This week's Small Group Guide is composed of questions from this week's GPS Guide. The questions relate to the Scripture for that particular day. You can download the full week's GPS as a printable document for the context of each question below (in the printable version, the recommended small group questions are marked with a special bullet point.)
Most Roman, Greek and Canaanite religions offered gifts and sacrifices to try to reconcile their angry, demanding god or gods to them. But Paul said that was backward. We were the alienated ones. God came in Jesus actively seeking to draw us back into the circle of heaven’s love. Are you reconciled with God? Are you open for God to work through you to reconcile others–sharing the good news of freedom in Christ?
Scholar William Barclay said Paul’s word for reaching out “is used of a racer going hard for the tape. It describes him with eyes for nothing but the goal. It describes the man who is going flat out for the finish.”* In 2020, how can you live your life in such a way that you, too, are going flat out for the goal of living the life God calls you to? What choices can you make in this New Year that will empower you to run God’s race with eyes for nothing but the prize?
Our culture tells us to “stand on your own two feet.” The title “little flock” bore a different message: “The flock can also be an image of vulnerability. Thus we find the disciples called a ‘little flock’ that needs to be commanded to ‘fear not’ (Lk 12:32)…. As a… metaphor, the flock is an apt picture of the combined people of God under his care.”** How easy or hard do you find it to trust God’s care for you more than your own efforts? Are you okay with being part of God’s “flock,” not just a free-standing individual?
John particularly related the idea that God IS love to a human fear of punishment. To what extent did your upbringing, or your adult experiences with church, teach you to see God as angry, eager to punish you for even a nit-picking failure? What is helping you to change that inner picture, so that you can live 2020 in the light of God’s love, rather than in fear of punishment?
* William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, p. 67.
** Article “Flock” in Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III, general editors, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998, p. 293.
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