How to Guarantee Healthy Community

The Core Value of Community
Seven Relational Principles that Guarantee a Healthy Community
Romans 12:9-21

Community is meaningful belonging to one another. Our focus is on One, on Jesus. What is it about our community that stands out among other communities?

We have basic needs: food and shelter, sense of purpose, a sense of community. We need relationships. Carnegie institute, when employees fail at work, 90% is due to failed relationships at work. We must prioritize the heath of relationships.

Relationships are vital for our Christian growth and faith walk. God wants to be known, 1 Peter 3:18, Jesus died to bring us to God. We have the opportunity for relationships with God and with one another. John 15:12, love one another.

How to make the difference between good and evil, these are the bookends Romans 12:9 and Romans 12:21. How will we relate to each other?

  1. Brotherly Love – Romans 12:10… this love should be expressed everywhere, not just family. The word is “philadelphia,” a devoted love, a tender affection, like parent to a child. Check out Galatians 5:22-23 regarding the fruit of the spirit.
  2. Honor – Romans 10-11… esteem others, as the recipients of honor, take advantage of the opportunity to value someone, James 2:1, allow no favoritism, love without favoritism, like the baseball with a signature, showing favoritism, don’t play with THIS one, this one has a higher value, we are made in God’s image, have value, we have his signature on the back.
  3. Long-suffering – Romans 12… relationships require perseverance, relationship are not always fun, some people push our buttons, “it’s your fault they get to you,” be patient with others, Colossians 3:13, bear up with one another especially those who criticize. Be tenderhearted and forgiving, Ephesians 4:32.
  4. Hospitality – Romans 13… love like a brother, like a parent, now love others like you love a stranger? Openness, welcoming others, value of a home that is open to others. Shows love and care for everyone, hearts are open, Proverbs 3:27, if it is in you to do good, do good. Don’t withhold love, a sin of omission. Silence can be a sign of being hurt. Guard your heart but don’t withhold love.
  5. Selflessness – Romans 14-15… bless those who persecute you, or come against you, rejoice with others’ good fortune, not complaining that you would like to be blessed like that, what about me? That is not right, it is what can I do for you? The Law of Christ in Galatians 6, bearing one another. Rowing team in 1936, moving as one to accomplish the task.
  6. Humility – Romans 16… the word MIND is used three times, think of others as you would think of yourself, greatly esteem others, pastor Paul teaching the church. Writing to the church, in Philippians 2:1-4, have the same mind as Christ and then the same attitude as in Christ Jesus as in Philippians 2:5-8.
  7. Self-sacrifice – Romans 17-20… go the extra mile to love others, but not to be treated as a doormat, how can we love our enemies, four expressions…
    1. Romans 12:17 – live above reproach, we have no license to lessen our pursuit of God.
    2. Romans 12:18 – as much as it is dependent on you, be at peace with all men
    3. Romans 12:19 – leave vengeance to God, we do not plan revenge, God will take care of it
    4. Romans 12:20 – feed your enemy when he is hungry, these coals on the head is not literal, but ceremonial language of repentance, of God’s forgiveness and relationships.

Overwhelmed? Where do we go with all this? Grab one and go with it. We need God’s help. This message is preaching to the church, not to the world.

The Illustration of Officer Stephen McDonald – Central Park, altercation about a bicycle, shot, in hospital, paralyzed, Ken quoted the officer before his death, that, God was in charge, to use me, he needed my YES, will you love the boy who shot you? The best way to love him was to forgive him. YES, I have loved and forgiven him. The officer died last year.

Be tenderhearted, forgiving, God has forgiven you. Are you on a journey to forgive someone? Let Jesus guide you to that place. It may take a while, so let Jesus guide you.

For us to do any of this… I need to receive ALL of the love GOD has for us. Not just some of his love. Receive Christ today, or renew your relationship with Christ today.

Have you drifted from God? Come back and trust him.


Questions for Wednesday Life Groups:

Community:

  1. What is the difference between community in Christian groups versus secular society? What is different and what is similar?
  2. We all have a basic need of being in relationship with other people. Why do we sometimes struggle to be vulnerable and open with others?
  3. What are the benefits of being open and vulnerable in community? Why do we care so much about what others see and sometimes overlook the fact that God sees everything? Do we live as though Jesus is in the room with us? How does community help us live responsibly?

Brotherly Love:

  1. What are some examples of brotherly love that you have experienced? What does this say about how Christians are supposed to love one another?
  2. How does forgiveness draw us closer to God? How does forgiveness pull us further away from the world?
  3. How does an outward focus on others relate to our Spiritual growth? How does an inward focus hold us back?
  4. How does “brotherly love” describe how God wants us to view others? What do you think of when we say “brotherly” love? How does this compare to our relationship with, and love for, God?

Honor:

  1. What is the connection between honor and value?
  2. How is it possible to love without favoritism?
  3. The definition of honor has a few key points 1. To hold in high esteem or respect 2. A privilege 3. To fulfil or keep an agreement. Tie this into the Christian life. What can we learn about Jesus, or how can we relate to Jesus, when we look at this definition of honor?

Long-suffering:

  1. How does the concept of practicing long-suffering change us? What are the benefits to self when we are patient despite our troubles, especially when they are caused by others?
  2. What is the opposite of long suffering? (impatient, quarrelsome, disobedient, defiant, worry free, and unconcerned are just a few of the antonyms) What do these antonyms show about the importance of long-suffering?
  3. Why is patience so important in our Christian walk? What are the dangers of acting rashly or when we rush to action/judgement? What does patience allow in terms of listening and being guided by the Spirit?

Hospitality:

  1. How has the concept of hospitality become either more or less prevalent in our society today? Why?
  2. How has the concept of hospitality become harder to practice in society today? Or has it become easier? Why?
  3. What are some ways we can show hospitality? Who do you know that effectively demonstrates Christian hospitality?
  4. People say, “you get more from giving than receiving.” How is this true? Do you agree? Who has a story? Name some real-life examples.

