Growth Group Leader’s Guide – Spring 2016 – Week 6

 

Getting to Know You  

Read the priestly Blessing: Numbers 6:24-26.

  1. What comes to mind as you hear the blessing? Do you think of UMYF or Dr. Walker?
  2. What is the biggest act of blessing you have done for someone else?
  3. How have you experienced the blessings of grace and peace in your life?

 

Going Deeper

Watch:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ab_gF5sffEw

  1. What stood out to you in the video?
  2. Why do you think people were discouraged from looking at the priests during the blessing? It is important to not confuse the messenger with the message. God is the source of blessing not the person saying the blessing.  
  3. How do you distinguish a blessing from God versus another person? All blessing comes from the LORD.

 

Read Matthew 6:5-6. 

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

 

  1. Why would praying in a very public way ruin the experience? Prayer is about connecting to God. If our aim in a prayer is impressing others then it leaves little room for God.  
  2. How can we pray in public and not lose focus?
  3. In your life, do you experience more public or private prayers?
  4. In v. 6, Jesus instructs us to enter our “prayer closet,” what does He mean? [A prayer closet is what the priest were doing by covering themselves with their prayer shawls. It is not a physical closet but a way to remove ourselves from the world.  The modern act of closing our eyes reflects this practice.] 
  5. Where is your prayer closet? It can be in the car on the way to work, the shower, etc.

 

Read Matthew 6:1-4. 

6 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

 

  1. Why does God involve people in the act of blessing others in the first place? The LORD’s aim has always been to teach us to be like Him. Children learn by imitating their parents. He longs for us to be a blessing as He is a blessing.
  2. Why does Jesus again warn us again about publicly taking credit for blessing people? If we seek credit, the focus is not on God or the other person.
  3. Have you ever been blessed in secret? What did it feel like?
  4. In what ways is our church a blessing to Midland?

 

Read Genesis 22:15-18.

15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

 

  1. What was Abraham blessed with? He overcame his fear and trusted God in all things, even the life of his son, Isaac.
  2. How can we today understand ourselves to be blessed because of Abraham? Our Christian faith grew out of Abraham’s relationship with God.
  3. Could future generation be blessed based on our actions?

 

 

 

Take it home

  1. Who can you bless this week?
  2. Can you find time for both public and private prayer this week?

 



Growth Group Leader’s Guide – Spring 2016 – Week 5

Getting to Know You  

  1. In your own understanding, what is a blessing?
  2. When have you been most blessed? (Beyond your family and your faith?)
  3. Do you feel this generation has been more or less blessed than those who have come before?

 

Going Deeper

Read Deuteronomy 7:12-13.

12 Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:

13 And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he swear unto thy fathers to give thee.
 
  1. How does God promise to bless Israel? Cattle, sheep, goats etc.…
  2. What does Israel need to accomplish for these blessings to be realized? Faithfully follow the laws of the LORD, or trust God more than any other source in life.
  3. Why would God bless the Israelites this way? Such wealth would have been seen as divine favor.
  4. What would a comparable list look like in modern terms? Would you want to be blessed that way?

 

Read Matthew 5:1-12. 

5 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

 

  1. Who are the blessed in this passage? Those in need, who long for God.
  2. How does the Kingdom of Heaven factor into blessings? The Kingdom is the place where God and man live in proper relationship.  This is the place of blessing.
  3. What is God’s aim in blessing people? God answers their needs in life to highlight their greatest need is for the presence of Christ.

 

Read Jeremiah 17:7-8. 

 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

 

  1. Who are the blessed in this passage? V.7 those who trust and hope in the LORD. 
  2. How can our “roots” reach deep into the water? We recognize our life is part of God’s plan. We take strength and assurance from God’s Will.
  3. The trees near the river are not bothered by the heat and their leaves stay green.  How is it possible for Christians to stay “green” in hard times? Faith in Christ.

 

Read James1:12.

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

 

  1. Who does God bless in this passage? Those who patiently endure.
  2. What is the reward promised? Crown of life. Why would we care about this reward in Heaven? The crown is a reflection of life we are entrusted with in eternity.
  3. What areas of life have you had to “patiently endure?”

 

Take it home

  1. Can you recognize a blessing from God once a day?
  2. How can you bless a person at least once a day?
  3. Can you bless God (give thanks) for one part of your life today?


Growth Group Leader’s Guide – Spring 2016 Week 1

 Getting to Know You

  1. What’s your idea of a musical extravaganza?  Half-time at the Super Bowl?  100-piece orchestra?  Jazz band?  Mormon Tabernacle choir?  Rock the Desert? Illustrate some favorite experience you have had, then have a couple of folks share theirs.  You will probably have to move the group on, as everyone has some favorite memory and story.
  2. How do you express your joy when you finish a project?  A meal, shopping, just pausing and resting, give a standing ovation for yourself, calling someone? What’s your favorite way of celebrating?  What styles of worship have you experienced? This is kind of like ordering at Starbucks, the responses may go from a-z.  Caution:  Someone may climb onto a soapbox here.
  3. Be prepared to share your experience if you have ever climbed the walls of a city, or on top of a city wall. Historic forts, seawalls, old cities around the world.  You are headed into the scripture now.

