Go

Closer Church-Wide Study

10.24.18

Closer Church-Wide Study

To draw spiritually closer to Christ is what we treasure in the truest form of Christmas. The birth of Jesus is the deciding moment when God sends the whole world, love and hope in newborn, a Savior. The birth of Jesus is God’s way of saying “I love you, and I want to be closer to you.” Living into a close, spiritual relationship with Jesus is letting God know that we got the divine message loud and clear. With each passing day, the season of Christmas is getting closer. May we turn our lives to be CLOSER this Christmas … closer to the One who was first to be closer to us all.

Join us for our sermon series and church-wide study CLOSER! Each week we will post here the week's sermon and discussion questions based on each letter of the word CLOSER.

 Welcome to our last week of CLOSER!  Here are the questions for the week. No video this week, as our videographer is away.  So you can listen to the sermon HERE.   
Sermon text and be found HERE.

December 23, Sermon Discussion Questions.

 Get CLOSER this Christmas, the letter “R” for rejoice.

  • When was a time in your life when you can say that you rejoiced?
  • How do we show rejoicing during fun, exciting or special events in our lives?  (Winning a Super Bowl, birth of a child, milestone birthday)
  • Do you find it difficult to rejoice about Jesus?
  • Read Romans 8:28
  • Do you think that people need the message of Romans 8:28?
  • What could or does rejoicing in the love of God look like in our our lives? (Thankfulness in our actions, evangelizing, inviting others, generosity etc.) 
  • Read John 1:14, 16-18
  • Pastor Debbie said that “We rejoice today because God sent Jesus to tell us and show us God’s grace in our lives and world.” How would you define grace?
  • Do you feel that we recognize that we need grace? Why do we need it?
  • What do you think about the idea that maybe we find it hard to rejoice about grace is because we don’t think or realize that we require it? Maybe we haven’t messed up our lives or someone else’s enough to think that grace is needed. But do we only need grace for the “big” problems we’ve been a part of?
  • What about receiving grace for the day-to-day instances when we aren’t like Jesus? When we lose our patience, when we turn away from need, when we don’t want to inconvenience ourselves for someone else, when we are unnecessarily harsh etc.
  • Does grace look different when we consider the day-to-day ways that we fall short?
  • How can you rejoice this week?
 

Get Closer this Christmas – With Jesus, Lord of Everything

December 18, 2018 

Questions for discussion

Read Colossians 1:15-20  

  1. In response to Jesus being Lord of our lives, what components of our daily life are visible examples of his teaching and guidance?
  1. Have you ever thought about what our Heavenly Father wants for Christmas? Could you honor God with a discussion on what God would like as a gift from our personal lives?
  1. God wants to put the world back together, through Jesus, and through us. In what ways can we as a faith community be intentional in putting the world back together?
  1. Where is there brokenness that you personally could be a bridge in relationships to everyone, every day, every way and everywhere?
  1. Read Psalm 148.
  1. These verses inspire us with awe of God's extensive creation … how can we be active agents in the redemptive work of God, making right all things in relationship to our Creator? Are we humanity in a broken relationship with the living things of creation? 
  1. Colossians 1:19-20 says “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Just how far do we take “all things” …?

Is Jesus in the science lab, inspiring awe in students who are looking through microscopes? Is Jesus in the courtroom, advancing justice through the work of attorneys and judges? Is Jesus in the factory floor, creating products that can improve the quality of life for people everywhere? Is Jesus in the sanctuaries of people of numerous races and religions, drawing them closer to the God who created them – even if they do not yet know his name. 

Do you believe he is the Lord of everything?

 

 

December 9, Sermon Discussion Questions

“S” Star 

  1. When have you ever been somewhere, that you could see the stars especially brilliantly? What was that like?

    1. Read Matthew 2:1-12

      The Magi set upon a journey not knowing their destination. Pastor Debbie likened that to journeys or calls on our life that God sends us on. When have you started a journey on which you had to rely on God; or are you on a journey that you are relying on God for the next step? Is that idea scary?

  2. Read John 1:1-5

    Do you agree that people think of darkness as bad?

    What do you think about the idea that there are gifts in darkness (not just physical darkness, but emotional darkness, difficult times and situations).

    When have you experienced any of these gifts?

  3. Are your feelings about Christmas generally happy or sad? Why do you think that is?

  4. What situations are you aware of, in the community, family etc. for which Christmas is a difficult time?

  5. Pastor Debbie said “God gives us a star at night.” When have you been on the receiving end of “light” (someone’s kindness, generosity or unexpected good event) at Christmas? When have you given “light” to others at Christmas?

