This message series will help us stay focused and call us deeper into His Life and Love. Join us as we spend the next few weeks exploring the beauty and sometimes difficult invitation to transformation.

DISCUSSION GUIDES

One Faithful Yes (John 20:19-22)

By Hard Sayings of Jesus

1. Read John 20:19-22. Do you feel like this call is for the disciples or missionaries, or for you as well? Why or why not?
2. When you think of living a sent life, what thoughts or emotions does it invoke?
3. What fears do you have in living a sent life where you live, work, play or even to the ends of the earth?
4. What do you think about when you read Sanctuary’s purpose statement talking about “faithfully proclaiming the gospel”?
5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 incarnationally. How does it resonate with you?
6. Read Isaiah 6:1-10. Are you more likely to respond to God out of your identity in Him, or your fears or self-worth, or something else?
7. Who is someone that comes to mind who has said “Yes!” to God, and there faithful yes led to countless other faithful yeses?
8. Where or to whom might God be calling you to respond with a faithful yes today?
9. How might God be inviting you to engage with one of Sanctuary’s Partners or short term mission trip teams?

Reconciliation (Matt 5:23-24)

By Hard Sayings of Jesus

1. Read Matthew 5.23-24 incarnationally. Where do you find yourself in this text?
2. Of all the Hard Sayings of Jesus, which is most difficult for you to live out? Why?
3. How do you see this text and Matthew 5.43-48 work together?
4. What’s the desire of Jesus in calling for us to love our enemies, and engaging those who we may hurt?
5. Bertrand Russell said the teaching of Jesus is “too difficult for most of us to practice.” If someone said the teaching of Matthew 5.23-24 is too difficult how would you respond? How have you practiced this Truth in your own life?
6. How does believing and practicing these Hard Sayings inform the process of transformation?
7. Dallas Willard says, “He does not call us to do what He did, but to be as He was, permeated with love.” How does this statement encourage you to move away from behavior management? What’s an area in your life where you are experiencing this kind of change?
8. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.” Describe a time when you compassionately “reprimanded” another? What was the outcome?
9. Read Matthew 5.21-22. What’s the primary point of this teaching? John Piper says, “despising your brother threatens to cut you off from God forever?” Is Piper correct? If so what’s the implication of this truth?
10. When was the last time you were hurt by a brother or sister in the Body of Christ? How did reconciliation happen? How did that situation bring about deeper transformation in you?
11. When was the last time you hurt another brother or sister in the Body of Christ? How did reconciliation happen? How did that situation bring about deeper transformation in you?
12. The temptation is to never fully engage these areas of conflict. In so doing, we live with open wounds and cannot grow. How important is following Jesus’ will and His way in this area of life? What’s the greatest challenge in doing this?
13. Read Ephesians 4.26-27. How is this teaching a part of your everyday, ordinary life? Give a specific example from your life of “giving the devil a foothold.”
14. Jesus gives us order in purpose. He says “Go and then come.” This may seem counter-intuitive. Yet the order here is imperative. Why is the order so important in honoring God with our relationships and our worship?
15. Read Romans 12.18. Is it possible to live at “peace with everyone?” What do we do we people who refuse to live at peace with us? How far do we take this teaching?
16. Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest summarizes this process. Read, reflect and respond.

“First be reconciled to your brother….” Our Lord’s directive is simple— “First be reconciled….” He says, in effect, “Go back the way you came— the way indicated to you by the conviction given to you at the altar; have an attitude in your mind and soul toward the person who has something against you that makes reconciliation as natural as breathing.” Jesus does not mention the other person— He says for you to go. It is not a matter of your rights. The true mark of the saint is that he can waive his own rights and obey the Lord Jesus.
“…and then come and offer your gift.” The process of reconciliation is clearly marked. First, we have the heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, then the sudden restraint by the sensitivity of the Holy Spirit, and then we are stopped at the point of our conviction. This is followed by obedience to the Word of God, which builds an attitude or state of mind that places no blame on the one with whom you have been in the wrong. And, finally, there is the glad, simple, unhindered offering of your gift to God.”
17. Read Matthew 18.15-17. Jesus gives us a clear pathway in how practically to pursue reconciliation. Describe a time when you participated in this kind of reconciliation. What as the outcome?
18. The Psalmist writes,
“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139.23-24

Spend a few moments in prayer. Allow the Spirit to bring to mind anyone that may have a grudge against you. Allow the Spirit to bring to mind an enemy that you may not be loving. Pray through the following prompts if helpful.

