Inside Out - Forgive Out

Luke 22-24

We are currently exploring practical, biblical examples of our church’s mission: taking the life-changing reality of Jesus to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our world. Specifically, we’re focusing on eight verbs vital for anyone passionately living to reach others for Christ.

Christians recognize that our faith rests upon one event- the resurrection of Jesus. The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:14 that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” Everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus, including some practical aspects for our own lives. For example- in the midst of the worst kind of suffering, in the midst of unjust mockery and humiliation, Jesus prayed. He requested forgiveness for his assailants. Incredible.

All of us have experienced suffering. Pain and hurt are all around us, sometimes at the hands of those we love and trust. Jesus, in the midst of cruel, unjust suffering, as a model for us, forgave in the heat and the climax of the offense. As a result, when we first receive the bountiful forgiveness of Jesus Christ, then and only then can we offer forgiveness freely to others.

Much like a relay race, we must make sure to both grab the baton and hand it off smoothly. Receive in the forgiveness of Jesus so that we may forgive out to others.

Conversation points:

  • How did your parents handle the asking for and receiving of forgiveness in your home when you were growing up? If you are a parent now, do you follow a similar pattern? Why or why not?
  • What typically holds us back from forgiving others? Why do we often like to harbor grudges against those who have offended or harmed us?
  • How might someone struggle with accepting and believing Christ’s forgiveness in his/her life? Why is receiving Christ’s forgiveness necessary for us to effectively forgive others?
  • Spend some time as a group celebrating the forgiveness we have received from Christ. If you are comfortable, share a specific occasion when you experienced Christ’s forgiveness in a deep and meaningful way. Pray that we may continually be refreshed by the forgiveness of Jesus!

Inside Out - Shine Out

Various Passages

We are currently exploring practical, biblical examples of our church’s mission: taking the life-changing reality of Jesus to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our world. Specifically, we’re focusing on eight verbs vital for anyone passionately living to reach others for Christ. 

“Light” is one of those things that we often take for granted in our daily lives. In fact, we probably don’t pay much attention to light until it is removed and we find ourselves stumbling around in darkness (face it- we all have an embarrassing “I got hurt in the dark” story that we try to keep under wraps!) 

From the first words of Genesis, the theme of light vs. darkness runs consistently throughout all of Scripture- light is connected to righteousness and right living, while unrighteousness is depicted as darkness. When it comes to light/dark, the Bible reveals the following:

  1. God is light (1 John 1:5). He is the source of righteousness, and there is no darkness in him.
  2. Jesus is light (John 8:12). He makes righteousness possible.
  3. We are light (Matthew 5:14-16). The righteousness of Christ has been implanted in every believer.
  4. Light has an effect (John 3:18-20). Darkness likes darkness, and does not want to be exposed.
  5. We choose light or darkness (1 John 1:5-7). As believers, we have the daily choice to either walk in the light or allow the light within us to be hidden.

Through faith, God has made us positionally righteous, but He also calls us to live practically righteous- to walk in the light and let the light shine out

 

  Conversation points:

  • What is the most humorous or unusual event in your life (that can be shared in a group setting!) which is directly a result of being in the dark?  
  • How is the imagery of light and dark helpful in better understanding the tension between righteousness and unrighteousness? Why is this imagery so effective?  
  • Review the passages above (many of which are familiar within the church). Are there other insights you can glean from these passages when they are studied together?  
  • How might you practically “shine out” this week? Where or with whom can you share the light of Jesus within you? 

Inside Out - Move Out

Luke 7:11-17

We are currently exploring practical, biblical examples of our church’s mission: taking the life-changing reality of Jesus to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our world. Specifically, we’re focusing on eight verbs vital for anyone passionately living to reach others for Christ.

The world is significantly impacted by the Christian who gives and lives with compassion. Even though we give attention to the massive organizations that do so, compassion actually best happens everyday, anonymously, by each of us.

In Luke 7, Jesus demonstrates three steps of compassion:

  1. See the need (Luke 7:11-13). We are known to be followers of Jesus not by how much we know about the Bible, but rather by how much we move out compassionately towards others.
  2. Feel the need (Luke 7:13). The English word “compassion” comes from two Latin words which literally means “suffering with” others- we need to see long enough to feel. Each of us has been brought through a unique set of personal experiences so that we can have compassion for others.
  3. Act on the need (Luke 7:13). When Jesus acts, he breaks custom, religious law, molds, and stereotypes, all the while hurting his own reputation, future well being, and any possibility of personal gain. As Soren Kierkegaard observed, “love in Christ was pure action.”

Let’s challenge ourselves to be more aware of needs, feel the pains of others, and then act. Let’s move out- from internal growth to external action through increasingly compassionate lives for Christ.

Conversation points:

  • Which charitable organizations have you worked with or contributed to in the past? What is it about those organizations that inspire you?
  • When considering opportunities to move out and meet the needs of others, two questions can be helpful: “what am I passionate about?” and “what breaks my heart?” How would you answer those questions?
  • What steps could you take to become more consistent in seeing, feeling, and acting on behalf of those around you?

Inside Out - Give Out

Matthew 6:24-34

We are currently exploring practical, biblical examples of our church’s mission: taking the life-changing reality of Jesus to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our world. Specifically, we’re focusing on eight verbs vital for anyone passionately living to reach others for Christ.

Every person who believes in Jesus and follows Jesus has the tremendous potential of living out what has been changed on the inside. This “inside out” living doesn’t happen automatically, however- it happens intentionally. One of the most fundamental ways we can intentionally live out our faith is by unleashing generosity- to give out.

It’s really easy to lean heavily on our finances and wealth- for our hope to migrate to our things instead of our Savior. In Matthew 6 Jesus postulates that the primary reason we worry is because we have placed our trust in riches, not in the One who richly provides. Instead, we should choose to be grateful, leaning on the One who gave us all that we need.

