Small Group Study Questions

Most of our sermons and sermon series have related discussion questions, suitable for small group discussions, or even your own personal devotion.  


Significant Insignificants- Benaiah

Ice Breaker

1.     This week we’re talking about risk taking.  What’s one of the greatest risks you feel you’ve ever taken?

Diving In

2.     Do you agree or disagree with the idea that even those who may naturally take more risks in life don’t seem to have an advantage to being risk takers when it comes to their faith?

3.     Reread 1 Chron. 11:22-24.  What’s the biggest thing that impresses you about Benaiah in these verses?

4.     Chasing the lion into a pit on a snowy day doesn’t seem to fit with the other exploits of him mentioned.  It seems like God just wants us to know how brave he was and willing to take big risks.  Why could this be critical for each of our lives?

5.     Discuss some of the quotes mentioned from the book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. 

a.    “The genealogy of blessing always traces back to God-ordained risk.”

b.    “What sets lion chasers apart isn’t the outcome. It’s the courage to chase God-sized dreams.”

c.     “Society's goal is to make us less foolish. From the cradle to grave the pressure is on: "Be normal!" Our inner fool may be shackled and caged by a world made to suppress it, but Jesus came to free the fool.”

6.     Fear is often the thing that holds us and our faith back.  Yet read 2 Tim. 1:7 and talk about what elements of fear in your faith walk you could take on this week.

Significant Insignificants- Rahab

Ice Breaker

1.     Share an experience when nobody wanted to go first and you decided to go first and be the trailblazer.

Diving In

2.     This week we looked at Rahab and how she trail blazes a way for her and her family to be a part of the people of Israel.  In Joshua 2:1 we discover either her current lifestyle or past was that of a prostitute.  Discuss a statement Pastor Josh made:  She did not allow her past activity to define her future identity. 

3.     There are couple reason’s Pastor Josh highlighted as to why she boldly hid the spies. (verse 8-12)  What stuck out to you in these reasons?  1. She was awe stuck by God’s reputation.  2.  She’s setting herself up to make her plea.

4.     Discuss this statement surrounding faith.  Reputation Proceeds Response.  Meaning the reputation of God always proceeds the response of the individual to God.  How have you seen that as true?

5.     How does your lifestyle, relationship, and your interaction with God support His reputation?

6.     Share who the trailblazer was in your family to faith in Jesus.  Are there ways you are trailblazing a new depth of faith for family?

Significant Insignificants- Ruth

Ice Breaker

1.     This week as we launch into Significant Insignificants we are talking about how God uses people who seem small in the whole scheme of things to do big things.  Share a time when you lost something small that had huge implications.

Diving In

2.     This week we looked at Ruth.  In chapter 1 Ruth sets herself apart as a woman of high integrity and noble character.  (verses 14-17)  Why would this have been such a difficult decision for her?  What difficult decisions do you face in life where doing what is right is much easier said than done?

3.     Chapter 2 Ruth experiences a glimmer of hope.  What stands out to you in how Boaz treats Ruth?  Verses 5-17.  How have you experienced hope from God right when you desperately needed it?

4.     Chapter 3 Ruth makes a bold ask.  Boaz once again points out her noble character (verse 11).  How does living righteously impact the “bold asks” we can make of God?

5.     Chapter 4 is the redemption of Ruth/ Naomi/ and their family property.  What stands out to you in this redemption story?  (verses 5-10)  What questions do you have?  Discuss the statement:  The other family member desired the land but not Ruth…Boaz desired Ruth but could care less for the land.

6.     What righteous or noble action might God be calling you to do this week?

Houston- Part 3-Busyness

Ice Breaker

How many hours of rest do you get each week? How many hours would you like to rest each week?  Share some reasons why you think those answers might be different.  Take a moment and describe what you and/or your family do for rest. 

Going Beyond Sunday

1.  Jesus helps us prioritize our lives when we learn and trust in him. In Hebrews 12:1 we read, "Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up." What are some things in our lives that slow us down? Are there some things in your life that you need to hit the delete key on? Most of us have a to do list, take a moment and create a stop doing or to-don't list.

