Working Hard or Hardly Working

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Go Deeper This Week

This morning as we continue our sermon series…Solomon Says…we’re reminded of how the Book of Proverbs gives us wisdom on how to please God in everything we do…including our work life.

What does hard work mean to you? What does rest and relaxation mean to you? In your life, do you practice both hard work and relaxation? If not, do you need to make a few life changes?

What are your priorities in life and how do you prioritize your work life? When you think of the word "Sabbath" do you visualize images of rest or joy in your mind? What images does Sabbath bring to your mind? Does your busy life allow you take advantage of the Sabbath? What does the Bible say about Sabbath and work?

What does a normal day look like for you? Where do you spend most of your time? As a follower of Jesus Christ…can people tell that you are a believer? What more can you do to integrate the gospel into your work? Into your life?

Do you believe as Christians we have a responsibility to provide a good example to people we meet? Why? Read Matthew 5:13-16. This is what it looks like for faith or the gospel to show up anywhere. One is salt and the other is light. How have you been salt and light in the work place? As you volunteer? In your daily life?

No matter where we are on our journey of faith, every day that we go into work or volunteer or live our life…we go into the largest mission field in the world. Do you have the right attitude and the strength to accept the challenge the Lord has asked of you? Are you sharing the gospel?

Read Colossians 3:23-24. Are you living this passage out?

Prayer for the Week:

Dear Lord, my hope is in You. Help me to live according to your Word. Give me the courage and wisdom to work hard, to rest hard and face the future with certainty. I pray you will bless me with the wisdom to follow in the footsteps of Your Son, today and forever. Amen.

Building Healthy Families

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Go Deeper This Week

Read Proverbs 20:7, 22:6 and Joshua 24:15.

1. Why is it important for adults to live righteous/blameless lives and how might this be a blessing to their children? (See Proverbs 20:7)

2. Read Proverbs 22:6. Why is it so important to “start children off on the way they should go”?

3. Pastor Mick talked about the church helping parents teach their kids, but the primary responsibility lies with the parents. He said we can’t sub-contract this out to others / institutions. Do you agree? Why or why not? How have shifts in culture made this more difficult?

4. Read Proverbs 23:13-14. This “spare the rod spoil the child” concept has some negative connotations in the modern world around the topic of abuse. What do you think? Are there other “rods” that parents can use to effectively discipline their children?

5. What happens when parents fail to discipline their children? Is it good for the kids in the long run?

6. Why is it important for kids to “honor their father and mother”? What happens when they don’t?

7. Why is it important for families to be part of the bigger family of God (church)?

Prayer for the Week:

Heavenly Father, how I thank you for your continued love and guidance in my life. Your Word truly is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. Thank you for the wise words of Proverbs that offer such wisdom for my life. Help me Lord, to live according to your wisdom. Help me to lead my family the way you call me to lead. Help me to fully participate in my church family in accordance with your will. Help me to help others experience the joy and peace of being connected to the family of God as I live and lead by example. All praise and glory to you, Lord. Amen.

When Life is Wild, God is Good

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

We all deal with wild times in our life. There are times when life is good and times when life is unfair, scary and sad and times when life changes.

How do you handle life when it is good and when it is rough? Some people handle the ups and downs better than others, but there are times in all of our lives when we just need a reminder that God is good.

We have all learned how to live life from the people that have raised us. Moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas and other family members have trained us up. They have helped impact who we are today and how we act and react to situations.

Who is watching and learning from you?

What kind of examples are you setting for the people around you?

This week look for those who are watching you and make sure that you are setting the example and training them to live a life of love and joy as they follow Jesus.

Also look for God. Where do you see God working in and through your life?

Prayer for the Week:

Amazing God, this week help me to remember that little eyes are watching and learning from me all the time. Empower me to work and love through the good and the bad times in life so that all of your children might be trained up to follow you so that your world would be transformed. Help me to see You every day. Amen.

Choosing Your Soul Mate

Sermon: “Choosing Your Soul Mate”
Scripture: Proverbs (Various Scriptures)
Speaker: Pastor Diane Mendelson

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

The value of Proverbs is that it provides wisdom from God to guide us in every realm of life.

There are several passages in Proverbs that can truly help you find the partner God desires you to be with. Whether choosing a wife or husband, who should you seek help from? Read Proverbs 19:14.

When choosing a wife…read what Proverbs 31:30a says about placing a priority on good looks alone. What are the red flags?

What characteristics should you look for in a wife? Read and discuss Proverbs 31:30b and Proverbs 1:7.

