“In Him we live and move and have our being.”
[expand title= “Holt – God With Us In Rest”]
The world has gotten itself in a pretty big hurry, and if we’re honest we’re getting swept along in the craziness. Life has become fast paced and complicated, and therefore can be stressful, frustrating and, well, exhausting. Does the rhythm of rest in your life allow you to best love God and serve others with your life? Fortunately, the Bible has a great deal of wisdom to offer when it comes to the rhythm and pace of our lives. In fact, not only does God provide wisdom through His Word, He personally provides an example for us of the importance of rest.
- Describe the pace of your life. Is it too slow, too fast, or just right?
- Does the rhythm of rest in your life allow you to best love God and serve others with your life?
- What rhythms have you built into your life that help you stay focused in your faith?
- How is Jesus’ example a helpful encouragement to you when it comes to rest and rhythm?
[expand title= “MSU – Emmanuel: God with Us”]
John 1:1, 14
The implications of the incarnation of Jesus are life transforming. Three of them that I’m focusing on today are as follows:
- Jesus gave us a crystal clear picture of who God the Father is.
- Jesus took the sting of death away, freeing us from being enslaved to the fear of death. He also was tempted in every way we are, so he sympathizes with our weakness.
- Because God is with us, we can be content: satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we’re going.
Links & Resources
- Zac Brown Band’s Song Homegrown
- Read the Gospels and specifically look at how Jesus interacts with people.
- What do you do to keep Christmas from just becoming “another” day?
- Check out Hebrews 1:3. What do you think about the idea that Jesus mirrors who God the Father is for us?
- How do you think your mental image of God affects how you relate to Him?
- Check out Hebrews 2:14-18. How much does the fear of death affect your life? What do you think about the idea that Jesus can empathize with the temptations you’re facing in your life because he was tempted too?
- Check out Hebrews 13:5-6. Why do you think you struggle to be content (satisfied by what you have, who you are, and where you’re going)? How does having God with you affect your thinking about living a contented life?
[expand title= “REO – God with Us In Rest”]
Are you feeling tired, run-down, hurried, or chronically anxious… Like there isn’t enough of you to go around? How can you quit spinning your tires and actually enjoy a life free from the burden of restlessness? Rather than simply increasing productivity or checking off more boxes on a to-do list, perhaps hope for restlessness begins with sound theology. Grasping the liberating power of the Gospel helps us understand our enduring problem of restlessness and gives us reliable principles to overcome it.
Links & Resources
- Book: Crazy Busy, by Kevin DeYoung
- What stood out or struck you from the message?
- What are some of the spiritual reasons that we experience restlessness?
- What the specific fears, motivations, and obligations that cause you to be busy and overextended? How might this be evidence of needing greater faith and dependence on God?
- How does the Gospel meet our deepest needs and help us find rest for our souls?
- What are some things, even good things, you need to say “no” to in order to live a more prioritized and healthy life? … Who are you afraid of disappointing?
[expand title= “Westside – God With Us In Rest”]
2 Corinthians 5:21
The Incarnation, or Jesus living his life as a human being and dying for the sins of the world, was a world changing event. One of the blessings that God gives us is that of rest. There is never enough time in the day, or there is always something else that has to be done. Rest is a good gift from God that many of us ignore in our lives. Jesus, our ultimate example, rested well and spent time with his heavenly father. Choosing to rest is making a decision to trust God and accept what he gives us.
Links & Resources
- gotquestions.org: Rest and Relaxation
- What stuck out to you from the message? What is something you agreed with and something you disagreed with?
- Are you ignoring the gift of rest in your life? How so?
- How has God wired you to rest? What are things you find relaxing and restful?
- Have you yoked yourself to Jesus? Are you continuing to trust in the Gospel with your life and decisions?