2.  Think about this statement, "The most important work has already been done by Jesus." Is this a true statement? Why or why not? If we truly believe this statement, then what is driving us to be so busy? Why do I need to feel so important and wear the busyness badge of honor? Where is your busyness coming from? We must truly lean in and rest in the finished work of Jesus.

3.  What is your motivation for your busyness?

4.  Read Luke 10:38-42. Jesus doesn’t condemn Martha. Instead, He gently encourages her to reassess her priorities. What were Martha’s priorities? What were Mary’s? Which is better? Why? What does your appointment book say about your priorities? Are they closer to Martha’s or to Mary’s? Are you "worried and upset about many things?" Or have you "chosen what is better"?

5.  Read Exodus 20:8-9. Do you think having a regular day off would do some good for your family? For you? God says, "keep it holy". What does it mean to be holy? Holy means "set apart", different. God says, I want you to set one day a week apart to do something different than you do the other six days of the week. On the seventh day, you're to have a change of pace. That's what it means -- unique, reserved, special. How do I keep the day holy?  

            6.  Read Psalms 127:2. What does proper rest look like?

 

Houston- Part 2- Materialism (Contentment)

Ice Breaker

1.     This week we’re talking about contentment.  We all have had times when we have not been content with the situation presented to us.  Share one of your worst…ie. a meal you had to eat even though you hated it, a living situation you had to put up with even though you couldn’t stand it, clothes you had to wear although you could stand them, etc…

Diving In

2.     In the book of Philippians Paul writes some pretty strong words in chapter 4:10-13.  He says he’s found the secret of contentment…then in verse 13 says he can do all things through Christ who gives him strength.  Why does finding strength in Christ seem so counter intuitive to finding contentment?

3.     Pastor Josh emphasized 3 ways in finding contentment in Christ.  The first was trust.  Check out Phil. 4:6-7/ Hebrews 13:5-6.  How have you struggled to trust God with your finances, or simply trust God with your situation?

4.     The second was through correct thinking.  Check out Phil. 4:8-9.  What most dictates how you think about stuff?  Music, magazines, news, friends, social media?  What steps do you need to take only allow the things listed in verse 8 to rule in your mind?

5.     The third was realigning our expectations.  Check our Phil 4:12, and 1 Tim. 6:6-11.  We have the tendency to expect a lot more than food and clothing, yet how can we try to take steps toward making sure we own our stuff and that our stuff does not own us?

6.     What steps are you taking to apply the Houston homework this week?

Houston- Part 1- Materialism (Coveting)

Ice Breaker

1.     This week as we launch into Houston…we will be considering some subjects that we all seem to struggle with at some time or another.  This week we discuss materialism.  For a good laugh (unless it happened this week), share the dumbest purchase you ever made?

Diving In- passages to consider today in your discussion:  Matt. 6:19-24/ Mark 7:20-23/ 1 Tim. 6:6-10

2.     This week while considering materialism we’re talking about coveting.  Check out Deut. 5:21.  Why is coveting so easy to fall into?  For you personally, do you feel like you are self aware when you covet or not?

3.     What is the way coveting enters into your life most often?  Ie. Facebook, advertisements, tv shows, etc… 

4.     Pastor Josh talked about some of the results of coveting.  Have you experienced any of these?

a.     Creates discontentment

b.     Hinders generosity

c.      Leads to idolatry

d.     Things of greater value will be sacrificed for that which you covet

5.     How will you apply the Houston homework?

Coming Alive- Part 6- Obedience

Ice Breaker

1.     Share a time as a kid when you purposely disobeyed and it bit you in the butt.

Diving In

2.     This week as we finish up Coming Alive we focused on Coming Alive in Obedience.  Review Deut. 30:15-19.  What are the conditions of experiencing life for the people of Israel?  How are these transferable to our lives?  Are there some elements of these promises that for Israel but not necessarily for us?