Selflessness: (Read Galatians 6:1-10)

  1. As brothers and sisters in Christ, what responsibilities do we have for one another?
  2. What are the differences between the Christian concept of selflessness compared to the secular view?
  3. What is the relationship between selflessness and happiness? Or selflessness and fulfillment?
  4. How does Galatians 6:5 relate to Galatians 6:2? Explain how there is no contradiction. (burden in verse 2 refers to weight, heaviness, trouble, while the word for load in verse 5 is not a crushing burden but rather a small individual portion or pack).
  5. How does being selfless benefit you more than being selfish? Where does being selfish get you? (Galatians 6:7-9)
  6. Where in your life do you need to sow to please the Spirit rather than sowing to your sinful nature?
  7. How does being selfless play into what God asks us to do to share Him with others? What are the benefits to treating well those who are inside the family of believers and why would this be important for those who are not yet saved, and why does it make such a difference? (Galatians 6:10)

Humility:

  1. What is the connection between humility and thankfulness?
  2. What does a life of humility show to others? How does being humble represent our understanding of Jesus and his love?
  3. What is the connection between humility and selflessness?

Self-sacrifice:

  1. Explain the concept of altruism (see below). How does this relate to self-sacrifice? How does this reveal God? How does altruism go against the natural order of things (self-survival, self-benefit, survival of the fittest) and at the same time, how does it show that God intelligently designed us? (Altruism = the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others; behavior that benefits another at its own expense.
  2. What does the Bible say is the greatest love of all? (John 15:13) What is the connection between love and self-sacrifice? How does John 3:16 relate to 1 John 3:16?
  3. Self-sacrifice is at the very heart of Christianity, let’s discuss why? (perhaps the example of Jesus)
  4. What are the benefits of outwardly-focused love? (connection, purpose, service, evangelism)

Additional Questions:

  1. What happens when you pay back evil for evil? Does the trouble ever end, or does it just repeat and continue?
  2. What is the difference between passivity and being at peace with all men?
  3. What does it mean to truly lose yourself, what is the significance?
  4. What is the significance of God’s judgement?
    1. Why is it a blessing that God will judge and be vengeful?
    2. From what does God’s judgment free us?
    3. If God was not this way, what would this mean negatively for us? (Gospel Project talked about this when looking at the flood, and the fact that God saved us from needing to be vigilantes. We know justice will be appropriately distributed in the end).
  5. Why feed our enemy? What does this mean for the long haul? What does this mean in terms of how we view people? Who is the enemy, and is it always who we think it is?
  6. Why is it difficult to bless those who persecute you? How are your actions and love more powerful in relation to this?
  7. People are (usually) logical creatures. How can demonstrating illogical action make the biggest impact to others who are not yet saved?
    1. Does it make sense the only perfect human, suffered, was humiliated, was inflicted with great physical and mental torment, was hung on a cross, and yet still showed only love for those who put Him there.
    2. Does it make sense that Stephen cried out for those who stoned him to not be charged for their sins?
    3. What about the story of Officer McDonald? He said God was in control? Why does this not fit the logic of secular life?
    4. Christianity shows its power in the illogical, yet the answer why is very logical. It is sort of like Jesus being the stone that makes men stumble and rock that makes them fall (Isaiah 8:14, Romans 9:32, 1 Peter 2:8). The Pharisees could not see the Messiah who was literally standing right in front of them.

Community Faith Love

Community. Faith. Love.
Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 2:19-21, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

George Owen Walton, collection of nickels, deemed fake, when inherited, appraised and proven authentic, value of $1.3 million… we can miss the most important things in life if their value is missed. Here are three basic values of the church. Why we belong, believe, and behave.

1. We exist as a COMMUNITY. Romans 12:4-5

  • A. Community Defined: a unified group of individuals. Church is unified gathering of believers. In substance, it is membership. Expressed in membership. Movement of discipleship in the body. Who we are in the body.
  • B. Membership Rethought: a literal connection to the church spiritually (the Body of Christ). Describes commitment. Sam’s and Costco have memberships. Joining an organization has personal benefit. Ken’s American Airlines membership is solely for personal benefit. This idea conditions our entire culture. The church is never LIKE the body of Christ, it IS the body of Christ.
  • C. Church Revisited: membership for Jesus, as a part of the whole, functioning, characterized by love. We who are many are one. “So it is with Christ.” Not a man-made organization to remember our leaded. “The church expresses Jesus.” – Ray Steadman.

Membership for Jesus, we are saved, sins forgiven, made brand new in Christ. Jesus intends to lead the church, because he is the head.

As part of the whole, KGBC founders… “everyone had a job, asking, what can I do?”

Functioning, all parts are needed to function. This is an oxymoron, an “inactive church member.”

Characterized by love, always, for one another, for the head, for the lost. We are a community more than an organization. The bones of the ear, small, yet vital to hearing. Membership is not the goal… move from member to minister.

[M1 – Member]

2. We exist as a community of FAITH. Ephesians 2:19-21 – Faith Grows and Becomes Ministry.

  • A. Member of God’s household. If the building did not exist, would the church still exist? YES. God dwells not in a house made with hands. Not a community of man, or social gathering, how does faith grow into ministry? All of us were once aliens, but now we are ALL included.
  • B. Founded upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Foundation of Jesus, then the apostles. 1 Corinthians 1:23, in the body by the same foundation of faith.
  • C. Growing into a holy temple in the Lord. We are a living and holy temple, bought with a price. We are a holy priesthood. Ministers to serve God. All are called to serve. 1 Peter 2:5. “Built up” is or means an activity that never stops. We never simply arrive at maturity.
  • D. Ministering in His name. The goal of church is not membership. We must move to ministers. Today’s church is better at producing members rather than ministers. Even when the tree reaches its optimal height, it continues to grow. Growing is not optional. We are never grown up this side of heaven.

[M2-Minister]

3. We exist as a community of faith to EXTEND the LOVE of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

For what? What is the goal? Ingrown is not good. The purpose is to extend the LOVE. Compels us, better, controls us. M3 represents our mission. 5:20 is the summary of the goal…

  • A. Changed. Jesus died to free you from sin. Love changes us transformation.
  • B. Called. Therefore, you are an ambassador, authorized to act and be on mission on behalf of the king or leader. Organized effort, or projects, but in any opportunity, you find to walk through the door of loving others for Jesus.

