Weekly Sermon Discussion Questions

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February 23, 2020

This Week’s Readings:
Psalm 99, Exodus 24:12-18, 2 Peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9

The Transfiguration: The Spiritual Reality of What We Believe
Matthew 17: 1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9: 28-36 The Transfiguration

1. The word “transfigured” is the same Greek word for “transformation” found in Romans 12:2. What would ongoing transformation look like in our individual story?

2. After reading the accounts from the three Gospel passages do you have a deeper appreciation for Philippians 2: 6-8?

3. How real do you consider the Spiritual world that is all around us? Should this affect the way we see and live life?

4. Does the truth that God has a plan and is unfolding it make a difference in the way you see life?

5. What does Hebrews 12: 1 mean to you about being surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses?

6. Our last breath here is our first breath there; how much reflection have you given to the fact that there is an eternal part of us?

“For those who hope in the Lord will find strength for their journey enabling them to fly with the wings of an eagle” – Isaiah 40:31

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February 16, 2020

This Week’s Readings:
Psalm 119:1-8, Deuteronomy 30:15-20, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37

Postures During Times of Change: Healthy Relating
Matthew 5:21-37

  1. From everyday life, give examples of following the letter of the law versus following the spirit of the law. What’s the difference? How might following the spirit of the law be, in a way, harder or more involved?
  • Read 1 Cor. 3:1-9. What hints of “good news” do you get from this text about your part and God’s part as you seek to live well in times of change? (See vv. 4-8)
  1. Read Matthew 5:21-37. Notice vv. 22, 28, 32, 34. What does Jesus mean, and what does he not mean, when he says, “But I say to you…”? Is Jesus’ replacing the law with his own commands? (See Matt. 5:17.) Why or why not?
  2. Reread vv. 21-22. Jesus gets at the spirit of the law which is the heart of the matter. He describes the foundations of murder which can even show up in a community gathered to worship God.
  • Harbouring Anger: ongoing aversion, antipathy or opposition toward another
  • Insult: showing contempt – despising, disdaining, disrespecting another
  • Misjudging your brother or sister “a fool,” i.e.., entirely stupid and off-base in what they do and think
  1. The heart attitudes above do not literally kill another person.
  • But how and what do they kill? Why?
  • How do these heart attitudes interrupt Holy Spirit freedom in the worship gathering? What are we to do about it? (See vv. 23-24.)
  1. Be silent for 5 minutes and let God remind you of how you harbour anger and contempt or call someone “a fool” in your heart. Perhaps you do it to yourself, which is equally harmful. No need to share with others. Ask God what he wants you to do about it.
  2. Pray together for our hearts in Sunnyside Church, that we will do our parts to make way for the Holy Spirit to move freely among us during worship gatherings.

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February 9, 2020

This Week’s Readings:
Psalm 112:1-9, Isaiah 58:1-9, 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Matthew 5:13-20

Postures During Times of Change: Staying on Mission
Matthew 5:13-20

  1. Give an example of a time when you saw a group of Jesus’ followers living so well together that they were as light to those around them.
  2. Read Matthew 5:13-16. “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.”
  • To whom does “you” refer?
  • What does “of the earth” and “of the world” imply?

“It is the collective light of a whole community which draws the attention of the watching world.” (France, Matthew, 161)

  1. Disciples of Jesus are both distinct and involved. “Neither the indistinguishably assimilated nor the inaccessible hermit will fulfill the mandate of these challenging verses.” (France, 172)
  • Give examples of church people being “indistinguishably assimilated” and/or “inaccessible hermits.”
  1. Read Isaiah 58:6-10. What specific actions are listed in this text as examples of “your light [breaking] forth like the dawn”?
  2. Peruse the Living from Love: 2019 in Review newsletter. What is one way our church is being light that you can get behind with your prayer and/or action? Take time in your group to pray for Sunnyside and the area(s) of ministry which resonate with you.

 

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February 2, 2020

This Week’s Readings:
Psalm 15, Micah 6:1-8, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12

Postures During Times of Change: Humility
Matthew 5:1-12

  1. Read v. 1. Why did Jesus move away from the crowds and offer this teaching to his disciples (committed followers)?
  2. Read vv. 1-12. Think about the word translated “Blessed.” What does it mean? What does it not mean?
  3. N.T. Wright translates verse 3: “Wonderful news for the poor in spirit! The kingdom of heaven is yours!” Jesus is proclaiming good news, accessible to all.
  • Work through vv. 3-9 one at a time and form contrasting statements that describe worldly culture or values. For example, instead of saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” a worldly culture might declare, “Blessed are the self-reliant, for they will achieve whatever they set their minds to.”
  • How is what Jesus offers inclusive while what the world offers, exclusive?
  • Why is what Jesus offers hard to accept?
  1. Read 1 Corinthians 1:17-31. How do the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) reflect Jesus and his upside- down way of changing the world?
  2. Zero in on the idea of humility in vv. 3 and 5.
  • Define “poor in spirit” and “meek.”
  • Read Micah 6:8. What change of mind, heart, or action is needed for you to walk humbly with your God in your every day?
  • Take time to pray for specific requests as you seek to live the wisdom of God.