3.     The New Testament has lots of scripture on God’s expectation of obedience as well.  Matt 28:19-20, John 14:23, 1 John 5:3 to name a few. Why is it such a focus?  Why is obedience life giving?

4.     Take discipline into consideration.  Hebrews 12: 5-11 describes God’s discipline of His children.  How have you experienced discipline in the past?  How did you know it was discipline from God versus attack from the enemy?

5.     Are there specific steps you know you need to take to walk in obedience today?

Coming Alive- Part 5- His Voice

Ice Breaker

1.     Have you ever been listening to someone, but your mind wanders elsewhere and it’s gotten you in trouble?  Share what happened.

Diving In

2.     This week as we talk about a key to coming alive being hearing God speak, we dive into John 6.  In this passage Jesus’ conversation turns toward what sounds like cannibalism.   (John 6:53-54)  How do you think the disciples felt when they heard Jesus saying these things?  How would you have felt if you were in the crowd listening to Jesus?

3.     When everyone else is leaving, Jesus asks his disciples if they are planning on leaving him too.  Read verse 63 and Peter’s response in 68.  How are His words life?

4.     Learning to listen to God speak to us is life giving.  Pastor Josh shared some thoughts on this.  Discuss how you’ve experienced God speak through 1. His Word, 2. His people, and 3. His Spirit.

5.     Discuss some of the common elements Pastor Josh covered that usually accompany His voice.

a.     The stirring of the heart

b.     His gentle whisper

c.      Supernatural insight

d.     Peace

6.     Are there specific steps you hope to take this week to pursue hearing from God? 

Coming Alive- Part 4- Believe and Trust

Ice Breaker

1.     This week we’re talking about trust…have you ever had to trust someone or something which was overly difficult to do?

Diving In

2.     Our focus word of the week is Pisteuo.  A Greek word that is found in John 3:16 and many other verses in scripture.  While our English language has both believe and trust, the Greek word is one in the same.  How does this change the way you looked at believe in the bible? 

3.     A question some face is, “is He trustworthy?”   Hearing Pastor Josh talk through John 14:1-4, how does that impact your view of His trustworthiness? 

4.     The following are some reasons people struggle to trust Him.  Have you related to any of the following statements, or are there others statements that you’ve put in the way of trusting Him.

a.     I’ve sinned too much

b.     My burdens are too big

c.      Everyone else has always let me down

d.     Not everything works out perfectly for Christians who have trusted Him

5.     What are you going to trust Him with more in your life this week?

Coming Alive- Part 3- Free From Religion

Ice Breaker

1.     This week we talked about religion.  What was one of your most interesting/ shocking/ or funny religious experiences you’ve had?

For the following questions keep the definition of religion in mind:

Religion: any belief, behavior, or belonging that we put between us and God.

Diving In

2.     In John 2 Jesus enters into an encounter with those buying and selling animals in the temple and the money changers.  Pastor Josh explained how corruption had entered into that process.  What response do you think the disciples would have had to Jesus’ actions?  How does Jesus’ boldness impact your view of Him?

3.     Pastor Josh talked about 2 ways we can fall into religion.  1. We allow the signs to slowly point toward us.  He used the example of something simple like being overly proud of your church. Thus the church becomes the focus.  Are there other ways the focus turns inward?

4.     Second, we allow the signs to become the destination.  This could be similar to becoming a checklist Christian…one who simply wants to check the things off their list which they believe are necessary to keep God happy.   Thus the practices of our faith become the destination versus signs that keep pointing us to Jesus.  How else does this happen?  How have you ever fallen into this?

5.     Are there others ways you’ve seen yourself fall to religiosity versus relationship with God?

Coming Alive- Part 2- Delighting

Ice Breaker

1.     This week as we talk about Coming Alive through our delighting…what is one thing that brings you great delight?

Diving In

2.     This week we dove into Psalm 37.  In the Psalm there are 3 unique personalities or perspectives that are talked about.  The first is our view of and response to the wicked.   Verse 1 talks about envying them.  Verse 7 talks about fretting when they succeed.  How do we fall into being overly impressed or obsessed with the world?  Or trying to find delight in the things the wicked delight in?

