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).
We find this reaction several times in the Advent story: “When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and overcome with fear” (verse 12). Zechariah’s fear made it hard for him to find hope in the angel’s “good news” (verse 19). Yet the angel’s first words were, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah” (verse 13). “Don’t be afraid” is the most common command God and God’s messengers give in the Bible. This Advent season, in what part(s) of life do you most need to take in the message, “Do not be afraid”?
Genesis said 25 years passed after God promised Abraham that he would make him a great nation until the birth of the son who was the first link in making that promise real. Are there divine promises you are waiting for, because they aren’t happening right now? Can you live with hope that, in the end, God’s promises will prove true (even if differently than you can picture now), as they did for Sarah, Abraham, Zechariah and Elizabeth?
“Against all expectations, if there is a hero in Samson’s story, it is Samson’s wise and faithful mother, whose name we do not even know.”* Have you known, and perhaps had your life changed for the better, by “heroes” whose names only a small circle of people around them will ever know? Samson grew up with great physical strength, but severe inner weakness. What kinds of spiritual exercises help you build your inner strength?
Even before Jesus’ was born, Elizabeth became the first person to call him “Lord”: “Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (verse 43) (Later, the gospels also recorded that women were the first people to witness and proclaim Jesus' resurrection.) What first led you to call Jesus “Lord”? In what ways does calling Jesus “Lord” involve giving up the right to live your life any way you please? In what ways has choosing Jesus as your Lord changed your life, and brought a different, more durable kind of hope into it?
* J. Clinton McCann, study note on Judges 13:1-25 in The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible. HarperSanFrancisco, 2005, p. 366.
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