Prayer:
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
I surrender myself to You.
I surrender my desire for security and survival.
I surrender my desire for approval and affection.
I surrender my desire for power and control.
I surrender my desire to change (any situation, person, event, feeling, or emotion).
I pray not for what I want, but for what You know I need.
I pray for courage to follow You as You lead me in the everlasting way.

May it begin in me. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus.
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Love Your Enemy (Matt 5:43-48)

By Hard Sayings of Jesus

1. Read Matthew 5.43-47 incarnatioanlly. Where do you find yourself in this text?
2. What’s the hardest part of what Jesus is saying?
3. How did Jesus define love? How are you growing into living in and living out His definition of love? Give examples.
4. In the text, Jesus quotes the Old Testament teaching. How does it encourage you to hear Jesus quote Scripture? How does it validate the Truth of the Old Testament?
5. Jesus makes six, “But I tell you” statements. Of the six, which one is most encouraging and which is most challenging?
6. Who was your first enemy? How did that relationship resolve? What if any scars are still lingering from that relationship.
7. In the original Greek Jesus defines an enemy this way, “An enemy; someone openly hostile (at enmity), animated by deep-seated hatred. Implies irreconcilable hostility, proceeding out of a “personal” hatred bent on inflicting harm, a person resolved to inflict harm.” In your own words and experience, define “enemy.”
8. Who is your enemy? Who is Jesus asking you to pray for?
9. Have you ever heard the term “frenemy”? It’s defined this way, “a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry.”
10. Who is your frenemy? How do you manage the tension in that relationship? What’s the level of deception in this kind of relationship? How dangerous and deceitful is this kind of relationship? How is God calling you to engage this tension, even now?
11. Give an everyday, ordinary example of this truth: “Love includes emotion as well as action.”
12. Eugene Peterson once wrote that before we can love our enemies, we have to pray our hatred. What’s at the root of your hatred?
13. How does Jesus pray for His enemies?
14. The text ends this way, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” What is Jesus calling us to here? Describe the temptation to strive for perfection. How does the invitation to transformation release all expectation and pressure for sinless perfection?
15. Read and reflect on Romans 5.9-11; Hebrews 12.1-3.
16. What is one way we can begin to love your enemies, and those who persecute you? Who will join you in that step?
17. Give God praise for His unfailing love.

Depart From Me, I Never Knew You (Matt 7:21-23)

By Hard Sayings of Jesus

1. Read Matthew 7.21-23 incarnatioanlly. Where do you find yourself in this text?
2. This sermon series has been entitled “The Hard Sayings of Jesus.” How does this text cause you to think a better title might be, “The Scary Sayings of Jesus?”
3. What is Jesus saying here? Is Jesus actually saying there will be people who don’t go to heaven?
4. There are times when Jesus speaks in metaphor or parables. This is not one of those times. How does this teaching shape/reshape your beliefs about Jesus or eternity?
5. Read Matthew 7.15-19. In what ways have you encountered a “false prophet?” What does Jesus say is the criteria for knowing if a prophet is a “true” prophet vs. “false.”
6. Consider the good work God is doing in your life, what fruit is He currently producing in you? How are others around you experiencing that fruit?
7. Describe a season where you felt barren. A season where little or no fruit was being produced. Can you identify a reason why that season was fruitless? Does good behavior always equate to fruit bearing? What does Scripture say about how and when spiritual fruit is produced? Who initiates that fruit bearing?
8. Read Matthew 7.13-14. What is the narrow road that Jesus describes? How do you know if you are walking on the narrow road vs. the wide road? What indicators would help you understand the path you are on?
9. How does religion often lead to a road of “pleasing God?” Describe what it is like to walk down the road of “Trusting God.” How challenging is it for you to walk down the road of “Trusting God”? What’s the greatest temptation in walking down the road of “Pleasing God.”
10. Have you ever been in a season where you questioned your salvation? What took you to that question, how did the question get resolved?
11. Read 2 Corinthians 5.21 and answer the following questions.
Who is righteous?
Based on what?
Based on what whose done?
12. Read and reflect on the quote from Judah Smith.
“God is not intimated by sin. He is in control, and the blood of His Son has canceled and conquered the power of sin forever for all who simply believe. When we find that place of just trusting God and realize we are righteous permanently and our past, present future sins are forgiven, all of a sudden there is contagiousness. We discover things like self-control and morality and purity—these things we’ve strived for our whole life that don’t come by discipline but come by a real trust in the person of Jesus.”
13. Today, are you putting more faith in your sin, or in your Savior?
14. Read Galatians 4.8-11. How does this passage encourage you?
15. How does God reward those who are generous? Are those who are not generous punished?
16. Where are you most tempted to “drift” or “slide back” into slavery?
17. What is the most personal way God is making Himself known to you today?