[M3 – Mission]

Mission Impossible, “Your mission, if you decide to accept it…” we do not have the option to negotiated mission of Jesus.


LIFE GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
For September 26, 2018
Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 2:19-21, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Welcome – Greeting / Get Going

  1. Go around the room and introduce ourselves and mention one thing that few people know about you.
  2. If you could literally be a single body part, what part would you be? Why?
  3. Who are the other body parts that you would need help from in order to function properly?

Word – Digging Deeper

  1. Ken began his message by saying, “Some of the most important things in life are missed because their value is not recognized.” Why do so many Americans (even those who believe in God) not see the value of active involvement in a local church?
  2. What do you think is the value of church membership?
  3. Since there are so many churches yet only one body of Christ, how can we break down barriers and create unity with other Christian groups? In what ways does unity stop when it intersects with doctrine? Does anyone have a story?
  4. Who can describe the Cooperative Program? What is the principle it represents? (We can do so much more together than we can as an individual congregation).
  5. In Gestalt Psychology, “the whole is something else [greater] than the sum of its parts.” How is a gathering of the church something else than a gathering of individual believers?
  6. How are friendships formed in real life? (common interests, common activities, common location, common school, common gender, common history) Since Jesus may be the only common factor in the life of individual believers, how are friendships formed in the church? Who has a story of knowing well different people in the church, yet those friends don’t even know each other?
  7. In what organizations have you benefited by having a membership? In church, how do you explain to non-members that “membership has its privileges?” (more than you can now vote in a meeting or teach in Sunday School) Or does membership have any privileges?
  8. Ken said that we are better at making members than we are at making ministers. What will it take for us to get better at making ministers? How can we “make people thirsty” for more?
  9. The church may be the only organization in the world that exists for those who are not yet members. Who can explain what this means? Does it make sense? In what ways do we confuse making membership all about us? Are we members for what we get out of it or what we give into it?
  10. What are practical examples of membership in our society? (every team has a roster, every school has an enrollment, every company has its payroll) So, why do people resist membership in a local Baptist church?
  11. If membership is a literal connection to a spiritual family, what does this imply? (in God’s family we are his children. In human terms, a child without a family is called an orphan. All orphans long to be welcomed into a family). So, why are we so casual or apathetic about being in God’s forever family?
  12. What are the responsibilities or expectations of being in a human family? (chores, respect, love, kindness, support, encouragement, school, exercise, eating, hygiene, bills) So, what is a parallel to your spiritual family, being a member of God’s household?
  13. The church is founded upon Christ. What is the purpose of our salvation? What does God ask of us?
  14. Sin can distract us from God’s mission. How does sin work against the mission of God? How does sin distract us from the corporate mission of God?
  15. Why is it difficult to understand that we are called to be a royal priesthood? What did those in the priesthood do? What are ways in which priests serve others?
  16. If the church is one body and Christ is the head, how does this relate to church leaders and the laity?
  17. Church leaders and pastors are called to equip the saints for the work of service. Why do most American Christians prefer the staff to do the work of ministry? Is this healthy?
  18. Why are spiritual gifts important? Name yours. How does knowing your gifts help you better serve?
  19. Name some ways that you serve Jesus through the church. What impacts have you made? What is something that you never thought about until now that you can do for God’s kingdom?
  20. We are called to sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17), why is it so difficult to address sin, in us and in others? What are the risks and benefits? Does accountability keep people from real connections?
  21. Membership naturally and logically moves toward a growing faith. How does being inactive in church relate to our faith? How does faith relate to love? How do these relate to obedience?
  22. In what ways to we often desire greater faith for self-improvement rather than to allow that faith to change us? (a tree is always growing even after it reaches optimal height) In what ways do you need to grow wider, not just taller? Ken mentioned, “ingrown is never good.” What does this mean to you?
  23. In what ways has God called you into his global purpose? When was a time when you told God you would be available later? What are the obstacles that keep you from being all in?
  24. Love controls us. How do we usually look at control in our lives? How can love empower us or the lack of love hold us back? Is love more powerful with an inward focus or an outward focus? Explain.
  25. What are the dangers of an inwardly-focused love (selfishness, conceitedness, tunnel vision)
  26. What are the benefits of an outwardly-focused love? (connection, purpose, service, evangelism)

Work – Ministry / Missions / Motivation

  1. Of the three M’s – name the one we do best as a church. Which must we work on to be more obedient and fruitful? In what ways is the church stagnant? What areas seem to be fruitful?
  2. Where are you personally? What will it take to move toward the next level? What is holding you back? What do you fear? What do you lack?
  3. Do people grow faster in groups or as individuals? Is the church then essential to proper growth?

Witness – His Story / My Story

  1. Who helped you see the importance of obeying Christ, not just showing up at church?
  2. When was a time where you avoided church membership, and what did you learn from it?
  3. Name some ways that you can serve others? What are some KGBC ministries in which you can get involved? Where can you find more information? (kgbc.us/pathway)
  4. How can we be ambassadors for Christ? What does that mean? (evangelism is love going public)

Last Words Forever, It Is Finished

LAST WORDS FOREVER: IT IS FINISHED!
“When He had finished the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit.” (John 19:30)

All that Jesus said in his ministry in context is leading to this moment and this statement. Jesus spoke into the life of his mother and disciples and crowds, even into his enemies and now he is speaking into the lives of others at the cross, to his mother, to John, to a thief on the cross… for this purpose, to reveal God to man, and bring them to God. These words explain the necessity of the cross, and that the cross is the key principle of salvation.

These words viewed objectively: the significance of this statement in history. There was a Time magazine list of men who changed the world? Hardly. Jesus changed the world forever.

