1. Have you ever had a showdown with someone-whether on the playground as a kid or even as an adult? How did turn out?
2. Read 1 Kings 18:17-24. How did King Ahab taunt Elijah and why was he so mistaken? What did Elijah say in response? How do you think this set the stage for the big showdown?
3. Reread 1 Kings 18:21. How did Elijah call out the people of Israel? What’s the problem with having a divided allegiance or trying to ride the fence with God? In what ways are we tempt-ed to live that way today? Where does it lead? See Rev 3:15-16.
4. Read 1 Kings 18:26-29. What were the prophets of Baal expecting and how did this increase the franticness of their actions? How did Elijah respond to them? What kind of response did they get from their god?
5. Even though we might not build altars to pagan gods today, what are some of the false gods we’re tempted to worship? See Matt 6:19-21. What sort of answers or response do we hope to get from them? How do they remain silent, just like the false gods of Baal? What’s the danger of taking a good thing from God and turning into an ultimate thing that we idolize?
6. Read 1 Kings 18:33-39. Why do you think Elijah poured so much water on the altar? How did he pray to God? What was his motive? How can we humbly and faithfully pray for God to be revealed in our lives? Why is this especially important to pray during times of difficulty and struggle? See 1 Pet 1:6-7; 2 Cor 12:9.
- What’s your favorite food or treat to snack on? Are you good at sharing it-or do you keep it all to yourself?
- Read James 5:16-18. How does James describe Elijah? Why is it important to put ourselves in his shoes? Read 1 Kings 16:29-33. How would you describe the environment in which God called Elijah to minister? How might the idolatry and wickedness of his day be evident in our world today?
- Read 1 Kings 17:1-6. How did God provide for Elijah in a most peculiar way? In what ways does His provision in our lives come in surprising and unique ways? Why is it so tempting to worry and doubt that He’ll provide and take care of us? Read Matt 6:25-27. According to those verses, why is worrying such a wasted effort?
- Read 1 Kings 17:7-12. In what ways was Elijah confronted with emptiness and very little? How can we tend to focus on our emptiness and lose sight of God’s provision? Read 1 Kings 17:13-16. How did Elijah respond to the widow and how did this stretch her faith? In what ways does God try to stretch our faith? Share any personal examples.
- As believers, even though we claim to have faith in God, why do we try to live in situations where we can say I’ve got this, instead of intentionally putting ourselves into situations where we have to say God’s got this? How can we trust Him more fully in those times?
- Read John 6:8-13. What did Jesus do with the little amount that was available? Why is God not concerned about what we bring to the table, but about what He gives to us in Jesus? See Rom 3:23. How is Jesus the ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction we can find? See John 6:35. In what ways should His love and grace overflow in our lives on a daily basis?
1. What’s the best April Fool’s Day trick you’ve ever pulled on someone? What’s the best April Fool’s trick someone’s pulled on you that you never saw coming? How was Easter morning something no one saw coming?
2. Read Col 2:13-15. Why is it necessary for the record of our sins to be nailed to the cross? How does the grace of Christ triumph over the guilt of our sins? Why is important to remember that God doesn’t forgive us reluctantly or begrudgingly, but eagerly because of Christ? See John 3:16-17.
3. Read John 20:1-9. What happened to Jesus’ grave clothes? How was this different from Lazarus’ grave clothes? See John 11:43-44. What’s the fundamental difference between these two resurrections that the grave clothes highlight?
4. Read 1 Cor 15:20-23. What does it mean that Christ is the firstfruits? How is His resurrection something with permanent repercussions? What does it guarantee for you?
5. Read John 20:24-28. Do you think Thomas’ skepticism was valid? What led him to believe? What did his response to Jesus communicate about his heart? How should we have the same response to Jesus?
6. Read John 20:29-31. Even though we haven’t seen the nail holes in Jesus hands, how can we still believe in Him? Why is believing something more than just understanding the facts in our head? Do you think we try to live well and add to what Jesus has done, instead of just believing in what He’s already done for us? How can we rest confidently in the finished work of Christ?
