The Inspiration to Explore
(for the week of May 2, 2021)
PDF at the bottom
Key Idea from Sermon
The Holy Spirit makes us want to know Jesus.
1. At the beginning of the text, who spoke to Philip? What was said to Philip (v. 26)?
2. How did Philip respond (v. 27)?
3. How does the Lord ordinarily lead you in your life? How do you usually hear the Lord’s voice? How do you usually respond when you “know that you know” that God is calling you to do something?
4. Who was the Ethiopian eunuch and why was he in Jerusalem (v. 27)?
5. It is likely that this eunuch was a “God-fearer.” That may explain why he was reading Isaiah. Describe the conversation between the eunuch and Philip in verses 29-31.
6. Sometimes evangelism is simply explaining to another person what they do not understand about the Christian faith or what is in the Bible. How was Philip able to help in this situation?
7. What are some reasons Christians should study the Bible and Christian doctrine? What are some different ways Christians can study these things? (be creative)
8. What was the eunuch’s question about the Isaiah text (vv. 31-34)?
9. How did Philip answer the eunuch’s question (v. 35)? What does that text from Isaiah teach about the Good News about Jesus?
10. How was the eunuch’s faith confirmed after he heard the Gospel (vv. 36-38)?
11. All of this happened because Philip heard and obeyed the Spirit’s leading. How do you usually feel after you disobey the Spirit’s leading in your life? After you obey the Spirit’s leading? (Share some examples from your life of both.)
12. What are some ways you can begin to grow in hearing and obeying the Spirit in your life? What might happen when you do? Are you ready for that?
The Advance of the Gospel
1. Read Philippians 1:12-18 twice. Write down any key ideas or phrases that catch your attention. What are the key principles you believe we ought to draw from this text? Why did you choose those principles?
2. What is Paul talking about when he refers to “what has happened” to him in verse 12? What larger purpose does he give for his present situation?
3. What does it mean to “advance the gospel” (v. 12)? What is the “gospel” Paul is referring to (Read John 3:16; Romans 1:1-5, 16-17; 5:6-11; 1 Cor. 15:1-9; 2 Cor. 5:16-21 to help you better answer the question.)
Gospel literally means, “good news.” Based on these verses, what are the key elements of that good news you would want to share with another person to help advance it?
4. Read Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28. How do these texts relate to Paul’s words in verse 12?
5. According to verse 13, how was the gospel being advanced during Paul’s imprisonment? What group(s) of people did Paul single out as coming to know the gospel because of his circumstances? Using a little speculation, how do you think Paul was using his time during his imprisonment? What does that say about the Apostle? (Hint: skim through the Book of Acts to help you answer this question.)
6. It is interesting to note that these “brothers” Paul refers to are not ordained clergy; they are laypeople. How did most of these people respond to Paul’s imprisonment (v. 14)? What was it about Paul’s situation that produced that sort of “confidence in the Lord” in the lives of others? Share a time you have been emboldened in your faith because of the faithfulness of another person.
Read Ephesians 4:11-16. How are the “brothers” of Philippians 1:14 putting into practice the teaching of Ephesians 4:11-16? What are the key principles of the Ephesians text and how can today’s church more faithfully live them out?
7. Based on verses 15-18, what was the “word of God” the “brothers” (laypeople) spoke (preached and taught)? In other words, what was their central message? In what ways can the church today get distracted from that central message? How can the church regain her focus during those distractions?
8. What were the contrasting motivations of those who were preaching Christ, based on verses 15-18?
Paul does not dispute the message being preached, so we are safe in assuming both parties were preaching sound doctrine. But clearly their motivations were very different. Why would some have negative motives for preaching Christ? What would that look like in the church today? Do these different motives for preaching Christ really matter, as long as the true message is communicated? Why?
9. What was Paul’s response to those who preached Christ out of less-than-noble motives (v. 18)? How was he able to have that attitude, especially since those ungodly motives were personal attacks against him?
How do you usually respond to those who treat you poorly? Why?
10. Paul said he was imprisoned for “the defense of the gospel” (v. 16)? He was there because of the gospel and would have the opportunity to make a case for it. While we may not be imprisoned for our faith, what are some ways Christians today can faithfully make a case for the gospel when they are under scrutiny and attack?
11. Share a time when you found yourself in a bad situation but discovered later that God used it for good. At the time of the experience were you able to see how God would use it for good? If not, how long did it take? What enabled you to see how God was working in your circumstances and to trust him during that troublesome situation?
12. Paul’s circumstances did not hinder his faithful boldness. What sorts of circumstances hinder your faithful boldness in sharing the gospel with others? Why? What are three things you can start doing today to overcome those obstacles?