[expand title= “God With Us In Pain”]
II Corinthians 5:20
Our focus for this message is God being “with us” in our pain, and “with us” in our suffering. This is a difficult subject to think about, but so important because pain and suffering are so prevalent in our world. In Romans 8:18 Paul says, “for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” How does our perspective change with regard to pain when we remember that we already know that the ultimate outcome of our lives is an eternal future together in heaven with Jesus? Pain hurts. Suffering is awful. There’s no question about it. Yet, Paul considers his heavenly future to be so phenomenal that the challenges of the current moment seem small. How about you?
- What has pain and suffering looked like in your life? How have you been impacted?
- Paul considers his heavenly future to be so phenomenal that the challenges of the current moment seem small. How about you?
- How can you be a resource to others who are in pain? Be specific. Who can you help? How will you do it?
- Have you been reconciled to God? How does your relationship with God provide comfort in the difficult circumstances of your life?
[expand title= “Holt – God With Us In Generosity”]
2 Cor 9:7
Generosity is a theme that we think about a lot during the Christmas season. While our culture has many different preconceived notions of what it means to be generous, scripture teaches that God himself has perfectly embodied generosity in the person of Jesus. Jesus coming to dwell among us and then to die in our place for our sin, shows us what it means to be truly generous. Jesus generosity is a mark that in and of ourselves we could never match, but the work of the Holy Spirit in us can transform us to be able to show generosity to glorify Jesus.
- How does the picture of generosity shown in scripture compare to what our culture thinks it means to be generous?
- How do you respond when you see an act of generosity? How can our response to acts of generosity be used to worship God?
- Often our minds are instantly drawn to financial and physical gifts when we think about generosity, what are some other areas of your life that you can be generous with?
- In the story of Zacchaeus from Luke 19 we see that an encounter with Jesus changes the heart and life of Zacchaeus. How has your relationship with Jesus increased your ability to show generosity?
[expand title= “REO – God With Us In Generosity”]
I Peter 1:3-4
I Timothy 6:17
II Corinthians 9:7
This is the time of year when many of us take stock of our finances, and a lot of that focus is on our opportunity to be generous. If you’re like my family you receive a ton of “year end” giving requests from a bunch of fantastic ministries, you’re thinking about opportunities to be generous not just with your finances but with your time and with your life. The Bible is full of teaching and principles that relate to finances and generosity. Any discussion about a personal approach to generosity must begin with God, and specifically God’s generosity toward us. God is our example in generosity, as He loves to pour out His riches onto His children, who then have the opportunity to turn around and be generous toward others.
- What are some specific ways God has been generous in your life?
- What’s your mindset toward generosity? Are you a reluctant giver, or more cheerful?
- What smell do you like the most? The least? Does the way you practice generosity have the “fragrant aroma” of God’s sacrificial love?
- What’s a specific new action step you’re considering around the area of generosity in your life?
[expand title=”Westside – God With Us In Generosity”]
The incarnation teaches us that God is lavishly generous in giving Himself to us; and for those who have Christ, this generosity can pour through our lives in being generous to others. This truth is no more clearly seen than through the fact that Jesus “tabernacled” among us, as God in human flesh.
Links & Resources
- gotquestions.org: Tabernacle of Moses
- gotquestions.org: Jesus, Word of God
- Book: “The Edges of His Ways”, by Amy Carmichael
- From John 1:1-14, who was John referring to when he said, “the Word became flesh” ?
- Describe the four ways listed in John 1:1-14 that the Word revealed himself.
- The phrase in John 1:14, “and he dwelt among us,” takes a word from the Old Testament which describes the meaning of “dwelt”. This word is the same OT word for “tabernacle”. It means to pitch a tent, and describes how Moses was told by God to set up God’s tent right in the middle of the camp of Israelites. This is a picture of how God “dwells” right in the middle of all our stuff. In what ways does that encourage you?
- From these passages, how does this display God’s generosity toward you?
- In what ways are you challenged to be generous (imitating what God has done for you in Christ) with your time, energy, relationships and money?
