INTRODUCTION

Making Jesus Known.
We’re excited about this topic. But it's more than a "topic." It's our way of life and an incredible privilege. Ironically, it doesn't always feel that way. Why? During this Small Group Experience, you'll learn how simple and profound it can be to let others see Jesus in you. It's not complicated, it's not a sales pitch, and it's not a church program. And you're in the best place to learn and grow: a group of other learners who want to follow Jesus' appeal -- "Go and make disciples." Thanks for saying yes to community and becoming more like Jesus!

I'm not in a small group right now … How do I get connected?

If you would like to be a part of a six-week small group that takes a deeper dive into the weekend messages of "Making Jesus Known," please email Duane at   to get connected.

What should I expect, and what will the group expect from me?

Great Questions!
Here are some guidelines that will ensure a dynamic group experience: 

  1. Show up each week on time with this simple prayer on your lips and in your heart: “Lord, I want others to see Jesus in me. Help me understand that I don't have to be perfect, but I do need to be in a growing relationship with you. One that is authentic, not phony.”
  2. Be honest, real, and as vulnerable and transparent as possible. Share your experiences, not those of others or society at large. Group members are not here to criticize, condemn, or fix each other. We’re here to spend time with the Holy Spirit and see what He has for each of us. 
  3. Be considerate. Don’t talk too much; don’t be too quiet. Respect others by keeping their stories confidential. They will do the same for you.  
  4. If your group meets online, test your computer or smart device ahead of time. Don’t wait until group time to see if everything is working properly. Find a quiet place in your house and mute your microphone when/if there is background noise. All of these practical tips are helpful. You and everyone in the group will have a better experience if you follow these tips. 
  5. There will be some "pre-work" before each group session. It won't be a lot. Be a trouper, do the short assignment, and come to group prepared to contribute.
     


Making Jesus Know[n] - Small Group Experience

“Contagious Christianity”

Getting Connected

Leaders, if there is anyone new in the group, ask each person to share some of the basics … family, work, hobbies, why they started attending Faith Community, etc.

Now, think of a recent “thing” (movie, book, restaurant, vacation, Amazon purchase) that was so good that you wanted to tell others AND you actually told someone else. What was it and who did you tell?

Prayer

Leader, pray that the group will experience the presence of the Holy Spirit, the love of our Heavenly Father, and the joy of being infected with the life of Jesus.

Scripture Readings

We’re going to read three short passages, pausing after each to notice a progression of faith, courage and power in the lives of the disciples. Do your best to put yourself in their shoes. What were they thinking, feeling, sensing?

1st Passage - John 20:19-23 (NIV)

(Context: Remember, this is happening on Easter evening.)

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.

 Pause & Reflect

  • Ask each person to share one thing that stands out.
  • What significance might that have for you personally?

2nd Passage - Acts 2:1-4 (NIV)

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

 Pause & Reflect

Once again, do your best to stay in the story.

  • What is happening to you? How are you feeling? (Describe this in terms of your body, emotions, your spirit, your soul, etc.)
  • Some critics in the crowd are going to dismiss your testimony, your experience, and say you’ve been drinking. How would you respond? How would it feel to be discredited? (And now it’s all over social media!)

 3rd Passage - Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)

 Context: Between Acts 2:4 and 42, here are some things you’ve experienced…

  • An amazing sermon by “fisherman” Peter -- bold, articulate, clear, it gave us goosebumps!
  • After his message, thousands of people were weeping; we were overcome with the thought that the one who was just crucified was the Messiah.
  • 3,000 -- yes, 3,000 -- people were baptized. It was amazing. All 3,000 declared that Jesus was their Lord and Savior.

 And now we experience this...

 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

 Pause & Reflect

  • Now what are you feeling and experiencing?
  • What impresses you the most?
  • Would “transformed” be too strong of a word to describe what has happened to you?
  • Do you think you would be inclined to tell someone what happened to you?
  • What if you invited them to come with you to one of the “temple court” gatherings or to “break bread” with your other baptized friends. Would that be weird? Pushy?

 Deeper Dive

What if “Making Jesus Known” is as simple as sharing our own personal experience of Jesus with others? The way He makes us feel, think, act, love, forgive, etc.

What is “easy” about this, what is “hard” or “challenging”?

 Take a few moments to reflect on what God might be saying to you right now. Don’t overthink it. As a group, listen to this song as it’s quietly played, then share what you hear God saying to you.

https://youtu.be/7NyH9mDYECk

Wrap Up

Pray over each person so that they hear God clearly and respond to His voice.

 Afterglow…

If you still have more time, chew on this together:

  • Have you ever been in an energetic, Holy Spirit-filled environment like the one displayed in the music video? Did it feel a little like Acts chapter 2?
  • How helpful would it be for your ongoing journey to make Jesus known to have these kinds of gatherings on a regular basis?
  • Would anyone like to pursue this?