3.     The second perspective is what God is calling us to.  Verse 4 talks about delighting in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Discuss the idea of God giving us our desires as we delight in Him.  How do you find delight in Him?

4.     The third perspective is from those who have learned from life experience.  (And what God knows will come to those who delight in Him)  What life experience have you had that affirms these promises?

4- give you the desires of your heart

6-Make your righteous reward shine like the dawn…he will vindicate you.

9-will inherit the land

11- enjoy peace and prosperity

18-spend their days under the Lord’s care

19- in famine they will enjoy plenty

23-the Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him.

24- though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

5.     What steps will you take this week to delight in Him this week?

Coming Alive- Easter

4-20-14

Ice Breaker

1.     Tell of a time or experience when you felt most alive in your life?

Diving In

2.     Discuss the statement:  It’s likely worth living for if it’s worth dying for.

3.     Prov. 8:35, John 10:10, 1 John 5:12 are some places in scripture where God declares that life is found only in Him.  Are there other things in life you’ve tried in an effort to find “life” and fulfillment?  How do they compare with Jesus?  Did any seem to give genuine fulfillment?  What drew you toward other options other than God?

4.     Pastor Josh talked about the resurrection as an account that has to be reckoned with.  On Friday, nobody is following Jesus, after Sunday all doubt has dissolved and all the disciples are now ready to die for Him.  How does the disciple’s change of heart impact your perspective of the resurrection?

5.     Most of the disciples die a martyr’s death for their faith in Jesus.  Does that cause any response in you?

6.     Reread Matt. 16:24.  What’s the 21st century practical application of this verse?

7.     If you could COME ALIVE in an area of your life, where would you want that to be?

Hope Bombing- Part 4- Feeling Hope

Ice Breaker

1.     Some people are “touchy feely” people and others are not…which are you and to what extent?

Diving In

2.     This week in HOPE Bombing we’re talking about feeling hope.  Reread Mark 1:40-45.  The first item Pastor Josh talked about was how Jesus had compassion.  Where did his compassion come from?  It’s interesting in verses 35-37 Jesus is alone pursuing God in prayer.  Often Pursuit of God precedes compassion.  Discuss the follow phrase Pastor Josh shared: Pursuit precedes compassion and compassion precedes HOPE.

3.     The 2nd thing discussed was Jesus reaching out.  You can imagine the anticipation and hope rising in the reach.   Pastor Josh talked about how sometimes we reach toward someone, plant hope in them, and then don’t follow through with the touch.  This can be defeating to the individual.  Have you ever experienced this?  How does it challenge you for how you bring hope in the future?

4.     3rd, Jesus touches the man.  With the man being a leper, what strikes you most from what Jesus does?  How does it impact you as you think about bringing hope to others?

5.     How do you handle situations when you wish you could “touch” the person’s life, but it seems beyond you?  How do you proceed?

6.     How could you HOPE Bomb someone this week by meeting a real need in their lives and touching them where they need it most?

Hope Bombing- Part 3- Hearing Hope

Ice Breaker

1.     Imagine you can’t hear well…what do you think the overall impact upon your life would be?  For those who have experienced hearing loss…what has it been?

Diving In

2.     This week as we talk about Hearing HOPE, Pastor Josh began by unpacking learning the importance of listening.  In Deut. 4:1-2, 6, 9-13 the Lord reminds the people of Israel over and over to listen to these words.  How is the listening process intended to take place?  What’s the importance of it?

3.     Pastor Josh talked about the promise of the covenant found in Deut. 8:6-10.  What impact should this have had on the people?  What your personal process of reviewing the promises God has made to you, or over you?  What are some of those promises you feel like God has affirmed to you?