- What’s the most valuable or important thing you’ve ever broken? How did you feel? Did you replace it?
- Read John 12:1-3. What was Mary’s reason for breaking the jar and pouring out her expensive perfume? How was it extravagant, but not wasteful? What are some ways we can demonstrate that same kind of costly devotion to Jesus today?
- Read John 12:4-7; Mark 14:4-9. Why was Mary scolded for her actions? How was Judas’ response logical financially, but not spiritually? Why might we try to maintain a safe, restrained distance from Jesus that isn’t too costly? How is that more costly in the long run?
- Read John 12:9-11. Why did the chief priests want to put Lazarus to death? What was their motive for rejecting Jesus? See also John 11:47-48, 53. What are some reasons people give for rejecting Jesus today? How might you challenge someone who said Jesus is just a crutch for the weak or someone not to get too carried away with?
- Read John 12:12-19. How did the crowd respond to Jesus? See Ps 118:25-26. What does it mean for us today to recognize that Jesus is our King? Read John 12:20-24. How did Jesus answer the Greeks question? How does His death bear much fruit?
- Read John 12:27. How did Jesus respond to the cross? Why do you think He chose to follow through with it? Why must we recognize that Jesus body was broken and His life poured out for us? See Eph 5:2; 1 Pet 1:18-21. In what ways can your heart intentionally focus on Jesus’ sacrifice this week of Good Friday and Easter?
- If you’ve seen any superhero movies or read any comics, who’s your favorite superhero? Who’s your favorite “superhero” from the Bible? Why do you think our culture is so interested in superheroes? What makes us drawn to them?
- Read James 5:13. What does the spectrum of prayer cover? Why is it important to pray when we’re suffering? Can you think of a time when God answered your prayers during a season of suffering or difficulty? Why is it often much easier to complain in those times, instead of pray? See James 5:8-11.
- Read 2 Cor 12:7-10; Luke 22:42-43. How did the Lord answer both Paul’s and Jesus’ prayer during a time of suffering? How does that encourage us in our lives when facing difficulties? Do you think it’s easy to forget to pray when things are going well in life? Why or why not? How can we be more intentional in this? See Ps 34:1-3.
- Read James 5:14-16. What role does the body of Christ play in praying for one another? Why is confession important? What’s the danger in praying for someone’s physical healing but neglecting to pray for their spiritual life?
- Why does the prayer of a righteous person have great power? Why is it wrong to think that people who are “prayer warriors” or “extra spiritual” have more effective prayers? What’s the source of prayer’s great power? How should that encourage us to pray more fervently and faithfully?
- Read James 5:17-18. Why is it easy to think that Elijah was a Bible superhero far beyond our capabilities? How does James describe his nature and why is that important to remember? What is God calling you to speak with Him about in prayer? Take time to pray about it with your Small Group.
1. Do you still play board games? What was one of your favorite board games to play when you were a kid?
2. Read James 4:13-17. Why do you think people fall under the illusion that they can plot the course of their lives and determine their own steps? Why do you think James calls this attitude “arrogant boasting” and “evil”?
3. What do you think people mean when they use the phrase, “Lord willing”? Read Col. 1:16-17. How might resting in God’s sovereign control and knowing that He alone determines the duration and direction of our lives shape the way we make our plans and live our lives?
4. Read James 5:1-6. Why do you think self-indulgence seems to be the default lifestyle in this world? How are we tempted to overly invest or indulge in things that will not last? How might living with eternity in view help us to devalue earthly treasure and invest in the things of heaven? (Mt. 6:19-21; Lk. 12:16-21).
5. Read James 5:7-11. What is one thing that you are currently eagerly awaiting (e.g. graduation, wedding, new baby, vacation, retirement, etc.)? How does your anticipation of this earthly (though important) event compare to that of the anticipation of Christ’s return?
6. Read Mt. 6:10; 1 Cor 11:26. Why do you think Jesus taught his disciples to pray this way? Why do you think Communion includes the regular reminder of the Lord’s coming? Why must we be a people with eternity always in view?
