Sunday, March 15, 2009

John 6:1-24 and Matthew 14

Link to text: John 6:1-24 and Matthew 14

Crushed Ice
1. Do you prefer to socialize at large parties, have a dinner for four, or spend a quiet evening with a friend or spouse? Why?

v. 1-15 – Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
1. How is the context different in Matthew and John when reading about “Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand?” (Matthew 6-12)
2. Why did the crowd follow Jesus? What did they think about him?
3. What do you think Jesus was thinking about in Matthew 14:13?
4. What was the test that Jesus used on Philip?
5. Compare and contrast the responses of Philip and Andrew in John 6:7-9 to Jesus’ question about how to feed the people.
6. Was he little boy the only one with food? Why did no one else come forward?
7. Even though the provision seemed meager, what did Jesus do before passing out the food?
8. Why was there more food after the feeding than before? What does this story teach us about God’s provision?
9. Even though Jesus was sad about John the Baptist, and probably tired and wanted some time alone with his Father, he shows compassion and heals people, then serves them dinner. What does that show about Jesus?
10. How do you respond to others when their presence requires a change in your plans? Can you remember a specific instance?
11. What new power do the disciples discover in Jesus? What is the lesson here?
12. What was the response of the masses to Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand? In what ways is this still a common response to Jesus?
13. Why was Jesus trying to evade the people in v 15? What does Jesus’ response indicate about his idea of his kingship?

v. 16-24 – Jesus Walks on Water
14. Why are the disciples leaving in a boat and leaving Jesus behind?
15. What are the disciples feeling at the time when they see Jesus on the water?
16. How would you have reacted if you saw Jesus on the water? When he climbed in the boat?
17. Why would any rational person say what Peter says in Matthew 14:28? What must have been going through his mind? What do Peter’s words and actions say about him?
18. What was the first thing Peter had to do to get onto the water?
19. Why is Peter successful in walking on the water? Why does he then sink?
20. Even though Peter eventually sank, contrast Peter’s faith and risk-taking to that of the 11 other disciples in the boat.
21. What is the relationship between risk-taking and faith?
22. Has Jesus ever frightened you? How?
23. This story occurs immediately after Jesus feeds the five thousand. Why do you think Jesus separates himself from the crowd and the disciples and spends time alone in prayer?

Bottom Line Point(s):
1. Jesus power is not limited by earth physics.
2. God’s provision can take our little contribution and multiply it abundantly.
3. If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat.
4. From Ortberg’ book…
· Water-walkers recognize God’s presence
· Water-walkers discern between faith and foolishness
· Water-walkers get out of the boat
· Water-walkers expect problems
· Water-walkers accept fear as the price of growth
· Water-walkers master failure management
· Water-walkers see failure as an opportunity to grow
· Water-walkers learn to wait on the Lord
· Water-walking brings a deeper connection with God

How can you apply what you’ve learned here?
1. When has God stretched your limited resources (physically or emotionally) far beyond what you could have imagined? In what way do you need to trust him to do so now?
2. How are you like Philip and Andrew – failing to remember something about Jesus when you face a difficult situation?
3. How are you at “stepping out of the boat” and taking risks?
4. Where do you feel God is leading you to get out of the boat now? What might keep you in the boat or cause you to sink?
5. What needs to happen to strengthen your faith?
6. Where in your life do you need Jesus to say “It is I, don’t be afraid”?

1. Barton & others, "Life Application Bible Commentary: John"
2. MacArthur, "John – Jesus, the Word, the Messiah, the Son of God"
3. "Serendipity Study Bible for Groups"
4. “Life Application Study Bible, NIV”
5. Bible Study Fellowship International, “The Gospel of John”
6. John Ortberg, “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get out of the Boat”
7. ESV Study Bible.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Durham Rescue Mission—Saturday Suppers

It is hard to believe that within a 20 minute drive from our church campus there are people who are struggling to find a meal, but the reality is, there are many people in our own city who fight hunger on a regular basis.

We have been given the opportunity to be a part of the solution through our partnership with Durham Rescue Mission. During the months of March, April, and May we hope to be a practical part of alleviating hunger in our area by providing meals at the Good Samaritan Inn on Saturday Nights. We would like to invite your small group to be a part of it.

The Details:
Time: 4-7pm.
Actual Meal Time:5pm
Address:Good Samaritan Inn
507 E Knox Street
Durham, NC 27703Contact:
Rodney McClain 688-9641 Ext 5025
Number of people: You should prepare enough food to feed about 35 people.

