BEFORE YOU GATHER
Prepare for Your Group:
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Discussion Guide
- If you missed it,CLICK HEREto watch the weekend sermon
- Read John 14.
- Get a feel for the Book of John as a whole byWATCHING THIS VIDEO
- Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and then ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that he wants to do during your Group's time together.
Opening Prayer: (1-5 minutes)
In light of what God is saying through this week's message, here's some suggestions of how your Group can invite God into your time together.
Pray for openness: openness to sharing with each other in a group setting, openness to the changes that Jesus is making in our hearts and lives, openness to the sincere questioning of our faith, openness to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Quick Connection: (5 minutes)
Haveeveryone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend's message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say "Pass."
Large Group Discussion: (30 minutes)
This weekend's message came from John 14. If everyone has a Bible, let's go there together.
- What did you find interesting about the communal living arrangements and engagement practices in the first century? In light of that, what does it mean that Jesus has gone away "to prepare a place" for us?
- (John 14:5-7) Do you identify with Thomas' propensity to be skeptical? Is questioning our faith a good and necessary thing?
- (From John 1:43-46) How did Philip respond when he first met Jesus? How does that fit with the question he asks in John 14:8-11?
- How did you respond to Jesus when you were first encountered by Him? If you've been a Christian for a while now, is your life still marked by inviting people to knowJesus?
- (From John 14:12-14) What does it mean that we can ask for things in Jesus' name? As a result of that, what should our prayers belike?
- In John 14:16 & 26, Jesus promises the Spirit "another of the same kind" who will advocate for us, and continue the training that Jesus began with us. What is God saying to you about placing yourselfbefore the Spirit as his student?
CLOSING PRAYER (5-15 minutes):
In light of what God is saying through this week's message, here's some suggestions of what your Group could talk about with God in prayer.
Pray that each of the things we are learning about in John 14 would be true of ourselves, our group, and our time together. Pray that we (individually, as a group, and as a church) would be changed by our experience following Jesus The Way, the Truth, and the Life. Pray that those changes would prompt us to share our experience of Jesus with others, including our group. Pray that we would take a learning posture before our Teacher, the Holy Spirit, and have a greater awareness of his work in our lives.
TAKING THIS FURTHER
If you'd like to explore how you can experience the Life of God the Father, Son, and Spiritas a daily reality, we recommend the book Experiencing the Trinity, by Darrell Johnson.
PRACTICING THE WAY OF JESUS
A disciple of Jesus is a learner, a student, an apprentice, a practitioner even if they are only a beginner. As disciples, we don't just profess certain views about what we believe, but as we grow in our understanding of what it means to live as citizens of God's Kingdom, we find ways to practice the way of Jesus in every aspect of our lives here on earth.
All month long, we are practicing the way of Jesus throughFasting. Here are some examples of how to implement this spiritual habit of Jesus into our everyday lives.
Dallas Willard, who has written a great deal on Spiritual Practices, breaks them down into two groups:
1) actively doing something
2) denying ourselves of something
During Lent, we often focus on denying ourselves things, often food. Fasting is a Spiritual Discipline defined as: "Going without food (or something else) for a period of intense prayer the fast may be complete or partial."
The idea is that when we go without something as basic as food, the hunger will be a constant reminder of our dependence on God, returning and focusing our thoughts toHim. As we experience our weakness and frailty in a tangible way, it breaks down our independence and materialism, and draws us closer to God.
Here are some basic steps to help you incorporate fasting into your Spiritual Practice:
- Choose something to go without that truly is a sacrifice for you. Intentional sacrifice is meaningful and powerful to remind you of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.
- Choose a realistic period of time, such as 24 hours for all food, versus weeks for one type of food. Don't overdo it, especially if this is your first time trying this. The point is not to prove something or be extreme, but to draw closer to God.
- Check in with yourself about how this is going in light of basic health and safety concerns. If you are feeling light-headed or faint, you may need to discontinue the fast. (Those with medical conditions such as diabetes should consult a doctor before attempting a fast.)
- Rather than trying to distract yourself from the discomfort of fasting, pay attention to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Be prepared to spend additional time (especially the time you normally would have spent eating meals) in prayer and reading the Scriptures during this time.
- Try not to celebrate the end of the fast with gluttony and overindulgence, which defeats the purpose. Go back to your previous routine with humility; fully prepared to make changes and incorporate new revelations from God.
- After the fast is over, continue to pay attention to what God is teaching you; sometimes the best lessons come afterwards as you reflect.
If you haven't considered giving up something for Lent, it's not too late to start. You can also try fasting during other parts of the year as well.
One more word from Dallas Willard: In fasting, we abstain from our ordinary food to some significant degree and for some significant length of time it is done that we may consciously experience the direct sustenance of God to our body and our whole person.