Take Hold of the Life that Really is Life
The questions in this small group guide relate to the sermon from Nov. 22, 2020. If your group has not had a chance to listen to the full sermon related to this discussion guide, they can find it in our sermon library. Rev. Adam Hamilton preached this week’s sermon.
Lord Jesus, you know the circumstances of each person and family in this group. You know how this crazy, difficult year has changed things for all of us—whether in lost income, in changed working conditions, or even for some perhaps with better situations. In this Thanksgiving week, remind us that your life on this earth was not an easy one, but you made it a good and generous one. Help us find ways to see your goodness even in this hard year, and to live generously toward one another and toward you through our church. Amen.
- Based on 2 Corinthians 8:7, Pastor Adam said, “Paul praised the Corinthians for their excellence in faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness and love. Then he challenged them to see that they EXCEL IN THIS GRACE OF GIVING. It’s as if Paul were saying, ‘You do many things well, but giving should be among them.’ In essence he’s challenging us to define success differently–our success is not just how many sales we made, how many touchdowns we scored, how much money we made, or how many wins we had. He’s saying one of the measures of success in life, at being human, is excelling at giving.” Have you ever thought of generosity, of giving, as a measure of success? How does that differ from the measures of success you hear about in other settings?
- Read 2 Corinthians 8:9, 12-15. The apostle Paul’s ideal for the church was not “class warfare,” but deep-seated mutual concern and burden-sharing. What standards or guidelines do you use to decide the difference between “wants” and “needs” in choosing what to spend on yourself, and what to give? Have you ever given to an important project even though you felt that “My little gift can’t make much difference,” and then found great satisfaction at having had a part, however large or small, of a worthwhile effort?
- Read Ephesians 5:15-21. Talk about a text that seems to fit 2020—“these are evil times”! Even in such times, Ephesians recommended gratitude: “always give thanks to God the Father for everything.” Can gratitude to God be in any way “intoxicating,” even habit-forming? How might you as a group adopt practices and attitudes to help one another sense the power of gratitude, not to deny whatever challenges any of you face now or in the future, but to not let those challenges blind you to God’s gifts?
- Read Psalm 118:5-6, 28-29, Mark 14:23-26. Psalm 118 was the last hymn Hebrews sang at the end of the Passover supper, so it’s nearly certain that Jesus sang those words with the disciples they left for the garden, knowing that arrest and execution awaited him. The Psalm asked, simply yet profoundly, “The Lord is for me….What can anyone do to me?” To what extent are you able to trust that God is indeed “for” you? How much stronger is your level of trust on a sunny morning when all is going well than on a cold, gray day when you’ve received sad news? During a year full of good news, personally or globally, than during a year like 2020?
- Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Pastor Adam said, “Is that not what we really want? To take hold of the life that is really life? We so often pursue things that lead to a counterfeit life, an unsatisfying, life, sometimes even the opposite or life. I want you to take hold of the life that really is life, and we take hold of that life by doing good, being rich in good works, being generous and willing to share.”
He then told us about Jeff Hanson, the young Resurrection member who’s given away more that a million dollars raised by selling his paintings. Jeff recently had to spend 27 days in the hospital as his neurofibromatosis caused a debilitating tumor. As a group, pray for Jeff and his family.
Then the pastor told us all, “Today is the day each year when we ask those who attend Resurrection, who are positively impacted by this congregation to make a pledge to God through our church for the coming year–a pledge that is an expression of gratitude to God, and which makes possible all of the things this church does in ministry to children, youth and adults, in this community, across the country and around the world. We need your help in the year ahead, regardless of how great or small.” This year, instead of putting our pledge cards in baskets in the sanctuary, we can turn in our church pledges at www.cor.org/pledge. Remembering that no one should give due to pressure (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7), be sure each group member knows this web address so that they can turn in their pledge if they choose to do so.
Generous God, you invite us, as Paul did the Corinthians, to excel in the grace of giving. From individual acts of giving in our community to water wells blessing villages in Malawi, you show us that our generosity to you through our church changes the world. And guided by your Spirit in the process of giving we find, as those early Christians did, that we take hold of the life that really is life. Amen.