Making Jesus Know[n] - Small Group Experience

“Giving God's Gifts”

Getting Connected

Take turns sharing a time when someone did something nice for you. If you can think of something “big” that would be great, but it doesn’t have to be. Maybe someone provided something for you that you couldn’t. What was it? How did it feel to receive it?

Prayer

Each person who is willing, thank God for this time together and ask that our eyes, ears and hearts will be open to what He wants to say and do.

Scripture Reading - Acts 3:1-11 NIV

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

 Pause & Reflect

  • Put yourself in John or Peter’s sandals. What is going on in your mind, emotions and spirit? Like, really imagine that you delivered this healing on behalf of Jesus!
  • Put yourself in the bare feet of the beggar. How are you feeling? How were you feeling before you met Peter and John? What does your future look like?
  • Imagine you’re one of the people in the crowd, a bystander. Would you have been skeptical? Would you go and meet Peter and John? What would you have done?

 Your Story

  • How did you come to know Jesus? Was someone instrumental in sharing Him with you? Who? What did they do or say?
  • It’s safe to be honest on this one: Have you ever introduced someone to Jesus? If so, what was that like? If not, why not?

 Deeper Dive

  • Peter and John probably weren’t broke, they just didn’t have money with them. The “capital” they carried was “spiritual.” What spiritual capital are you aware of in your life? (Sometimes we refer to this capital as spiritual gifts. But you don’t have to use that list to answer this question.)
  • If you’re having a hard time, and you already know each other, share the spiritual capital you see in each other.
  • Our typical way of blessing people is to give them something that money can buy -- food, clothing, etc. What if instead you shared one of your spiritual gifts with others? What could that look like?

Brainstorm

  • What could we do individually and corporately to be more fruitful in making Jesus known?
  • Let’s pretend that becoming a Christian is a “product” that we’re going to offer to others. As a group, make a list of the ways that “knowing Jesus” has changed your life. Does this prompt any suggestions for how you can bless others by giving them what you have?

Wrap Up

From tonight’s text and discussion, did God speak to you? If so, what did He say? Is there something you want to do in response?

 Would you like to learn more about your spiritual gifting?

Follow this link for a free online assessment:  https://giftstest.com/test

Prayer

Take turns encouraging each person and pray that they will respond to God’s voice this week.

  

Making Jesus Know[n] - Small Group Experience

“Finding the Right People”

Getting Connected

If you took the Spiritual Gift Assessment last week, share something you learned about yourself. For those who didn’t…what was your big take-away from last week?

Prayer

Ask everyone in the group to say a short prayer, thanking God and welcoming the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t have to be long, nor spoken in King James English!

Review

Session 1: Making Jesus known is as “simple” as sharing our own experience with Jesus, with others. Our changed lives are infectious.

Session 2: Sharing God’s gifts with others is the most valuable thing we have to offer. What is/are your Spiritual Gift/s?

Scripture Reading - Luke 10:1-20 (NIV)

(Choose 4 people. Let each person read 5 verses a piece. Read slowly and thoughtfully.)

    After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

     “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

     “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you. ’But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

     “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.

     “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

     The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

     He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Pause & Reflect

  • Imagine that Jesus is giving us a guide to finding receptive people; people who would be interested in hearing our personal story with Jesus.
  • Make a list of the things Jesus says to do and to avoid.
  • If you had been one of the seventy-two, what part of this journey would you have found the most challenging? Why?

Practical Application

  • Jesus asked them to pray that God would send more workers out. Who are these workers Jesus is referring to? Clergy? Missionaries? All Christians?
  • Jesus says that the harvest is plentiful. Really? It seems like few people want to hear about Jesus, follow Jesus, or even attend church. What do you think Jesus is talking about?
  • The disciples were impressed that the demons submitted to the name of Jesus. Jesus told them to be especially glad that their names are written in heaven. Compare the two experiences. Which one feels more impressive to you?

Deeper Dive

  • One person has simplified this guide into three qualifications. He says you can find “Persons of Peace” by asking these three questions:
    • Does the person like you?
    • Do they listen to you?
    • Are they willing to serve you?
  • This quote is also a helpful guide: “It is no good trying to force open doors that God has not opened, and we must not be distracted so that we miss the doors he has opened.”
  • Using this guide, can you think of someone who doesn’t know Jesus and meets these three criteria?
  • Need help? Think of people in these types of relationships:
    • People we meet occasionally – stores, restaurants, etc.
    • Family and long-time friends
    • Neighbors, co-workers, barber/stylist

Wrap Up

Which Person of Peace in your world is the most likely person for you to share Jesus with? Why did you choose this person?