Do Not Store Up Treasures on Earth (Matt 6:19-24)

By Hard Sayings of Jesus, Uncategorized

1. Read Matthew 6.19-24 incarnationally. Where do you find yourself in this text?
2. How important is it to you to know that Jesus teaches us how to really live? Many people in the world believe that Jesus came to teach how to die, and He did, but His desire was for us to really live. How does this text encourage you to really live?
3. What would the people closest to you say you treasure?
4. One sociologist recently characterized our culture this way: “We are the most in debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in US history…” Do you believe this is statement is true? Why or why not? How might this statement be true of you?
5. Where are you seeking fulfillment and provision from the world rather than God?
6. Read Acts 4.32-37. In what ways does this text encourage you? How does it challenge? Of all the things that are happening in this church, which would be the most challenging for you? Be specific.
7. Read and reflect on the following statements. Note how each encourages you. “Joy means the perfect fulfillment of that for which I was created and regenerated.” Oswald Chambers “Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.” Randy Alcorn
8. What is in your “box of treasures”? Why are those items that you particularly treasure?
9. Jesus says that we will be rewarded when we pray. What rewards will there be for those who pray? How have you experienced these rewards in your own life?
10. What does God treasure? What is God’s treasure? In what ways do you sense He treasures you?
11. Read 2 Peter 1.9-10 How do you see these verses as livable reality in our world today?
12. God treasures unity and discipleship, and generosity, and lots of other qualities. What does He not treasure? What breaks His heart?
13. The 20 Something’s said, “We treasure not being a burden to someone else, even when we are burdened, especially in the church.” What’s your first response to that statement. When and how have you held on to false treasures?
14. Read 1 Timothy 6.7-10, 17-19. Note the practical implications of this text.
15. How does God reward those who are generous? Are those who are not generous punished?
16. What’s your greatest struggle in being content?
17. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” We believe this as Truth. Describe a season where you tried to do both, serve God and money. What was the outcome of that season?
18. Read and reflect on the statement from D.A. Carson. “Attempts at divided loyalty betray, not a partial commitment to discipleship, but a deep-seated commitment to idolatry.”
19. Read Luke 12.16-21. In what ways do you see this as a “Hard Saying of Jesus”.
20. What/who do you treasure? How might you take one step today toward treasuring what God treasures?

Don’t Be Anxious (Matthew 6:25-34)

By Hard Sayings of Jesus
1. Read Matthew 6.25-34 incarnationally. Where do you find yourself in the text?
2. This study is called “The Hard Sayings of Jesus.” Which do you find more difficult to live out, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6.53) or, “Do not worry.” (Matthew 5.25) Why? Be specific. 
 
3. What’s the motivation behind Jesus teaching us to live life without worry? What does He want from you in teaching you to live this way? 
 
4. Is worrying a sin? If so, how so? If worrying is not a sin, why would Jesus care if we lived this way?
 
5. Describe a time when you were paralyzed by worry. How did it resolve? 
 
6. Sometimes anxiety can be more of an inward battle than outsiders realize. Anxiety might be “a crushing enemy for you.” If this is you, have you ever been made to feel like if you just had more faith you’d be fine? Is anxiety something that happens because of a lack of faith? 
 
7. Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” (6.25) Describe the importance of the first word of the statement, “Therefore.” 
 
8. In the message, Craig said he is most tempted to worry when human approval is threatened, or security is threatened. When are you most prone to worry, or when do you worry?
 
9. How do you resist the temptation to believe that Christians shouldn’t face trouble or persecution or suffering? 
 
10. Some people believe that what they are dealing with is reason to worry. How would Jesus engage that person? How could you engage a person in this space? 
 
