Thank you for using our weekly Study Guide!
We're GLAD you're here.
During the sermon series, A Better Way, we will explore what it means to see and do things as Jesus would. We approach every situation based on our own experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. We choose the way that seems best to us… the most comfortable or familiar way… the way someone we respect or admire would recommend… the "right" way. In the Gospels, however, we see Jesus approach life and its endless choices through a different lens... His lens. As our faith and trust increase, we find ourselves seeing things His way... a different way... a better way.
For each week of the study guide, your group will watch a brief video teaching that is designed to complement the corresponding sermon. The study guide includes at least one warm-up question designed to help your group focus on the primary Scripture passage and its theological implications. The discussion section will jump into the meaning and impact of the scripture’s major points, often providing you with a link to view the passage in several different translations of the Bible. We’ll wrap things up with questions that explore how the passage applies to us today as followers of Jesus in a modern and chaotic world. For all questions, including the warm-up, feel free to ask all of them or just pick several that work for your group. If you need more info and ideas to help you lead your group, visit our sermon series resource page.
Please also encourage your group members to check out Daily Steps, Cornerstone's companion devotional guide for individual reflection, prayer, and meditation on related Scripture selections throughout the week!
According to a survey by the Fetzer Institute, 62 percent of American adults say they need to have more forgiveness in their lives. Scientific studies have proven that people who are able to ask for — and offer— forgiveness are generally more satisfied with their lives, physically healthier, and struggle less with anxiety, depression, and anger. However, repenting of a wrong and asking for forgiveness from people or from God is easier for some than others. Psychologists say that anyone — whether giving and receiving forgiveness comes easily or not — can train themselves to be better at it.
Think about the main characters from one of your favorite movies or novels. Every plot includes at least one villain or antagonist who tries to get in the way of the main character’s goals. As you think about your favorite storyline, does the bad guy or gal end up seeking forgiveness at the end? If he or she did, how did their action change the ending?
What comes easier for you, to ask for forgiveness from someone or to offer forgiveness to someone who has wronged you? Why?
WATCH THE VIDEO for WEEK 1
Watch this week’s video teaching from Matt Warner, pastor of Cornerstone’s Danville campus.
In the video you just watched, Pastor Matt Warner introduced us to the unusual Biblical character, John the Baptist, who was the cousin of Jesus. To get to know John the Baptist better read the chapter of Matthew 3 together.
Why do you think that John the Baptist spent most of his time preaching in the wilderness versus walking through the towns and villages?
Pastor Matt mentioned how strangely John the Baptist dressed and the usual food he ate. For the Jewish people, his attire linked him with other prophets like Elijah. Read 2 Kings 1:8 and Matthew 11:7-14. What similarities do you see between Elijah and John the Baptist? How do you think the prophets’ choices of attire impacted their message or enhanced their efforts?
Re-read verses 7-10 in several different translations of the Bible. How would you characterize the tone of John the Baptist's sermons? What surprises you about his word choices?
Put yourself in the shoes of the Jewish religious elite as you heard John’s words. In your own words, summarize what you think John is challenging you to do and why?
Pastor Matt explains the difference between personal repentance and collective repentance. Personal repentance is not easy, but often collective or corporate repentance is even more difficult because most of us are not brought up to think in collaboration with others. Americans are traditionally very individualistic in our perspectives, decision-making, and accountability.
How do Ezra and Daniel describe the collective sin of the people God has called them to serve as His prophets?
What do you think motivated Ezra and Daniel to take on some level of responsibility for the sins of Israel even though they themselves were innocent?
In our modern society, what impression do you think that kind of action would make on a group of people, a community, or even an entire country? Do you know of anyone who has done something like that?
Are there any particular communal or broad-scale wrongdoings, preferences, or injustices that you think God might be calling you to pray about as Daniel and Ezra did?
In the video, we learn that lament, or grieving, allows us to connect with and mourn the reality of our sins, mistakes, and suffering. Lament is a critical part of the repentance process and does the hard work of pulling the roots of pride and selfish ambition out of our hearts.
In the story of David and Bathsheba from 2 Samuel 11-12, we see a powerful king who was known for being “a man after God’s own heart” succumb to a long trail of sinful acts, including adultery and murder. God sends His prophet Nathan to confront David about his sin, thereby plunging him into the process of repentance and lament. As David grieves his sin and the horrific consequences of his actions, verses 16-17 tell us, “He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.”
Notice that in David’s culture, it is customary for people to join a person during their times of grief. Other than funerals, we are not encouraged to share our grief publicly and most people are generally uncomfortable watching others go through the process of repentance and lament. How does being with others help us to move through the pain of repentance and grief? How is sharing your grief over the loss of a loved one different from letting others near you while lamenting your sin? Is it something you’ve tried before?
Latasha Morrison says in her book Be the Bridge, “We have to sit in the sorry, avoid trying to fix it right away, avoid our attempts to make it all okay. Only then is the pain useful, Only then can it lead us into healing and wisdom.” As you think about a time you had to lament wrongdoing, either personal or communal, how did taking the time to grieve make your pain useful? What healing and wisdom emerged by not rushing through the repentance and grieving process?
In 2 Samuel 12:13, we learn that God readily forgave David’s sin once he confessed, but that was just the beginning of a long road back to wholeness. Read Lamentations 3:22-23. What does God promise to do during our times of pain, suffering, and grief?
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Everyone has a next step with Jesus...What's yours?
Spend Time Alone with God
Daily Steps is a weekly devotional message designed as a companion to this sermon study guide. You will be guided as you spend time with God through personal reflection, Scripture readings, and prayer prompts.
DAILY STEPS - A BETTER WAY - WEEK 1
Get Your Worship On!
Do you love the worship music at Cornerstone? Then our new worship YouTube channel is for you! Enjoy all your favorites now featuring the worship teams from all of our campuses!
CF Worship Channel on YouTube