When choosing a husband… there are ways to learn about a man from Proverbs. Read and discuss the following passages: Proverbs 12:10, 12:15, 13:20, 14:29, 15:27, 17:27-28.

Proverbs also guides a woman to definitely stay away from the following characteristics in a husband: Read and discuss Proverbs 6:27-29, 22:24-25 and 23:29-30.

Many have pondered the concept of soul mates asking these questions: What is a soul mate? Do I have one? And if so, where is mine? What are your thoughts?

What part did or does God play in helping you choose your soul mate? Do you believe there is one person that is meant just for you?

There are three ways a Soul Mate can come into our lives, and that is: For a Reason, For a Season and For a Lifetime. What are your thoughts on this?

Prayer for the Week:

Dear God, loving essence of all there is, please fill me with your presence this day. I ask you Lord for your love and guidance. I ask you Lord for wisdom and knowledge. Help me to be strong and courageous in all that I do and Lord, would you please embrace me in your circle of love. May I continue to be guided by your precious Word. All glory to you God…in the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Forbidden Fruit

Sermon: “Forbidden Fruit”
Scripture: Proverbs 5
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Read Proverbs 5: 1-23.

1. What makes seductive words and images a big trap?

2. What are some long term outcomes of the self-gratification?

3. How does Solomon avoid getting pulled into the seductive images and words?

4. Is there any way of telling if someone is pulling the wool over your eyes?

5. What kind of fatherly advice can we pass onto others?

Prayer for the Week:

Heavenly Father, we ask for discernment and wisdom to follow. Help us to adhere to the path that you want for us to follow. Help us to live by the Laws of God versus the way of the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Submitted by the Couples Group

The Road Less Traveled

Sermon: “The Road Less Traveled”
Scripture: Proverbs 4: 10-19
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Read Proverbs 4:10-19.

Remember the Footprints in the Sand* poem? The imagery is of a man walking along a beach viewing two sets of footprints that soon become one. He questions God about the single set of prints remaining when things got tough. God’s reply was, “it was then that I carried you.”

This passage in Proverbs reminds us too, that God will always be near – it instructs us in the way of wisdom, leads us along straight paths, reminds us our steps will not be hampered, that we will not stumble. We have a choice to make – hold on to the instruction, guard it and remain in the light or set our foot on the path of the wicked which is in deep darkness. When we remain in the light our eyes can be open to God’s leading and we can see life through His lens. Even Balaam’s donkey (and later Balaam himself) saw through God’s lens. (See Numbers 22:21-39.)

The other caution given is to avoid walking the way of evildoers. Even friends can lead us down the wrong path. We find the terrain rocky and dangerous; we get confused about the way to go; our footing is unsure and we stumble and fall. We are not guaranteed a problem-free life when we follow the instructions from The Lord, but we can be confident that He is standing with us, holding us up.

When you feel the heavy influence to be enticed away from the righteous path, proceed with caution. Solomon says… call out “Abba, Father…I need your help.” He will answer.

*Footprints in the Sand reference https://www.onlythebible.com/Poems/Footprints-in-the-Sand-Poem.html

Submitted by the Apologetics Sunday Morning Class

“Beware of Evil” - Internal & External

Sermon: “Beware of Evil” - Internal & External
Scripture: Proverbs 1: 10-19
Speaker:
Pastor Diane Mendelson

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Read Proverbs 1: 10-19.

One of the great dangers for young people is the influence of evil company. What is evil company? It is those people that would seduce the innocent to do things that break the law or are morally wrong. As parents, like Solomon, we warn our children of these dangers. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they do not.

What is a parent to do? As Christian parents, we can read the Bible stories to introduce our children to God’s Word at an early age and pray with them about the problems they face at school and with friends. Hopefully, this will develop in the children a love for the Scriptures and a trust in God that He will help them through their challenges, big or small. It should be our goal to instill in their hearts and minds the importance of trusting God’s Word and becoming a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. By reading and studying the Bible they will develop a moral compass and wisdom to better face the conflicts this world will surely bring them.

Proverbs 22: 6 - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Prayer for the Week:

Dear Heavenly Father, we ask that You will give us a hunger for Your Word. Help us not to miss precious opportunities to point our children to You. We ask that You would instill in our children not a worldly wisdom, but a Godly wisdom that begins with reverence and obedience to You. Keep all those we love from sin and its deception and bring us all into Your Light. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Submitted by Keith Gudorf, Inspired by Discussions with the Legacy Builders class, Written by Sheila Gudorf, Edited by Betty Bowsher

Father & Mother Know Best

Sermon: “Father & Mother Know Best”
Scripture: Proverbs 1: 8-9
Speaker: Pastor Matt Overman

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Read Proverbs 1: 8-9. This passage is written by Solomon, David’s son, King of Israel, the wisest man that ever lived.