Next Steps:
1. Talk to your group and select a date that many of you can help.
2. Contact Pam McKerring at to make sure that date is available. You may want to assign a member of the group to coordinate the meal and take the lead on communication for this project.
3. Start planning your meal. Coordinate within your group to provide the meal, drinks and dessert.
4. The Monday before your night to serve contact Rodney at the number above to verify the number of people who will be eating. Add your group members to the total so you know how many to cook for.
5. Arrive by 4pm the night you are serving and help get everything ready to go for dinner at 5pm.

Durham Rescue Mission Suggests you provide a main course 2 sides and a bread. They also eagerly welcome dessert and drinks. Here are some meal suggestions:

Main Course:
Sloppy Joes
Taco Bar

Green beans
Baked beans
Potato Salad
Cucumber Salad
French Fries
Bakes Potatoes
Cole Slaw
Pasta Salad
Fresh Fruit
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes

Fruit Salad
Ice Cream

Groups have done this meal sharing differently, and it has always worked out. One group did chicken casserole and every family made a pan. This resulted in a variety of different casseroles and the ladies loved the variety. Another group designated portions of their meal to group members. Some did dessert, some did the meat, some did the sides. Group members who couldn’t be at the mission that night took their portion to a group member who could the night before. This also worked out well.

Things to note:
1. Cameras are welcome, but please respect the ladies and their kids. Ask their permission and if they prefer you don’t take a picture please don’t.
2. Paper products are not necessary, they have a fully stocked industrial kitchen, but if you group doesn’t want to wash dishes you can opt for paper instead.
3. Some women will be hesitant to initiate conversation with the men, but will eagerly talk if the men take the first steps.

Please contact Pam McKerring if you have questions or need further guidance. Conversation starters, meal planning help and suggestions for overcoming hurdles can be found on the Group Leader Resource Site.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

John 5:1-18

Link to text: John 5:1-18

Crushed Ice
1. When you are sick, what are you like? Oscar the Grouch? Superman? Rip Van Winkle?

v. 1-6
1. Describe what it must be like to suffer with a problem or illness for 38 years? What sort of outlook would someone like that have?
2. Why did Jesus have compassion for this man?
3. In what ways does the suffering man represent all of humanity?
4. Why does Jesus ask him, “Do you want to get well?” How is this question relevant for anyone suffering with a problem or issue?
5. What did the man hope Jesus might do?
6. Describe a time when you would have (or know someone who would have) said “Yes” or “No” in response to the question Jesus asked.

v. 7-11
7. What was the man’s response to Jesus’ question? How does that compare to the types of answers or excuses we give when we have problems?
8. Jesus tells him do 3 three things: “Get up,” “pick up your mat,” and “walk.” Discuss the relevance of each in a physical restoration (ie. physical healing), emotional restoration, and a spiritual restoration?
9. Right away the man meets opposition (v 10). Again, how is this relevant to physical, emotional, and spiritual restoration?
10. Why does God allow opposition into our lives when we are trying to do the right thing?
11. What is the Sabbath and for whose benefit is it? (see Exodus 20:8; Isaiah 58:13-14; Mark 2:27)
12. Was the man really breaking the Commandment about keeping the Sabbath when he was carrying his mat?
13. Why was the Jewish interpretation more specific and legalistic than what the Bible actually says?

v. 12-15
14. The man admits he did not know who had healed him. Why did Jesus not reveal himself to the man and instead “slip away into the crowd?”
15. The man had faith even though he did not fully have a complete knowledge of Jesus. What can we learn from that as we consider faith in Jesus or know others who are considering faith?
16. What can you infer in knowing that Jesus found the man?
17. Why was Jesus looking for the man?
18. What can you assume in knowing that Jesus found him at the temple?
19. When Jesus told the man, “Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you,” was he threatening him?
20. How do you think the leaders responded to the healed man’s testimony (v 15)?

v. 16-18
21. Seven times Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Why would he do that if he knew he would get in trouble with the Jews?
22. Was Jesus violating the law by healing on the Sabbath? If so, how can Jesus get away with that and still claim he fulfilled the law and didn’t sin?
23. What is the “work” Jesus refers to that he and his Father are doing? (v. 17)
24. When you boil down all the 10 Commandments, what is the summary? (Luke 10:27)