Four descriptions of Jesus’ words:

  1. The statement was described as a loud cry.
    1. Not necessarily the tone, but surely it was not a moan or a sigh. Not “I am finished” but “IT is finished.” Perhaps the vinegar gave him the ability to speak these words through a parched thought.
    2. It was a statement of pronouncement, an announcement.
  2. The statement was built on the analogy of payment for a debt.
    1. The word, to complete, debt payment, paid in full.
    2. Psalm 49:15 – God will ransom me…
    3. Mark 10:45 – I am your ransom…
    4. 1 Corinthians 6:19 – you are bought with a price…
    5. Romans 5:9 – we are saved and justified, saved from the wrath of God.
  3. The statement was a literal audible announcement.
    1. Not assumed, but literally, “it is finished” was heard by those present.
    2. What is IT in this statement? Everything God required to bring you into a right relationship with himself
    3. 2 Corinthians 5:19 – God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.
  4. The statement referenced that which pleases God.
    1. The impact of satisfaction in God’s pleasure.
    2. John Stott – I would have never believed if it were not for the cross.

Khmer Rouge in Cambodia – in a village, people about to be executed, crying out to the spirits, but one woman remembered the God who hung on a tree, the one who knew suffering. They prayed and then looked up to find the executioners were gone!

These words viewed subjectively: the significance of this statement for me personally.

Four results of Jesus’ words:

  1. We are loved more deeply than we could ever imagine.
    1. You are loved more than you can ever imagine. 1 John 4:10
    2. Romans 6:23 – wages of sin is death… a real-world transaction of work and wages.
    3. You are never asked to earn his love. It is about grace.
  2. The way to God is cleared.
    1. Matthew 20:28 – Jesus came not to be served but a ransom for many.
    2. It is about an exchange. Jesus was the payment that set us free.
    3. There is no change without the exchange.
  3. We do not have to live under the weight of guilt and shame.
    1. As you come to faith in Christ, accept the fact that Jesus has forgiven your sin.
    2. Romans 8:1 – There is now no condemnation for sin.
      1. Guilt – I have done bad
      2. Shame – I am bad
  4. We have purpose and hope through eternal life.
    1. John 10:10 – Jesus promises abundant life
    2. We are made right with God forever.
    3. We have a hollow faith when we don’t realize that Jesus has paid it all.
    4. This new standing is not a business transaction, it is a relationship.

Imagine a time when your kids call you and not want anything from you, but only to talk for a while.
Ken closed with a great story: The war is over – on a Philippine island there was a soldier, who was told not to surrender even if Japan does. He believed he was still at war for over 30 years. Seriously, “It is Finished.”


LIFE GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
For September 19, 2018

Welcome – Greeting / Get Going

  1. Go around the room and introduce ourselves and mention one thing that few people know about you.
  2. As a child, what is something that you proudly finished or regretfully left unfinished?
  3. What is one project of yours that is still unfinished?
  4. In what way would you like to be remembered after you die? What legacy are you leaving? Are you satisfied with the legacy you are leaving?

Worship – Prayer / Praise

  1. Read aloud John 19:28-30
  2. Pray the Scripture Back to God – Father, we know that as Jesus hung on the cross, he said, “I am thirsty.” May we pray those words back to you as a declaration of how much we thirst for your presence. Father, make us thirsty. In the quietness of this moment, pray in your spirit, “I am thirsty.” In this passage we also know that Jesus declared, “It is finished.” May we surrender to your will, may we stop fighting against you, may we bow our heads and give our spirit totally to you. Pray these words in your spirit, “It is finished. I surrender, as I think about my priorities, habits, and goals in my life.” Amen.

Word – Digging Deeper

  1. The Statement was a Loud Cry: In what circumstances do people live for today? In what circumstances do people live for tomorrow?
  2. Do people ever live in the reality that we will all one day die? How does a believer with terminal cancer live differently than a believer who thinks we have plenty of time?
  3. Jesus cried out this final proclamation, “It is finished,” which sealed his life of action. Which do you believe speaks louder, actions or words? Explain.
  4. The Statement was Payment for a Debt: We owe money on the things that are important to us (house, car), and these turn into priorities that are worth paying for. We work hard to pay off these debts, but what changes with a gift of grace (getting that which you don’t deserve), since the debt of sin has been paid?
  5. What is significant in the fact that grace is free? Why are people suspicious of free things? Why do people feel the need to pay (or compensate) for the stuff they receive as a gift?
  6. Who has a story about how your church activities once fell into the category of works? What are the dangers of a works-based salvation?
  7. The Statement was Literal and Audible: What do our word choices say about us? What effects do our words have on others?
  8. If “you are what you eat” is true, is it also possible, “you are what you say”? Do your actions match your words?
  9. The Statement Referenced That Which Pleases God: In what ways do you strive to please God?
  10. What are some things in life that people tend to put ahead of God?
  11. When we experience hardship, what are some ways that we can use them to motivate others?
  12. We Are Loved More Deeply Than we can Imagine: How do people show love for one another?
  13. How does God’s definition of love differ from the human definition of love?
  14. How do Christians let love for self get in the way of love for others?
  15. Is it possible to give love without first experiencing God’s sacrificial love? Explain.
  16. The Way to God is Cleared: What obstacles can get in the way that keep us separated from God?
  17. Bob Dylon used to sing, “You gotta serve somebody.” How is it politically incorrect to say that we are all slaves to someone or something?
  18. What does it mean that God has bought us? How does this relate to freedom in Christ?
  19. Ken said, “there is no change without the exchange.” In what ways are Jesus followers living the exchanged life?
  20. Name a few tools in our arsenal that help us to grow in faith and knowledge. (Bible reading, accountability, worship, small groups, devotional time, prayer…)
  21. We Don’t Live Under the Weight of Guilt and Shame: How does guilt hold us back? Why does guilt hold us back when we have been forgiven?
  22. How do you know when you are under conviction of the Holy Spirit? When is guilt a positive thing?
  23. We have Purpose and Hope Through Christ: What becomes our purpose once we are saved?
  24. How has God gifted you, and how can this gifting be used for God’s glory and advancement of his kingdom?
  25. Our second key value at KGBC is Faith, or you may have seen M2, which is represented by the word MINISTER. In what ways are you a minister of the gospel? How are you serving others? We step out in FAITH in order to discover our places of service or ministry.
  26. If not involved in serving others, what prevents you from getting involved in active service at KGBC?

