Understanding... Know It Before You Post It

Understanding Part 4 - Understanding The Media

Text: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

This last weekend Pastor John shared about the impact of the media on our individual lives and our culture as a whole. The one main question he sought to help us answer was: How do I intake enough news to understand what's happening in the world, but without becoming depressed or shaped by the news?

GROUP CONNECTION

Target time: 5-10 minutes

What is your favorite news source and why? What is the overall tone of that media source (positive, negative, alarmist, etc...)? 

STUDY/DISCUSSION

Target time: 45-50 minutes

Small Group Leaders - This is the last small group study guide that will be written until September. These sermon-based study guides will start again with the Fall launch in September. Most small groups take a break from their regular meeting times over the summer and opt to get together occasionally for dinners or fun community-building times. Have a wonderful summer!

Read 2 Cor. 10:3-5

  • What is the process by which thoughts become actions in your life?
  • What does it look like for you to "take a thought captive" rather than acting on it? 
    • Ask people to speak to (if they haven't already) how the Holy Spirit plays a significant role in taking thoughts captive. 
  • Take a quick inventory of your intake of ideas and information during the last 24 hours. Who or what are the primary voices? 

  • Share about a time when another person shaped your thoughts in a way that had a profound impact on the direction of your life.
    • This could be a positive or negative impact.

Read 1 Peter 5:8-11

  • Personally, how have you experienced the impact of satanic forces competing to shape your thoughts and actions?
  • What does it look like to "resist him, firm in the faith" as 1 Peter 5:9 directs us?
  • What do you find encouraging about 1 Peter 5:10? 
    • Why?

Live It Out:

  • If you had to compare the intake of Scriptural truth (music, audio books, conversations, reading, Biblical messages) vs. your intake of other ideas and opinions, how would the two compare?

  • John challenged us to count the minutes of news intake and make scripture intake/thoughts the higher intake for the next 5 days. Will you take this challenge for the next 5 days? 

Prayer Time:

Pray for each other to be able to see clearly the negative influences that the news, others, and satanic forces seek to have on our thoughts and hearts. Pray for each other as we seek to increase the amount of intake from scripture in our lives this week. 

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Understanding Part 3 - Understanding Culture

Text: 1 Corinthians 5:6-6:11

This last Sunday Pastor Chip shared about the dramatic changes that our culture has undergone in regards to morality, family, sexuality, and more. Most of the changes come back to two questions. 1. Is truth relative or absolute? 2. Is scripture culturally interpreted or is it the authority for our lives? Pastor Chip walked us through what has brought our culture to it's present condition and gave us action steps for how we can engage with it. 

GROUP CONNECTION

Target time: 5-10 minutes

What is a significant cultural change that you have experienced in your lifetime? (technology, communication, sexuality, marriage, etc...)

STUDY/DISCUSSION

Target time: 45-50 minutes

Small Group Leaders - The last study guide before the summer break starts will be published next week on May 30th. These sermon-based study guides will start again with the Fall launch in September. Have a wonderful summer!

 

  • Why do you think so much has changed in the last 50-70 years when it comes to morals, values, and sexuality?

Look at the graphic below. It shows the present symptoms, the past philosophical ideals, and the foundational question that will shape the future of our society. 

  • Which of the symptoms do you think is most damaging to our society? Why?
  • What philosophical or spiritual root problem is connected to that symptom?
  • What do you think is the one critical problem, both inside and outside the church, for our society?
    • Our view of Scripture

Read 1 Cor. 5:12-13

  • How would you define "judge"? What kind of "judging" is acceptable? How do you "judge" someone within the church?

Read James 5:19-20 and Matt. 18:15-17. 

  • How do these verses support or challenge your view of judging?
    • Leaders- ask the question below if you have extra time.
      • How can you explain judging to someone who quotes Matt. 7:1 as an explanation for why you "shouldn't" judge them?
        • Matt. 7:1- "Do not judge, or you too will be judged"

Read Matthew 5:6-16

    • This passage calls us to be Righteous, endure Persecution, and Do Good Deeds. 
    • What good deeds can you do this week that will guide people towards glorifying God?

    Live It Out:

    Pastor Chip gave us three action steps that we can take as we engage with our culture in a constructive way. Pick one of these three ideas below. share some specifics with the group about how you can live this out this week. 

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    Prayer Time:

    Pray for our culture to come to know the saving power of Jesus' resurrection. Pray for God to show you places and even individual people whom you can impact for God. 

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    Understanding Part 2 - Understanding Islam

     

    Last week Fares Abraham examined ways to reach people for Christ. We looked at 2 Kings 6:1-7, as an example of how Elisha reached those in his circle for the greater glory of God.  

    GROUP CONNECTION

    Target time: 5-10 minutes

    Share how you were brought to church and came to accept Christ? If you haven’t yet accepted Christ, then how were you brought to this small group?

    STUDY/DISCUSSION

    Target time: 45-50 minutes

    Small Group Leaders, please always make an intentional effort to have each person engage in the discussion. Remember, all Small group discussions are meant to “…[build] others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29b).

    Also, as with every week, Small Group Leaders should never feel the pressure of having to go in-depth on every question, or completing the entire outline. The purpose of these questions is to enhance your group time, and to encourage people to seek a deeper personal relationship with God. Do not let the pressure of thorough completion of the questions distract from what God might be doing in your group, at a deeper level.

    Read the following out loud:

    6 One day the group of prophets came to Elisha and told him, “As you can see, this place where we meet with you is too small. 2 Let’s go down to the Jordan River, where there are plenty of logs. There we can build a new place for us to meet."

