Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Getting to Know You...On Purpose!

Some thoughts for reflection:

There is a strong correlation between spiritual progress in one’s life and one’s relationships.   Pastor Andy Stanley speaks about establishing intentional relationships.  He reminds us that when we apply for a job, because we need the money and we seek a certain vocation, we choose to invest in the relationships with whom we work.  When we pursue an education to gain knowledge and open doors of opportunity, we form relationships with fellow students and instructors.  When we move to a new neighborhood, because we like the house, we choose to meet and get to know our new neighbors.  Why then would we not seek intentional relationships within the realm of church?  Why would we only respond to those who seek us out first?  Why are we not more intentional about joining groups for the purpose of making spiritual progress? 
Read Acts 2:42-47. 

1.        How did the believers show intentionality in becoming a community?

2.       How well do you think these Christians knew each other?
Significant relationships require some transparency.  Yet, we live in a culture that is very much image oriented.  We can be whoever we are on facebook!  To get real, we have to allow others to know what is beneath the surface.  When people come in for counseling there is a predominant belief that everyone else in the church has it together except themselves.  This is simply not true.  We are all human and we all struggle!  Only God has it all together! 

Read James 5:16.
3.        If we are forgiven by confessing our sins to God through Jesus, our High Priest, why does this verse admonish us to confess our sins to each other? 

4.       Why do you think it is healing to open up to another trusted individual, whom you admire in the faith, and confess your sins? 

5.       Can you name someone who knows your struggles and can pray for you with a real knowledge of your life?
Read Romans 15:7. 
6.       Give an example of when you felt accepted by someone?

7.       Explain what it means to accept someone.
Read Romans 15:5.
8.        Who gets the glory when we are real with each other, work through difficulties, become transparent with each other, confess our sins to each other and pray for each other?

9.       After working through this study have you become more convinced that it is necessary for your spiritual progress to be intentional about establishing and nurturing relationships?  What specific step will you take as a result of what you learned? 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Moving on...spiritually

One aspect we admire of those “Heroes of the Faith,” is the response they had to increasingly difficult circumstances in their lives.  The result of their decisions was a stronger faith in God and a higher degree of influence on the people around them.  They became leaders. 
Read:  Genesis 15:1-6, 17:1-8, 18:9-15 and 21:1-7.   

1.        What did God promise Abraham and what was the desire of Abraham’s heart?

2.       What very real and physical obstacle stood in the way of God’s promise and Abraham’s dream?

3.       Abraham had a lot of questions for God.  His questions revealed some intellectual doubt, but Abraham always acted in faith.  What are some of the first questions you had regarding faith in Jesus Christ?

4.       God’s faithfulness in the past was the basis for Abraham’s trust in God and the expansion of his faith.  Can you name some ways God has been faithful to you in the past? 

5.       Have you ever acted in faith, even though you had some doubts?  What was the outcome?

6.       How has God’s faithfulness caused your faith to grow?

7.       We know from the Scriptures (Genesis 16:16) that Abraham was younger than eighty-six when God first made His promises to Abraham.  Abraham was one-hundred years old when Isaac, the son of promise, was born (Genesis 21:5).  Fourteen years to wait for a child would be difficult in what we commonly think of as “the child bearing years.”  Can you imagine what it must have felt like at Abraham’s age?  How do you think Abraham continued to believe God’s promise through that long time until His promise was fulfilled?

8.       What would it be like to be a friend of Abraham?  How would he influence you?

9.       Do you have an “Abraham” in your life?  That is, is there someone who has faced trial after trial but has responded in a stronger faith in God through each circumstance?  How has their faith influenced yours?

10.   In Life Groups we commit to building relationships with people who are on a faith journey with Christ.  You may or may not know the others in your group in the beginning, but as you study God’s Word and pray together you will find that the sense of community will encourage your faith.   What kind of “blessing of faith,” (example:  may you see an answer to prayer this week) would you like to give this group today? 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Was Just Minding My Business

We are on the last of three weeks where each person in the group has an opportunity to tell “their story.”  Before we hear from more group members, let’s take a look at someone’s story from the book of Exodus.  A little background:  This baby boy was born during a tumultuous time for the Hebrew people.  They were being persecuted in the land of Egypt and they were commanded to put every newborn Hebrew son to death.  However, the Hebrew midwives feared God more than the officials so they did not obey their gruesome orders and allowed the baby boys to live.  One such boy was Moses.  He ended up being adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter and a lot of interesting things happened.  (You can catch up on all these happenings in Exodus 1 and 2).  But for our time together today, let’s read Exodus 3:1-9 Exodus 4:10-17.

1.        What was Moses doing as he was just “minding his business,” when he came upon a burning bush?   

2.       Why do you think God chose this time to appear to Moses? 

3.       When you think of times you are just “minding your business,” what are you doing in those times? 

4.       In what times has God caught your attention?  What proceeded that time when you were at a place where you recognized that God was speaking to your heart?  