1. In verse 1: 8, Solomon says, “Listen, my child, to what your father teaches you. Don’t neglect your mother’s teachings.” As children of God are we only to listen to words? Do our actions speak louder than words?

2. Children learn values, morals and priorities by observing how their parents act and react everyday.

3. In verse 1: 9, Solomon says, “What you learn from them will crown you with grace and clothe you with honor.” What do you think Solomon means by this statement?

4. In the first nine chapters of Proverbs, Solomon is providing wisdom for young people. Is it only for young people or all who seek wisdom who benefit greatly from these wise words?

5. As Solomon points out, we need to listen to our parents to gain knowledge (having the facts) but more importantly to apply those facts to life, which is “wisdom.” We can amass knowledge, but without wisdom our knowledge is useless. We must learn to live out what we know showing true wisdom.

Prayer for the Week:

Dear Lord,

Open our hearts and ears so we may gain your knowledge. Let us accept it willingly and then apply it in our daily actions, so we may be a living example of your righteousness. Father, your son Jesus is the Good News. Arm us with the ability and wisdom to spread it throughout the world. Amen.

Submitted by Ron Fanning

Blockbuster Christianity

Sermon: “Blockbuster Christianity”
Scripture: Acts 2: 1-12
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Read Acts 2:1-12.

1. How is today’s passage the fulfillment of God’s promise, which Jesus spoke of in Acts 1:4?

2. What does Jesus expect of us once this promise is fulfilled (see Acts 1:8)?

3. Pastor Mick compared the events of Acts 2:1-12 to a Blockbuster Summer movie. What do you think he was saying with this comparison?

4. Do you think Blockbuster events/moments still happen in the life of the church? In your own lives? Why or why not?

5. Pastor Mick used the phrase “Reverse the Curse” when comparing this event to the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 11? How are God’s actions in each story different and why did God do what he did in each story? (Hint: think about self-centered vs. God-centered, human power vs. God’s power)

6. Do you think the modern Church is an Acts 2 Church, or have we regressed back to the days of Babel? Why?

Prayer for the Week:

Lord Jesus, remind us that sometimes what we need to do most is to simply wait. Wait upon God and follow his lead. We confess that we don’t like to wait. We like to be in control. We forget that your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Send your Holy Spirit in powerful and unexpected ways once again to remind us of our great need for you. Fill us to overflowing with your power, your love, your mercy and your grace. Help us to truly be your witness across the street and around the world. Remind us that no one is excluded from your love and grace. Help us to be more like the Apostle Paul, becoming all things to all people so that by all means some might be saved. May all that we say and do advance your Kingdom and bring you glory. In the strong name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

The Ascension of Christ

Sermon: “The Ascension of Christ”
Scripture: Acts 1: 1-11
Speaker: Pastor Diane Mendelson

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

1. Read Acts 1:1-11. This passage is full of awe and wonder. What do you think is the most important part of this passage? Why?

2. How long did Jesus appear to His apostles according to v. 3?

3. Look at Acts 1:3-5 and Luke 24:45-49. Discuss what Jesus did and told his followers after His resurrection. What instructions and insights did Jesus give His followers concerning the Holy Spirit?

4. What did Jesus mean by saying: “you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit"?

5. Look at Acts 1:6. What do you think was more important to the disciples? Was it God’s kingdom or their position in it? What are your thoughts on His response in v. 7?

6. Jesus clarifies that the kingdom is not just about physical Israel. To what extent must the kingdom be extended (Acts 1:8)? Has there been a time in your own life where you were looking for something that you thought was important and Jesus gave you an answer that changed your perspective? How did that make you feel?

7. What thoughts do you think were going through the disciples mind during the incident of Acts 1:9-11? What goes through your mind? Have you ever felt like Jesus has left you “high and dry”? If you were one of the apostles, how would you have felt about Jesus leaving?

8. Do you have to be someone or something “special” in order for God to use you?

Prayer for the Week:

Dear God, it is through Jesus Christ that you revealed to me a power like no other. May each of us be enlightened, not only to this power but also to what it has done in each of our lives. We ask that you pour out your Spirit of power upon us so that we may indeed receive your grace. Amen.

