Message Based Studies

"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


"Sea of Red"

Jesus’ Prayer

John 17:13-26; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3; James 4:2-3

(July 1-7, 2018)

“Lord, we thank you for your church, founded upon your Word, that challenges us to more than sing and pray, but to go out and work as though the very answer to our prayers depended on us and not upon you. Help us to realize that humanity was created to shine like the stars and live on through all eternity. Keep us, we pray, in perfect peace. Help us to walk together, pray together, sing together and live together until that day when all God’s children – Black, White, Red, Brown and Yellow – will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord and our God, we pray. Amen.”

--Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1. Describe a circumstance in which you felt very out of place. What made you feel out of place? How did it differ from being with close friends or family?

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Sea of Red – Jesus’ Prayer”.

Watch Online

One of the things that tends to happen to followers of Jesus, we tend to drift toward creating heaven on earth. Not a bad thought. Jesus wanted God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven. We do, too. But for us we tend to think, “If I can just surround myself with good and godly people all the time, then I won’t sin and it will be heaven on earth.” Have a nice Christian bubble around us, where people are nice and happy and no drama and no sin and no worries.

Jesus calls us to be in the world, not worldly. I want you to make a difference in the world.

Read John 17:13-19, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 and James 4:2-3 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2. How would you explain being in the world, but not being worldly? What is the difference between being in the world and being worldly?

3. Based on John 17:18, what does Jesus send his followers into the world to do?

4. After reading 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 and James 4:2-3, what are some indicators that these Christ followers were struggling with the difference between being in the world and being worldly? How did jealously and selfishness affect their relationships and their mission?

5. What does James 4:2-3 teach us about appropriate and inappropriate motivations in our prayer life? Compare and contrast Jesus’ prayer in John 17:13-19 with the prayers of the Christ followers in James 4:2-3.

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Sea of Red – Jesus’ Prayer”.

Watch Online

We like to say we take the Bible seriously; we just don’t take ourselves too seriously.

We have not figured it all out. We don’t know all there is to love and grace. We don’t know all there is to walk by faith and to avoid sin. But we do believe that the Bible is real, and is our truth source, it is our guide for living and for knowing God. It is not out of date or old fashioned. Truth is always going to be truth.

The scary thing would be for all of us to be our own truth source, we all make up the rules.

Read John 17:20-26 and answer/discuss the following questions.

6. In John 17:20, Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and those who become Christ followers through their message is “that all of them may be one.” What are some essential beliefs that unify Christians? Are there things Christ followers can differ on and still be unified? Explain.

Reflection and Wrap-up

7. What motivates you to pray? How would it change your prayer life, and your relationship with God, if you consistently prayed for God’s motivation rather than your own motivation for yourself?

8. In John 17:24, Jesus also prays that his followers will be with him. Will you be with Jesus on “that day when all God’s children – Black, White, Red, Brown and Yellow – will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the reign of our Lord and our God”?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about our unity as Christians, read and consider the following passages:

·      Proverbs 14:30

·      Proverbs 27:4

·      1 Corinthians 13:4

·       2 Timothy 3:16


 

 

 Sea of Red - Peace

(June 24 - June 30, 2018)

When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all (all)
I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you're down and out
When you're on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you (ooo)
I'll take your part, oh, when darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

-        Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    Why do you think so many popular songs are about troubles we experience? Paul Simon wrote Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and he said the song came to him very quickly and easily. When he had finished he said to himself, “Where did that come from?” Have you ever had an experience like that?

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Sea of Red - Peace”.

The first lesson from the Sea of Red – you will have trouble. Not a great reality – you wouldn’t think we would. After all, God could, and we think should, protect us from bad stuff. Like a parent who would never let anything bad happen to their kid, God could do the same for us. How great would that be? As long as I join in the family of God, then nothing bad happens to me or the people that I care about. I am pretty sure everyone would sign up.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
John 16:29-33; Mark 4:35-41

2.    Why do you think there is trouble in the world? Is there any way to eliminate trouble completely?

3.    What are your first thoughts when you experience trouble? Do you experience fear or anxiety? What do you do when you have these emotions?