Bottom Line Point(s):
1. New faith does not require a complete knowledge of Jesus.
2. Steps to active restoration: Start. Take responsibility for what is yours. Move forward.
3. The Sabbath is not a legalistic rule to please God, but a loving commandment designed to help you honor your own well-being, your family, and God.
4. Sabbath: Uncluttered time and space to distance ourselves from the frenzy of our own activities so we can see what God has been and is doing. If we do not quit work for one day a week we take ourselves far too seriously. Sabbath-keeping: Quieting the internal noise so we hear the still small voice of our Lord. Removing the distractions of pride so we discern the presence of Christ. -- EUGENE PETERSON

How can you apply what you’ve learned here?
1. What ailments (physical or spiritual) do you need Jesus to treat in your life? Are you trying to be “healed” without Christ? What responsibility are you willing to carry to prove your willingness?
2. If Jesus were to drop in on you today, what would he ask you?
a. “Do you want to get well?”
b. “What are you doing with your life?”
c. “Are you satisfied with your life?”
d. “Are you looking for the real thing?”
e. “When will you quit complaining and be content?”
3. Do you have Jesus’ compassion so that you deliberately seek out lonely, helpless, suffering people and offer his healing to them?
4. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.
5. What are some ways you can observe a day of rest in keeping with the spirit of God’s commandment?
6. Whether you are the person with a problem, or are in a position to help someone, the first step is to take action.
7. On the Sabbath, ask yourself: “When I work, am I working for God? When I rest, am I resting for God? Does my resting refresh me for work? How does my time of rest include devotion to God? How well do I understand that one person’s work is another person’s rest?” (example: gardening)

1. Barton & others, "Life Application Bible Commentary: John"
2. MacArthur, "John – Jesus, the Word, the Messiah, the Son of God"
3. "Serendipity Study Bible for Groups"
4. “Life Application Study Bible, NIV”
5. Bible Study Fellowship International, “The Gospel of John”

Monday, February 16, 2009

John 4:1-42

Link to text: John 4:1-42

Crushed Ice
1. When you were growing up, what part of the city or country were you told to avoid? What would have happened if you would have gone there?

v. 1-6
1. Why did Jesus leave Judea and head towards Galilee?
2. What is significant about going through (or avoiding) Samaria? Why did the Jews avoid this area?
3. The woman visited the well at noon which was an unconventional time of day to draw well water. Why did she go then?v. 7-10
4. Why did Jesus ask for a drink of water?
5. Why was the woman surprised that he asked her for a drink?
6. What did Jesus mean by “living water”?v. 11-15
7. The woman was talking about physical water, but this could represent anything that we seek physically to satisfy a need. What types of “water” do we use to quench our “thirsts” these days, and how long does that satisfaction last?
8. What was the “water” that Jesus offers us and how can we get that?
9. What does the “spring of water welling up” mean?
10. What was the woman thinking in v. 15?v 16-18
11. Jesus appears to change the subject when he asks about her husband, but what is he really doing in bringing up her love life?
12. What do you think the woman thought after she realized Jesus knew her history (v. 18)v 19-26
13. Now the woman appears to change the subject to “where to worship.” Why?
14. How does “you worship what you do not know” apply to many religious people today? (v 22)
15. What did Jesus mean when he said “salvation is from the Jews?” (v 22)
16. What is Jesus saying about where to worship? (see 1 Corinthians 3:16)
17. What does it mean to worship in “spirit and truth”?v 27-42
18. The woman leaves the scene and her jar and goes to town and tells people about Jesus, many of whom believed in him. What are some overall lessons of this story?
a. about how to have a conversation with someone we might want to help spiritually?
b. about how the woman left her jar (both literally and symbolically)? (v 28)
c. about who can be an effective witness with regard to knowledge? with regard to reputation?
19. Compare/contrast the interaction with the woman at the well with that of Nicodemus.

Bottom Line Point(s):
1. Jesus offers us living water which will quench our spiritual thirst.
2. Jesus can work through anyone to spread his message.

How can you apply what you’ve learned here?
1. What are you thirsting for in life right now?

1. Barton & others, "Life Application Bible Commentary: John"
2. MacArthur, "John – Jesus, the Word, the Messiah, the Son of God"
3. "Serendipity Study Bible for Groups"
4. “Life Application Study Bible, NIV”
5. Bible Study Fellowship International, “The Gospel of John”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

John 3:1-21

Link to text: John 3:1-21

Crushed Ice
1. What interesting stories have you heard about your birth?