Prison Shaking Savior

Sermon: “Prison Shaking Savior”
Scripture: Acts 16: 22-34
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Read Acts 16:22-34.

1. Paul and Silas are praying and singing hymns after being flogged and locked in prison. How natural is it for you to sing praises to God in the midst of extremely difficult times? How natural should it be, and why?

2. How might this passage of Scripture relate to Romans 8:28? Can you think of any Romans 8:28 moments in your own life?

3. Pastor Mick talked about being in prison spiritually and emotionally, not just physically. When have you been in prison like this? What areas of your life are most likely to make you feel bound up or shackled? What’s the best way to break free (hint: what did Paul and Silas do?)

4. Pastor Mick talked about the book “They Like to Never Quit Priasin’ God,” which draws on the African American preaching tradition influenced by slavery. What can a predominantly Caucasian church such as Grand Lake UMC learn from such a book?

5. Pastor Mick told of Rev. Debo Onabanjo singing at a local pastor’s funeral. How is this similar to what Paul and Silas were doing? Why do you think this singing had such an impact on Pastor Mick?

6. Why was the jailer filled with joy at the end of this passage? How can we use the difficult times in our own lives to help others find such joy?

Prayer for the Week:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times in life when I have allowed my own personal struggles to overshadow my faith in you. Remind me, Lord, that in this world I will have trouble, but I need not fear, because you have overcome the world. You have already won the victory for me. Remind me of this truth often, so that I may sing your praises in all circumstances. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you, rejoicing in your saving grace, even amid my own struggles. And as I praise you in all the storms of life, may my witness and testimony help others who are lost and hurting find you and be filled with joy as they receive your grace. I pray all of this in the precious, holy and strong name of Jesus. Amen.

Unbelievable Conversion

Sermon: “Unbelievable Conversion”
Scripture: Acts 9: 1-20
Speaker: Pastor Diane Mendelson

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

1. Read Acts 9:1-20. Is this a passage you’re familiar with? If so, what are your thoughts about this text? If not, what are your initial thoughts on what has taken place in this text?

2. What did Saul hope to achieve in Damascus according to Acts 9:1-2? What did he achieve there?

3. We read about Saul’s conversion in three places in Acts. Read Acts 9:3-9, 22:6-11 and 26:12-18. What do you learn from each of these accounts?

4. Read Acts 9:10-19. In what ways can you personally identify with Ananias and the decisions he faced? Have you faced a similar request of God that was not an easy decision? Like Ananias, have you ever tried to help God with the facts (as if He did not already know them)?

5. How might this story have changed if Ananias had told God that he would not go see Saul? Would you have obeyed God if you were in the same position as Ananias?

6. Has God called you to a ministry opportunity? What was or is your response going to be?

7. Are there people who have had a positive spiritual impact on your life? Why did they have such an impact on you?

Prayer for the Week:

Great and gracious God, oh how I thank you for your unconditional love, grace and mercy. I remember when I first gave my life to you and how my life changed in so many ways. Thank you for offering me the “light of life” here on earth and the “light of eternity.” Be with me as I continue this journey and guide me all the days of my life. It is in the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Offer Them Christ

Sermon: “Offer Them Christ”
Scripture: Acts 8: 26-40
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Read Acts 8:26-40.

1. What do you think about the way God called Philip to go to Gaza? What does that say about the way God might call us to unexpected places?

2. What is significant about the Ethiopian eunuch? How would he have been viewed by society in his time?

3. Last week Max Wilkins asked us, “Who is your Samaritan?” He meant who are those folks living on the margins with whom you’d rather not associate? Today’s passage begs a similar question, “Who is your Ethiopian?” In other words, who is someone very different than you to whom God may be calling you to minister?

4. Philip offers the Ethiopian help by explaining the Scriptures to him. What are some practical ways you can offer help to the “Ethiopians” in your life?

5. Philip offers the Ethiopian hope by sharing the Good News of Jesus with him. How might you offer hope to those God puts in your path?

6. Ultimately, Philip was offering the Ethiopian Christ through this encounter, even baptizing him along the road. What might this whole encounter teach us about our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ? When has God unexpectedly put someone in your path to whom you could share the Good News of Jesus? Did you do it, or did you miss the opportunity?

Prayer for the Week:

Thank you Jesus, for all the people you put in my path to whom I can share the Good News of your great love. Help me to recognize when you are doing this and help me to be obedient to your will. Just as others have reached out to me in my life and helped me grow in my faith, help me to do the same for others. Help me to truly be the hands and feet of Jesus in my little corner of the world today. May all that I say and do point others to you. May I truly reach out to those who don’t yet know you, and offer them help, hope and Christ. Amen.