Prayer

Take turns praying for all the Persons of Peace who were named. Ask God to begin opening their hearts.

Homework

This week, please listen to this message: https://www.apexcommunity.org/apex-sermons/dale-stephenson-jesus-model-of-discipleship-082320

Come prepared next week to discuss!

   

Making Jesus Know[n] - Small Group Experience

“Sharing the Message”

Getting Connected

Reflect on a time that you received some really good news: a pregnancy, birth, new job, good medical test results, etc. Did you share the news? Why did you want to share it? 

Prayer

Take turns thanking God for the Good News of Jesus!

Invite the Holy Spirit to refresh us with that message.

Scripture Reading - Acts 4:1-22 (NIV)

Take turns reading this section. It’s a bit longer than usual. Don’t rush.

     1The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

     5The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

     8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

     13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16“What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. 17But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

     18Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

     21After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

Pause & Reflect

There is a lot that could be discussed. Let’s start with these items:

  • Verse 4 – The church grew from 120 to 3,000 on the day of Pentecost. Now it’s grown by an additional 2,000, just counting men. The total could easily be 15,000. The explanation is simple: “they heard the message and believed.” How do you think these 2,000+ people heard the message? Imagine and recreate some of the possible conversations that people shared.
  • In verse 7 the leaders question Peter and John regarding their source of power. When do you see power and the message of Jesus today? Do you expect to see power today? If not, why? Is it possible that we see fewer people saved because power is lacking?
  • Verse 12 says that salvation is found only in Jesus. If this is true, how should this shape our lives? Is this important news? Let’s be real, is it really good news to you? (Not trying to be rude at all, just trying to understand why we’re not likely to share the message of Jesus with others!)
  • In verse 13 the leaders realized that Peter and John were unschooled, and they took note that they had been with Jesus. They had no seminary training, they just followed Jesus. Does their humble example motivate you? If yes, how. If not, why not?
  • Verse 17 says the Jewish leaders wanted to stop this “virus” from spreading. Peter and John said they couldn’t help it. They had to share what they had seen and heard. What can we learn from their response? As a group, make a list.

Practical Application

Did anyone listen to the message that was included in last week’s homework?

  • What was a favorite part?
  • Did anything spark your interest?
  • Did it touch your emotions?
  • Could you imagine yourself sharing God’s message with someone in this way? Who?
  • Would you like to be a part of a group that’s learning how to do this?

Wrap Up

Your group leader will give you more information about how to take a next step. 

Prayer

Spend some time inviting God to make your life a testimony of the life and power of Jesus; that you would have the privilege of making Jesus known to another person.

 

 

Making Jesus Know[n] - Small Group Experience

“The Power of Community”

Getting Connected

What group of people energizes you the most? Why? Have you ever been a part of a group, team, staff, etc., that accomplished something significant? What did you do? What are the common traits of these groups?

Prayer

Thank God for community and the power he’s given to the church.

Reality Check

  • What church groups are you a part of, and how would you describe your level of connection? How would you describe the purpose and value of each group to an unbeliever?
  • Do you think the average unbeliever would be interested in being a part of any of these groups? Why or why not?
  • How often do you invite someone to attend a Sunday service with you or watch online with you? If you have, who has come or watched? If not, why not?

Scripture Reading - Acts 5:12-16 (NIV)

The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

Pause & Reflect

  • Solomon’s Colonnade was a part of the Temple structure, i.e., this was a public gathering of believers in a traditional Jewish environment. Kind of like our Sunday morning gathering but more diverse. What do you think of these paradoxical statements?
    • “No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people.”
    • “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.”
  • Can you think of a similar paradox at our church? If not, what changes would we need to make to see this kind of divine manifestation?
  • We don’t see a lot of people being “added to our number” at FCUMC. Any thoughts as to why? Is it something we’re doing or not doing? The goal of this discussion is to be a part of the solution, not complaining. 
  • Our “new” mission statement is: “Knowing Jesus and Making Jesus Known.” What if we worked together to make Jesus known and unsaved people regularly got saved? Would that be exciting? Fulfilling? Worth investing your time and money?

The Miraculous

In the Lenten small group study “Know[n],” we looked at this issue of the miraculous a little bit. It keeps coming up in the book of Acts. Here it is again. It’s pretty important that we wrestle this a bit more. Has God changed his mind or reduced his involvement in the life of his disciples?

Deeper Dive

  • How did the people figure out that they could be healed just by being close to Peter, within a shadow’s reach?
  • Would you agree that this kind of power is at least as miraculous as what we see in the ministry of Jesus? Consider this flashback from John 14:12:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Is there any “logical” reason that God would want to reduce his power as time goes by? As if, once the Apostles died, God would relax and reduce his power?

