We seek to encourage our church in reading, studying, and living out Scripture in our daily lives. This study guide is designed to correspond to Sunday’s sermon (Dec. 3rd) [Listen Here]. Read through this lesson on your own or with a small group.
The concept of “sacrifice” in the Bible is a pretty loaded topic. It could mean the burnt offerings the Jews offered to God under the Mosaic Law, the sacrificial atonement that Jesus made on the cross,the self-sacrificial attitude Christians are to display as they follow the Christ, or even just giving up some portion of our earthly treasure to provide for others. This week, we are going to talk about that last definition, and what it means to step up to spreading the message of the gospel through how we spend our money and value our possessions.
- If he is truly all-powerful and outside of any sort of earthly need, why does God demand such expensive sacrifices from His people?
- What are some ways that we can “pollute the offering table” than turn around and pretend like we have done nothing wrong?
- What is the modern day equivalent of offering a lame or diseased animal as a sacrifice?
- Ignoring his true intentions revealed to us by the author, do you feel as though you might agree with Judas in this story?
- What do you imagine the mood was like in this home, knowing that Lazarus was dead not too long before this?
- What does Jesus mean in verse 8? Is he declaring that the poor are less important than Him?
- There are many different views on how a Christian should use their money in relation to the church. Some people give to specific charities, some give when they feel like they have enough to give, some give a constant %10. How do you feel people should view money and financial responsibility toward the mission of the church?
- What resources, aside from money, can we use to serve the church?
- What is your “expensive perfume” from the story in John? Would you have a hard time using the things you find valuable as a way to worship, like Mary?
In Matthew 6, Jesus declares that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When Mary uses her treasure to serve Jesus, her heart is in the right place. Judas outwardly claims to have a heart for the needy, but his heart was truly for himself. It seems that not only do our actions matter, but the attitude with which we do them, as well.
When you use your wealth and possessions to serve others, it is with a sacrificial heart? Are you seeking not only to provide for the church, but also to bring glory to God? This week, examine your sense of generosity and take steps to uncover where your heart truly lies.
Pray for opportunities to live sacrificially. Pray that your heart is in the right place, so that God will see fit to open up the storehouses of heaven and use you as a way to bring the gospel of contentment to those who don’t yet know who He is. Pray for assistance in realigning any selfish motives you have when considering how to use the money and valuables you have received from God.
We seek to encourage our church in reading, studying, and living out Scripture in our daily lives. This study guide is designed to correspond to Sunday’s sermon (Nov. 26th) [Listen Here]. Read through this lesson on your own or with a small group.
- What are the different parts of the body of Christ? For example, someone who preaches could be considered the “mouth.” What other roles do members of the body play?
- Paul seems to be encouraging people by reminding them that everyone has a role to play in God’s plan. Why is this something of which we need to be reminded?
Paul wants his readers to know that they all have a specific role to play in the church’s mission. We have all been given personalities and abilities that make us uniquely suited to serve the purpose of evangelizing the world. Sometimes, however, we feel as though we will never live up to the precedent that others have set. We decide that our prayers aren’t eloquent enough, or that we aren’t truly faithful if we don’t give up our possessions and move to Africa to minister to an unreached people group. However, the story of Jesus healing a paralytic explains to us that we all have a role to play, regardless of the “level” of talent we have.
- In verse four, the men encounter a roadblock, but simply find a way around it. What are some roadblocks we come upon when spreading the gospel?
- How do you think the various characters felt at different points during the story:
- The four friends when they saw the daunting crowd.
- The paralytic when being brought up on to the roof.
- Jesus, as the paralytic is being lowered down to Him.
- It would have been far easier for these men to simply say “let’s just wait in line” or “maybe we’ll catch Jesus the next time he is in town, rather than go through the hassle of climbing onto the roof and doing what they did. Why do you think they chose the hard way?
- What do you consider your role in the body of Christ to be?
- Have you ever encountered a roadblock when you attempted to share the gospel with someone? How did you get around it?
- Who is someone that you have hesitated to talk to about Jesus, and why?
A major new idea that Jesus brought to the followers of God was the concept of “gentile inclusion,” that is, that salvation wasn’t to be kept to the Jews anymore! Instead the whole world was not included in the church’s mission to expand the Kingdom of God.
Things haven’t changed. While it is easy to say “I agree, the world needs to know Jesus” it is much harder to get around our own personal concept of who is worthy of evangelism. Sometimes, we just can’t stand a coworker and don’t want to talk them more than needed. Sometimes, we’re holding a grudge against someone who used to be a friend.
However, the culture of the church needs to work against the culture of the world. Rather than putting our own desires and opinions first, and expecting to be served, we need to see others as more important than ourselves, and realize the urgency with which we should be spreading the gospel to all people!
Pray for your role in the body of Christ to be revealed to you, and for opportunities to play that role. Pray for opportunities to stretch your comfort zone, to live out the fact that everyone in the world is deserving of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Step Up: So That Others May Know!
We seek to encourage our church in reading, studying, and living out Scripture in our daily lives. This study guide is designed to correspond to Sunday’s sermon (Nov. 12th) [Listen Here]. Read through this lesson on your own or with a small group.
The story about the sending of the 72 missionaries in Luke 10 holds a special place in the heart of Harvest Christian Church. This is where we get our name from, when Jesus explains to the men he is sending that “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” We have the mission of the church right in our name!