Resurrection Living

Sermon: “Resurrection Living”
Scripture: Colossians 3:1-4
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Easter Joy
By Joanna Fuchs

Jesus came to earth,
To show us how to live,
How to put others first,
How to love and how to give.

Then He set about His work,
That God sent Him to do;
He took our punishment on Himself;
He made us clean and new.

He could have saved Himself,
Calling angels from above,
But He chose to pay our price for sin;
He paid it out of love.

Our Lord died on Good Friday,
But the cross did not destroy
His resurrection on Easter morn
That fills our hearts with joy.

Now we know our earthly death,
Like His, is just a rest.
We'll be forever with Him
In heaven, where life is best.

So we live our lives for Jesus,
Think of Him in all we do.
Thank you Savior. Thank you Lord.
Help us love like you!

By Joanna Fuchs

Heart’s Desire

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Series: Not a Fan
Sermon: “Heart’s Desire”
Scripture: John 6:25-26
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

1. As we come to the conclusion of our Lenten Sermon Series…Not A Fan...have you been challenged to make any changes in your life to become a completely, committed follower of Jesus? If so, what do those changes look like?

2. Read Hebrews 9:27. What are your thoughts on this passage and how does it affect your life directly?

3. Read John 6:1-26. During this passage we see that Jesus has not only fed the multitudes, but He has walked on water…the crowds have now become quite an entourage in following Jesus wherever He goes. Why are they following Him? Is it because of what He feeds them? Is it because He can help them? If the food and help cease…will they still want to hang around Him? Is Jesus enough for them? Is this a means of separating the fans from the followers?

4. Read Matthew 7:21. This verse reminds us how easy it is to convince ourselves that we are followers of Jesus. What is the will of the Father? How well do you know Jesus?

5. Here are three questions that you are encouraged to answer in regard to your relationship with Jesus…answer them with sincere honesty, prayer and discernment: What are you hungry for and what do you truly thirst for? Is Jesus really enough for you? As you reflect on your answers to these first two questions…are you a fan or a follower?

Prayer for the Week:

Lord, please forgive us for the many times we’ve lived our lives as fans rather than living for you as completely committed followers. Please guide us and lead us through this journey of life and help us to acknowledge how desperately in need of you we are. Thank you, Jesus, for your unconditional love, mercy and grace. You are our heart’s desire and we long to worship you. Amen.

The Rule of Grace

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Series: Not a Fan
Sermon: “The Rule of Grace”
Scripture: John 8:1-11
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Read John 8:1-11.

1. In this week’s passage, the Pharisees try to use the Law as a weapon, not only against the woman caught in adultery, but also against Jesus. When have you been guilty of using Scripture as a weapon against those who sin differently than you?

2. Why do you think it is so easy to put religious rules ahead of relationship with Jesus?

3. Jesus says, “If any of you are without sin, let him be the first one to throw a stone at her.” What is Jesus telling us through this phrase?

4. When there are no accusers left, Jesus tells the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” What does this say to us about our need for grace and repentance?

5. In the video clip, Kyle Idleman talks about being inoculated with Jesus. That is, we get just enough Jesus in us to make us immune to how He calls us to live. How have you seen this play out in your own life or in the lives of others around you?

6. Also in the video, Idleman tells the story of a father who says of his daughter, “We raised her in the church, but we didn’t raise her in Christ.” What do you think he means by this? Is this a danger we all face? What could/should we do differently?

Prayer for the Week:

Jesus, I love you so much and I invite you to be the Lord of my life. Grant me the wisdom to discern your will for my life and the courage to follow your leading. I surrender my life to you anew this day, and I willingly take up my cross to follow you. These are easy words to speak in the safety of this place, but much harder to do out in the world. Help me to be your good and faithful servant. Help me to be a completely committed follower of Jesus, going out into the world to make new followers and transform the world. I pray this in your most precious name, Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and to the glory of God Almighty. Amen.

The Comfortable Cross

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Series: Not a Fan
Sermon: “The Comfortable Cross”
Scripture: Luke 9: 57-62
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

1. Read Luke 9:57-62. There are three different scenarios taking place in this passage. Discuss the following scenarios and your initial responses: What did Jesus mean when He said, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head”? What do you think the man’s request to go bury his father really means? What does Jesus mean when He said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”?