4.    In the Mark 4 passage, Jesus and the disciples experience a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Contrast the reactions of the disciples with how Jesus reacted.

5.    In verse 41, Mark says the disciples were terrified. Why do you think they were terrified?

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Sea of Red - Peace”

Jesus responds, “Now you believe. After everything we have been through, after everything that I have said, after all the miracles, now you believe.” Ok. They believed because of his knowledge of God and his knowledge of their hearts.
But Jesus tells them that in spite of your belief, you are going to leave me. He knew that they would let him down. They are moments from walking into the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas would show up there with soldiers to arrest Jesus. The disciples would run for the hills. Peter would deny him three times.
Even though Jesus knew this, he loved them, and he trusted them. Jesus knows us at our best and our worst.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.  John 16:29-33; John 20:19-21

6.    What do you think you could do that would make God love you more? Less? How does our love sometimes work that way?

7.    How do you feel when you let a friend or loved one down?

8.    Do you think the disciples were surprised by the way Jesus responded? (v 19 & 21) How does it give you peace to know that Jesus loves you unconditionally? 

Reflection and Wrap-up

9.    Do you think your love can be more like the love of Jesus?  What can you do to develop a love more like His?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study:

·      1 Timothy 2:1-4

·      2 Peter 3:8-17

·      John 14:27

·      Matthew 7:34

·      James 1:2-4


“Sea of Red”

“Connected to Jesus”

John 15:1-17

 (June 17-23, 2018)

Left on their own, tomatoes will grow into shrubby, multi-stemmed plants that topple under the weight of their fruit. Fruit and foliage are more prone to attack by pests and disease when they're sprawled on the ground. Pruning and using plant supports can help create healthier, more productive tomato plants. Pruning maximizes fruitfulness and minimizes disease problems. (Source: Gardeners.com)

In the Midwest we probably understand pruning tomatoes more than pruning grapevines. The principle is the same – enhancing a fruitful plant.

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    Describe some traits of healthy and productive people. What is one characteristic of a productive person?

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Connected to Jesus”.

Jesus mentions that there are a couple of things necessary for a healthy and productive harvest. The goal [is] producing fruit. The vine grower [is] God, who cares deeply about the health and productivity of the vine. There will be some cutting and pruning. It is necessary for any vine if that vine is to produce fruit.

There are two things necessary – staying connected to the vine and letting the gardener do his work. Let’s talk about staying connected to God. Abide in me. Apart from me you can do nothing. If you do remain in me, you will do amazing things. Apart from me – it is lights out.

Just think about this for a moment. In what area of my life would it be a good idea to ignore or forget or abandon God. That I say to him, “I want you to just to ignore this area in my life for a little while. Not a long time. But just for a little while. I don’t want you to pay much attention to it. No pruning. No cutting. Just let it be for a little bit.” What would happen?

Read and refer to John 15:1-8 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    We are the ‘vine branches’. What pain would be associated with being “pruned” by God? What might we do to avoid this?

3.    What tools/methods might the Father God use to prune/remove things from your life or spirit?

4.    What does this passage tell you about being connected to Christ as the vine?

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Connected to Jesus”.

What does it mean to bear fruit? Perhaps Jesus was referring to what the Apostle Paul would later describe as the fruit of the spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Perhaps; there is no doubt that if I am connected to Jesus, that will be the result in my life. If I am not connected to Jesus, I will struggle with all or most of those areas in my life. If I am connected to him, there is no doubt the more I will become like him. That just makes sense.

Perhaps he means that I will bear fruit in a different way, that I will be producing more and more disciples. That I will be part of the redemption of the world by bringing people to him. The more I am connected to Jesus the more I want other people to know him.

Read and refer to John 15:8-17 and Galatians 5:22-25 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    Two possible ways to bear fruit are presented in the message excerpt above. Which do you identify with the most?

6.    Jesus ties love and bearing fruit together. How are these connected in the life of the believer? Does one cause the other? How?

7.    Read John 13:34-35. How do Jesus’ words in John 15:12-13 take the words of Jesus in John 13:34-35 even further?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    John 15:13 (NIV) is a well-known saying of Jesus, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” How does laying down one’s life lead to bearing fruit in the Lord?

