back, or how did you overcome your own doubts or fears.

Pray Together as a Group

 

Additional Study:

·      Proverbs 6:16-20

·      1 Peter 3:10-12

·      Proverbs 10:9, 11:3

·      2 Timothy 2:20-21

·      Isaiah 55 3-9

 

 


“Mass Exodus”

“What It Takes to Get Things Started”

Exodus 1:15-22; 2:1-10

July 8-14, 2018

When the Egyptian midwives were ordered to kill the male Hebrew babies they needed to make some personal decisions based on their fear of the Hebrew God.  When Moses was born his mother and sister needed to make some decisions about Moses safety as well as their own. Pharaoh’s daughter needed to decide if she would reach out and accept the Hebrew child despite their differences including the views of her family and the views of her society.  It takes fear of God and courage to make such decisions.

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.     Have you ever been in a circumstance where you felt like you should stand up for or support someone who was an "outsider" or rejected by your family, friends or co-workers, despite the resistance you may receive?  Explain the circumstance.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

 An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “What It Takes to Get Things Started”.

Watch Online

“We are constantly being asked to choose between God and man. I don’t know if it is just in our nature – but we want to be liked. We want to be included. We don’t want to get in trouble. We are asked all the time to do something that is against God’s will.

Refer to Exodus 1:15-22; 2:1-10

 and answer/discuss the following questions.

1.    How would you explain the difference between being scared of God and having a fear of God to a new Christian?

2.    The Egyptian midwives were in a tough spot.  If they didn’t kill the Hebrew baby boys, they could be killed by the pharaoh.  If they did kill the babies they feared God’s action toward them.   Can you think of a time when you were faced with a tough choice the fear of God helped shaped what you did?  Please describe the situation and how you responded.

3.    Describe how having the fear of God impacts:

a.    What you say

b.    What you do

c.     What you don’t do

                                           Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2. 

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “What It Takes to Get Things Started”.

Watch Online

“Once again – this passage is full of people with courage. A mom who knows that if the authorities find out that this baby boy is alive – he will be killed. She makes a decision to place him in a basket and put him the Nile River. Perhaps it is the only thing that will bring her some peace. Perhaps someone will find him and raise him – but he can’t stay here or he will die.  So she trusts.”

Answer/discuss the following questions.

4.    Read Psalms 56: 1-4.  Why do we find it difficult at times to trust in Jesus and be courageous?

5.    Read Acts 4:1-14.  Describe the situation in which the disciples found themselves.  What gave the disciples courage to take action?

6.    Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”  Have each person in the group restate the proverb as it applies to them.  For example:  The fear of not having enough money proves to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is provided for.

Reflection and Wrap-up

7.     Fearing God should come from our understanding of His Word.  What can you do in the next month to help increase your understanding of God’s character and commands to help you live as Jesus would want?

8.    There are many opportunities in our city, country and world to stand up and make a difference like the midwives, Moses’ mother and Pharaoh’s daughter.  What would be some opportunities you would like to participate in to stand up for what is right in the sight of God?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

·      Exodus 20:20

·      2 Corinthians 5:11

·      1 Corinthians 16:13

·      Joshua 1:9


John Emery