1. To see all the Nicodemus sightings, check out John 19:39-40, then work backwards, to 7:50-52, then to John 3. For each passage, what relationship does it seem Nicodemus has in relation to Jesus?
2. Why did Nicodemus come at night? (v 2, v 19-20)
3. What is your understanding of “kingdom of God”? (v 3)
4. Compare/contrast citizenship in a world’s kingdom versus the kingdom of God.
5. What is the significance, if any, of the difference in v 1:12-13 (“..born of God”) and 3:5 (“…born of water and the Spirit”)
6. What does it mean that “spirit gives birth to spirit” (v 6)?
7. What does Jesus have to do with Moses’ snake? (v 14, Numbers 21:5-9) What are the parallels in the Old Testament scene in the dessert and what Jesus is talking about here?
8. What point is Jesus making in comparing spiritual birth to the wind? (ie. What is wind like?)
9. How does Jesus account for Nicodemus’ lack of understanding?
10. Compare/contrast a newborn baby to a newborn Christian.
11. What does Jesus claim about himself in v 13-15?
12. From v 16-18, what stands out to you about God? About what he wants to do? About how a person is condemned? How will belief show itself (v 15-21)?
13. How is Jesus’ use of the words “born again” similar to and different from the way it is used today?
14. How would you define “born again” in your own words?
15. What is “eternal life”? (v 16)
16. Why did God send Jesus into the world? (v 17)
17. What does “believe in him” mean? (v 16, 17)
18. Before talking to Jesus, what was Nicodemus’ likely understanding of who would see the kingdom of God? Who does Jesus say has the opportunity to see the kingdom of God?
19. What are the practical truths in v 19-21? Ie. Are there real world examples of this?
20. Given the other two passages about Nicodemus later in the New Testament, what practical insights do you gather regarding evangelism?
21. If there are other ways to see the kingdom of God, then is Jesus lying?

Bottom Line Point(s):
1. God loved. God gave. We believe. We receive.
2. Faith is a journey.

How can you apply what you’ve learned here?
1. Live in the light – above reproach.
2. Don’t rush pre-Christians.
3. Believe in Jesus and you will be born again, and will see the kingdom of God.

1. Barton & others, "Life Application Bible Commentary: John"
2. MacArthur, "John – Jesus, the Word, the Messiah, the Son of God"
3. "Serendipity Study Bible for Groups"
4. “Life Application Study Bible, NIV”
5. Mears, “What the Bible is All About – Bible Handbook”
6. Bible Study Fellowship International, “The Gospel of John”
7. Grudem, “Systematic Theology”

Sunday, January 4, 2009

John 1:1-18

Link to text: John 1:1-18

Crushed Ice
1. What was your nickname growing up? How did you get that name? Did it stick?

1. Take a look at the first few verses of the other gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and contrast to how John begins.
2. Compare to beginning of Genesis. Which sounds like it came first, chronologically, John 1:1 or Genesis 1:1? Or were they simultaneous?
3. Why did John write his book and why did he start differently than the other gospels and similar to Genesis? (hint 1: John was written a generation after the other gospels, after many false teachers had denied Jesus was the Son of God)(hint 2: John 20:31)
4. Just reading verses 1-5, what or who is “the Word”? What can you conclude about “the Word” in v 1-5?
5. Who or what fails to comprehend the light? Why? (v5, 10-11)
6. John the Baptist (not John the disciple, & author) is mentioned in v. 6. What was his purpose?
7. How does being “born of God” relate to or differ from being “born of natural descent” in v. 12-13?
8. Read v 14 in the context of v 1-5. What or who is “the Word”?
9. Read v 17 in the context of v 14, and v 1-5. What or who is “the Word”?
10. Read Colossians 1:15-17. What additional information do you find in Col 1:16 that you do not find in John 1:3?
11. Read Genesis 1:26 in the context of this passage. Who is “us” and “our” referring to?
12. Sometimes “the Word” is used to describe the Bible. Is that the intent here? What is the Bible about?
13. Respond to the C.S. Lewis excerpt below. Do you agree or disagree?

Bottom Line Point(s):
1. As the Word, the Son of God - Jesus Christ, fully conveys and communicates God.

How can you apply what you’ve learned here?
1. If you want to know God – know Jesus.

From “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis…
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I am ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

1. Barton & others, "Life Application Bible Commentary: John"
2. MacArthur, "John – Jesus, the Word, the Messiah, the Son of God"
3. "Serendipity Study Bible for Groups"
4. “Life Application Study Bible, NIV”
5. Mears, “What the Bible is All About – Bible Handbook”
6. Bible Study Fellowship International, “The Gospel of John”
7. C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity”
8. Grudem, “Systematic Theology”