Work – Ministry / Missions / Motivation

  1. How can you change the world in which you live? Who has an example of a small thing that you did that made a huge impact on someone else.
  2. What are a few practical ways that we can show love to others?
  3. Who can help you to live the exchanged life?
  4. Who is an example of what a Christian looks like?
  5. What will it take for you to get involved in serving others at KGBC?

Witness – His Story / My Story

  1. Whose testimony persuaded you to follow Christ?
  2. How has your testimony influenced others to follow Jesus?

Jesus on Community, Faith, and Love

Ken is postponing the end of the Real Life series (John 20-21) until Easter 2019.

Our pastor will begin teaching us about how the Bible reflects the KGBC Vision of community, faith, love. The message for September 23 is:

COMMUNITY. FAITH. LOVE.
Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:14
We exist as a community of faith to extend the love of Christ and His kingdom in Virginia Beach and to the world.


Don’t Go There

Lessons Learned from Negative Responses to Jesus

A lesson from the garden – Judas (John 18:2-3)

  1. Judas wanted control – premeditated betrayal. Motivated by greed, or his desire that Jesus would bring about a military messiah, or simply he had his own agenda, favoring self.
    1. He had an unrepentant heart, John 6:7.
    2. Matthew 26:15, he acted out his desire for control.
    3. Matthew 26:16, secretly looked for opportunities to arrest Jesus.
    4. John 18:2-3, Judas leading the Romans and Temple officials to Jesus.
    5. Luke 22:48, Judas walked over to kiss Jesus to betray him.
    6. Then he had remorse for what he had done.
    7. Then killed himself. What a tragic lesson.
  2. Jesus was in control of the situation at every step.
    1. John 18:4, they showed up, Jesus stepped out to meet them. Admits he is Jesus, yet Judas still kissed him. John 10:18, no one takes my life, I lay it down.
    2. John 17:1, my time has come.
    3. He took initiative that he lost none the Father had given him.
  3. My life – I can attempt to control or surrender control to Jesus. You know your own personal area of desired control…
    1. Don’t be anxious about tomorrow – Matthew 6:34
    2. With God all things are possible – Matthew 19:26
    3. Do not be dismayed, I will uphold you – Isaiah 41:10
    4. We have blessings according to HIS purposes – Ephesians 1:11

A lesson from the court scene – Peter (John 18:15-17, 25-27) – the servant girl recognized him as a disciple of Jesus. You are one, too. A door of opportunity to witness of Jesus.

  1. Peter prioritized his interests by hiding his identity, bold in the garden but now this? Is it better to be covert? Self-preservation? If you want to know more about me, ask my disciples, I talk them my truth. Come out from among them, 2 Corinthians 6:17. Then came the relative of the one whom he cut off the ear…
  2. Jesus – his truths clearly distinguished his followers.
  3. My life – the only way to be right is to be identified with Jesus, God’s word reminds us that be belong. What location are we tempted to hide our identity? Or what situation?
    1. If we live or die it is for the Lord, Romans 14:8
    2. We are one body, 1 Corinthians 12:13

A lesson from the governor’s palace – Pilate (John 18:33-40) – king of the Jews, who told you this? My kingdom is not of this world.

  1. Pilate attempts to remain neutral about Jesus.
    1. John 18:31 – not a Jew, nothing to do with me – passing the buck based on nationality.
    2. John 18:38 – the custom to release one – appeal to tradition.
    3. John 18 – his appeal to the crowd, deferred the decision to others.
  2. Jesus – his life calls for a response from every person.
  3. My Life – How will I respond to Jesus right now. What am I doing when I see Jesus for who he is? But right now. Peter said long ago, “I’ll follow,” but what about right now? My response to this truth… David Brook study – USA culture vs culture of Japan… decisions we make vs decisions others make. We decide on our own, but they involve community. It is vital to surrender to Jesus as Lord.

LIFE GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
For September 12, 2018

Welcome – Greeting / Get Going

  1. Go around the room and introduce ourselves and mention one thing that few people know about you.
  2. As a child, what was one “big” thing you messed up on? Missing the catch for the final out? Forgetting a crucial line in the school play? Leaving something behind, never to be recovered?
  3. Who is someone you would say is “well connected with the right people”?
  4. Who is someone you would describe as being loyal?
  5. When was a time you got caught lying as a child?

Worship – Prayer / Praise

  1. Read aloud John 18:15-18, 25-27
  2. Pray the Scripture Back to God – As Simon Peter and this other disciple were following Jesus, we pray that we will follow Jesus into the difficult places. While we are impressed that one of Jesus’ disciples was so connected to the High Priest, remind us how awesome it is to be fully known by the one true and living God. In this story we are reminded of the peril of being alone, left outside, so convict us of the importance of living in community with fellow believers, and give us the courage to take a stand for Jesus even when it is tough. Please don’t allow us to stand around with those who will tempt us to compromise our values and beliefs. Give us strength and confidence as we follow after our Savior. Lord Jesus, remind us that as we go through life, people can spot us as having been with Jesus, so let our light shine rather than shrinking back into the shadows. Allow your Holy Spirit to remind us of the stories we read in the New Testament and let your people serve as an example for us and other to serve as a warning for us.