2. Describe how looking back at or stepping back into your old life without Christ can be detrimental to how God wants to use you in the kingdom right here and right now.

3. What are some things in life that distract us from serving or following Christ? When we give into our distractions, what are we saying about following Jesus? What are examples in your life when you’ve told God, “first let me go do this”?

4. In what ways have you sacrificed personal convenience or even physical comforts to be Jesus’ disciple? What might God be calling you to sacrifice this week to prioritize living for His kingdom?

5. How have or would you answer Jesus if He said, “Follow Me”?

Prayer for the Week:

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I've put my own priorities in front of yours. I've treated you more like a servant or an equal than my Lord and Savior. Forgive me for that and have mercy upon me. Please help me to answer when you call upon me, making no excuses. Help me to hear you when you call my name, help me to obedient to your requests and please give me the courage and strength to be the disciple you called me to be and a disciple you can count on. I’m giving you all the praise and glory, Lord. It is in your name I pray.

Amen.

What Must I Do?

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Series: Not a Fan
Sermon: “What Must I Do?”
Scripture: Matthew 19: 16-24
Speaker: Pastor Diane Mendelson

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

Read Matthew 19:16-26.

1. In today’s passage, the rich young man asks Jesus, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?” How does this question show us that the rich young man simply did not understand Jesus’ teachings? How was his question indicative of a “works righteousness” theology?

2. Jesus gave the rich young man instructions on what he needed to do: “sell all your possessions, give to the poor and follow me.” Do you think Jesus was concerned about the rich young man’s money, or his commitment to follow? What does this mean for you?

3. Jesus tells his disciples, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” What does Jesus mean by this? Is money the only thing that can hold us back? What else might hold us back?

4. Hearing this about camels and needles, the disciples ask, “Who then can be saved?” How does Jesus answer them? What does this mean for us?

5. In the case of the rich young man, the problem was not so much that he had money, but that his money had him. What has you? What is Jesus asking you to let go of in order to follow him more completely?

6. What does it mean for the kingdom of God to be both a present and a future reality? How can you experience the kingdom of God here and now?

Prayer for the Week:

Jesus, I love you so much and I invite you to be the Lord of my life. Grant me the wisdom to discern your will for my life and the courage to follow your leading. I surrender my life to you anew this day, and I willingly take up my cross to follow you. These are easy words to speak in the safety of this place, but much harder to do out in the world. Help me to be your good and faithful servant. Help me to be a completely committed follower of Jesus, going out into the world to make new followers and transform the world. I pray this in your most precious name Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and to the glory of God Almighty. Amen.

“The Open Invitation”

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Series: Not a Fan
Sermon: “The Open Invitation”
Scripture: Luke 9: 23-25
Speaker: Pastor Mick Whistler

Scripture and questions for study and reflection:

1. This morning we’re continuing our church-wide sermon series “Not A Fan.” Last week you were challenged to “define your relationship” with Jesus; how did that go? What have you learned about your relationship with Jesus? What changes are you in the process of making in order to become a “Follower of Christ”?

2. Read Luke 9:23-25. What is Jesus telling the disciples? What is Jesus saying to you? How do you feel when you read this passage? Do you feel Jesus is speaking directly to you?

3. When Jesus makes His invitation, he welcomes anyone who would come after Him. But He also makes it clear that when you choose to follow Him, you are giving up everything. So, it’s anyone, but it’s everything. What do you think this means? Are you ready for what it may cost you? Are you willing to follow Jesus? Are you willing to be a committed follower of Jesus?

4. The cross was an instrument of violent and painful execution. To “take the cross” meant that you were to carry the horizontal beam of the cross to the site where the crucifixion was to take place. In our text from Luke, Jesus describes what all true disciples must be ready for if they are to follow Him. What does it mean to “take his cross daily”? How is that practically done? What are some things you might have to face by “taking up the cross”?

5. To follow Christ in obedience may require hard choices. When we choose to follow Jesus, we choose sacrifice over selfishness, the cross over comfort. What is the most difficult decision you have ever made? Why was it so hard? What is the best and worst outcome you have experienced from a tough decision?

6. Jesus says, the invitation to follow Him is always open...to anyone. Are you ready to accept Jesus’ invitation? Are you ready to extend His invitation to others? To everyone?

Prayer for the Week:

Dear Jesus, I love you so much and I invite you to be the Lord of my life. Help me to live my life according to your will. Give me wisdom and the courage to follow you. I surrender my life to you and I am willing to take up my cross to follow you. I want to be a committed follower of you Jesus; please help me to stay focused on You. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.