- Are you someone who reads the instruction manual all the way through before starting? Do you just read it step by step? Or do you ignore it all together? Have you ever run into trouble because you didn’t consult the instruction manual?
- In what way(s) is God’s Word our instruction manual? See 2 Tim 3:16-17. Why do people often neglect it until they run into trouble in life or hit rock bottom? How can we be more intentional and proactive in reading it and applying it’s wisdom to our lives?
- Read James 4:1-3. What does James say is the reason for our quarrels and conflicts? Why are we often quick to point the finger to others instead of looking within ourselves? In what ways does the world promote a pleasure-first lifestyle? What are examples of ways we wrongly pray to achieve our pleasures?
- Read James 4:4. What does it mean to be a friend of the world? Why does this create hostility to God? How is intentionally engaging unbelievers different from pursuing friendship with the world? See Matt 11:19; John 17:14-18.
- Read James 4:5-6. Why is God’s jealousy for us a good thing, especially when we wander from Him and get caught up in the affairs of the world? What does His jealousy do in our lives? What should our response be to Him?
- Read James 4:7-10. What does it mean to draw near to God? How did the prodigal son display the right attitude in drawing near to his father? See Luke 15:13-20. How is the father’s response similar to God’s response when we draw near to Him? What obstacles or issues keep us from drawing near to God?
- Who’s the smartest person you’ve ever known? Who’s the wisest person you’ve ever known? What’s the difference between them?
- How would you define wisdom? What’s the difference between knowing facts and possessing godly wisdom? Read Prov 4:7. Why is wisdom so important to have?
- Read James 3:13. Why is wisdom displayed by meekness? What does meekness look like in our lives? Why can’t someone whose life is marked by arrogance or immorality be considered wise?
- Read James 3:14-16. Why does the world’s wisdom justify selfish ambition as something good? In what ways might we also try to justify jealousy? How are we pressured to adopt the world’s wisdom in our lives? Where does it lead if we don’t resist it?
- Read James 3:17-18. In what ways is the wisdom from above others-centered? What are some examples or situations when we need to be peaceable, gentle and open to reason? See Prov 28:26; 29:1. What happens if we’re not submissive and open to reason? What does being a peacemaker look like, especially when you encounter difficult people?
- Read 1 Cor 1:18-24. Why do you think the cross is foolishness to the world? How is Jesus the wisdom of God? Why is losing our lives for His sake worth it, even if the people in your life don’t get it? See Mark 8:35-36.
- Do you remember any troublemakers when you were in school? Were you a troublemaker? Why are the smallest things often the most troublesome?
- Read James 3:1-4. How is our tongue like the bit in a horse’s mouth or the rudder of a ship? Where will our tongues direct us if we’re not careful? How should we keep a guard on them? See Ps 141:3.
- Read Ps 19:14; Matt 12:34-37. What do our words reveal about our hearts? How can our hearts and words be in alignment? How might this also apply to our words on social media, texts, emails, Facebook, etc?
- Read James 3:5-8. How are our tongues like a wildfire or an untamed beast? Have you ever experienced a time when you said more than you should and ended up gossiping or tearing someone down? In what ways do we wrongly justify gossip? How does the abundance of words get us into trouble? See Prov 15:1-2, 4 ,7, 18, 28.
- In what areas do you think people struggle the most with their tongues?
- Telling half-truths
- Talking about people in a negative light
- Gossiping about peoples’ struggles and mistakes
- Putting ourselves in a positive light at the expense
of someone else
- Passing along confidential information about others
- Read James 3:9-12. Why does God want our tongues to bless and worship Him, not curse and destroy others? What’s wrong with staying silent and not blessing the Lord? See Luke 19:37-40; Rev 7:9-10. How can you more intentionally use your words to speak of the majesty of God instead of just the mundane things of life?
1. Describe a time when your faith in the Lord was renewed. (Examples: sin repented of; a deeper sense of the Lord’s call on your life; a discipline you’ve been able to keep; a greater sense of the Lord’s power and presence; a restored relationship; etc.)
