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.)
Scholar John Goldingay said, “Providing the people with a song that they will be able to sing one day is another way of inviting them to live in hope. …they’re virtually praising God for fulfilling his promises before the fulfillment happens. Wherever they are, they’re invited to see that they have come this far by faith and can continue in hope, not because their faith or hope is big but because the God they trust and hope in is big.”* How do you maintain your trust and hope in our big God at times of disappointment, sadness and loss?
Our culture tends to teach us to think, “I earned all this money and these possessions, so I can do anything I want with them.” Jesus' story suggested that God has asked us to care for some of what God truly owns (not us)—cf. also Deuteronomy 8:12-18. How easy or hard do you find it to make the inner shift from “I OWN all this” to “I’m a steward to whom God has entrusted these things to use for God’s purposes”? How can faithful stewardship produce joy?
Pastor John Ortberg wrote about this story, “Jesus was very frank in his diagnosis. He doesn’t say the man was evil or wicked. He just calls him a fool. Why does Jesus use this harsh word? The man did not deliberately set out… to defy God…. He just devoted his life to the wrong things.”** What different choices do you believe the rich man in Jesus' parable could have made to be “rich toward God”? Are you making those kinds of choices?
The teachings of the apostles and the power of the Holy Spirit moved the first Christians to share their possessions, setting aside their own gain to bless others. That spirit made their lives joyous, not miserable—“they shared food with gladness.” How does your readiness to find joy in sharing with others reflect God’s impact on your life? How do you respond inwardly to being part of a congregation that specifically and intentionally exists to reach beyond our walls, to reach, serve and uplift our neighbors and our communities?
* John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015, p. 53.
** John Ortberg, When the Game Is Over, It all Goes Back in the Box. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007, pp. 25-26. (This book is worth your time if you haven’t thought seriously about what God asked the rich farmer in Jesus' story.)
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