 

Nehemiah 12

27  At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28  The singers also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem–from the villages of the Netophathites, 29  from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the singers had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30  When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall. 31  I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks.

 

37  At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the house of David to the Water Gate on the east.

38  The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people–past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall,

 

40  The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials,

41  as well as the priests–Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah with their trumpets–

42  and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam and Ezer. The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah.

43  And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.

 

 

Digging Deeper

  1. What specific actions did the priests, Levites, and singers take? The purification rites, (12:45) singing (the choirs); the Levites had the job of inviting everyone (12:27).
  2. What was the purpose of the procession?  It was a part of the dedication day. It had the practical person of begin sure there were people around the entire wall. Who was included in each group? The “band” and singers.   Who led each group?  There was a choir director, Jezrihiah who led the two choirs.  The “leaders”  (12:31) How is this different from chapter 1 when Nehemiah circled the city at night?
  3. If you were there, what would you see, hear, feel, smell, touch? Persons of all ages.  Levites and priests in their robes, the city from the top of the wall, the surrounding countryside.   Feeling of great joy.  Smell? Animal sacrifices (12:43)   Just imagine.  Touch?  The purification ritual.
  4. What steps of appreciation do the people take to ensure that those who serve at the temple are cared for? Read 12:44, to compensate the Levites, priests, and—maybe the singers and gatekeepers.  Ezra had paid a director to lead his choir. (Book of Ezra).
  5. Scanning the book of Nehemiah, what themes do you pick up?  What/Who stands in the way of the rebuilding of the wall? Jews began to doubt and complain and get tired..  Tribal leaders from around Jerusalem.
  6. Can you recall a time when a project was so big that it could be completed only with the help of God?  Was the rebuilding of the wall more of God’s doing—or of Nehemiah’s doing? 
  7. Ezra and Nehemiah are together one story.  See Nehemiah 8:1. What was the impact of hearing the scriptures read from the Books of Moses? 8:1, 5, etc.

 

Take It Home

  1. What situation/experience/event are you celebrating today? Birthdays, anniversaries, births, spiritual high moments?
  2. What “mood” do you bring to our worship services?  Would it be good to have more of that kind of a “mood”?—or less? A variety of answers, from angry to happy.
  3. When you attend worship this week, look for elements in the service that express praise to God. 
  4. What is God calling you to lead for His people? Is it time for you to step into a role that leads people to worship, celebration, service, compassion?  What are you considering—or what role have you enjoyed in the past in the church (or a previous one.) 


Growth Group Leader’s Guide Week 2 of November

Getting to Know You

These questions are very important as you get to know each other in your group.  Remember, Growth Groups are largely about developing significant Christian relationships with people in our church. These questions are designed to open up class member on a personal levelPlease ensure tenderness and grace are extended to all who share.  However, make sure you leave at least a little time to work through some of the digging deeper questions.

  1. Do you think Edward Snowden (former CIA employee, and former government contractor who leaked classified information from NSA in 2013) is a traitor?  Does it matter that he believed he was helping his country?  Would you ever trust him again? (Jesus trusted Peter and Disciples with the fate of the world.) What would you have done in his position?   Is treason ever justified? Central to this week’s Scripture is Peter and Judas’ betrayal of Jesus.
  2. What is the greatest act of betrayal you have ever known?  Peter, like Judas betrayed Jesus at a critical moment but their relationship will be restored in John 21:4-22.
  3. What is the hardest thing you have ever forgiven?
  4. Does forgiving someone free you from the pain of betrayal or make you venerable again?    

 

Digging Deeper

Read Matthew 26:31-35 and 69-74.

You’ll probably only have time to answer one or two of the Digging Deeper questions.  You will want to choose the question(s) in advance that you will focus on.

Verses 26:31-35

Peter’s Denial Foretold

31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,

‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

32 But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 33 Peter said to him, “Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And so said all the disciples.

 

  1. Why would He declare they are going to betray Him?  Jesus’ arrest is immanent and His followers must decide if they will follow Him through trial and execution.  What was Jesus’ aim for warning the Disciples?  Jesus cites a Scripture to remind them this is God’s plan and above all He will rise from the dead and meet them in Galilee.  What is Peter’s reaction? Is he being sincere?
  2. What does Jesus think about Peter’s deceleration?  See v. 34.
  3. What do you think God feels about promises we make that He knows we will never keep?

 

 

Verses 26:69-74

Peter’s Denial of Jesus

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.”71 When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”[a] 72 Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed.

 

  1. Why does Peter lose his nerve in front of the servant girls?  What good could he have done?
  2. Were Jesus’ words about the rooster helpful? Were they meant to be?

Can Scripture be convicting on one occasion and encouraging later?

 

Read John 21:4-19

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards[a] off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

 

 

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

 

  1. Where have the Disciples gone?  What does that mean?
  2. What is Jesus doing on the shore?  Why would that be important?
  3. What does Jesus ask Peter?  Why does Jesus ask three times?
  4. What is Peter to do?  How?
  5. Where was Judas?  Would Jesus have asked him the same questions?

 

Take It Home

If you had been Jesus would you have forgiven Peter?  Who was the real Peter?  The Peter who denied Jesus or the one who spread the Gospel?  What difference did Jesus’ forgiveness make in Peter’s life?  What difference does it make in yours?

Closing Prayer



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