2. What steps led you to this renewal of faith?
3. In the passage, what role do repentance and trust play in Israel’s renewed relationship with the Lord? Describe the results of Israel’s repentance and trust.
4. What does this passage tell us about how the Lord works through repentance and trust to renew and bless His people?
5. Think through areas of your life the Lord might want to renew. How could repentance and/or trust open you up to His gracious power?
PRAY to the Lord for guidance about renewal and what deeper trust and/or repentance might look like in your life.
SEEK the wisdom of one or two Christians (preferably small group members) if you feel like you’re on the brink of renewal and need help with next steps.
CONFESS known sin and repent of it, knowing that God is gracious and eager to forgive and bless us when we turn from sin.
CELEBRATE any renewing work the Lord has done in your life! Renewal is just too cool to keep under wraps!
1. Are you afraid of heights? Would you have enough faith to stand on the lookout deck of a tall skyscraper or go skydiving? What’s the highest place you’ve been?
2. Read James 2:14-17. What does James mean by good works? What are some examples that come to mind? In what ways might people try to argue that faith without works is acceptable? Why isn’t it?
3. Read James 2:18. What would you say to someone who claimed to be a Christian but didn’t show it? See Matt 7:16-20. What encouragement would you give to another believer who has evidence of genuine faith but who never feels like they measure up to God’s standard?
4. What role do good works play in our faith? Why is it easy to blur the line between doing a good work as a means of salvation and doing a good work as evidence of salvation? What happens if we get this order wrong? See Eph 2:8-9
5. Read James 2:19-26. How did Abraham’s good works complete his faith? See Gen 22:9-12. Why do you think God wants to test our faith through hard and sacrificial situations? Is there a time God called you to obey Him in a hard and sacrificial situation? How did it stretch your faith?
6. Why is genuine faith not just something internal or academic but external and active? Read Luke 10:30-32. How did the first two men reveal a dead faith? Read Luke 10:33-37. How did the Samaritan wholeheartedly and sacrificially respond and not settle for the bare minimum in his good works? How can we follow his example? See Eph 2:10.
- Have you ever spilled on or stained a favorite item of clothing? Did you still wear it even though it was stained, or did you get rid of it? Read James 1:27. How can we keep ourselves unstained from the world?
- Have you ever had a teacher, coach, boss or parent that showed favoritism? How did it make you feel? Read James 2:1-4. Why do you think James finds favoritism to be such an important issue? What does it reveal about our hearts?
- In what ways is it tempting to show favoritism? Why do people tend to show favoritism toward the rich and ignore or reject the poor? What steps can we take to not get caught up in the fleeting glory of social status or wealth but be consumed with the glory of Christ? See John 1:14; 17:24.
- Read James 2:5; 1 Cor 1:26-30; Luke 5:31-32. What sorts of people does God call to follow Him? How are we all equal before Him at the foot of the cross? What does this do to our boasting or desire to play favorites? How has Jesus reached out to us in our spiritual poverty? See 2 Cor 8:9.
- Imagine you tried to reach out to an outsider at school or work but others ridiculed you for it or told you to ignore that person. How would you respond in that situation? Why do you think we tend to focus on external things and judge people according to how they look on the outside instead of who they are on the inside? See 1 Sam 16:6-7.
- Read James 2:8-13. Why does a critical and judgmental spirit lead to favoritism? How does showing mercy diffuse favoritism? Why should we seek to reach out to those we can bless and benefit, even if we won’t always get repaid? See Luke 14:12-14.
- Are you a good listener? Do others consider you to be a good listener? What makes someone a good listener?
- Read Jas. 1:19-20. Why does anger tend to quickly follow when we are not quick to hear and slow to speak, but rather are slow to hear and quick to speak? When are you most tempted to be quick to speak and perhaps quick to anger?
- Read Jas. 1:21; 1 Pt. 1:22-23. How is the gospel like a seed implanted within us? Why is meekness, humility, and a teachable spirit necessary for the gospel to take root in us and produce a life that is pleasing to God? When do you find it most difficult to have a teachable spirit? How can your group pray for you in this area?