Word – Digging Deeper

  1. John leaves out some details between verses 1 and 2. Anyone remember the rest of the story? What happens between John 18:1 and 18:2? (Matthew 26:37-38, Mark 14:34-35)
  2. Do you see any similarities between this garden and the Garden of Eden where the first Adam lived?
    1. The first Adam began life in a garden. The second Adam came at the end of his life to a garden.
    2. In Eden Adam sinned. In Gethsemane the Savior overcame sin.
    3. In Eden Adam fell. In Gethsemane Jesus conquered.
    4. In Eden Adam hid himself. In Gethsemane our Lord boldly presented himself.
    5. In Eden the sword was drawn. In Gethsemane it was sheathed.
  3. JUDAS: It is in our nature to desire to control things. What are some examples of where our desire to control went against what Jesus wanted for us? Name some examples of when you allowed Jesus’ to control the outcome and surrendered to his will.
  4. Why do we struggle to give Jesus control of our lives? Will he ask us to do something we don’t want to do? Will he move us out of our comfort zone? Why is it difficult to let “Jesus take the wheel?”
  5. How is control exhibited by a parent over their child similar to the control Jesus wants over us?
  6. Surrendering control is about trust. Name some ways that we trust Jesus with our lives.
  7. PETER: What do you think that Peter and the other disciple hoped to do? (John 18:15)
  8. Why do you think Peter had to wait outside? (John 18:16)?
  9. Why did this girl suspect Peter of being a disciple? (John 18:17) Why did she not suspect this “other” disciple as being a follower of Jesus?
  10. How did Peter reply to the question about his association with Jesus? (John 18:17)?
  11. How do you account for the difference in Peter from John 18:10 to John 18:17?
  12. In what ways do we put our own interests ahead of Jesus? How does fear stifle our faith?
  13. Do we hold back at work out of fear or because it is against company policy to talk about matters of faith?
  14. If fear can derail our faith, how can the flip-side of fear, pride, do the same?
  15. Name a few ways that we can demonstrate to the world that we have faith in Jesus? How is it becoming increasingly difficult to live out our faith in 2018 America?
  16. What are some lessons for us in Peter’s denials?
    1. Peter responds with on oath (Matthew 26:72), perhaps out of a growing desperation and irritation.
    2. Peter finally responds with cursing (Matthew 26:74), perhaps showing us what we don’t want to see in ourselves, the darkness of the human heart. This shows what people are capable of doing even after a glorious confession and swearing allegiance to following Jesus (John 13:37).
    3. Peter’s experience (denial and restoration) teaches about the type of people Jesus came to save. Jesus did not die for sinless people!
  17. PILATE: What are a few ways that we attempt to remain neutral in our faith? Is silence the same a denial? Explain.
  18. Is it truth that Jesus desire for us to be hot or cold, and that anything lukewarm is sickening to Jesus? (Revelation 3:15-16). So, where do you stand today?
  19. When was a time that you were more passionate about Jesus? What changed? Why to Christians generally become cold over time? How might we remain “hot” for Jesus?
  20. What role does the Holy Spirit have in our being full of Jesus? (Ephesians 5:18)

Work – Ministry / Missions / Motivation

  1. How does this story of Peter both humble and encourage you?
  2. In what ways are these three men examples for us (positive and negative examples)?
  3. When was the last time you felt like Peter?
  4. What inside connections do you have in the church? How do you use your inside connections in the church and elsewhere?
  5. Into what potentially dangerous situations has your faith gotten you?
  6. Under what circumstances might you be tempted to deny knowing Jesus?
  7. When and why have you denied knowing Jesus by either your words or your life-style?
  8. How do you explain the ups and downs in your spiritual life?

Witness – His Story / My Story

  1. How can you use your inside connections to benefit others this week?
  2. What can you do to affirm your relationship with Jesus Christ in front of others?
  3. In what areas of your life do you want to express your loyalty to Jesus more openly?
  4. In what ways are you discipling other people? Who is on you evangelism prayer list?
  5. What will you recall about this message or this Life Group discuss? What is your “take away”?
  6. How can we support one another in prayer this week?

Ways to Apply Scripture

  1. Actions: God-directed, not self-directed
  2. Character: attitudes, behaviors, habits, speech, motives
  3. Thinking: have the mind of Christ, a renewed mind and spirit, able to discern truth from error
  4. Biblical Worldview: able to teach, explain, and model Scripture
  5. Priorities: seeking first his kingdom

Three Things Jesus Desires for You

Three Things Jesus Desires for You
John 17:20-23

Jesus’ Prayer for You Personally (20). Because of the expression, “believe,” John 17:20 correlates with John 17:3 (those who know God genuinely, and by virtue of this, have eternal life); John 17:6-10, a description of the original disciples.

  1. Jesus redefines FOLLOWER – we don’t give Jesus our preferences, we follow HIM.
  2. Jesus redefines BELIEF – to be one with Christ and one with the church.
  3. Jesus redefines ETERNAL LIFE – it is not just living forever but knowing the Son and the Father.
  4. Jesus redefines KNOWING GOD – to be one with the Father, don’t forsake soul care.

Jesus’ Prayer for Your Place in the Church (21-22). The key here is unity, or togetherness for all believers, as manifested in the church. This correlates with John 17:11-17. Oneness and sanctification identify the redeemed community (the church). Diversity and factions leave when we unite in our mission.

  1. The greatest of human relationships.
  2. The highest of divine calling – pointing glory to the Father.
  3. The ultimate purpose – the world will see Christ in us and believe.

Jesus’ Prayer for Your Church’s Witness in the World (23). The correlation here is with John 17:18-19, as the redeemed community; then (the disciples) and now (the church) are sent out into the world. This forms the ongoing missional identity of God’s people. This is proof from the very beginning that the church is only her true self when existing for others.

  1. Our purpose is clear – to be united in love as a witness to the world.
  2. Our position is crucial – get out into the water to rescue those who are perishing. The key to the chain is that it must be anchored to be effective.
  3. Our potential is critical – contagious community should ooze from us toward others, missional proximity puts us close to those on the outside.