9.    Describe how you are bearing fruit for the Lord Jesus? What could you do to be more fruitful

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:

·      Colossians 1:6-10

·      Hebrews 12:11

·      James 3:17-18

·      John 13:31-38

 


“Sea of Red” 

“Troubling Times”

John 14:1-7 & 27

 (June 10th-16th, 2018)

Charles Dickens in the book A Tale of Two Cities opens with the following quote:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    Dickens was describing life during the French Revolution. Using the following words from the quote, describe how our world is much like Dicken’s description.

a.    Worst or best of times

b.    Age of wisdom or foolishness

c.     Season of light or darkness

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Troubling Times”.

These were troubling times for Jesus and his followers. Tensions were high. Voices were getting louder in opposition. Fear was gripping their hearts. And it was only going to get worse. It has never been this bad. Just a few days ago the voices were calling for Jesus to be King. Now it seems that everyone wants him dead.

Refer to John 14:1-7 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2.    Read John 14:1-7. In verse 1, Jesus tells the disciples not to be troubled. He states that they believe in God and they should believe in him also. What was troubling the disciples (put yourself in the disciples’ shoes) and how would believing in God and Jesus keep their hearts from being troubled?

3.    What comfort does Jesus provide in verses 2 & 3 and why would this be comforting?

4.    Reread verses 5-7. What does Jesus say about himself in these verses and why would this be comforting? 

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Troubling Times”.

The peace that Jesus leaves us – is super unique. It is not like anything else on the planet. For me this is the secret ingredient, it is the secret sauce. It is the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box. It is the cherry on the top.

Refer to John 14:27 and answer/discuss the following questions.

5.    What are some ways you sooth your troubled heart?

6.    Read John 14:27. How would you describe the peace that Jesus gives and how is it different from what the world provides?

7.    What sort of things tend to trouble you?

Reflection and Wrap-up

8.    Share with the group a trouble you need to turn over to Jesus and how the group could pray for you in this matter.

9.    Since Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and since he is the way to God and heaven, how could you use these truths to help others who have trouble hearts or lead them to Christ?

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:

·      James 5:13

·      Philippians 4:7

·      1 Thessalonians 5:23


"I'm Possible"

A Message by Jeremy Cowart

Philippians 4:13

(June 3-9, 2018)

            This week's message, I'm Possible, is brought to us by Jeremy Cowart, an artist, photographer, humanitarian and speaker. Jeremy founded a global photography movement called Help-Portrait™, which invites photographers to donate beautiful portraits of people who may be experiencing adversity. The portraits provide the subjects with a sense of their self-worth and strength, despite their adversity, and become a source of encouragement. Jeremy also founded The Purpose Hotel™, which is a "crowd funded" hotel chain in the process of development that "aims to fight against injustices of war, hunger, poverty, global warming, racial tension, unclean water, addictions and natural disasters. Every aspect of the global chain will directly contribute to those in need through strategic sourcing and procurement." (https://www.jeremycowart.com) The theme and cost of rooms in each hotel will be used to sponsor children in need.

            You can discover more about Jeremy's ministries, and listen to his entire message I'm Possible, on his web site at https://www.jeremycowart.com/im-possible. If you were not present to hear Jeremy's message at StoneBridge, or if you want to learn more about using your talents and successes for a greater purpose, we encourage you to view Jeremy's website and watch his message before completing this lesson.

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1. Have you ever faced a challenge you thought was impossible to deal with or had a goal you thought was impossible to achieve, but received valuable encouragement from a friend, family member or someone else? Did the encouragement help you realize that what you thought was impossible was really possible?

Read Philippians 4:13 and answer/discuss the following questions.

2. During the time the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the church in Philippi, he was in prison for preaching the gospel. What do you think motivated Paul to write a letter encouraging others, and specifically to write verse 4:13, instead of succumbing to his circumstances? Explain how Paul's response to his challenging circumstances reflects his faith in Jesus rather than a fear of failure.

3. After reading Philippians 4:13, what does the phrase "all things" mean to you? Where does our power to accomplish big things come from?

