BEFORE YOU GATHER
Prepare for Your Group: (10-90 minutes)
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Discussion Guide
- If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon
- Read John 11:1-44
- Get a feel for the Book of John as a whole by WATCHING THIS VIDEO
- Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and then ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything that he wants to do during your Group’s time together.
Opening Prayer: (1-5 minutes)
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of how your Group can invite God into your time together.
Spend about 3-4 minutes in quiet reflection about your week so far. In silence, ask God to bless this time of study and community. At the end of the time of silence, designate someone to pray for your group’s time together.
Quick Connection: (5 minutes)
Have everyone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend’s message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say “Pass.”
Large Group Discussion: (30 minutes)
(Note for Group Leaders) There are more questions than you will likely have time to get through. Choose the questions that resonate the most deeply with you and your Group.
This weekend’s message came from John 11:1-44. If everyone has a Bible, let’s go there together.
- (Read Verse 3) Mary and Martha know how much Jesus their rabbi cares for their brother Lazarus, and their natural assumption was that Jesus would drop everything and come visit when he heard that Lazarus was gravely ill. And yet, Jesus doesn’t come right away to heal Lazarus. Have you ever assumed or imagined that God would work or intervene in a certain way, only to be surprised that God didn’t do what you expected Him to? What were you expecting Him to do?
- In John 11, we see the personality differences between Mary and her sister Martha, and how they cope with their profound disappointment. Martha stays busy, taking care of everyone else and even running out to confront Jesus when He arrives. Conversely, Mary seems overwhelmed with her grief and remains in the house until Jesus asks for her by name. When it comes to your own disappointment with God, do you relate more to Martha or Mary?
- This weekend, Pastor Steve Madsen taught us that we should never misinterpret our suffering. However, it’s difficult to believe that our suffering is not God’s judgment or anger. When you heard Pastor Steve say this, did it trigger any memories from the past – a time when you found yourself in a period of suffering, and you were wondering if God was angry at you or punishing you?
- We are so familiar with some Scriptures that we tend to skip past or not fully digest them. Read John 3:16 as a group, and then spend 2-3 minutes reflecting on it silently. Now imagine Mary, Martha and their friends reading something like this in the midst of their suffering and grief. What do you think it would be like to see their pain and loss through the lens of God’s love, the love that John 3:16 describes?
- Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence of what we hope for, the assurance of what we do not see.” Martha trusted Jesus, even beyond what she could understand about who He was, and what He was telling her about death and her brother Lazarus (verses 23-26). When have you had to trust God’s take on reality more than your own?
- Pastor Steve said, “if God did everything we wanted Him to, He wouldn’t be God. And if we didn’t have to wait for His answers, our faith would forever remain immature.” Have you ever thought about the maturing work that your faith may be going through as a result of difficulty or adversity?
CLOSING PRAYER (5-15 minutes):
In light of what God is saying through this week’s message, here’s some suggestions of what your Group could talk about in prayer with God.
As a group, pray that everyone’s faith would continue to develop and mature as a result of the season of life God is bringing you through. Throughout the week, be intentional with checking in on the people that you’ve been praying for.
PRACTICING THE WAY OF JESUS
A disciple of Jesus is a learner, a student, an apprentice, a practitioner – even if they are only a beginner. As disciples, we don’t just profess certain views about what we believe, but as we grow in our understanding of what it means to live as citizens of God’s Kingdom, we find ways to practice the way of Jesus in every aspect of our lives here on earth.
All month long, we are practicing the way of Jesus through observing Lent. Here is an example of how to implement the spiritual habit of fasting into our everyday lives.
We often approach fasting as a way to focus on Jesus so that He can reprioritize our physical hunger and thirst. That’s a great way to understand fasting, but have you ever thought about the economic effect that your fasting can have on you, and on those in your life?
As you contemplate how you’re going to fast, think about the alternate ways you can spend the resources that you would’ve spent on food or drink. Are there ways that you can intentionally reroute the things that you have in order to bless others?
- If you’ve committed to giving up coffee for Lent, calculate how much you would spend on coffee in the span of 40 days. (This alone might be a convicting process!) How can you use that money to support a charity or an initiative that you believe in, such as one that provides clean water for disadvantaged areas of the world?
- If you’re fasting one meal a day, think about who in your area could use that meal, and consider blessing people around you (such as the homeless or the working poor) with much-needed food.
- Take the hour you would’ve spent eating, and find an intentional way to use that hour to bless other people who are in need. Could you volunteer at a local shelter or a charity, so that your extra time is used to enrich the lives of others?
Through your intentionality during Lent, may you begin to see real, tangible results – not just in your walk with Jesus – but in how you serve and relate to others!