While you’re still processing this, switch gears from your brain and engage your heart and soul as you listen to the first 4 minutes of this song:  https://youtu.be/ZOBIPb-6PTc

  • Pray as a group that God would bring clarity. What is his desire for us individually and as a group in regard to living with more of his power?
  • Now that you’ve asked God for help, did you hear anything?

Wrap Up

Review the things you’ve learned about yourself during this session. What is one thing you would like to do differently this week? Why do you want to do this, and what is your expected outcome?

Prayer

Ask God to bless each person that they can repent (change their thinking) and believe (change their behavior) so that it aligns with his will.

 

 

Making Jesus Know[n] - Small Group Experience

“Is It Worth It?”

Getting Connected

Think of some sacrifice you’ve made. Why did you make it? What was the result? Would you do it again?

Prayer

Thank Jesus for His sacrifice. Name some things you’re thankful for because Jesus lives in you.

Scripture Reading - Acts 5:17- 42 (NIV)

(Disclaimer: This is a lot to read, more than we usually read in a group! Don’t panic, we’ll take discussion breaks along the way!)

     17Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20“Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

     21At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

     When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23“We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

     25Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

Pause & Reflect

What is going on? Let’s put on our Sociologist/Psychologist’s hats for a moment…

  • Why are they “filled with jealousy”? What kind of people are the apostles dealing with? Can jealousy still attack true believers today? How could religious people attack God’s people out of jealousy now? Even in our church?
  • The angel told them to stand in the temple courts and tell people about “this new life.” If you were asked to do the same and describe your new life in public, what would you say?

Let’s continue reading…

 27The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

     29Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

     33When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Pause & Reflect

  • They accused them of “filling Jerusalem with their teaching.” How were they so successful? No church building, no New Testament Bible, no choir, bells, band, etc. – What were they doing that we’re missing?
  • “We must obey God rather than human beings.” Do we face the same decision today? What human voices are at odds with God’s voice today? How do you personally struggle with this challenge?
  • The apostles’ lives were hanging in the balance. They made a huge sacrifice. How does one become prepared for such a commitment? What would you need to do to respond similarly?
  • Gamaliel had some sound advice. If the Apostles are really doing God’s will, it can’t be stopped. If our work is of human origin, it will fail. Thoughts? Implications for us? What are some powerful things that God is doing that can’t be stopped?

A little more…

 40His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Pause & Reflect

We began this session reflecting on a time when we made a sacrifice. The apostles made an incredible sacrifice AND rejoiced.

  • What’s the secret sauce? How were they able to do this and have such an incredible attitude? Is this ability and attitude available for us, and if so, how?
  • They kept teaching in public and private in spite of an order to stop. Have a role-playing discussion with the group; imagine you’re one of the 12 apostles and debate the pros and cons of following the order or disobeying the order.

Wrap Up

  • This is the last session. What has been your biggest take-away in this series?
  • What steps have you taken to make Jesus known?
  • Have you found persons of peace? If so, who? If not, what has been your obstacle?

Prayer

Take turns blessing each person to be filled with the Holy Spirit and fruitful in making Jesus known.

  

CLICK HERE for a complete list of studies available in our church library.

Not finished yet with our Lenten Study?

No problem! You can still access all the information below:

INTRODUCTION

Thanks for being a part of this six-week small group experience. Whether this is your first time in a group or you’re a seasoned group member, we hope that you come to see Jesus in a clear and fresh way. One of the best ways to grow in your relationship with Jesus is to be with other believers. This group will provide inspiration, encouragement and hope through the Holy Spirit. Welcome aboard!

What should I expect and what will the group expect from me? Great questions!

Here are some guidelines that will ensure a dynamic group experience:

  1. Show up each week on time with this simple prayer on your lips and in your heart, “Lord, I think a richer relationship with you is possible. I want more peace, power, and assurance. Show me clearly that you are real, near and able to transform my life.”
  2. Be honest, real and as vulnerable and transparent as possible. Share your experiences, not those of others or society at large. Group members are not here to criticize, condemn, or fix each other. We’re here to spend time with the Holy Spirit and see what He has for each of us.
  3. Be considerate. Don’t talk too much; don’t be too quiet. Respect others by keeping their stories confidential. They will do the same for you.   :)
  4. Since the meetings are online, test your computer or smart device ahead of time. Don’t wait until group time to see if everything is working properly. Find a quiet place in your house and mute your microphone when/if there is background noise. All of these practical tips are helpful. You and everyone in the group will have a better experience if you follow these tips.