Questions for Further Study:

  1. How do most people describe or explain the meaning of “eternal life” to an unbeliever?
  2. What do you like and dislike about living in this country? Explain.
  3. What do you think is most challenging for a Christian living in today’s society?
  4. In what way might you say the world is a dangerous place for a Christian to live? Explain.
  5. Describe a time when you longed for unity in your family, church, or community.
  6. Name a few ways that Christians are divided today
  7. For what purpose did the Father grant Jesus authority over all people? (John 17:2)
  8. To whom was given eternal life? (John 17:3) How is eternal life redefined in this verse?
  9. How do you explain John 17:4? Had Jesus healed everyone? Was everyone saved? What is the work that Jesus accomplished?
  10. Name one specific thing for which Jesus prayed for his disciples? (John 17:11) What does it mean to be one? What are some things that can build and or destroy unity?
  11. If Jesus is our authority and we follow HIM, what are a few of our personal preferences that we need to give to Jesus? How can personal preferences be used to destroy unity?
  12. What is the main reason that the world hates Christians? (John 17:14) Explain.
  13. What is the only way that we can be used by Jesus? (John 17:17) What does it mean to be sanctified?
  14. For whom did Jesus also pray? (John 17:20) Who are the people you are praying for, those who might believe because of your words?
  15. How did Jesus want his followers to be unified? (John 17:22) How do believers reflect God’s glory? In what ways are Christians one? Why is unity so difficult in the church?
  16. How long has the Father loved the Son? (John 17:24) How reassuring is the fact that the Father has planned for our redemption from the foundation of the world?
  17. When do you generally turn to God in prayer? About what things do you usually pray?
  18. In what ways in this passage an example of how believers should pray? How can we look at Jesus praying for us personally as a model for our behavior?
  19. How much time do we spend talking about something important to us compared to time spent praying about something important?
  20. What does it mean to know the Father? In what ways is knowing the Father more about serving God in his kingdom rather than personal sin management/self-improvement?
  21. In what ways do people feel they are in church to receive ministry rather than to become equipped to minister to others? What are a few reasons people fail to see themselves as part of God’s royal priesthood? (1 Perter 2:9)
  22. As believers, what is our primary relationship to the world? When we come to faith in Christ, how and why does our relationship with the world change from fellowship to mission?
  23. How does your life-style indicate your relationship with the world? Why do you think believers are often still connected to the world around them?
  24. When and from what has God protected you? While divine protection is wonderful, in what ways do we generally wander off the path God desires for his church?
  25. Ken asked a question, “What keeps us from getting into water?” What hinders our involvement in serving Christ? What hinders us from getting into the water to rescue the perishing and save a soul for Christ?
  26. Name a few ways that you can bring glory to God this week.
  27. Name a few ways that you can help others to know and experience eternal life.
  28. What change in your life-style do you need to make to distinguish your identity from that of the world? What can you do today to set yourself apart for God’s use?
  29. When was the last time you updated your personal testimony? Do you need help with your story, to make it concise and applicable? How can your life be a testimony of God’s love for the world?
  30. What can you do to promote unity in our church, especially when someone might be trying to disrupt and create factions in the church? How will this unity be a witness to the lost world?

Five Challenges of Following Jesus

Five Challenges of Every Follower of Christ
John 16:1-33

  1. The challenge of Opposition (from people and circumstances) (John 16:1-11)
  2. The challenge of Commitment (taking up the cross) (John 16:12-15)
  3. The challenge of The temporal (episodes of suffering) (John 16:16-22)
  4. The challenge of Growth (being stretched) (John 16:23-28)
  5. The challenge of Fear (that overwhelms and leads to compromise) (John 16:29-33)

Questions for Further Study:

  1. When might you use a figure of speech to explain something? Why?
  2. What painful experiences in your life have resulted in joy?
  3. When have you enthusiastically anticipated someone’s return or arrival?
  4. How did the disciples react to Jesus’ “in a little while” statement? (16:17-18)
  5. What did Jesus tell His disciples would happen to them? (16:19-20)
  6. To what did Jesus compare His disciples’ response to His departure and return? (16:21-22)
  7. What did Jesus tell His disciples they would do when they saw Him again? (16:23)
  8. What hadn’t the disciples done up until this point? (16:24)
  9. What kind of language did Jesus use to speak to His disciples? (16:25)
  10. Why did the Father love the disciples? (16:26-27)
  11. From where did Jesus come and to where was He going? (16:28)
  12. Why did the disciples say that they believed Jesus had come from God? (16:29-30)
  13. What did Jesus predict the disciples would do? (16:31-32)
  14. What did Jesus want for His disciples? (16:33)
  15. Why did Jesus tell the disciples to take heart? (16:33)
  16. How would you have responded to Jesus’ words had you been there with His disciples?
  17. What grief or sorrow in your life has God turned to joy?
  18. For what can we ask the Father?
  19. How has God made your joy complete?
  20. How does the knowledge of Jesus’ return make you joyful?
  21. What figures of speech have helped you better understand spiritual truths?
  22. What relationship do we have with the Father today?
  23. What trouble do we have in the world as followers of Christ?
  24. How does the fact that Jesus has overcome the world encourage you?
  25. In the midst of trouble, on what encouraging truth from this passage will you rely?
  26. Because of your restored relationship with the Father, what can you ask Him to give to you in
    Jesus’ name?
  27. What grief or sorrow do you need to entrust to God?

The Inner Life of a Believer

The Inner Life of the Follower of Jesus
Jesus teaches His disciples about the Holy Spirit
John 14:16-31

Questions for Further Study:

  1. When might you use a figure of speech to explain something? Why?
  2. What painful experiences in your life have resulted in joy?
  3. When have you enthusiastically anticipated someone’s return or arrival?
  4. How did the disciples react to Jesus’ “in a little while” statement? (John 16:17-18)
  5. What did Jesus tell His disciples would happen to them? (John 16:19-20)
  6. To what did Jesus compare His disciples’ response to His departure and return? (John 16:21-22)
  7. What did Jesus tell His disciples they would do when they saw Him again? (John 16:23)
  8. What hadn’t the disciples done up until this point? (John 16:24)
  9. What kind of language did Jesus use to speak to His disciples? (John 16:25)
  10. Why did the Father love the disciples? (John 16:26-27)
  11. From where did Jesus come and to where was He going? (John 16:28)
  12. Why did the disciples say that they believed Jesus had come from God? (John 16:29-30)
  13. What did Jesus predict the disciples would do? (John 16:31-32)
  14. What did Jesus want for His disciples? (John 16:33)
  15. Why did Jesus tell the disciples to take heart? (John 16:33)
  16. How would you have responded to Jesus’ words had you been there with His disciples?
  17. What grief or sorrow in your life has God turned to joy?
  18. For what can we ask the Father?
  19. How has God made your joy complete?
  20. How does the knowledge of Jesus’ return make you joyful?
  21. What figures of speech have helped you better understand spiritual truths?
  22. What relationship do we have with the Father today?
  23. What trouble do we have in the world as followers of Christ?
  24. How does the fact that Jesus has overcome the world encourage you?
  25. In the midst of trouble, on what encouraging truth from this passage will you rely?
  26. Because of your restored relationship with the Father, what can you ask Him to give to you in Jesus’ name?
  27. What grief or sorrow do you need to entrust to God?