 

Optional Demonstration:

Supplies- a few tea light candles, matches

Room- make the room as dark as possible, the darker the better. Move to a different room temporarily if needed.

Say(the room will be dark so you’ll need to memorize or paraphrase): As Pastor Debbie said “We often look for the dramatic moments, but often God sends a star, a tiny light, to shine in the darkness.

It can seem like small things don’t matter, but (Light the candles) just as these tiny candles light up this room, God lights up our lives. And with small acts of kindness we can light up other’s lives. 

Pray: Dear God, help us Lord to allow you to be the star in our lives.  Help us to see the journey you have placed us on, and help us to see the many ways you bring light into our lives. Have us take that light and give it to others.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

 

 We had a little technical difficulties videoing this week. So you can listen to the sermon HERE.

  Discussion Questions for December 2, "O" Ordinary

  1. Read Matthew 1:18-23
  2. God’s arrival on earth came through the birth of Jesus, who shall be named Emmanuel, “God with us.” This holy birth happens through ordinary people in ordinary places. What does this tell us about God?
  3. In this seasonal time of Christmas, our attention can be drawn away from God. What steps can you take to get (or remain) closer to God?
  4. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24
  5. The apostle Paul sends his affirmation to his friends for being dedicated and being obedient in their daily work. Take a few minutes to share personal stories of honoring God in our ordinary routine each day.
  6. Pastor Jenny’s message included a video; a commercial showing how random acts of kindness are caught in the act by an observer, who, in turn, offers kindness to another stranger later in their ordinary routine. What God-bearing things do you have in mind to share in the ordinary routine this week.
  7. Vernon C. Grounds writes in the Daily Bread devotional:

“American statesman Bernard Baruch when asked who he thought was the greatest personality of our age. With great wisdom at age 94 he said:

‘The fellow who does his job every day.

The mother who has children

and gets up to get them breakfast,

keeps them clean, and sends them off to school.

The fellow who keeps the streets clean….

The unknown soldiers …

millions of them.’” 

Can you think of others who could be added to this list? 

  1. As we watched bystanders observing acts of kindness in the commercial video who later turn to offer kindness to others, what motivates this pattern of good will? Do you see patterns of good will in your ordinary routine?  How can we connect this pattern of goodwill with Christ?

 

 

 

November 25, 2018 Discussion Questions – “L” Longing

  1. When have you ever been really thirsty? How long did you have to wait? Why couldn’t you get a drink?
  2. When have you ever experienced what Pastor Debbie described as a longing, unsettled, something missing that you can’t quite put your finger on it feelings?
  3. What have you tried to fill it with? Was it successful in dousing the feeling?
  4. Have you ever considered that it might be God nudging you towards Him?
  5. Read Isaiah 43:3-4.
  6. How does the idea that God longs to spend time with you, affect your willingness to take time for God? Have you ever considered that God wants to spend time with you?
  7. Consider for a moment our rejection of God and place it in our daily lives. For example what if our child, spouse or friend said “I want to spend time with you” and we said “no.” Does that change how we see our ignoring of God?
  8. Read John 3:16 and John 6:35
  9. What keeps us from reaching toward God to fill our thirst, discontent or longing?

 

Discussion Questions for November, 18 sermon

  1. What’s the best, most exciting or most important invitation that you’ve ever received?
  2. When you consider an invitation as a “compliment” and as “someone wants you in their life,” how does that change its significance?
  3. When have the shouldas, couldas and wouldas ever made you say “I hate Christmas?”
  4. Read Isaiah 55:1-3 and 55:12-13
  5. Why do you think that people “don’t accept God’s invitation” 1-3, even with all the promise of 12-13?
  6. These words were written to Israel in exile in Babylon and being encouraged to leave there with all it excess, extravagance and lack of morals. What “exiles” are we being asked to leave to come closer to God this Christmas? Or how might you rewrite 55:1-3 for a modern world.
  7. Read Matthew 11:28-30
  8. Pastor Debbie Points out that we won’t be forced to accept God’s invitation to Get Closer. What do you think that is?
  9. Why do we refuse an offer like Matthew 28-30?
  10. Take a minutes to talk about what shouldas, couldas and oughtas we can set aside this Christmas. Then what can we pick up to bring us closer to Christ this Advent season.