Generosity isn't about expecting anything in return. It’s about trying in some small way to reflect what God has done for us. Gratitude like this goes hand in hand with generosity, allowing us to have peace in our heart as well as money in the bank.

Let’s decide ahead of time to do more and give more. If God has blessed you with more than you need, it is so that you can share your abundance with those in need. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone did this?

Conversation points:

  • Why do you think people struggle with being generous? Why do people hesitate to give to those in need even though they often have more than they need?
  • How might something as simple as generosity to others change people’s perception of Christians and the church?
  • What is one thing you can do this week to begin to put your hope in God instead of your stuff? How might you more consistently live under the reality that everything you have belongs to him?

Inside Out: Speak Out

Acts 1:6-11, 7:54-56, 17:16-18

Last week we began exploring practical, biblical examples of our church’s mission: taking the life-changing reality of Jesus to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our world. Specifically, we’re focusing on eight verbs vital for anyone passionately living to reach others for Christ.

As believers of Jesus we are committed to a personal relationship with God, so that we can each be influencers of others. Our first step, from last week, is to love out. This week we look closer at the call to speak out.

The decision to follow Jesus is the change we experience on the inside- but the inside happens for the outside. We do not exist to only live in a growing relationship with Jesus, to merely be holy by attending services, reading our Bible and praying. We do all of that so that we can fulfill God’s mission for us to reach a lost world for him. The single greatest act of compassion we could ever think to offer this world is to faithfully share the message of Jesus Christ.

Notice how motivated Paul was to share the good news in Acts 17:16-18. He simply could not help himself! All of us talk about what we love the most- for Paul, that was Jesus!

From the beginning of the church, the plan has always been for Christ followers to speak out, and it has always been accompanied with risk. The church’s very first martyr, Stephen, was killed for clearly speaking that salvation was only through Jesus Christ (Acts 7). Speaking the compassionate message of Jesus has never been popular, but it has always been the method chosen and directed by God.

Love out. Speak out. May we live from the inside out through both our actions and our words.

Conversation points:

  • Talk about a time when you tried to share your faith with someone. What method/tactics did you use? How did it go?
  • If you’ve hesitated to share your faith in the past, what was it that held you back?
  • What are some practical things you can do to begin each day determined to point others to Jesus? How can this group help?

Inside Out: Love Out

Mark 12:30-31

Since its inception the fundamental purpose of the local church is to reach others with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church is the only organization that exists for its non-members. The church is not intended to be “Christian Hospice”, making the believer comfortable until the end. Instead, our desire should be to thrive in our walk with Jesus so that we can meet the needs of people in our everyday life.

Over the next several weeks we will explore practical, biblical examples of our church’s mission: taking the life-changing reality of Jesus to our neighborhoods, our cities, and our world. Specifically, we will focus on eight verbs vital for anyone passionately living to reach others for Christ.

First and foremost is the command to love. In Mark 12:30-31, a scribe attempts to trap Jesus by asking him to name the greatest commandment. Jesus’ response is the essence of our mission:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

Love God. Love others.

Each of us have a tendency to self preserve- to look and live inward. Jesus’ command to love others offers us no place to hide. It offers no loopholes, short cuts, or workarounds. So when you're not sure what to say or do, do what love requires of you. That’s living inside out.

Conversation points:

  • What are some things you think people today find resistible about Christians and the church? Is their assessment fair? Why or why not?
  • How does one love God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength? Why does Jesus emphasize these four areas? How do they differ from one another?
  • Think about a person or group of people who you find difficult to love. What are some obstacles you have to overcome to love them? How might you overcome those obstacles? How can this group help?

That's What I Want: There Are Reasons

Last week, we looked at Paul's incredible zeal in his pursuit to know Jesus more deeply. He kept this as his sole focus. This sort of thing can be easier to do when life is comfortable, but life isn't always comfortable. Paul's life certainly wasn't always comfortable (2 Corinthians 11:16-33). This week we take a look at Paul's reasons to earnestly follow Jesus when life is difficult. 

He reminds us that we're fragile, but that there is a reason we're fragile. We are fragile so our lives can demonstrate the excellence of the power of God.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

He reminds us, in the midst of whatever our current affliction, that we have a reason to hope. 
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison... 2 Corinthians 4:17

He reminds us that while we live, there is a reason—to live as ambassadors of Christ.

Discussion Points:

  • Who have you known that lived like they knew these reasons to follow Jesus? How has their unwavering pursuit of Jesus in the midst of hardship inspired you?
  • How can we encourage each other to keep our attention on Jesus and eternity instead of letting it drift towards our present and momentary afflictions?

That's What I Want: Moving Along

Philippians 3:7-16

As we noticed last week, the laser-like focus of the apostle Paul’s faith can be seen throughout his letters. Why was Paul so intense about his faith? What drove him?

One of the more transparent passages regarding Paul’s faith journey is found in Philippians 3:7-16. Several familiar verses in this passage vividly portray the passion Paul had for following Jesus:

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (3:8)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (3:13-14)

These words reveal Paul’s insatiable drive to move in the direction of Jesus- to know him deeper and fuller every day. Paul’s motivation was Christ- everything else was in his rear-view mirror. May we possess the same defined direction in our lives.

Conversation points:

  • Talk about things in your past that had incredible importance, but are now inconsequential. What were the circumstances that led to this change?
  • Who or what do you think contributed to creating the drive Paul had for following Christ? Do you think he was influenced more by internal or external factors?
  • It is a common understanding that believers should desire a deeper relationship with Christ. How would you describe what this looks like practically in life? How can you tell when you’re growing closer to Jesus?