In his sermon, Pastor Jeremy began with the acknowledgement that each of us (including him) are in need of the following truth...
We enjoy communion with God not because of our perfection but because of Jesus.
Do you believe this? What does this truth mean to you? What would your life, emotional health, relationships look like if the statement were put in the world’s terms, that they fail to enjoy communion with God (or whatever a person worships, because of their imperfection?
Holiness is what we’re called to, but it is absolutely unattainable on our own, because we don’t start as holy. In fact, we wouldn’t even know what true holiness is if we didn’t have God’s revelation of himself to us. If it seems like this topic comes up a lot in our conversations together, it’s because it is a main theme in scripture. The Lord providing for the sanctification of His people so they can be in relationship with Him.
Now, on the virtue of integrity, or the lack thereof, read the account of Peter’s promise to Jesus in Matthew 26:30-35, and subsequent denial of him in Matthew 26:69-75
What does it mean to live a life of integrity? What is the opposite of this?
Often the promises we break are relatively small. To say we’ll do something and then ‘forget’ or to make a commitment knowing full well we can’t follow through. Pastor Jeremy noted though that we should be a people of commitment. When we knowingly break a commitment we’ve made, what does that actually say about what we’re placing our hope in? Like we discussed last week, our actions say so much about who we believe we are, what God has done, and who He is. (Follow the chart from last week.)
So how was Peter restored? Maybe a better way to explore this is to ask what Jesus did to restore Peter (and us)? Because anytime we fail to trust the work of Jesus for our salvation in big and small ways, we break faith with Him just as Peter did.
Look at these passages and promises. Discuss the effect of each promise on your faith and life...
So it is clear, we have been saved from separation from God because of our sin nature, but we have also be saved FOR something spectacular… Mission!
Jesus said in John 14:15 and then effectively commanded and commissioned us all in Matt. 28:18-20.
So the demonstration of our integrity as Christians then is directly related to keeping our commitment to being missionaries each and every day! How can we live this out this very week in practical (proclaiming and serving) ways? Friends, neighbours, co-workers, our children? How can we hold each other accountable in this?
As our series on sin, the struggle, and the solution continues, Pastor Brennan spoke of the sin of greed.
As you begin to dive into your discussion this week, launch off with reading through the account of Jesus conversation with the rich young ruler from Matt. 19:16-30
Together, discuss this rich young ruler. Who do you think he was and what motivated him?
Why did he ask Jesus about “what good deed” he must do? And why did Jesus respond the way he did, by saying only God is good and that there is no such thing as a good deed the way the man implies? (Hint: Isaiah 64:6) Most importantly, what was the object of this young ruler’s greed?
This next question is written to test your conviction and condemnation of the rich young ruler (love of stuff above Jesus, and love of moral perfection over relationship with Jesus). This should not be a question we answer quickly. And certainly, freedom is found in confession and not denial.
In his sermon Pastor Brennan discussed the 2 sides to greed. First, accumulating. Second, hording.
What are you greedy with, and why?
This was the diagram Pastor Brennan talked about in the service. Our sin-broken hearts tell us that we are only worth what we do. Walk through this together and explore what your actions tell you about who you believe God is. Remember, sin tells us that we’re the centre, the origin point, and that we do in order to become. Then that requires God to act because of who we are. This then dictates who God in fact is.
The Bible however tells us a different story.
Scripture forces us to first consider who God is, and because of who he is, he does. It is what God has done that establishes who we are (before we were ever even created according to Eph. 1:3-4.
Now walk through this together.
The last thing to do now is compare what it is you say you believe about God to what you said about your area of greed (although you can apply this to any and all areas of life). While we say that God is sovereign, what do our actions reveal about our true beliefs?
One of the most difficult parts of the for established Christians is confessing our greed of time and comfort which is challenged by Jesus’ call to evangelize and make disciples. If God is holy and sovereign, and he sent Jesus to atone for us, and our identity is established as his children and disciples, then we are sent by the Holy Spirit to go and be missionaries for him!
Encourage each other in this!
Sin is a distortion and dislocation of our affection, which should be placed on God, but sin is when we put this on something else.
In light of this, how would you define pride?
Read the account of Nebuchadnezzar's dream. Pastor Jeremy asked, could we possibly be as troubled as the king from this story? Daniel 4:19-27
From our perspective, it’s easy to see what the king was prideful about, and what he should do to avoid disaster, it’s right there in verse 27.