The Heart of a Jesus Follower

The Heart of a Follower of Jesus
(5 Ways Jesus teaches His disciples to remains strong in commitment and service.)
John 14:1-15

  1. Jesus teaches His followers to have an untroubled heart (1-4).
    1. Jesus was distracted, discouraged, and distressed
    2. Jesus was dealing with betrayal, denial, and not being with his men much longer
    3. “Believe” is not an imperative, but indicative, meaning they believed in Jesus, he told them to act like it.
  2. Jesus teaches His followers about the priority of the relationship (5-7).
    1. He is the way – the only, exclusive path tothe Father
    2. He is the truth – the truth intimately known
    3. He is the life – victory over death
  3. Jesus teaches His followers to move beyond doubt (8-11).
  4. Jesus teaches His followers about true confidence (12-14).
    1. He invites them into his work
    2. He involves them in greater works to come
    3. He increased their blessing – ask, and he will do it
  5. Jesus teaches His followers lifestyle obedience (15).
    1. This is not a cold legalism – keep the commandment.
    2. This is personal affection – we serve and obey because we love him.

Questions for Further Study:

  1. What are some widely accepted “truths” that you believe to be false?
  2. In what ways do you resemble your parents?
  3. What did Thomas ask Jesus? (John 14:5)
  4. What did Jesus tell Thomas that He was? (John 14:6)
  5. Whom did Jesus say that His disciples would know if they really knew Him? (John 14:7)
  6. Whom did Philip ask Jesus to show them? (John 14:8)
  7. What did Jesus ask Philip in response to Philip’s request to be shown the Father? (John 14:9)
  8. How did Jesus characterize His relationship with the Father? (John 14:10-11)
  9. What evidence did Jesus use to prove that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him? (John 14:11)
  10. What did Jesus say that those who had faith in Him would do? (John 14:12)
  11. Why did Jesus say that anyone who had faith would do greater things? (John 14:12)
  12. Why did Jesus say that He would do whatever His believers asked in His name? (John 14:13)
  13. What did Jesus say that He would do for His followers? (John 14:14)
  14. In what way is faith in Jesus Christ exclusive or narrow?
  15. In what way is Christianity an exclusive belief system?
  16. How is Jesus the way, the truth, and the life in your life?
  17. How are we related to Jesus Christ and God the Father?
  18. What does it mean to know someone?
  19. What does it mean to know Jesus and God?
  20. What “greater things” are we doing today?
  21. What can we ask Jesus to do?
  22. What should our motivation be when we make requests of Jesus?
  23. How can we bring glory to the Father?
  24. What can you do this week to deepen your relationship with Christ?
  25. What can you do today to bring glory to God?
  26. Whom do you need to tell about the way Jesus offers a relationship with God?

Jesus Prepares His Followers

PREPARED
(4 Ways Jesus Prepared His Followers to Be Sent Out)
John 13:1-38

  1. Jesus establishes the principle of selfless service for His followers (John 13:1-9).
    1. Intention – he got up, volitional action.
    2. Genuineness – development of a servant’s heart.
    3. Lifestyle – I get to do this rather than I have to do this.
  2. Jesus sets apart His followers from the world (John 13:10-17).
    1. I will do this and not wait for someone else to do it.
    2. Jesus sets an example which leads to an expectation.
    3. It comes from the heart, not just an activity for me to do.
  3. Jesus identifies the enemy of His Lordship (John 13:18-30).
    1. The enemy is Satan, but also selfishness.
    2. Selfishness grieves the Master’s heart
    3. Satan’s influence go against the Lordship of Christ.
    4. Selfishness will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than what you want to pay.
  4. Jesus calls His followers to a new command (John 13:31-38).
    1. We are to love one another.
    2. Love is the sign that we are followers of Jesus.
    3. How can we not be like Judas, with a calloused heart?

Questions for Further Study:

  1. What can you learn about a person from the way he or she dresses?
  2. How do people reveal their convictions through their life-style?
  3. What does it mean to love someone?
  4. What did Jesus say when Judas had gone? (John 13:31)
  5. What did God do through Jesus? (John 13:32)
  6. How much longer did Jesus say He would be with His disciples? (John 13:33)
  7. Why was Jesus saying farewell? (John 13:33)
  8. What was Jesus giving to His disciples? (John 13:34)
  9. What did Jesus command His disciples to do? (John 13:34)
  10. How did Jesus say people would know His disciples? (John 13:35)
  11. What question did Peter ask Jesus? (John 13:36)
  12. What did Jesus tell Peter? (John 13:36)
  13. What did Peter pledge to do? (John 13:37)
  14. What blunt statement did Jesus make about Peter? (John 13:38)
  15. How is God glorified by our behavior?
  16. What does it mean for you to love people as Jesus has loved them?
  17. What kind of love was Jesus talking about?
  18. How is love a sign that someone is a disciple of Christ?
  19. How do we deny Christ with our words or life-style?
  20. When and why are we tempted to deny Jesus?
  21. How does our denying Christ affect our relationship with Him as well as our relationships with
    other Christians?
  22. Who is someone you need to love as Christ has loved you? How?
  23. What can you do to stay loyal to Christ this week with either your words or your life-style?
  24. How can you show Christ’s love to others at your place of work, at home, or in your neighborhood?
  25. What steps can you take to become more loving to others?