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.)
The mountain in Mark 6 likely wasn’t where Jesus usually prayed, but when his inner and outer needs called for prayer, he found a place. When can you find a solitary place? Where are you most likely to remain undisturbed? At what time of day are you most alert and focused? These factors can help make your time with God more fruitful. As you plan your alone time with God this week, reflect on what you can do to choose the most helpful setting(s).
We tend to relate to Jesus first in terms of what we know best. How did the Roman centurion draw on his military experience to express his trust in Jesus' power? How did Jesus' response to that foreign military officer point ahead to a church that welcomed Gentiles and Jews as equals before God (e.g. Galatians 3:28-29)? Which of your life experiences help you better grasp and trust God’s power?
Scholar William Barclay wrote, “The peace which the world offers us is the peace of escape, the peace which comes from the avoidance of trouble and from refusing to face things. The peace which Jesus offers us is the peace of conquest. No experience of life can ever take it from us and no sorrow, no danger, no suffering can ever make it less. It is independent of outward circumstances.”* What things most often trigger anxiety in you? How can you incorporate Paul’s wisdom about taking those things to God in prayer more fully into your daily life?
Jesus shrank, not just from the physical pain of the cross, but from the spiritual ordeal he faced. The apostle Paul wrote that Jesus carried the spiritual burden of sin (alienation from God) in our place (2 Corinthians 5:21). How can you trust your heavenly abba even in the face of darkness, as Jesus did? What challenges in your life have left you “deeply distressed and troubled”? Did others tell you (or did you tell yourself) that you should be “stronger,” that you shouldn’t feel what you felt? How does Jesus’ experience in the Garden show that it takes greater inner strength to honestly face and express your feelings in times of anguish than to deny them? When you face the unbearable, are you learning to trust and say, as Jesus did, “Not my will but yours be done”?
* William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John—Volume 2, Chapters 8–21, (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 171.
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