BEFORE YOU GATHER

  • Familiarize yourself with this Group Discussion Guide
  • If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon
  • Read John 16 (also: John 17:13, John 18:1-5; James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:2)
  • 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 you to share during your Group’s time together.

 

GROUP DISCUSSION

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.

Pray that each person present would feel comfortable to share and be open with one another, and that the Holy Spirit would use each other’s journeys of pain, hope, and joy would be an encouragement to the group as individuals and as a group. Pray for unity in the Holy Spirit.

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)
This weekend’s message came from John 16:16-22. If everyone has a Bible, let’s go there together.

  • (See John 16:20) Relief is one of the more powerful feelings we can experience in life. However, Jesus promised that He would turn grief into joy, not relief. How does it strike you to know that our focus must shift away from relief and towards joy?
  • Has there been a time when you have experienced joy, either in the midst of pain, or through pain that eventually turned into joy?  
  • (See John 15:5; John 16:33) Last week, we learned about remaining (staying/abiding/living) in Christ. Have there been times in your life when, in the midst of trouble, Jesus taught you how to remain in him? Did Jesus also give you joy as you remained in him?
  • Pastor Steve talked about having joy in the midst of the sprints and marathons of our lives. How do you relate to this imagery? Do you have a story about experiencing Christ’s joy in the midst of a spring or a marathon time of your life?
  • (See Hebrews 12:2) How can having a “Finish Line Mentality” and “Resurrection Mindset” change how we see our circumstances, even if our circumstances don’t change? What are some practical ways to cultivate this outlook, in our own lives and as a group?
  • (See Hebrews 12:2) The joy set before Jesus was YOU. If I am Jesus’ joy, then he can be MY joy. How would you finish this sentence: “For the joy (that is Jesus) set before me, I will endure __________”?
  • How will living in the joy of the Lord impact other people in our lives – in our homes, our families, our workplace, our neighborhoods and community?

 

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 with God in prayer.

Pray that the Holy Spirit would help us to remain in Jesus daily, frequently throughout the day. Pray that as we endure relationships and circumstances that are painful and confusing, God would fill our hearts and minds with the Resurrection Mindset of JOY. Pray that we would encourage each other to choose joy through the sprints and the marathons we are enduring.

 

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 Fasting. Here are some examples of how to implement this spiritual habit of Jesus into our everyday lives.

We are at the close of our season of Lent, as we quickly now approach Resurrection Weekend. If you have been observing Lent by either actively doing something or by denying yourself of something, finish strong! You are almost there! If you have not been observing Lent, it is not too late to join in, even in these last few days.

Bill Gaultiere summarizes the purpose of observing Lent like this: “It’s a time to focus on turning away from sin and to Christ, our Savior and Lord.”

Paul said, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… I want to know Christ… becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11).

How do we do follow Paul’s example? Paul answers, “Train yourself to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7). We train ourselves by practicing the spiritual habits that Jesus himself practiced.

Lent is a great time to experiment with a spiritual discipline that draws us closer to Christ. A “discipline” is like running drills for basketball or soccer. In the middle of it, it can feel like drudgery, but it’s what trains us to live with delight and dedication as we follow Jesus!

It’s a surprise to many people but the season of Lent is meant to joyful. As we’ve been reminded this week, “For the joy set before him Jesus endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Jesus taught us to look our best when we’re fasting, not because we’d be miserable and should pretend to be happy! He knew from personal experience that fasting creates space for us to feast on the Life of God! (Matt. 6:16-18)

During this final week of Lent, here are some additional ideas to keep you near Jesus and his work on the Cross:

  • Imagine the Cross of Christ and his empty Tomb. Keep picturing these scenes, as if they’re open windows in your mind. Pray, “Thank you Lord Jesus for your Cross… Thank you that the tomb is empty…” Meditate on the virtues of Christ’s sacrifice and the abundant, everlasting Life that he offers to us.
  • Read through Isaiah 53, John 18 & 19. Sit with these harsh truths of what Christ did for you.
  • Sit in anticipation that the Resurrection is NEAR, and so is our time to celebrate and rejoice that death has been defeated! Joy is coming! Read and re-read Isaiah 43:19:  For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in a dry wasteland.