The Pacific Northwest is a region notoriously averse to Christianity. While our harvest is certainly plentiful, its roots are deeply planted, and it will take a lot of work from the workers to get them free. This week, we take a look at Jesus’ mission briefing to the laborers he sent out in to the fields to take a harvest.
- When sending His people out to spread His gospel, Jesus sent them in pairs. Why do you think He chose to do it this way?
- At the end of verse 1, the author makes a note that all of the places that Jesus sent the missionaries were places He Himself was about to go. What is the significance of this?
Jesus then begins to give the missionaries some concrete advice for when dealing with people on their mission- what to bring, who to talk to, how to handle rejection, etc. It is clear that Jesus knew how his people would be received among those they sought to bring into God’s Kingdom. However, rather than save them the pain of rejection or even the possible legal backlash of preaching the gospel of a man considered to be a heretic, he chooses to instead equip them with knowledge on how to handle it.
- Who are the two groups discussed in verse 2- the harvest and the laborers?
- Notice that Jesus tells them to pray to the “Lord of the Harvest.” If the harvest is made up of those who have not accepted Jesus, why is he described as their Lord?
- Jesus tells the seventy-two to rebuke those that reject their message, with what could be considered pretty harsh words. Does this conflict with the gospel of peace and grace that Jesus came to preach?
- Sometimes Christians run the risk of surrounding themselves with only other Christians, and have few opportunities for evangelism. How can we avoid this problem?
- What are some “wolves” that we face today?
- Jesus advises the missionaries to seek out “son[s] of peace” when arriving at a house; someone who may not know the gospel, and may not even respond in the way the seventy-two desire, but would be willing to listen to what they have to say. Who is someone you know that could be described as a “son (or daughter) of peace?”
- What does it look like, in practicality, to “shake the dust off your feet” in real life?
It is the mission of the Church to bring the gospel of Jesus to the world. Sometimes we feel like we can’t be a missionary unless we dedicate our lives to some sort of disenfranchised people group on some other continent. Or that maybe we don’t know scripture well enough, or have too many personal sins to deal with before trying to convince others to become Christians.
The truth is, there is absolutely nothing that excuses us from reaching out to the world that desperately needs the hope that we have. We are the doctor handing the cure to the sick. We are not the cure, nor are we are not the one who created it. We are simply the conduit through which those in need can be healed. We are the laborers standing before a field ripe for harvest. It’s time to get to work.
Take some time to ask God for wisdom in how to approach the harvest that has been set before you. Ask for opportunities to show courage in your evangelism and to be able to handle rejection when it comes your way. Pray that we will not let any excuse stop us from getting into the field and reaping the harvest that is waiting for the light of God.
Step Up: So That Others May Know!
We seek to encourage our church in reading, studying, and living out Scripture in our daily lives. This study guide is designed to correspond to Sunday’s sermon (Nov. 5th) [Listen Here]. Read through this lesson on your own or with a small group.
We, as the human race, have a tendency to get stuck in our ways. When we discover a way to do things or a way of thinking that we agree with, it is often difficult for us to break away from those methods. It isn’t hard to understand- predictability is comforting.
Take, for example, a school bus route. Every morning, the students wait out at the bus stop at the same time, because that is when their ride to school will show up to collect them. If the driver changed what time he got their every day, the students would not be able to know when to meet them and would probably be late to class- or not even get to school at all!
It’s easy to see why we like our routines. However, there is a danger in becoming too comfortable in those patterns. When that pattern ceases to be efficient or effective, then we probably should learn to change, lest we start to find the ritual more important than why we take part. This was a major issue for the Jewish people. In fact, their inability to break from their long-practices traditions and rituals is what led to the execution of Jesus!
Let’s take some time to examine what is truly important to God, and how we have gone astray from it.
- What parallels can you find between the different stories?
- Why would Jesus rapid fire several stories that lean toward the same underlying meaning?
- Which story speaks to you more? Do you have any personal experience that seems like it could have been used as one of Jesus’ examples of seeking that which is lost?
- The Jews had long assumed that they were God’s chosen people. But when Jesus came onto the scene, he began revealing that His grace is for all, not just the select few. How do you imagine the people in Jesus’ audience would have reacted to these parables when they heard them?
- Compare this passage to modern-day church activity. Do you feel as though we do things differently?
- Notice that this passage does not mention whether or not the believers were going out of their way to evangelize to others. That being said, what would make the church so attractive that they were growing on a daily basis?
- If you were to condense this passage to a simple phrase, like a slogan for the church, what would it be?
- What is something that gets in the way of you trying to keeping evangelism at the heart of your ministry?
- How can we, as a church, try to recreate the feeling of the believers in Acts 2? Is that something we should attempt to do at all, considering the differences in our cultures?
- Who is someone that you can introduce to Christianity, despite their “unworthiness?” Remember, ALL of us have fallen short of God’s glory.
Often, a danger that we may stray into in our evangelism is trying to convince others that they are doing things wrong, and that Christianity is the right way to live. While absolutely true, we must recognize that the early church attracted vast numbers to their group by simply living in a way that created a better world for those involved. They provided when someone was in need, spent time in each other’s company, and, most importantly, worshipped and studied the scriptures one body, yearning to know God better.
We have an opportunity to seek and save the lost, bringing the world to the foot of the throne of God. However, that will not happen until we put our own personal preferences and desires last, and choose to pursue that which is most important to God.
Take some time to pray that we as a church can always strive to keep only that which is important to God at that heart of our ministry to others. To be able to understand that seeking and saving the lost is the heart of the Father, and, therefore, should be the heart of the church, too.