But what about us? How do you read yourself into this account of the fall caused by pride? Pastor Jeremy noted that we really are the product of our environment, genetics, circumstances, etc. That we didn’t choose any of these things, and can do very little to affect our own origin story. So is there an area where you feel you have enough control in your life to claim a position, victory, program, advantage, donation, relationship, etc. as the product of your personal exertion?
Read the next part of the story, verses 28-33
Was this fair? Did the king deserve this level of severity? Why to you think God chose to deal with Nebuchadnezzar like this? Do you think God would be justified in allowing you to walk this same course?
These are the two ugly sides of pride.
The one side says that we deserve what good we have, that it is us who has earned it.
The other side produces a victim mentality. That we don’t deserve the suffering we have, that we have earned only good things and that suffering is unjust.
Which side of pride do you find yourself most naturally and regularly feeling?
Now take some time to share the gospel with each other. The gospel is the one and only true antidote to pride. Our Sunday school walk through the TULIP acronym of Reformed theology is incredibly helpful to us in combating the sin of pride.
We are born Totally depraved. Deserving no good thing and capable of no good thing.
God Unconditionally elected us because of his free choice. There was nothing that we did do, will do, or can do to incline him toward ourselves. Therefore, there is nothing we can boast in. Remember, if we have free will and we chose God, then we can boast in that. The root of boasting is pride. This is why Paul writes in Ephesians 2:4-10, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
How does this pride crushing good news deepen your love of God (heart, soul, strength, and mind) and your love of your neighbours?
In this, the first week of our series, “Sin, the Struggle, and the Solution”, spend some time talking about what your first reaction to the series title was. I was told that when the sign for this was going up outside the church last Tuesday, two boys from the highschool who were walking by read it and yelled that they are gay.
When you first heard this, what did you think and feel? (Were there some specific circumstances brought to mind, or a feeling of dread, or worry about being made to feel guilty?)
Pastor Jeremy said that our problem with sin is actually our denial of it. How do you understand this? Do you agree with the statement?
Read Jeremiah 2:1-13 together.
The main motivation behind sin is a denial of the awe of God. Where do you see this in the passage from Jeremiah? What two things did it lead the people of Israel to do? (v13) Why was this so bad that God would name these things individually?
How does Paul talk about this very same thing in Romans 1:18-23
What is the solution to all this? How can we reverse things such as broken denying the source of living water, making broken cisterns, and worshipping what is created?
How did Jesus accomplish this reversal? In other words, how is Jesus the hope we need?
How will you explain all this to your unbelieving neighbour who is struggling with the effects of sin in his or her life? How will you point them a path to hope and wholeness? Preach this to each other.
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Do you have the Thanksgiving tradition, to converse around the dinner table and each say something you’re thankful for from the past year? Take some time to do this as a group. What is something you’re thankful for from the past year? How do you see that God was involved?
Our sign committee (Caroline Wiens, Gayle Frame, and Verna Guenther) put this message on the church sign last week… “Being thankful is not for a day, it’s a lifestyle.”
What do you think this means?
If it’s true that being thankful is not for a day but it’s a lifestyle… then the follow up question should be, “why”? Why should it be a lifestyle? On Thanksgiving Sunday, Pastor Jeremy talked about thanksgiving in the language of mission. Read Psalm 67 together, then get into answering the “why”.
Pastor Jeremy discussed 4 elements to this passage.
Walk through Psalm 67 with these in mind. How does the Psalm give body to each point? How do these together answer the question implied by our sign committee… WHY should thanksgiving not be just a day but a lifestyle for a Christian?
This week Pastor Matt opened God’s word to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in order to turn our attention to the importance of intergenerational relationships in our church family. Read this together as you begin.
If you feel comfortable, share two brief stories with your group. First, what is something those older than you would say about you, or a story they would love to tell about you?
What is a story those younger than you would love to share about your life? These are better if they’re embarrassing!
In raising children who love the Lord, Pastor Matt called our attention to 4 things. He noted that these four things were listed as the major factors contributing to children continuing to walk with the Lord through their teen and young adult years.
These four elements were:
Take some time to talk through these four points from a different perspective though… not as parents of specific children, but as parents to those in God’s family who are children.
Pastor Matt suggested 7 ways to continue building intergenerational relationships. He called these “practical ideas for a sticky church”:
For each point, how could you pursue this better individually, and as a group?
Also, take some time to just list some of the intergenerational points of connection, service, and programing you are aware of at Ness. (Hint, Sundays count!)
What is the point of all this? A good passage to read to close your discussion is Psalm 145 in its entirety.
How does a healthy church community proclaim the good news of Jesus?
This Sunday was the final piece in our series on the high priestly prayer of Jesus from John 17.