- Read Jas. 1:22-24. What are some ways that people deceive themselves into thinking that it’s enough just to be a hearer of the word? Have you ever found yourself being challenged after hearing the word but then fail to do something about it? Why do you think that happens? What is one thing you’ve heard from God’s word recently that you would like to act on? Will you?
- Read Jas. 1:25. Why do people seek freedom and blessing by trying to make their own rules and be their own god? How would you explain to a non-believing friend or family member that this is not the way?
- How is the Scripture memory going so far? (If you’re brave enough, try sharing last week’s verse with your group.) How might the discipline of Scripture memory be an opportunity for you to “hear and do” over the course of this sermon series?
- What was your favorite moment from 2017? What’s one goal you have set for 2018? What will keep you from accomplishing it?
- Why should our faith be something practical and active, not just an academic thing or something we do on Sundays? What obstacles keep your faith from working all day, every day? How can you be more intentional in living out your faith?
- Read James 1:1-4. How do most people attempt to make it through difficult trials? What qualifies as a trial in the life of a believer? Do you think it’s asking too much to count them as joy? What does that look like in our lives?
- Why do you think God wants to toughen up our faith and develop steadfastnesses in us? What should we do when we struggle to understand why He’s taking us through something difficult? See James 1:5-8. What does doubting reveal about our faith?
- Read James 1:12-15. Why are trials often an easy time to give in to temptation? Where does temptation come from and why do we think it offers so much? Why do we wrongly treat our desires as more trustworthy than God? Where does temptation lead if we don’t resist it and see through its deception?
- Read James 1:16-18. What are some examples of the good and perfect gifts God wants to bless us with? How would your life change if you zeroed in on those things? See Ps 84:10-12. How can you live as a kind of firstfruits that makes people hunger for what God is doing, even during the hard times and trials you face?
- When you receive a Christmas gift you don’t like, are you someone who asks for the receipt and returns it, re-gifts it for someone else, puts it in the closet to never be used again, or tries your best to like it and get some use out of it?
- Why is a gift something you don’t have to pay for? Why do people often think they have to pay God back for what He’s given them? In what ways do people try? Why is God’s gift of grace free? See Rom 6:23; Eph 2:8-9
- Read Rom 5:15-17. In what ways did Adam’s trespass affect all people? In what ways has the gift of Jesus overcome that and abounded for many?
- Why is it necessary to receive the gift of Jesus? What does that mean? Why do so many people neglect to receive Him, or not understand their need to receive Him? Share with your group when you received Jesus into your life?
- Read John 1:10-13. How does receiving Jesus change our identity? What happens when we lose sight of our new identity in Him?
- Read Luke 2:8-12. It’s easy for all the gifts at Christmas to overshadow Christ. How can you make the gifts under your tree a tangible reminder of His gift of grace to us? What are ways that you and your family focus on Him amidst all the hustle and bustle of the season?
- Are you someone who knows what they want for Christmas (what is it?), or are you someone who has no idea what you want and are hard to shop for?
- What’s your favorite family tradition at Christmastime? What do you tend to anticipate most about the season? Why is it easy to get caught up in the way the culture celebrates Christmas and end up missing Christ? How can we remedy this?
- Read Matt 1:18-25; Luke 1:30-35. What makes the reality of Jesus’ birth so staggering to understand? Why do you think God didn’t just send us a program or a process to follow, but sent us the person of His Son in human flesh?
- How do Joseph and Mary reveal the kind of belief and obedience we’re called to have? Do you think it’s possible to obey God even when we don’t fully understand His plan? Share an example from your life.
- Read Isa 9:2; John 8:12; 23-24. Why do you think our state as lost sinners is described by darkness in God’s Word? How does that image capture our struggle? Why is the Christmas story a very realistic way of looking at life, that things really are that bad and we can’t fix it ourselves? How has Jesus come to change that? See John 1:1-5; Matt 1:21.