5.       In Exodus 4:10-13 Moses tries arguing with God and ends by asking God to please send someone else.  Has God ever put a desire or task into your heart to perform, and you really thought someone else would do a much better job?  Can you relate to Moses?  Did you accept your assignment or are you in the process of accepting your assignment, or did you run the other way?
Now, let’s hear from some of our group members.  Here are the three questions:
·         Who have been three special people in your life? 

·         What three are noteworthy events in your life? 

·         What are three places in your life that stand out in your mind? 

When everyone has finished sharing, have the leader, or anyone else who wishes to pray, thank the Lord specifically for the special people in the lives of the group members.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Your Song - Week 2

In the seventies Elton John’s music filled up the pop air waves and one of his hits was ‘Your Song’ which in part said,
“My gift is my song, and this one's for you.  And you can tell everybody this is your song.  It may be quite simple, but now that it's done… I hope you don't mind, I hope you don't mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is while you're in the world.”
This week we are talking about perhaps not 'your song', but we are focusing on 'your story'.  Let’s read a little about a very interesting person in history whose name was John the Baptist.
Read Mark 1:1-8. 
1.              John appeared on the scene from what country and from what kind of land?

2.              What was typical style of dress?

3.              What was unusual about John’s diet?

4.              What was John’s vocation?
Read Luke 1:13-14 and Luke 1:57-66.
5.              Make five observations from these verses.

6.              What were some unusual circumstances surrounding John’s birth and vocation? 

7.              How did these unique factors influence the kind of person John became?
This week we are going to ask a few more individuals in the group to casually share part of their life stories.  We are asking each person to think about three questions.
·         Who have been three special people in your life?
·         What three are noteworthy events in your life?
·         What are three places in your life that stand out in your mind?
Please have a leader close in prayer with special thanks for every person who has attended your Life Group today, and ask a special blessing on each person who shared their story today.

With special thanks to Group Link and the Community booklet.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sharing A Meal - Week 1

The next eight Bible Studies correspond to our Group Link event that starts at our church Sunday, January 13th.  Group questions will be available on this blog and in the Sunday bulletin.

It is suggested that at your first meeting you either enjoy a meal (something as simple as pizza or soup and bread), or a dessert together.
Sharing a meal has always had social implications.  We like sharing a meal with those we like or those we want to get to know.  First dates are often enjoyed over a meal.  We have something constructive to do in awkward pauses – take another bite of food and smile.  I grew up in a family of six children on a one-parent income.  Consequently in the early years we did not eat in restaurants very often.  On a first date to a high school dance, with a young man who had a little more opportunity in his upbringing to frequent fancy restaurants, I had an awkward moment.  When the waiter in white gloves presented a beautiful tray with silverware on it to me, I instinctively took the tray from him thinking he needed somebody to hold it for a moment.  Just trying to be helpful…oops.

1.        What is your most awkward moment involving food?
Read Acts 2:42-47.  Have a couple of group members read different versions of the Bible for this passage. 

2.       In which two verses do the believers in the early church find themselves eating a meal together? 

3.       The New Living Translation titles this section ‘The Believers Form a Community.’  How does eating together help form a community? 

4.     Why do you think eating together was a practice along with spiritual disciplines such as teaching, fellowship and prayer?

5.       World-wide and for centuries, eating together is a great way to get to know another person.  One of the goals of these eight weeks of study is to get to know the other people in your Life Group.  Starting next week, and for a total of three weeks, we are going to ask each person in the group to casually share part of their life stories.  We are asking each person to think about three questions.

·         Who have been three special people in your life?

·         What three are noteworthy events in your life?

·         What are three places in your life that stand out in your mind?
We are asking you to sign up tonight for which week you will share your life story.  After three weeks everyone’s story should have been shared and we will move on to the next part of our study.  We will have some warm-up questions for the beginning of each study and then individuals can share their stories.

6.       Please have a leader close in prayer with special thanks for every person who has attended your Life Group today.
With special thanks to Group Link and the Community booklet.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Need a Bible Reading Program?

For the New Year, or at any time you want to get started, it is helpful to have a Bible Reading Program to have a systematic way to stay immersed in God's Word.  There are many online from which to choose.

I found the following one, and have been using it for about ten weeks now.  The strong suit is that it keeps one in many places in the Bible over the course of a week.  Some days area a little more or a little less, but it is definitely "doable." 

May your time this year be rich in God's Word!

Here's the link:  http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/biblereading-1yr.html

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Spiritual Hunger Around the World

Spiritual Hunger is what propels us on toward connecting with God. It's that motivation that makes us step into church if we have been gone...to open our Bibles, to get down on our knees and pray AND to search the Internet to find Bible Studies. Did that last one surprise you? Well, in the analytics provided by this blog we found that our Bible Studies on Hydesville Life Groups are being picked up by individuals in other countries. Specifically, Russia, Germany, Slovenia, France, China, Israel, Canada, the United Kingdom and Latvia.  In fact the interest from Russia was about one-third that of the United States!  That is a lot of spiritual hunger from way across the world.

How we rejoice that brothers and sisters of Christ  - from all nationalities can share in our common faith and we can grow together in Christ.  Hydesville may be a little place, but God's Word is enormous in spectrum and the study of it worth our time and effort to satisfy that "spiritual hunger" and changed lives can help feed many!