4. Based on this verse, should our successes be used for ourselves or to accomplish through Christ larger things that will last beyond ourselves? Explain.

5. Explain how fear of failure can hold us back from accomplishing great things. Can past failures actually motivate us to step out in faith, move beyond such failures and accomplish big things? Explain.

6. Among the many stories relayed by Jeremy during his message I'm Possible (on his web site at https://www.jeremycowart.com/im-possible) are two stories briefly summarized below. Explain how each account reflects Paul's teaching in Philippians 4:13.

·      After a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, Jeremy provided Haitians with a forum, through his photography, to communicate a message to the world. A Haitian couple were getting married, even while aftershocks were hitting Haiti. They displayed a sign on a paper plate that read: "Love conquers all."

·      Jeremy visited Rwanda after a period of horrific violence. He located a man whose brother was murdered and he was able to photograph him standing next to the man who committed the murder, at the place where the incident occurred. The two men locked arms with the following message written across both their arms: "Love is the weapon that kills all evil."

Reflection and Wrap-up

7. What have you been too afraid to try? How can you turn "Impossible" into "I'm Possible"?

8. Take a moment and examine the struggles you have endured and the successes you have experienced. How can you use these struggles and successes to communicate the message of Philippians 4:13 to others?

9. Do the events of your life communicate the important message of Philippians 4:13 that your children, family members and others close to you can learn from and carry on? What must you change to make your legacy last beyond you?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

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

·      Matthew 19:26

·      Jeremiah 29:11

·      2 Corinthians 12:9

·      Ephesians 2:10

·      Ephesians 3:20

·      Proverbs 3:5-6


 

How to Live the Rest of Your Life

(May 27 – June 2, 2018)

“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.”                                                         

-       Sydney Harris, American Journalist

“There is nothing so fatal to character as half-finished tasks.”

-       David Lloyd George

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

1.    Do you have a bucket list? What is on it? Have you completed any items on your list? Why do we tend to procrastinate doing the things on our bucket list?

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “How to Live the Rest of Your Life”.

Watch Online

We have to ask ourselves questions like, “Are we jealous people?” “Are we taking things that don’t belong to us?” “Are we patient and kind when we interact with others?” “Do we mind our temper?” “Do we look for ways serve others without being asked?” “Do we forgive and seek reconciliation?” According to 1 Corinthians, this is the definition of how to “love” your neighbor.

See, we can make this pretty simple. No need to complicate things. No need to
try and remember a bunch of do’s and don’ts. Let’s cut to the chase! We are
called – commanded – to take care of the people around us with a love that is
kind, patient, without envy, etc.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
Romans 13:8-10, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Matthew 22:34-40

2.    Why do you think Paul calls love for others a debt?

3.    What does “Love your neighbor as yourself,” mean to you?

4.    Focusing on love turns the law into a positive command (do) versus a list of negative commands (do nots). Do you feel this is more compelling? In what way?

5.    What relationship exists between keeping a record of wrongs and focusing on the negative aspects of the law?

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

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “How to Live the Rest of Your Life”.

Watch Online

We read a goodnight book in our house that is titled “Someday is not a day of
the week.” It is a little passive-aggressive for my taste, about a little boy who wants to play catch and go fishing and read books but his parents and grandparents keep telling him, “Someday”. I hate it, but I love it. It is a good reminder that “Someday” is a big enemy of right living. “Someday” …. I am going to get serious about God. “Someday” …. I am going to be baptized. “Someday” …. I’ll quit being jealous, I’ll get my temper under control, I’ll forgive. “Someday”. “Someday” I’ll love my neighbor.

Friends, someday is not a day of the week.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.  Romans 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 7:29-35

6.    What do you think Paul meant when he said, “The hour has come?” (v 11).

7.    How do we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ?  (v 14).

8.    How does clothing ourselves in Christ help us resist the desires of our sin-prone human nature?

Reflection and Wrap-up

9.    How will thinking about love, and the positive spin it has on the law, affect your daily walk? How will it invoke more action and less judgement?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study:

·      John 13:33-34

·      Galatians 5:13-14

·      Colossians 3:12-14

·      Matthew 19:16-19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Emery