- How would you explain the following statement: The Christmas story is about a willing Savior born to rescue unwilling people from themselves. In what ways did Jesus demonstrate this willingness? How does that lead you to a greater worship of Him? See Rom 5:6-8; Phil 2:6-8.
- What do you like in fruit salad? What fruits are your favorite? Why would you prefer was left out?
- What comes to mind when you hear the words “self-control”? Do you think of self-control as an unwanted addition, an unwanted restriction, or is it something good?
- Read 1 Cor. 9:19. Why does taking on the posture of a servant require a willingness to lay aside our rights? (See Phil. 2:14; Rom. 12:10; Eph. 4:1-2). What freedoms/rights are you most resistant to laying aside when it comes serving others?
- Read 1 Cor. 9:20-23. Why is self-control not just a matter of personal holiness but also means to win people to Christ? How was Paul able to accommodate his methods without compromising his convictions or the gospel message itself?
- Read 1 Cor. 9:24-27. How is self-control for the sake of the gospel similar to an athlete’s training? Since we are called to “run that you may obtain [the prize]” (v. 24), what does your training plan look like? How can a Christian become more intentional about self-control for the sake of the gospel?
- Read Mark 10:43-45. How is Jesus the perfect picture of self control for the sake of the gospel (see Phil. 2:5-8; Gal. 4:4). How can Christ-like self-control in our lives point others to Christ our Redeemer and Savior?
- Can you think of a time you dropped or broke something important or valuable? Could you fix it or replace it?
- How would you define gentleness? How is it different from weakness or softness? Do you think someone with a tough exterior or a bold personality can be gentle? How are gentleness and manliness compatible?
- Read Isa 40:10-12; 21-26. How is God both infinitely powerful and perfectly gentle? Why do you think He restrains from unleashing His powerful wrath upon us, even though we deserve it? See Jonah 3:10-4:2; 2 Pet 3:9. Why is His gentleness necessary in our lives?
- Read John 4:7-18. How did Jesus display gentleness with the Samaritan woman? Why was this so shocking? See John 4:27-30. How should His gentleness challenge us when interacting with people we tend to judge or condemn? When do you find it most difficult to be gentle?
- Read John 3:16-17; Matt 11:28-30. How do these verses describe Jesus’ mission? Why does He not immediately condemn us in our sin, even though He could? How does He gently reach out to us despite our sin and baggage?
- Why is showing gentleness so important to the people in your life? What does that look like with unbelievers who don’t understand you? See 1 Pet 3:15-17. What does that look like when challenging a fellow believer? See Gal 6:1? How is our witness harmed when we’re not gentle? See Eph 4:1-2; Phil 4:4-5.
- Who was your most loyal friend growing up? In what ways did they stick by you and remain faithful?
- How would you define faithfulness? In what ways do we let our desire for personal convenience override our dependability to others? Why is faithfulness essential in any relationship? Why is this especially true with the Lord?
- Read Jonah 1:7-10. How did Jonah demonstrate that unfaithfulness is equal to disobedience and where did it lead him? In what ways was God faithful to him despite his unfaithfulness? See Jonah 2:2-10. How is God also faithful to us despite our unfaithfulness? Why is that a great comfort? See Lam 3:22-23; 2 Tim 2:11-13; 1 John 1:8-9
- Read 1 Sam 18:1-4; 20:30-34. How did Jonathan demonstrate great faithfulness to David? How was this at great cost to himself? Why does showing faithfulness to someone often involve humility on our part? How is standing by someone during the tough times a true test of faithfulness?
- Read Matt 25:14-23. Why is it so important to invest ourselves and our talents for God? What does He evaluate our lives on? What are examples of being faithful with the little that we’ve been given? Like the 3rd servant, what keeps us from being faithful? See Matt 25:24-27.
- In what ways does faithfulness lead to fruitfulness? Do you think we can be fruitful for the Lord without being faithful to Him? Why or why not? See John 15:1-4. How is great fruitfulness found in the small, everyday, mostly overlooked things? What are some examples?
- What do you love most about this time of year? If you could travel anywhere in the country for a fall getaway, where would you go?