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January 26, 2020

This Week’s Readings:
Psalm 27, Isaiah 9:1-4, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 4:2-23

To Be Light
Matthew 4:2-23

1) What is your most intense experience of being in physical darkness?  What was that experience like?  How did you feel when you were once again in the light?

2) The basic meaning of repent (metanoeo) in Matthew 4:17 is to experience a change of the mind’s perceptions and dispositions and purposes.  Share an experience of repentance (initial or a later one in your journey).  What did you “turn” from.  How did it change things?

3) What are your thoughts about this quote, as “Light, (Jesus) has the authority to illuminate His creation in its truest form” (Meg Bucher)?  What does that look like in your life or the lives of others?  How does it impact the way we interact with one another?

4) What has your experience of following Jesus been like?  Has it felt like you were “in the light?”  In Matthew 4:19 Jesus says, “follow me and I will make you…”  Share an example of these two parts of discipleship – the following and the being made.

5) Has it ever been your experience that you “do” without first the step of “be/remain in me” (John 15:4-5)?  Why do you think this can be our tendency?  Is it wrong to do what you know to be right?  What does it look like to live primarily out of a place of being in the light, of remaining?

6) What does it look like for you to “be light” in the spaces that you inhabit?  Give specific examples.

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January 19, 2020

This Week’s Readings:
Psalm 40:1-11, Isaiah 49:1-7, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42

Being Disciples
John 1:29-42

  1. Who or what do you follow, i.e., what do you routinely ‘eat, sleep and breathe’ (e.g., a sports team, a podcast, a show, a hobby, a person, a hot topic)? How are your attitudes and actions affected?
  2. Why is following Jesus in an ‘eat, sleep and breathe’ way hard sometimes?
  3. Read John 1:29-34. What did John the Baptist realize about Jesus that even made John the Baptist’s own disciples move on from him to follow Jesus?
  4. Read John 1:29-42 and notice every word that pertains to sight (saw, revealed, see, have seen, watched, look, looking). Distinguish in the text between instances of seeing physically and seeing spiritually. (Physical sight may be equated to perception through any of the five senses.)
  • Why is it important for a follower of Jesus to pay attention, both with physical and spiritual senses?
  • Give examples (from the sermon or from your life) of instances in which you notice signs of the Holy Spirit’s activity in the world through your physical observations? What might you do in response to what you see?
  • See vv. 34 and 36 for references to spiritual sight. “Have seen” and “look” pertain to contemplation, wonder, or gazing admiringly at Jesus. How does your experience of scripture reading and prayer change when your approach these activities with the intent to contemplate or gaze with admiration at Jesus? How is this different from other ways you could read scripture or pray?
  • How does taking time to fill your vision with Jesus affect your actions? What might be missing from your attempted good actions when you do not first spend time admiring Jesus?
  1. Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of John are “What are you looking for?” Be quiet and search your heart. Share your answer. Pray for each other accordingly.

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January 12, 2020

This Week’s Readings:
Psalm 139:1-14, Isaiah 44:1-8, Matthew 3, Romans 8:1-17

Life in the Spirit – Living as Children of God

Getting to Know You

  1. What is your favourite treat to snack on during the Christmas season (i.e. Pot of Gold, Toffifay, cookies, fruit cake, etc.)?
  2. What are you are looking forward to in this New Year?

Into the Bible

  1. Read Romans 8 :1-17.
  • Read it a second time and have someone write down all the references and characteristics of the Spirit.
  • Read it a third time and list all the references to, and characteristics of, the flesh
  • Compare your lists and discuss the contrast and what it means for us in living the Christian life.
  1. What are your initial thoughts about what it means to walk in the Spirit, or to set your mind on the Spirit, or to live in the Spirit?
  • Do you think it is important? Why or why not?
  1. What are some things that can hinder us from being led by the Spirit?
  2. How can we support each other and encourage each other to be led by the Spirit?
  3. Spend time praying for each other

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January 5, 2020

This Week’s Readings:
Psalm 147:12-20, Jeremiah 31:7-14, Ephesians 1:3-14, John 1:1-18

The Big Picture and Radical Trust
John 1:1-18

  1. Read vv. 1-5. What are some meanings of “the Word”?
  2. Matthew (Ch. 1) and Luke (Ch. 2) focus on the birth of Jesus Christ in history. By contrast, John traces his account of Jesus Christ to before creation. Why do we need both perspectives? What would be missing without John’s account?
  3. Read vv. 10-11. From your understanding of scripture and of Western contemporary culture, what are some barriers, past and present, to welcoming Jesus Christ as “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (v. 9)?
  4. Read vv. 12-13. What does it mean to “believe” in his name? Why is it not enough to think of belief as intellectual knowing?
  5. Read vv. 14-18. What does Jesus Christ offer you?

Give examples of how you have recently been enlightened by Jesus Christ. Also feel free to talk about how you are experiencing darkness. Pray for each other’s situations of being in the dark and being in the light. God is present to you in it all.