11. Read and reflect on the following passages. 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4.6-7

 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4.8

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8.38-39

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14.27

12. Of these four passages which speak most personally to you? Why? How can you move from making these words “God’s Word” to fully integrating them into the core of your being? What would it require of you to fully live out this Truth as Jesus intends?
13. Peace is the settled conviction at the core of your being that ultimately, all things are in God’s hands and, therefore, all things will be well and, therefore you can live free of burden, worry, and fear. What would life look like free from burden and worry and fear? Is it possible to live this way? Where will you begin? 
14. In the message, we heard this story of John Ortberg and Dallas Willard. John Ortberg said, “Many years ago, I faced a time of really deep worry and sadness. The details are not all mine to tell, but it was a situation of gut level, raw pain that involved my family and those I love most, my life ministry calling in ways that I could not ever see being redeemed.  I was not suicidal, but I remember thinking, “If my life were to end today, I’d be kind of relieved not to be in this pain. I wouldn’t mind at all.” I was seeing a counselor. I was on antidepressants to be able to keep functioning. I told one or two of the people closest to me about the situation, and they expressed really deep empathy. “It must be so hard. We will pray.”  Then I decided I would tell Dallas Willard. He was kind of a spiritual mentor of mine. I laid out the whole situation, and I waited over the phone for the words of sympathy I knew would come. I waited for him to say, “I feel your pain. How hard this must be!” He didn’t say anything like that. There was a long pause and then 11 words: “This will be a test of your joyful confidence in God.” “Well, good luck with that, Dallas. Why don’t we have a test of your joyful confidence in God?” He was exactly right. That’s exactly what it was. I lived with that sentence (no kidding) for dozens of times a day. Thousands of times I thought about that, and it went on for months. 
Where do you find yourself in that story? Besides you, who else knows where you are in your story?
15. Take a moment and read and pray the Serenity Prayer.
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.”
16. Jesus said, “Give us today our daily bread.” He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow has enough troubles of its own.” Jesus calls us to live in the present. He calls us to live in the perpetual now. Worry comes when we live in the past or look to the future. Contentment with Christ is always a present reality. What’s one step you could live in the present with that which causes you to worry?
17. Peter said, Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5.7)
Let’s live out God’s Word. Cast all your anxiety on Him.

 

Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood (John 6:53-59)

By Hard Sayings of Jesus
1. Read John 6.53-59 incarnationally. Where do you find yourself in this text?
2. This new study is called “The Hard Sayings of Jesus.” Of all that Jesus said or did, what’s the hardest saying for you to believe, receive, and really live?
3. On Sunday the Global Church celebrates Epiphany. What’s the historical significance of Epiphany? What do days or seasons like this mean to you? How do these kinds of days or seasons encourage you or challenge you? How can you fully embrace this season of Epiphany?
4. What is Jesus saying when He instructs us: “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (53)
5. Jesus uses the word “remain” or “abide” in verse 56. What is He saying here?
6. What is the life Jesus is inviting His hears into? What is one specific way you sense His life being formed in you? How are you living in that life today?
7. Where in your life are you desiring a greater “Epiphany?” Where do you have a sense of deep longing? How does that longing cause you to seek more the Kingdom of God?
8. Jesus says, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” (63) What does this mean to you? How does this passage bring you encouragement?
9. Read and reflect on the words of Dallas Willard. Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, nondiscipleship costs you exactly that abundance of life Jesus said He came to bring (John 10:10). The cross-shaped yoke of Christ is, after all, an instrument of liberation and power to those who live in it with Him and learn the meekness and lowliness of heart that brings rest to the soul … The correct perspective is to see following Christ not only as the necessity it is but as the fulfillment of the highest human possibilities and as life on the highest plane. 
10. How are you experiencing “abiding peace, a life penetrated by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overarching goodness?”
11. The text continues to say that people kept turning away from Jesus because this teaching was so difficult. What made the teaching so difficult?
12. What’s the most difficult teaching of Jesus for our culture to accept?  Cite the verse and context. Why is this so hard?
13. We have a collection of “Hard Sayings of Jesus.” Do you think Jesus ever had a hard time saying any of these things? What are some examples?
14. What do those examples say about the humanity of Christ and the Dignity of Christ?
15. Jesus says to His disciples? “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Describe the vulnerability of Jesus in these words. How is He revealing His heart for connection and intimacy?
16. How do the 12 respond to Jesus? Note their response here. Write, in your own words your response to Jesus.