NOTE: We will be using a Spotify playlist as part of our study. Everyone, please download the app so you have it ready to go. We can’t tell you why yet -- just trust us, you’ll love it!   : )

Know[n] Small Group Experience

“A Tale of Two Births”

Getting Connected – Share the earliest photo you have of yourself. (Leaders, ask everyone to email their photo ahead of time so you can share them on Zoom.) Ask everyone to take 2 minutes to share as much as they can about what it was like growing up! (Leaders will keep a timer and, yes, everyone will actually stop when the time elapses.)

Welcome the Holy Spirit - Pray this prayer together: “Lord, I think a richer relationship with you is possible. I want more peace, power, and assurance. Show me clearly that you are real, near and able to transform my life.” (Disclaimer: Multiple people talking at once when you’re online is messy. Brace yourself. Remember that God can sort it out!)

Describe what it’s like to be a (insert your last name). What are some of the things you enjoy about your heritage and some things that are a bit quirky? Keep it brief.

Bible Reading - John 3:1-15

Divide the 15 verses by the number of people in the group and give everyone a chance to read a couple of verses:

1Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.  12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”   (NIV)

Pause & Reflect -

What stood out? What got your attention?

Have everyone share something from the story that was personally meaningful.

Watch this creative telling of the story from The Chosen. As you do, imagine how you would have responded if you were in Nicodemus’ shoes. (Keep in mind, the producer has used “creative license” to imagine what this conversation would have looked like. If you imagine it differently, feel free to share your version!)

https://youtu.be/Q1AyMDZNy9k 

Imagine that you were in Nicodemus’ place, having this same conversation. What would you have done or said?

Give everyone a chance to share.

Digging Deeper -

There is one phrase that I think is important to emphasize, if it hasn’t been already. “No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

We live in a pretty grey world. We like to be “inclusive” and avoid offending people.  Jesus didn’t hesitate to use exclusive language. Bold statements like this are definitely out of style. The kingdom Jesus was referring to is the present reality of God’s presence through His Holy Spirit. It is available to see and experience now.

What has been your experience of the “kingdom of God”? (This is a safe place to process this question. We’re not here to judge, just to learn and experience more of His kingdom.)

  • Is it just a future reality for you? Synonymous with heaven?
  • Or, when you pray, “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” do you actually see that happening in your life?
  • The kingdom of God is made real through the in-dwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Share a time when you’ve experienced the Holy Spirit in a real way.

If you need to hear this same idea in a slightly different way, take a look at how the apostle Paul describes it. “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:9

Once again, we find very clear, decisive language. The realm of the Spirit is the Kingdom of God that Jesus talks about. Challenging statements like this can be shocking to our system. But, they can create a chance to see God in a way we’ve never seen him.

On a scale of 1-10, how challenging or “foreign” are some of these topics to you? Discuss

List one way that you felt challenged tonight. What might God be trying to say to you? Discuss

The 10 Day/10 Minute Challenge -

  • For 10 days, get up 10 minutes earlier than normal.
  • Have your downloaded Spotify app ready.
  • Find a quiet private place, get your favorite drink, grab some headphones/earbuds, still your soul -- then listen to Spotify “Signs & Wonders” playlist for 10 minutes. (You can find the Spotify App on iTunes or Google Play.)
  • Just listen, be still, meditate, imagine resting with your heavenly Father.
  • You don’t need to talk, ask God for anything, just relax, enjoy His presence and listen for His voice. Don’t strain. Just let it come!

Wrap Up - Ask each person to share one thing they are thankful for about the group experience. Pray before you conclude the evening.

 

Know[n] Small Group Experience

“Knowing for Sure”

 Welcome back!

 If there is anyone new to the group, take a few moments to get acquainted so that everyone feels welcomed.

Getting Connected - Einstein once said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.

Let each person share something that they once thought was true, only to find out later it wasn’t. (This could be a good opportunity to laugh WITH one another!) :) 

Prayer - Have someone in the group give thanks for this time together and thank the Holy Spirit for His presence.

10 Day/10 Minute Challenge Update - Take a few minutes for people to share their experience of the 10/10 challenge. What room did you use? How did it feel? Was one morning “better” than another? What was your highlight? What was your lowlight? Will you do anything different this week?

BTW - you don’t have to stop after 10 days.   :)

Scripture Reading -

Choose three people to read the two passages below. Ask them to read slowly and thoughtfully. You will hear the passages three times. After each reading, write the word or phrase that popped into your mind. It may be the same three words/phrases, or it may be different each time.

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”  John 20:30,31 (NIV)

 “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  1 John 5:11-13 (NIV)

Pause & Reflect - Now, take a few moments to share the words or phrases that came to you. Were there any “aha” moments? Anything that was personally challenging?

(Leaders, you may want to share these on the Zoom whiteboard.)

Digging Deeper - The apostle John believed that it was possible for someone to know that they have eternal life. Eternal life is something that “has been given” to us. Past tense. According to John, we can know and experience eternal life in this present moment.