[expand title=”Holt – God With Us In Hope”]
1 Peter 1:3-4
1 John 2:1
The book of Job
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” or so the song goes. But for many of us the holiday season is a reminder of pain, loneliness and loss. In Isaiah 9:6 the prophet speaks of a coming Messiah, the Christ who would bring hope! Jesus as my Wonderful Counselor uses me in his plans and advocates on my behalf. As the Mighty God his promises strikes at the heart of our need for power. As the Everlasting Father he keeps his promises, and as the Prince of Peace his death crushes the barrier between us and a Holy, Righteous God!
Links & Resources
- gotquestions.org: Wonderful Counselor
- gotquestions.org: Prince Of Peace
- gotquestions.org: Different Names of Jesus Christ
- Hope is essential to live above the pile in this life. Cultural hope could be explained as wishful thinking. Biblical hope is something that is given to us, and that we cannot willfully “muster-up” on our own. How are both kinds of hope different? How do we live with a Biblical hope?
- When you feel exhausted, or, when you’ve got nothing to offer – how does a promise from God comfort you (or not)? God told Paul after Paul pleaded with God three times to take away his affliction, “My grace is sufficient for you…” Is that response from God encouraging or discouraging to you? Why?
- Remember a time as a child when someone broke a big promise made to you. How did you feel? Has that broken promise negatively impacted your attitude towards God’s promises? Why is it important for a father to keep his promises?
- It took a Prince to break down the barrier that separates God from man. Jesus took the punishment our sins deserve, and that death caused God to no longer hold wrath against those who trust him. Read Romans 6:23 and discuss whether or not you have yet received the free gift of eternal life.
[expand title=”REO – God With Us In Hope”]
1 Peter 1:3-13
1 Corinthians 15:19
1 Thessalonians 4:13
Hope is a tricky thing for us to grasp because culture tends to think of it as a wishful subjective feeling, while the Bible positions hope as a confident expectation grounded in God’s word & promises, God’s character, and
Hope is something that automatically comes with the territory of being a Christian. Peter explains that we are born again into living hope, by God’s great mercy, through the Resurrection of Jesus. Personally, this truth can transform our outlook in an ultimately optimistic way, regardless of negative circumstances we might face, if our hope ultimately is grounded in eternity secured by God.
Links & Resources
- gotquestions.org: What Does The Bible Say About Hope?
- gotquestions.org: What Is The Christian’s Hope
- How is the Bible’s view of hope different than our culture’s view of hope?
*See Got Questions article, “What is the Christian’s hope?”, for additional clarity
- Considering hope as subjective wishful thinking … What are some things that you’ve “hoped for” that haven’t worked out?
- Considering hope Biblically as a confident expectation, grounded in God’s definite character and trustworthy promises … What are some things that we hope for that the Bible guarantees will actually happen?
How do these hopeful expectations comfort us in our worries and fears?
- See 1 Peter 1:3-5. How does God cause us to have hope and what specifically is the nature of that hope?
- How does true hope empower Christians to push through suffering and maintain joy and courage about the future?
[expand title=”Westside – God With Us In Hope”]
1 Timothy 1:1
Ephesians 2:4-7, 11-12
1 Timothy 4:10
1 Corinthians 15:19
2 Corinthians 1:8-10
1 Peter 3:13-16
When we celebrate the New Year, we celebrate with hope that what lies ahead of us will be better. As a Christian, the object of our hope is the unchanging Jesus Christ, and the truth of the Scripture reminds us of this fact.
- Do you typically make New Year’s resolutions? Why or why not?
- When we have our hope in Christ, we are able to share that hope with others. Who in your life can you share your hope with? What is one action step you can take in making this happen?
- How do you typically respond in the midst of hardship? Do you blame God or use it as an opportunity to let God shape you? How can you do this more?
- What promises that God gives us that you heard in the sermon are the most encouraging for you? How come?