- How would you define kindness? Why do we tend to equate it as just being nice and polite? Why do we think that waking up in a bad mood is a valid excuse for not showing kindness? Why shouldn’t this be the case? See Gal 5:22-23; Col 3:12; Eph 4:32.
- Read Titus 3:3-7; Phil 2:4-8. How would you describe the Lord’s kindness to us? How was He both aware of our needs and willing to do something about it? How should that same type of kindness be reflected in us? What keeps us from having an awareness of others and their needs?
- Read Luke 6:27-36. According to Jesus, why is doing good to those who do good to us nothing noteworthy or special? What are some examples of doing good to our enemies or being kind to those who are ungrateful? Why does this often seem too difficult or impossible? How does this reflect Christ to others?
- Read Eph 2:8-10. Why is it both comforting and challenging to know that God has prepared us for good works in advance? How should they be a part of our our everyday lives? How has your current job or role been an opportunity to do good works? See 1 Pet 4:10.
- Read Matt 5:14-16. How should our good works be the way that people see and praise God? How can you let your light shine brightly for Him? What happens when we wrongly want people to see and praise us for our good works?
- Who’s one of the most patient people you’ve ever met? Describe a time when you had to be really patient for something. How did it turn out?
- How would you define patience? Why is it more than just waiting for things? Why does patience require a long term perspective? How can developing patience be both a blessing and a challenge?
- Read Ps 40:1-5; 9-10. Why do you think David was able to wait patiently on the Lord while in a slimy pit? Why is remembering God’s past faithfulness to us important as we wait on Him in the present? See 1 Sam 17:37; Ps 100:5. What things blind us from seeing His past faithfulness?
- Read Ex 34:6; Jonah 4:2. How is God patient with us? How would you describe His steadfast love in your life? Why is it such a good thing that He’s slow to anger? What if He wasn’t?
- Read Matt 18:23-35. How would you describe the servant’s situation? What did the master do for him and why is his response to his fellow man so shocking? In what ways are we confronted with the same situation as the servant? How can our response to others be one of patience?
- Read 1 Tim 1:12-16. How did God show perfect patience to Paul? How does He show the same to us? Why do we often demand perfection from others instead of showing them patience? How can we change that to better reflect the gospel and what God’s done for us? See 1 Cor 13:4-7.
- When do you most feel at peace? Where’s the most peaceful place you’ve ever been? How would you define peace?
- Read Rom 1:18-25; 3:9-12, 20; 4:5; 5:1. In following the thread of Paul’s argument why is it so amazing that we can have peace with God? What is the basis of that peace? Why do you think so many people overlook the fact that as unbelievers we’re at war with God, not at peace?
- How does having peace with God lead to security and confidence in our relationship with Him? See Heb 10:19-23. What keeps us from experiencing God’s peace, especially during hard or difficult circumstances?
- Read Phil 4:4-7. How does the peace of God act like a guard over our hearts and minds? In what ways do you let worry and anxiety infiltrate your heart and steal that peace? How did Jesus find peace in the garden? See Mark 14:32-36. How can we have the same unwavering confidence in God’s will as He did?
- Read Rom 12:14-21. What does it mean to try and live peaceably with all (even those we struggle with)? How are repaying people for what they’ve done to us or seeking revenge polar opposites of pursuing peace? How do we fight that tendency and instead try to overcome evil with good?
- Read Col 3:12-15; John 16:33. How do we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts? What attitudes do we need to remove for that to happen? How are bearing with others and forgiving others practical examples of peace? How can we better live out those things?
- If given a day to yourself, what’s something you would most enjoy doing? What’s something you’d avoid?
- Read Gal 5:22-23. Why is joy important? How would you respond to someone who said they can live the Christian life and obey God without being joyful? Is it possible to be a joyless Christian? Why or why not?
- Read Phil 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:4. Why is joy not based on our mood, circumstances, situations, the weather or what side of the bed we woke up on? Why do we tend to think it is? How is our joy dependent on our relationship with Christ? See Rom 8:28; 35-39; Ps. 95:1-3.