Below you’ll find three sections from 1 John that repeat the phrase, “This is how we know.” As a group, name all the ways that John gives to help us know that we know.

(Leaders, share the whiteboard on Zoom as you write all the group’s comments.)

“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6  (NIV)

“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” 1 John 3:9,10  (NIV)

“This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:13-16  (NIV)

Group Discussion -

  • What stood out to you about some of the comments on the Whiteboard?
  • Did you see anything new or different?
  • Do you feel your mind expanding? 

Below is a testimony about John Wesley. When he first learned from the Moravian Christians that this kind of assurance of salvation was available, he doubted his own Christian experience. He realized he was missing something. It actually made his brother Charles angry to hear him discredit his own faith! Can you relate?

Take some time to process this feeling.

Now, read this quote together and discuss:

Before his Aldersgate experience in 1738, John Wesley writes that having an assurance of his identity as a son of God was missing. According to his own interpretation of his spiritual journey, it is very likely that before this evangelical conversion Wesley was not yet a Christian. He writes about that very personal Aldersgate experience: “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” Whether you identify with Wesley’s faith before or after Aldersgate, after his faith became personal, he held to a strong doctrine of assurance—the belief that a person can indeed know they’re saved.”   (The quote is from the Seedbed website.)

  • What were the things you found encouraging and affirming from these quotes?
  • What was hard, confusing, or challenging?

Don’t try to solve anything now. Continue to meditate on those phrases that were hard or confusing. This week, ask God to give you understanding. Let Him know that you want to know that you have eternal life.

Wrap Up -

  • Share one “aha” moment from tonight. Something personal you felt God impress upon you. How would you like to respond this week?
  • Pray for one another based on the “aha” moments and the responses that people are planning for this week.

Know[n] Small Group Experience

“The Power to Do Great Things!”

Are we having fun yet?

Getting Connected - If you had one superhero power, which one would you choose and why?

Tonight we’re going to explore one of Jesus’ radical teachings. Before we do that, let’s pray that God will open our eyes and ears to see things in Scripture we’ve never seen before. And, to not only see them, but also let them challenge our current beliefs and allow us to be gradually transformed!

Prayer - Ask a few people to each say a short prayer, asking God to open eyes, hearts and ears that we might be changed by His living Word.

10 Day/10 Minute Challenge Update -

By now, everyone has had a chance to experience this early morning time with our Heavenly Father.

  • Did anyone feel that their relationship got closer? Describe the change.
  • Is anyone inspired to continue? What inspired you?
  • Did anyone hear God in a way they’ve never heard before? What happened?
  • Did anyone learn something new about God’s character or personality?

 

Scripture Reading - John 14:12-21

Let’s do the same kind of reading that we did last week.

Choose three people to read the passage below. Ask them to read slowly and thoughtfully. After each reading, write the word or phrase that popped into your mind. It may be the same three words/phrases or it may be different each time.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”  (NIV)

Pause & Reflect -

Now, take a few moments to share the words or phrases that came to you.

Were there any “aha” moments? Anything that was personally challenging?

(Leaders, you may want to share these on the Zoom whiteboard.)

Digging Deeper -

Let’s be honest. These promises sound too good to be true. Could Jesus really mean that we, “little ole us,” can do greater works than Him. We need to camp out here a bit. First, it’s important that we don’t gloss over the word “works” in verse 12. Jesus is referring to the miracles he performed. So, we need to wrestle with how we are going to apply this promise.

  • Was Jesus just talking to the apostles?
  • Did he just give this ability to those who lived during the first century?
  • Is it just for a select few? The super heroes of the Christian faith?

I think it’s important that you decide what you think. 

When John Wesley was confronted with this idea of having a living faith, one that created power in the individual, he was disturbed. It created a crisis of belief.

Below is a brief excerpt that highlights his journey. I’ve highlighted some things that are related to our current discussion:

FINDING FAITH

     I had but one retreat left. I granted God did these things in the first age of Christianity, but times had changed. Was there any reason to believe that God works in the same way now as He did then?  

     The next day I was beaten out of this retreat, also. Peter (special note: Peter was one of the Spirit-filled Moravian Christians who introduced Charles and John to the Holy Spirit) brought me Christians who testified God had changed them in a moment. In a moment, they said, God had given them a living faith in Jesus. That faith transferred them from darkness into light, out of sin and fear into holiness and happiness. Here my disputing ended. I could now only cry out, “Lord, help my unbelief!” 

MY HEART WAS STRANGELY WARMED

     My brother Charles was greatly opposed to my understanding of the living faith. It made him angry to hear me say that I did not have real faith. He called this “the new faith.” However, Charles agreed to a long conversation with Peter about it. It pleased God to open Charles’ eyes. He also clearly saw the nature of the one true living faith. Through grace alone, we are saved. 

