1. It is believed that James was the first New Testament work in wide circulation, around 45-48 AD. What was going on with the church around that time?
2. According to James, what should our response, or attitude be when we meet trying circumstances? Why?
3. How should we approach God in our trials? What should we ask for? Should we pray for a comfortable and happy life?
4. What does it mean to be double minded and unstable?
5. The sermon concluded by insisting that in trial we should be: (1) God facing (2) God inviting and (3) community embracing. Describe what that looks like.
1. Why did Paul give thanks for the Ephesian church? How does this compare with what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40?
2. What did Paul pray for the Ephesians? Do you regularly pray the same for yourself and others?
3. Who has the riches? What are they? How do they compare to worldly gain and status?
4. How do we draw on these riches?
5. What do you find are your biggest distractions in life?
6. What does it mean to surrender all to Jesus Christ? What do you find difficult to surrender or struggle with?
1. Have you ever received an inheritance? What was that like for you?
2. If you have time this week, google “Adoption in Ancient Rome.” When we study Scripture, it is often important for us to consider how the original audience might have been hearing and thinking. What would “adoption” mean for them back then? How did many emperors become Emperor? Why would the fact that women are adopted “as sons of God” have been radical back then?
3. What is Truth? How do we respond to this truth? Why is saying or thinking there is no absolute truth self-defeating?
4. Can you define how “hope” is used in the Bible? Why is this hope important for how we live now?
5. God’s glory is the root, or basis, of our hope. How does our salvation and inheritance show God’s glory? How does the Holy Spirit assure and minister to us?
6. How does truth, hope and future glory motivate and affect us to praise, worship and serve God?
1. We all have plans. Have your plans always worked out? Have you ever dreamed and planned only to find, once realized, it wasn’t what you expected?
2. What is God’s purpose and plan outlined in the passage? To what or whom does His purpose and plan point to? Can it be derailed or thwarted?
3. What does it mean to be “in Christ?”
4. How does God’s sovereignty and human responsibility work together? Give some examples from scripture. If God foreordains and predestines, then why are humans accountable to God?
5. We are called to be “Christ like.” Describe Christ.
6. Why can we strive and work together in confidence?
1. We were made for praise and worship. What was Paul emphasizing in his praise in Ephesians 1:1-14?
2. What does “blessed” mean here as Paul uses it, and generally as used throughout scripture?
3. Being found “in Christ” has entailments. What does it mean to be “legally” united to Christ? What does it mean to be “vitally” united to Christ?
4. Pastor Jeremy gave us a word picture of Redemption in his sermon. Can you define redemption in your own words? When the listeners back in Paul’s day heard “redemption,” what would have been in their minds? What does redemption mean for us?
5. Since we are “adopted as sons” into God’s family, what does that mean for us? (Think in terms of access, inheritance and security.)
6. In your own words, what is predestination or election? Give examples of election from the Old Testament. Why is the fact that God predestines or elects comforting? Does this preclude us from spreading the Gospel? (See Acts 18:5-11.)
7. Being found in Christ and richly blessed by God should inevitably result in……..? (Reflect on Paul’s life.)
1. How are the terms “light” and “dark” used in the Bible? Do you find the world a dark place? How?
2. Our culture says all humans are basically good and we have light within us. We just need to search and find that light, then resolve to live by it. Do you think that is true? Why or why not?
3. Where does the Bible say light comes from? And joy?
4. In Luke, describe how Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary and John respond in joy. Would their circumstances be described as joyous to the outside world?
5. The sermon described 4 ways we can pursue and attain joy. Discuss each one.
1. Has anything unexpected ever happened to you whereby you saw the reason or blessing only afterwards? What were your initial first responses to the circumstances?
2. In Luke 1:26-38, what “unexpected” things or challenges particularly stand out to you, or resonate with you? If everyone back then had had a better understanding of the Old Testament, should the circumstances of Jesus’ birth and the nature of his ministry really have been surprising?
3. How can our human wisdom and expectations hinder or blind us from seeing God at work or moving?
4. What do we require to submit to God’s purposes and plans? Why do we find this so difficult at times?
5. When the unexpected nature of Christ’s ministry to Israel came to an unexpected end, how were the apostles and disciples assured of who Jesus was and God’s purposes and plans? How do we have the same assurance?
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