4.     As important as listening is…learning to speak HOPE is also critical.  Discuss Prov. 18:20-21.  How have you seen this proverb to be true in your life?

5.     In Matt. 16:17-18 Peter’s name is spoken over him with significance.  How do you think God might want to use you to speak HOPE over others?  How does this look in your life?

6.     How can you HOPE bomb some people this week with words of HOPE?

Hope Bombing- Part 2- Seeing Hope

 Ice Breaker

1.     This week we talked about our SIGHT in regards to hope.  Share a funny story when you had an accident because you “didn’t see it coming”.

Diving In

2.     To get ready to discuss reread Mark 6:30-44.  How do you think Jesus’ comment for the disciples to feed the crowd hit them?  Consider the disciples own hunger, their own lack of food, etc…

3.     The disciples might have had their own sense of hopelessness.  What do you think about Pastor Josh's statement “when I feel hopeless…I will struggle to see hope for anyone else.”

4.     The feeding of the 5000 becomes a very “hands on” learning experience of God’s provision/ power/ and ability.  How have you seen God’s “hands on” demonstration in your life of his provision/ power/ and ability?

5.     Now reread verses 45-52.  In verse 51-52 “they are amazed for they had not understood about the loaves.”  Meaning the experience with the loaves was supposed to impact their experience on the lake.  Discuss the following statement…Once you’ve experienced supernatural provision/ power/ or ability, it’s intended that that becomes your perspective/ lens through with you face new struggles.

6.     Vs 52 says for their hearts were hardened.  It could also be translated “dull”.  Pastor Josh talked about selfishness often causing a dull heart.  How has that been true for you?  What else causes a dull heart to what God is teaching us?

Hope Bombing- Part 1- Hope is Here

Ice Breaker

1.     Share a time in your life when you felt like giving up but hope came just when you needed it.

Diving In

2.     Pastor Josh talked about 2 responses that are sometime unnatural but help us to find hope when it’s not apparent.  Thanksgiving is one of those responses.  Reflect on Israel’s interaction with Moses and God in Numbers 11:4-8, 18-23.  How did the Israelites lose sight of God’s good gift of manna?  God is obviously frustrated with their complaining…do you think we can frustrate God in our complaining?  Even Moses doubts God’s ability to produce that much meat…are you ever guilty of believing God’s arm is too short for your circumstance?

3.     The second response is faith to His promises.  In Numbers 13:1-2, 23, 26-32 the people focus on the people in the promised land over the fruit which was to encourage them in the promise God made to them.  How do we end up focusing on the problem over the fruit that affirms God’s promises to you?  Are there any specific promises that you feel God has impressed on you that you are struggling to trust Him with?

4.     The other side the coin of hope is often doubt.  How we handle our doubt matters.  In Matthew 11:1-6 John the Baptist is having his own doubting moment and is wondering if Jesus is going to save him?  His doubt drives him toward Jesus, not away…and Jesus responds with “look at the fruit of my ministry”.  How does this response fit in the categories of bringing hope?

5.     How do you personally need hope in your life?  How do you plan on hope bombing this week?

Taboo- Part 7- Let's talk about Sex

Ice Breaker

1.     When did you learn about the birds and the bees?  Was it good or bad for you?

Diving In

2.     Pastor Josh began by setting the stage that sex in scripture is almost synonymous with marriage.  How does this perspective impact your view of sex?

3.     The mysterious depths of Echad in Gen. 2:24-25 are meant to make the marriage relationship bound together at the deepest level (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).  Discuss Echad and the impact it has on your view of sex.

4.     Due to the power of sex Paul warns us in 1 Cor. 6:18 to flee from sexual sin.  How is sexual sin a sin against your own body?  Additionally how are things like the porn industry impacting our culture?

5.     To reclaim God’s view of sex we also have to reclaim God’s view of singleness.  Reference 1 Cor. 7:32-38.  What benefits come with singleness?  How is singleness not the consolation prize but, like marriage, another kind of awesome?