     Charles experienced this new living faith before I did. He was staying with a friend while sick with pleurisy. Because he was too sick to go out, several of us visited him on Sunday morning, May 21. It was Whitsunday-Pentecost Sunday. We prayed with him and left for church. Later that day, the Holy Spirit healed him and gave him the living faith in a moment.  

     I had continued to seek this faith, though with some strange indifference, dullness, and coldness until May 24. In the evening of that day, I went very unwillingly to a prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street. About 8:45, I was listening to a reading of Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. 

  • John and Charles' encounters with God changed their theology about the Holy Spirit.
  • Each of them felt resistance to accept this new living faith.
  • Their transformation did not come as a result of logic, reason, or debate.
  • They weren’t even very cooperative! God just showed up.

 Let the group process this. We’re not here to twist anyone’s arm. There’s no pressure to believe a certain way. When you read John 14:12 and read John Wesley’s testimony, what do you think?

Depending where we land on this question will determine how we understand the rest of today’s text. Jesus drops some more bombs!

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” - Radical Prayer

“If you love me, keep my commands.” “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” - Radical Obedience

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”  - Radical Presence

Again, let’s be honest, these are challenging promises. Our goal tonight and in the days ahead is to just let this soak into our souls.

  • What would it look like to begin to experience some of these things? And not just talk about them?
  • What would you need to do to get 1% closer to this reality?

 

Wrap Up -

  • What is one thing you’d like to do differently this week as a result of our time together?
  • Pray together. Take time to bless each person. Ask God to meet them in this one thing they want to do by faith!

 

Know[n] Small Group Experience

Session #4: "Our Awesome Inheritance"

Getting Connected Ask each person to share a little about their current family, spouse, siblings, parents, kids, etc. -- whoever makes up their current “family.” Then share something you enjoy doing together.

Prayer - Welcome the Holy Spirit: Let everyone who’s willing say what’s on their heart. Invite God to be present in and through the Holy Spirit.

How was your week? - We ended last week’s session with the question: What is one thing you’d like to do differently this week to experience more of the Holy Spirit’s presence?

Anyone feel like they got 1% better? Explain.

Scripture Reading -

“How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, and had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.” Ephesians 1:3-6 (MSG) 

Pause & Reflect - Spend some time as a group getting “into” this story. Imagine God having feelings, emotions, and passion, just like us. Discuss what it would have been like for God to do all of these things. To ACTUALLY do these things in history. This passage isn’t just loft language. It’s a record of God’s actions on our behalf.

Here are some bullet points from the text in case you need help focusing:

  • The NIV says “He has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Practically speaking, what does that mean for us individually and corporately?
  • He had us in mind before He laid down the earth’s foundation!
  • We are the focus of His love.
  • We have been adopted into His family. What is that like for God? For you?
  • All of this gave Him, and gives Him, great pleasure!!!

Digging Deeper - Paul’s description is very loving and relational, not religious or informational.

Discuss with each other to what extent your connection with God “feels” like this kind of relationship. Paul is saying that all of these privileges have already been given to us. How much of it have you received?

If #1 represents a little and #10 represents a lot, what number would you give yourself and why?

Let’s go even deeper - Using the 3-peat reading method again, choose three people to read this slowly and thoughtfully. Each time it’s read, write down the word or words that stand out with each reading.

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13,14 (NIV)

Let’s consider some additional realities:

  • I was included in Christ, became a part of Him, when I heard the gospel.
  • When I believed I was sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  • My inheritance is guaranteed.

Let’s talk about this:

  • What does it mean, both personally and practically, to be included in Christ?
  • To be “sealed” means we have the Holy Spirit as an identifying mark (think of the Romans sealing the tomb). What does it mean to you that the Holy Spirit forms your identity?
  • The Holy Spirit is a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance. On a scale of 1-10, how secure do you feel that God will make good on his deposit, that He will deliver your inheritance? Why did you choose that number?

Letting It Soak In - Now, everyone get comfortable and listen to the song “Be with Me.”

https://open.spotify.com/track/51YwIV5laxNugYz32eJIdw?si=38hK8AeITM2Axrn_6cV8sA

Don’t overthink, just relax and imagine Jesus being with you and in you through His Holy Spirit.

Wrap Up - Pray for one another that each one might have a greater awareness of his/her new identity in Jesus.

 

Know[n] Small Group Experience

Session #5: "VIP Seating"

Getting Connected Think of a time you attended some event – a concert, play, etc. – AND you had really good seats. Anyone ever had a “backstage” pass to meet the stars? BRIEFLY share the experience and how it felt to be so close to the performers or performance.

