Sunday, January 13, 2008

New beginnings, but what is the cost?

Following is this week's small group curriculum. I prepared it to complement this weekend's sermon which laid out the vision for our church as we move forward into 2008. This is a big year for us because we have now officially merged with another large church in the Phoenix area and become one church on two campuses.

Big Idea:
You might be familiar with the saying, “for anything worth having, one must pay the price.” There is nothing worth more than Christ; nothing of greater value exists in all creation or eternity. Christ himself sums up his price with the command to “love God and love others.”

God is doing new things in his church and also in our lives. He is stretching us, moving us forward, transforming us, and taking us to new places in him. This process is exciting and eternally rewarding, but it comes with a cost. Yes, you heard it right, there is a cost associated with following Christ and being his disciple. So, what is the cost? We know the ultimate cost is everything: God demands your life, your soul, your all. This week we will discuss four specific focuses associated with the Christian walk and the cost of being a disciple of Christ.

Discussion Questions: (read the Scripture & discuss)

1. We must be courageous for Christ and go where he leads. We must have a passion to do the will of God, fulfill his purposes, and never stop short of going all the way. We must dare to dream again and to dream big.
Numbers 14:1-9 & 26-35. Why did Joshua and Caleb get to enter the Promised Land? What character qualities are rewarded by God? What qualities met with discipline? How can we apply this to our lives and our church?

2. We must selflessly serve God and his church. God has gifted us with talents and abilities so that we can be involved in doing his will and accomplishing his purposes. We cannot selfishly use these gifts only for our own good. Rather, we are called to employ our gifts for the benefit of the entire body of Christ.
1 Peter 4:10-11. Discuss the different gifts God has given you and how these gifts can be used to build up and serve others in the body of Christ. Who are we ultimately serving? How does this change the way we live and where we invest our time?

3. We must earnestly seek God and give ourselves to prayer and fasting. We need God’s grace, his guidance, and his direction in our lives. Prayer and fasting are critical spiritual disciplines that touch the heart of God and deepen our relationship with him.
Matthew 6:5-7 & 16-17. What view did Jesus have regarding prayer and fasting? Was it optional? Discuss your experiences and the outcomes you have had as a result of prayer and fasting.

4. We must live humbly before our God with pure hearts, treating one another with love, grace, and compassion. What we say to each other and how we treat each other is extremely important to God and to the health of his church.
Ephesians 4:29-32. Why should we treat each other with compassion? Why is unwholesome talk so dangerous? Give examples of how we should treat each other.

Taking Action: Spend this week praying for each other and for City of Grace. Ask God to direct you to opportunities in the body of Christ to use the gifts he has given you. Courageously step out and follow his lead.

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