- Reread Phil 4:4; 1 Thess 5:16. Do you believe it’s possible to rejoice always? What does that look like, especially during times of struggle and difficulty? Share a time that you rejoiced during the midst of a hard or painful situation.
- Read Ps. 13:1-6. Why does joy require an eternal perspective? What distracts us from that? What happens if we only focus on the here and now? See 2 Cor 4:16-18.
- How is joy an emotion? Even though we can’t choose how we feel, why is it important to choose what our hearts and minds will focus on? See Eph 1:16-19. How does Jesus promise us fullness of joy? What does that look like in our daily lives? See John 15:11; Ps 16:11.
- What are some of the chores or tasks you most avoid? Are you someone who tackles the hard stuff first or do you opt for the easy things and procrastinate on the hard?
- Read Gal 5:22-23. How is love the most important and yet most difficult of the fruit of the Spirit? Why doesn’t it come naturally? What aspects of love make it so challenging to display?
- Read Matt 7:12; 22:37-39. Who’s someone in your life that’s loved you the way Jesus is describing? How did that bless you? Why is a love of self one of the greatest threats to loving others? What can we do about it? See 2 Cor 5:14-15.
- Read 1 John 4:7-10. How would you explain the phrase God is love? How did God demonstrate love to us at great cost to Himself? Do we tend to avoid love when there’s a cost to ourselves? Why?
- Read 1 John 4:11-12; John 13:34-35. Why should our love result in tangible actions and words, not simply remaining as feelings or emotions? What are some practical ways our love for others can reveal Christ? See 1 Cor 13:1-8. Which of these descriptions of love do you want to grow in most?
- Read 1 John 4:19; Eph 3:16-19; 5:1-2. Why is showing love not based on digging deep and mustering up the strength to love others, but instead thinking deeply about Jesus’ love for us? What distracts us from that? How does grasping the depth of His love enable us to love others?
- What’s one of your favorite books or films? Who was your favorite character in it? Why?
- Why is character so important in our spiritual lives? Read Gal 5:22-24. Why doesn’t the Fruit of the Spirit seem to come naturally? Which fruit(s) do you find the most challenging to display?
- Read Gal 5:16-18; Rom 7:15-21. Why do you think our old self is totally opposed to our new self in Christ? How do we battle this tendency of our old self that’s always trying to get in the way of spiritual growth?
- Read Phil 4:8; Col 3:1-3. Why can’t we drift towards godliness but must make an intentional choice to pursue it? Describe a time when you reacted to something in the moment instead of pausing to respond in a Christlike way. Why are our initial reactions usually not the godly way to respond?
- Read Gal 5:19-26. What does it mean to walk by the Spirit? What things keep us from that? In what ways can we make the Fruit of the Spirit performance-based? See Matt 6:1-2. Why should it be an authentic display of who we are?
- Read John 15:4-8. Why is producing fruit only possible by being connected to Jesus and abiding in Him? In what ways are we tempted to live like a lone branch? How can you encourage each other in your small group to abide in Him?
1. What was the best thing you did this summer? What are you most looking forward to this fall?
2. Why is church best described as a family? How has the Wellspring family been a blessing to you? How can your small group be praying for you this year?
3. Read Prov. 16:9; Ps. 46:10; 139:13-17; Jer. 29:11. Why is it a comfort to know that our lives are a biography written by God? Why do we tend to want to write our own story? What have been some of the best chapters of your life? What have been some of the most challenging?
4. Read Matt 11:28-30; Gal 2:20; Col 3:1-4. Why do we tend to define ourselves based on what we do or on our accomplishments? What is the basis of our identity? How should that impact the way we value things?
5. Read Gal 5:22-24; Eph 4:32. Why is it easy to agree with the ideas of grace and forgiveness but struggle with it in the context of real relationships? Why are we called to show this to one another? What happens if we don’t?
6. Why is an unchanged Christian something that doesn’t exist? Why is change not something that happens overnight but is a work in progress? See Rom 12:2; Phil 1:6. How can we encourage others instead of demanding perfection from them?