6.     If you’re in a mixed gender group (split up for a bit) and discuss gender specific struggles in the sexual arena and steps needed toward God in this area.

Taboo- Part 6- Let's talk about $$$

Ice Breaker

1.     Tell of a time when you made a great or dumb financial choice.

Diving In

1.     This week Pastor Josh did a brief overview of some of the subjects you’d come across if you took the time to read the 2350+ verses that refer to money.  As he discussed these, are there any specific insights or questions you had about any of the following subjects?  Debt/ Savings/ Stewardship/ Money as an idol/ Prosperity vs simplistic, minimalist living/ Tithing/ Offering/ Generosity. 

2.     In Luke 12:13-15 Jesus encounters a man who seems to be caught in the grips of greed and Jesus warns him to beware, watch out, and be on your guard against greed.  This sin seems to be one that we can fall into without even realizing it.  How does this happen?  How might you be guilty of this?

3.     1 Tim. 6:6-10 warns us of the many dangers of simply the desire for riches or the longing for money.  Why is money so dangerous?  Has it ever tripped you up or led you toward traps?

4.     To know if something is an idol or you’re being caught in the grips of greed Pastor Josh brought up the 3-fold test of do you love it, trust it, and obey it.  How might you do these?  Or how have you done these in the past?

Taboo- Part 5- War and Peace

Ice Breaker

1.     Tell of a time when you felt like you experienced injustice and no one stood up for you.

Diving In

2.     The two positions Pastor Josh covered were The Just War position and Peace Theology.  Just War says there is injustice out there and sometimes force through war is necessary to bring about justice.  Are there wars that you can name that definitely brought about great justice?  Are there some that seemed to fall short of that goal?

3.     Discuss how God brought about justice through war.  Cross reference Joshua 6:20-21, Ps. 143:12, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah or others that come to your mind.

4.     Peace Theology is the position of the unwillingness to engage in lethal violence, including most obviously the unwillingness to participate in war.   At its foundation is the concept that grace and peace as demonstrated in the New Testament trumps all the war and violence seen in the Old Testament.  Discuss that idea.  Even cross reference OT scriptures of God demonstrating his grace.  Ie. Jonah and Nineveh, the sparing of Rehab at Jericho- Josh 6:25.

5.     Discuss the Hitler Scenario.  How does Just War and Peace Theology impact your perspective?

6.     Though you might hold different positions, there are two things that bring us together that we can rally around.   Discuss the following:  Even those who believe in war long for peace/ And even those who believe in peace long for justice.

Taboo- Part 4- God and Government

Ice Breaker

1.     Some people care greatly about politics and others do not.  If you are passion about them share why…if you’re not share why.

 

Diving In

2.     Pastor Josh walked us back to the beginning of the foundation of our nation and discussed the term we often hear that America is a “Christian Nation”.  He argued America was never a Christian nation (perhaps just a more moral nation) as to be that there needs to be 2 distinct elements.  1.  God is clearly defined.  2. There is no other option for another God.  Discuss that idea.  Cross reference Deut. 6:3-14 as Israel being a genuine nation under God. 

3.     Why is defining who God is so important?

4.     God leaves the concept of a national people (or a political group) and shifts to something different.  Eph 2:11-13, 19 talks about this shift.  How is this shift important for the movement of God’s kingdom?  Additional scriptures about this subject…Rom.11:11-17/ Gal. 3:26-4:1.

5.     In Romans 13:1-7 God gives us instruction on what our attitude should be toward our government leaders.  What is the most challenging or striking observation to you in this passage?

a.     The Romans passage says we must submit to governing authorities.  Cross reference Acts 5:28-29, 40-42.  What does this teach us about the balance of submission to governing authorities?

6.     John 17:14-16, and Phil 3:20 describe our citizenship.  We often think of ourselves as Americans (which we are) but God calls us citizens of something different.  Discuss this statement…a potential idol or counterfeit god can be anything in which we start to find our identity that is from this world.