Prayer - Give everyone a chance to pray. Maybe include something about this group experience that you’re thankful for.

How was your week? - Just curious…has anyone continued the “10/10 Challenge”? If so, what has that been like? If you haven’t, what do you need to get restarted? It’s okay to be honest, this is a “judgement-free zone”!

Scripture Reading - Before we read the main text, let’s remind ourselves something about Paul’s writings. Here’s the apostle Peter’s observation: “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”  2 Peter 2:15-16 (NIV)

With that said, read the following passage prayerfully, thoughtfully and with an open mind! The leader can decide who reads and how it’s read.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV):

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Pause & Reflect - Let’s be transparent: How many find this passage complex, hard to understand, etc.? For those who do, do you know why? If so, discuss. (The goal is not to give advice or fix anything. This is a chance to process out loud without criticism.)

Look at these bullet points. Which one challenges your personal experience with the text?

  • At one time we all were dead in sin.
  • There is a spirit that works in those who are disobedient.
  • Believers “used to” (past tense) follow the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air.
  • God made us alive when we were dead in transgressions.
  • We are now seated in the heavenly realms with God and Jesus.

Zoo Wee Mama!!! (from Diary of a Wimpy Kid)

  • Let everyone choose the line that relates to them the most and discuss, why does it?
  • This question might be the same: Which one is the most difficult to experience and live? Do you know why? If so, share.

Digging Deeper - Let’s look again at this reality: Believers are NOW SEATED IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS WITH GOD AND JESUS. We have VIP seating.

  • Let’s dream a little. What could that mean for you personally?
  • How could your day-to-day life change if you actually believed that were true?

(Leaders, it might be nice to log these on the shared whiteboard for everyone to see.)

Let’s go even deeper - Repentance is realizing our perception of reality is off and changing the way we think. Then as we change the way we think, we believe. Believing means that our behavior now matches the way we think.

So, there are really two things before us. Is your challenge the need to repent or believe? Both are critical.

  • As best as you can tell, which one best describes you?
  • What do you think you need in order to move ahead?

(This is a great time to listen to God’s voice as a group. What is He saying? How is the Holy Spirit currently moving in the group? Is there something that we all need to pay attention to?)

(Leaders, here are a couple of songs. If you have time, play one song for everyone. Either one will work well.)

This is a great way to meditate on the theme of this passage in Ephesians:

https://youtu.be/KwX1f2gYKZ4 - (this one is upbeat)

https://youtu.be/B6zFquL84qA - (mellow)

Wrap Up - Everyone can share one thing they could do this week to get 1% better in these two areas we just discussed. Then close the time in prayer as you think best.

 

Know[n] Small Group Experience

Session #6: “Beyond Our Wildest Dreams”

Getting Connected - Ever have a “big” dream? Do you still have a “big” dream? Career, sports, music, etc.? Don’t be freaked out by the word “big.” Think of a past or current dream. Something you wanted/want to do or become. Take a couple of minutes to share that with the group.

Prayer - Leaders, begin with prayer in the way that works well for your group.

How was your week? - Last week we ended with ways we could personally get 1% better in living with a heavenly perspective. How did that go for you?

This week we’re going to read one of Paul’s prayers. As you read it, imagine Paul actually saying this to God. He’s kneeling and blessing his audience. Imagine that the “you” in the text is us!

Scripture Reading -

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

Pause & Reflect - Take a moment for everyone to share the word or phrase that stood out to them. If you know why it did, share that, too!

Digging Deeper - It’s often hard to imagine what Scripture means when it talks about having power. When you read the part “he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being”

  • What do you imagine he means by power?
  • What does that look like?
  • How have you experienced power through the Holy Spirit?

This next idea is equally profound, but a bit more subtle: “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.”  It’s like Paul can’t find all the words to describe this love!

A real challenge for us today is going beyond knowledge about Jesus, to an actual experience of His love.

  • If you have felt that change in your own life, will you briefly share what that was like?
  • What caused the change?

Paul is done stretching us, he now drops a big bomb: “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Let’s brainstorm a bit. Practically speaking, what is Paul referring to?

(Leaders, make a list on the shared whiteboard as people explore this reality.)

Let’s go even deeper - Let’s look at one more phrase … this one might be the most profound!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

It sounds like Paul is saying that God is willing and able, through his power working in us, to do amazing stuff. Is that what you hear?

Look at these responses below and see which one fits you:

  • What do you do with this promise?
  • Do you dismiss it?
  • Conclude it’s not for you?
  • Conclude it’s not for Christians today?
  • Take a risk and step into it?
  • Other?
     

Wrap Up - This is the last session of our six-week experience. Have you experienced God in a different way?

If you liked this kind of group experience and want more, your leader will let you know about next steps.

Pray together, giving thanks for all that God has done!