2.17 – Messy Beginnings
Acts 16:11-35, Philippians 1:1-6
TALK IT OUT
1. In this week’s message, we learned that the church at Philippi began in an unlikely place, with unlikely people, under unfavorable circumstances. Give some examples of other churches or ministries you know of whose beginnings may have appeared less than promising.
2. Read Acts 16:19-25. What are some of the things Paul and Silas experienced at the hands of those who opposed their message? How did they respond? What does their response teach us about how we should behave when we are treated unfairly by unbelievers?
3. In his book Deep & Wide, Andy Stanley talks about the importance of churches learning to embrace the messiness of extending grace and truth to those who do not know Jesus: “If the idea of embracing the mess is uncomfortable for you, remember this: Either you were a mess, are a mess, or are one dumb decision away from becoming a mess. And when you were your messiest version of you, you weren’t looking for a policy, were you? You needed somebody to take you just as you were. That’s what Jesus did for me. That’s what Jesus did and will do for you. That being the case, it seems to me that’s what we should be about as the local church.” Now read Acts 16:16-18 and 16:26-34. In what ways did Paul and Silas embrace the messiness of the people they encountered in Philippi? What attitudes or preconceived notions about people tend to make you hesitant to embrace the messiness of those you encounter?
4. Read Philippians 1:3-5. For what does Paul express joy in these verses? What are some of the benefits of partnering with others in the gospel?
Read Philippians 1:6. What encouragement does this verse provide for you personally? For your family? For our church?
LIVE IT OUT
1. In this week’s message, we learned that God is not put off by the messiness of life. Take a few moments to confess to Him any prejudices or fears that tend to keep you from embracing the messiness in the lives of those you encounter. Ask Him to help you value and see people from His perspective.
2. In this week’s message, we also learned that God does not leave messy people or things the way He finds them. Ask God to open your heart to respond to what He wants to do in your life and to trust Him to carry that through to completion.
2.24 – In The Meantime
Philippians 1:3-11, 29; 4:13-14
TALK IT OUT
1. Read Philippians 1:3-6. What does Paul refer to as a completion date in this passage? Why is this deadline important?
2. Read Philippians 1:9-11. In these verses, what does Paul pray would happen in the lives of these believers? According to this passage, as our knowledge and insight of God and His ways increase, what should also be increasing as a result?
3. Give an example of how your knowledge of God has increased in the past 6 months. Give an example of how your love for others has increased in the past 6 months. If you can’t honestly say that you have noticed an increase in these areas, what are some steps you can begin to take to change that?
4. Read Philippians 1:10 again. In this verse, Paul indicates that growing in knowledge and love will enable us to discern what is best in life. Describe an experience in which you settled for less than God’s best. How did that affect you? How did that affect other people in your sphere of influence?
5. Read Philippians 4:13-14. In these verses, Paul states that even though he is content and satisfied in Christ, it is still a good thing that others are sharing in his troubles. Describe a time when it was beneficial for you to have others share in your troubles.
LIVE IT OUT
1. In what ways would you like to grow in your knowledge of God this year? In what ways would you like to see your love for others increase this year? Write down one step you will begin taking this week to start achieving these goals.
2. Ask God to help you be more alert and sensitive to those around you who may be suffering. Think of something practical you can do to help and support them during this time.
3.10 – Humility
TALK IT OUT
1. Read Psalm 10:4. In this week’s sermon, Pastor Rusty quoted C.S. Lewis and Augustine, essentially stating that pride is the starting point of all sin. In light of this verse, would you agree with their assessment? Why or why not?
2. Read Luke 12:16-21. How many times does the man in this parable refer to himself? How many times does he refer to other people? Unfortunately, our natural human tendencies usually lean in the same direction as those described in this parable. Now read Philippians 2:3-4. In what ways does Paul challenge us to think and act differently than that?
3. Read Proverbs 13:10a and Philippians 2:5-6. Pastor Rusty noted that there is a direct correlation between the intensity of a personal conflict and the amount of personal pride on display in that conflict. In other words, the greater the need of one or both parties to appear right, smarter, better, etc., the greater the likelihood the conflict will heat up and persist. Describe a personal conflict in which you were involved that escalated to a high-intensity level. What could you have done differently to help prevent that?
4. Pride obviously causes us to act inappropriately towards others, but it is also hazardous to our own well-being. Read Proverbs 11:2, 16:18 and 29:23. In what ways do we hurt ourselves by walking in pride?
5. Read Philippians 2:5-8. Paul states that Jesus is the model of humility. According to this passage, in what ways did Jesus humble Himself? Give some other examples from the gospels of how Jesus demonstrated humility in His interactions with people.
LIVE IT OUT
1. Name two things you can do to help make your conversations more “others” centered this week. Ask God to help you apply those things consistently as you interact with people.
2. Years ago, “What would Jesus do?” became a popular expression to remind believers that Jesus is our model in every situation. Try asking yourself that question this week on a daily basis regarding your relationships.
3.17 – Ugly Religion
Philippians 3:1-9, Galatians 2:20
TALK IT OUT
1. Some people have said that Jesus came to establish the religion of Christianity. In light of this week’s message, would you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
2. Read Philippians 3:1-6. Pastor Rusty noted that religion typically leads us to one of two places: pride or defeat. Explain why this is true.
3. Read Philippians 3:4-6 again and then Philippians 3:7-9. In these verses, Paul starts out by listing several things that would have earned him a high level of prestige in the religious circles of his day. How does he compare these to the value of knowing Jesus? Would you say the same thing about your own life? Why or why not?
4. It is possible to know a lot of facts about someone without actually knowing them personally. Give an example of someone you know a lot about but have never met. Would you say you really know Jesus or do you simply know things about Jesus? How can you tell the difference?
5. Read Galatians 2:20. According to this passage, what is the primary reason why we can have confidence in God and place our faith in Him?
LIVE IT OUT
1. Take a few minutes to think about your relationship with Jesus. Would you say it is more strongly based on what you do or on what He has already done? Are there any adjustments you need to make to help make your relationship more faith-based than works-based?
2. List several things Jesus has done for you. Think about the impact those things have had on your life and take a few moments to express your gratitude to Him.