    “All right,” he told them, “go ahead.”

    3 “Please come with us,” someone suggested.

    “I will,” he said. 4 So he went with them.

    When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees. 5 But as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!” he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!”

    6 “Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then the ax head floated to the surface. 7 “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man reached out and grabbed it.

    2 Kings 6:1-7 (NLT)

    Question 1 – Consider 2 Kings 6:1-2. Why was the group of prophets going to the Jordan River?

    Question 2 – Elisha tells the prophets to go ahead, but someone in the group says, “Please come with us,” 2 Kings 6:3. Why do you think it’s significant that someone invited Elisha?  

    Question 3 – In life, how does God treat us similarly, waiting for our invitation to “come with us?”

    Question 4 – Do you think the prophets were equipped to handle the tasks at hand? While they may have been capable, it was probably not their common practice, since someone in the group had to borrow an ax. What do you think Elisha brought to the group beside skill?

    Question 5 – In 2 Kings 6:6, Elisha is called “man of God,” and yet, they were all prophets; Still, somehow Elisha stood out from the others. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, it says we are “Christ’s ambassadors.” As an ambassador for Christ, what can you bring to others and situations that the world cannot?

    Question 6 – When the ax was lost in the river, the man who borrowed the ax knew he could not replace it or recover it. Why?

    Question 7 – As with many portions of scripture in The Old Testament, the foreshadowing of Christ is revealed. How are we like the man who lost the ax in the Jordan River? It is important to also know that the Jordan River is symbolic for a place between spiritual and physical life and may help you in finding your answer.

    Question 8 – 2 Kings 6:1-7 is a lovely example of how a simple activity turned into an opportunity for God to be revealed. Have you ever seen God show up or redeem similar, unassuming, situations? 

    Live It Out:

    Do you have any current invitations to participate in seemingly mundane activities? Can you see from today’s scripture how they might be opportunities for God to do something miraculous through you, even if it’s just being an ambassador for Christ?

    Prayer Time:

    As Fares Abraham mentioned in his sermon, it’s important to ask God to grow beyond your limits. Ask God for supernatural power to be the man or woman of God in whatever circumstance He puts you in. And, finally, ask for God to show up when you go, on his behalf, as His Christ ambassador.

     

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    Understanding Part 1 - Understanding Racism

    Text: Luke 10:25-37

    Last week Bishop Claude Alexander, Senior Pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, NC, examined the difficult topic of racism. As he explored Luke 10:25-37, we saw how Jesus dealt with racism in his day. If you need to, re-read these verses to re-familiarize yourself with this section of scripture.

    GROUP CONNECTION

    Target time: 5-10 minutes

    What does it mean to be racist? 

    STUDY/DISCUSSION

    Target time: 45-50 minutes

    Small Group Leaders, please always make an intentional effort to have each person engage in the discussion. Remember, all small group discussions are meant to “…[build] others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29b).

    Also, as with every week, don't feel pressured to go in-depth on every question, or complete the entire outline. The purpose of this outline is to enhance your group time, and to encourage people to seek a deeper personal relationship with God. Do not let the pressure of thorough completion of the questions distract from what God might be doing in your group, at a deeper level.

    Small Group Leaders- For Your Consideration: There were some things Bishop Alexander explained about Jesus’ day that we may have not known: For example, in Acts 1:8, Jesus tells his disciples to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even to the “remotest part of the earth.”

    • Question 1 – When Jesus told the disciples to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, what did he mean by it?
    • Question 2 – For Question 1, Jesus simply meant for the disciples to start where they were. They were already in Jerusalem, so he wanted them to begin witnessing immediately with those around them. As for referencing Judea, what was its significance?  
    • Question 3 – In referencing Judea, Jesus was sending the disciples to a people that regarded themselves as being spiritually superior to the disciples. What would have been the purpose of this assignment?
    • Question 4 – Samaria is the last specific location Jesus mentions when he tells his disciples to be his witnesses in Acts 1:8. What is the significance of mentioning Samaria?
    • Question 5 – The significance of Jesus directly mentioning Samaria is that he acknowledges the racial conflicts occurring in this area and the need to witness there. Read John 4:7-9. According to racial prejudices of the day, the Samaritan woman and Jesus knew that Jesus would be ceremonially unclean if he drank from her cup. When is the last time you overstepped a societal prejudice to reach out to someone who others might consider “unclean” or different?
    • In Luke 10:31-32, why did the priest and Levite avoid the “half dead” man? As Bishop Alexander mentioned in his sermon, if they thought he was dead, or about to die, they may have feared becoming ceremonially unclean. What might be some other reasons?
    • Question 7 – Bishop Alexander also said that, as Americans, we are sometimes okay being witnesses for Christ “to the remotest [parts] of the earth (Acts 1:8), but are less comfortable being witnesses with those near to us. Why do you think this is so?
    • Question 8 – When the Samaritan man got close to the “half dead” man, he realized that he was still alive. He also realized, intimately, what the man’s needs were. With this in mind, why was it important for him to get close to the man?

    Live It Out:

    Considering all this, are there any “half dead” people you tend to avoid? How can you intentionally get close to them, in order to be witnesses for Christ?

    Prayer Time:

    Don’t overlook the obvious, until we accept the invitation of eternal life with Jesus Christ and receive him into our hearts, we are all “half dead”—alive on earth, but on our way to eternal damnation. Only with Christ do we receive the promise of eternal life, and only with Christ do we have someone who loves us enough to get close to those who are unclean with sin.

    Considering this, pray for opportunities to get close to those who are “half dead.” Also, pray to be like Christ, who saw no divisive racial lines between he and the woman at the well.

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