13. What would a Christ-honoring, eternal perspective look like when you face persecution because of your faith in Christ? Besides Paul, what other examples or teachings in Scripture support your view? Name two or three ways you can best cultivate that perspective in your life?
14. Can you share an example of how you were encouraged to be faithful because of the tough circumstances someone else was going through? What sorts of “fears” of “speaking the word” would the Christians in Paul’s world have had? Were those fears legitimate? What sorts of fears of speaking the word do Christians in our city have? Are those fears legitimate? Explain.
The Turning Point from Discouragement
(for the week of April 18, 2021)
(PDF at the bottom)
This Week’s Scripture: John 20:19-31
Key Idea from Sermon
Jesus gives encouragement.
1. The disciples have left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee. Describe the scene in verses 1-3.
2. Read verses 4-6 and Luke 5:1-11. Based on those texts, why do you think John and Peter knew it was Jesus (vv. 7-8)?
(Observation: Verse 9 says there was a warm fire and breakfast waiting for the disciples when they came ashore. Even as the risen Lord, Jesus continues to serve his disciples. This verse (the fire of burning coals) also sets a familiar scene of where Peter denied Jesus (John 18:18), which will come into play.)
3. Read verses 15-17. What does Jesus ask Peter three times? Why? (See John 18:15-18, 25-27)
4. The first time Jesus asks Peter this question, he adds the phrase, “more than these.” Read John 13:37; Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29. Based on these Scriptures, why might Jesus have added that phrase?
5. How does Peter reply to Jesus each time? What emotion does Peter have after Jesus asked him the question the third time. Why do you think that is?
6. Based on the Scripture, what shift or turning point do you think was happening to Peter as he was asked the same question three times in a row?
7. What did Jesus command Peter to do after each of Peter’s replies? What did Jesus mean? (See John 10:11, 14 and 1 Peter 5:1-4)
8. This scene in John’s Gospel is commonly referred to as Peter’s recommission or reinstatement to apostleship after his denials of Jesus. At what point(s) in your own story have you experienced Jesus “reinstating” you to serve him? Or, to deepen your relationship with him?
9. Pastor Phillip emphasized the encouragement Jesus gave to Peter. What does it mean to encourage someone? Why is encouraging another person so important?
10. Share a time when you were going through a season of discouragement and were strengthened and built up by someone else coming along beside you to encourage you? What difference did it make in your life?
Turning Point Connections
(for the week of April 11, 2021)
PDF at the bottom
This Week’s Scripture: John 20:19-31
Key Idea from Sermon
Jesus connects us to each other.
1. Beginning with the end of this week’s Scripture (vv. 30-31), what purpose does the Apostle John give for writing his Gospel? (Who does John want you to believe Jesus is? And what will be the result for believing this about Jesus?)
2. What does it mean to “have life in his name” (v. 31)? In what ways have you already experienced this “life” to which John is referring?
3. As you think about the key events (or, “signs”) in the life and ministry of Jesus, which ones do you find most captivating? Which ones played a significant role in bringing you to faith in Christ as Messiah, Son of God, and Savior (your “Turning Point”)?
4. Read verses 19-23. Jesus had just been crucified. What emotions do you think the disciples were experiencing and why?
5. What are the first words Jesus spoke to the disciples after he miraculously appeared to them? Why was it important that he spoke those words to them? How did they respond?
6. How did you respond when you first realized that Jesus was not a dead historical religious figure, but was truly raised from the dead and lives today? In what way was that a “turning point” in your life?
7. The “Sent One” is now the “Sender.” This part of John 20 is sometimes referred to as John’s “Great Commission.” What does John say Jesus sent his disciples to do? How does that compare with Matthew’s version of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)?
8. According to verse 22, what does Jesus provide the disciples with to equip them for their mission? Why is this important (essential)?
9. What did Jesus mean (and not mean) in verse 23? (You may want to consult a Study Bible or online commentary to help you answer this one.)
10. Read verses 24-29. After seeing Jesus “in the flesh,” how did Thomas respond to Jesus? What is the significance of Thomas’ response? What is important about the way Jesus, in turn, responded to Thomas and how does that encourage you?
11. Returning to the theme of our first two questions, who are three people in your "Personal Mission Field” that you can share this life-giving, good news with? Based on this week’s lesson, what will you share with them?
12. As a group, pray (specifically or generally) for those people in your Personal Mission Field. Ask the Lord to begin to prepare their hearts and minds to be receptive to this good news (Gospel). And pray for the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and who was breathed out upon the disciples in our Scripture, to work in and through you as you share the Gospel with those you are praying for.
Life Group Studies