Pastor Jeremy pointed our attention to the difference which often exists between what we desire, and what is good for us. We've all walked through this personally, and certainly with our children if we're parents.
Share an experience which highlights this from your own life.
When you consider heaven, what do you picture?
What did you picture of heaven when you were a kid?
What changed your expectations?
Are streets of gold and a mansion enough to change you actions here and now? What about perfect relational harmony? Perhaps
Pastor Jeremy paraphrased John Owen when he said “For a change to take place, what you love must change.” He suggested that it is in contemplating Christ that this change begins to happen in us. In what ways do you contemplate Christ? How have you been changed by him? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in this?
Read 2 Cor. 3:12-18 for a window into this process.
Here are 5 Truths about love.
How have you felt a longing toward each of these things?
How do you understand and feel Christ is the only one able to fulfill these longings? Keep in mind, understanding and feeling something are different. We understand with our mind, we feel with our emotions. Should we need to wait for heaven to be able to experience real change?
September 23, 2019
This past week we witnessed the Baptisms of seven people. It was incredible to hear what God has done in and through each life to bring them to the point of baptism.
This week reflect on your stories. We had started this last week and just wanted to give appropriate time for everyone. If everyone has shared already, this week is an excellent opportunity to talk about your own baptism.
When were you baptized? Why did you choose that time? What were the factors in your life at the time that led you to choose baptism? What did baptism mean to you then? Has your understanding of it grown over the years? Has your baptism served as a milestone for your faith, an event for you to look back on and reflect?
For further discussion, look at these passages on baptism together if you have time. For each, consider your own understanding and motivation in baptism. What can you learn from these verses? How does each passage glorify God? (Definition: God’s Glory is his holiness made manifest.)
1 Corinthians 12:13
1 Peter 3:18-22
The Theme of Water as an instrument of purification:
2 Kings 5:1-19
How do you reconcile the theme of purification with your own baptism?
Does contemplating God’s purpose in water judgement, purification and obedience in baptism lead you to deep worship? This is not easy to understand, but it is worth it!
Timothy Brindle writes (or more accurately, raps);
“Saving us from the lake of fire, Yahweh Jehovah
Who was baptized in the Jordan River
A redemptive historic picture of his death for the sinner
The dove descended on him, this is fact Christian
Mark 10:38 he called his death a baptism
'Cause the only way he's saving us from hell
Is to be baptized by wrath and to take it on himself
The point I bring is that upon the anointed King
End time judgment fell for all who are joined to him
Plus the reason I discuss this
Is 'cause the Bible says the flood's a preview of the final judgment
Just as Egyptians were cast into the sea
The wicked will be in the lake with gnashing of teeth
Thus your baptism is a water judgment
That's either pointing to all that God the Son did
Or to fall away and to disregard your sonship
Means your baptism points to your awful punishment”
Well it’s been many months since we posted to sermon questions. The main reason for this is because our sermon questions are actually intended to be used as the main course of discussion in the Ness Baptist Life Groups which meet mid-week. Every Monday afternoon we will be posting 3 to 4 questions intended to take the sermon deeper through discussion with each other.
The mission of our Life Groups at Ness is a 3 fold progression.
First, to Disciple Up. This means that we are in this together, being formed by God’s word The Bible, and discovering it’s truth in the context of Christian community. Together we are growing to submit every area of life to the lordship and presence of Jesus Christ. To be a Christian is to be formed by Christ each day in the mess of real life, not just in an idyllic, disconnected, bubble. We need God’s word and each other for this to happen.
Second, to Reach Out. If we are growing to submit every area of life to the lordship and presence of Jesus, then it should show. It should show in our relationships with each other, in how we love our neighbours, and how we connect with our larger community. We should regularly and honestly ask ourselves this question: If I were to disappear tomorrow, would my neighbours care? Would my neighbourhood notice? Would my city be different? Are we open to having new people in the group each week… a byproduct of actually reaching out!
Third, to Send Forth. Once we have reached our and made a difference together, how do we commission others in our Life Group to go and start something new? Are there any among you who feel called to lead a Life Group? What is our path as leaders toward replacing ourselves? We want to disciple people up, so that they will reach out, so we can then send them forth, and start the whole thing over again… but new!
This week, take turns sharing your faith story. Get to know each other! If you know this about each other already, do a deep review of your summer and talk about how God has worked in you and through you since May.
If you still have time, talk through the three points of our mission which are written above. What do you think of these? Does your group exist for these reasons? If so, how to you see these (disciple, reach, send) expressed? How can you as a group express them better? Where do we see these imperatives at work in Scripture?
Our Podcast can be found on: