Titus 2:11-15

Leader Thoughts

This week we will be talking about the Salvation brought to us through Jesus Christ. We will highlight what should change inside of us when this gift of salvation is evident in our lives. This is a great time to really talk about some Christian words that are used a lot but it’s important that we have a good understanding of what these concepts really mean.

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I get the question from Christians a lot: “How can I know for sure that I’m saved?” So often, in fact, that I wrote a book addressing it: Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved. I wrestled with the question a lot, and I was shocked to learn how common my struggle was.

Many Christians experience their spiritual lives as a roller coaster of emotion. Some days they feel like they really understand the gospel, but other days it doesn’t sit right with them—either because of sin in their lives, or unanswered questions, or the fear that “I don’t really know Christ” ... or even because of a bad night’s rest! These believers don’t usually doubt Jesus, but they wonder if something is missing. Shouldn’t things be different? More pointedly, shouldn’t they be different?

One of the most important things to do when struggling with assurance of salvation is to surround yourself with other believers. Get in a small group (or something similar) and air your struggles. You can read book after book, but there is absolutely no substitute for sharing concerns with someone who knows you. As we often say at the Summit, “Discipleship happens in relationship.” Your Christian friends can help make the truth of the gospel personal and relevant, helping you discern the difference between a legitimate red flag and a false alarm.

Within our communities, I’ve found two truths that help reinforce the experience of assurance. These aren’t comprehensive, but if we keep these two truths in front of us, then we really can rest in what God has done to save us:

1. Don’t feel your way into your beliefs; believe your way into your feelings.

In those moments when we aren’t feeling like true Christians, it can be easy to despair. Why am I still struggling with this sin? Why does God feel so distant? What do I do with all of these doubts? If we trust our feelings as our guide, we will head for disaster. Assurance that rests on feeling might burn brightly for a while, but it can never last. Our feelings are far too fickle for that.

Feelings do not drive our faith. The fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection drives our faith. That means that feelings are the fruit of faith, not the source of it. So when your feelings waver, retreat to the stronghold of faith. Don’t feel your way into your beliefs; believe your way into your feelings.

Are you wavering in your faith? Are you unsure of your salvation? Keep believing the gospel. Keep your hand on the head of the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter how you feel at any given moment, how encouraged or discouraged you feel about your spiritual progress, how hot or cold your love for Jesus, the answer is always the same—exercise faith in the gospel.

On your very best of days, you must rest all your hopes on God’s grace to you in Christ. On your worst of days, it should be your refuge and your boast. Your posture should always be one of dependence on it.

Feelings come from assurance; they are not the basis for it. Assurance is based on the fact of Christ’s finished work; our “feelings” of being saved come from faith in that finished work.

2. Remember: Your present posture is better proof than a past memory.

Here is how many Christians think of “getting saved:” You realize you’re a sinner and you need Jesus to save you. So you approach him and ask. He says, “Yes,” writes your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and gives you a “certificate” of salvation. If you begin to doubt whether or not you are really “saved,” you go back and replay the moment of your conversion.

There are a couple problems with this. First, many people have a hard time remembering this moment, especially if they were young children. Second—and more importantly—that memory just can’t hold up to the actual experience of the Christian life. How can you be convinced you were sorry enough for your sin? Did your life change enough after that point? Did you really understand the gospel way back then? If we rely on a past memory, we’re setting ourselves up for re-dedication after re-dedication. (And I would know: I’ve got four baptisms to prove it.)

Rather than thinking of salvation like a certificate, imagine it more like sitting in a chair. When you first got saved, confessing Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you “sat down” in the chair. Later on, when you begin to doubt, you don’t need to recall the memory of sitting down. You need to just look down and see that you are currently sitting. Your present posture is better proof than a past memory.

Where are you resting the “weight” of your life? Belief is resting your weight on Christ’s finished work, and that is something you never stop doing. The way you know you are doing it now is not by remembering when you first started doing it, but by reflecting on the present posture of your
heart. So the question is not, “Can I remember praying a prayer?” or “Was my conversion experience really emotional?” The important question is, “Are you currently resting on Jesus as the payment for your sin?”

And when you do start to go back toward your sin—which we all do!—remember just how gracious and forgiving God actually is. The great men and women of faith in Scripture were not those who never sinned. (King David, for instance, slept with another man’s wife and then had him killed to cover it up. Not a good track record.) But the Bible calls these people believers because despite their repeated failures, they continued to repent and believe the gospel. As Proverbs says, “The righteous falls seven times and rises again; but the wicked stumble in times of calamity” (Proverbs 24:16).

Those who follow God aren’t immune from sin. But they continue to get up and trust in God’s grace again. As one person who met Jesus cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Are you wavering today? Do you feel your faith wearing thin? Are you unsure whether you’re even a Christian? Call out to Jesus, who hasn’t changed. Place your weight on him and say, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

- J.D. Greer

Home Group Guide

OPENING

How is everyone’s summer so far? Do you have any big plans? What was your favorite part of Summer growing up as a kid?

CONVERSATION

Say something like: Maybe some of us took for granted how fun Summer could be when we were kids. It’s easy to take for granted things that we are right in the middle of and can’t imagine anything else. Word are the same way. When we have heard or used a word so many times we can some how forget all the meaning and power of the word. Today we want to talk about some common but very important word as Christians.

Read: Titus 2: 11-15

In Verse 11 we see the word “Grace” How would you describe the word grace? What are important things for us to remember when we think about grace in our own lives?

In this verse we also see the word “salvation”. How would you describe this word to someone? What does it really mean that God would bring salvation to all people?

In the next verse we see that this grace and salvation would teach us to say no to ungodliness. How do we know what is Godly and what is not? Do you believe knowing this is confusing? Why or why not? Does our world seem to think this is confusing?

What do you believe is being talked about in verse 13 with the phrase, “We wait for the blessed hope”?

Read Romans 8:18-25
What do you believe we should learn from this passage?

How do we show the world around us of the grace that has been shown to us and the hope we have for the future? Do we do a good job of this currently?

PRAYER

Take time in your group to pray for the needs of each other with hope for the future. Pray bold prayers and believer that our God is a God that hears and delivers. Ask God to help us be people that wait on Him.

TITUS 2:1-8

Leader Thoughts

This weeks text is addressing men. Yet, the application can apply to us all. The focus for us in our small group time will be the way we conduct ourselves so that others may see God through our lives. The way we talk and the way we act effects the way people see God when they know us to be believers. Remember that our goal is not behavior modification but pointing each other to a vibrant and authentic relationship with Christ that compels and leads us to lives that look different that those around us without the Peace of God.

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Art comes in many different forms. Visit a museum or art gallery and you may see sculpture, pottery, calligraphy, and, of course, paintings. Though each of these is beautiful and valuable in its own way, the Bible commends another form of art, one that is more important and more enduring. It is a living art. Francis Schaeffer said, “No work of art is more important than the Christian’s own life, and every Christian is cared upon to be an artist in this sense. ... The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world.” No work of art is more beautiful, more precious, than a life lived for God in imitation of his Son.

In 1 Timothy 4, Paul writes to Timothy to tell him that he is responsible for making his life just such a work of art. He is to “set an example” before other Christians, and especially the ones in his local church. Though he is still young, he is to have confidence in his ability to live an exemplary life. Over the past few weeks I have been taking a deep dive into this passage, and doing so with younger Christians in mind. Having looked at what it meant for Timothy to set an example in his speech and conduct, we are now ready to consider his love.

Set an Example In Your Love

“Let no one despise you for your youth,” said Paul, “but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love...” We have already seen that speech and conduct refer to the two ways Timothy’s behavior would manifest itself externally—through his words and through his actions. Timothy was to ensure that everything he said and everything he did was worthy of imitation. Paul now begins to challenge Timothy in his inner qualities. Even in the inner man he is to be exemplary, to serve as a model of Christian virtue and maturity.

It is no surprise that love heads up Paul’s list of inner virtues, for love is the chief of all graces. As he says elsewhere, “Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love is a defining trait for a Christian: “Let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love” (1 John 4: 7- 8). Love is to mark everything we do: “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Co 16:14). But what is love? What is the love Timothy was meant to have?

If you have been around churches for any length of time, you have probably encountered the Greek word Paul uses here: agape (a-GOP-ay). You probably also know that Greek has several different words that we translate as “love,” each with its own nuance. Agape is as straightforward as they come. It refers to esteem or affection, regard or concern. Timothy was to search his heart to ensure he was concerned for the people in his church, that he desired what was best for them, that he was eager to equip and protect them, and even that he felt affection for them. His heart was to be warm, not cool. All the while he was to know that what he felt and believed internally would eventually manifest itself externally.

Love is not less than what we feel, but it is certainly more.

We need to understand that according to the Bible, love is not just a feeling or emotion but something that works itself out in action. Love is not less than what we feel, but it is certainly more. Aren’t you glad that Jesus did not only feel love for you but that he ultimately acted in love for you? His feelings would not have done us much good! The ultimate measure of love is not what you feel for others but what you do for them. Paul’s concern was not just that Timothy feel love for others, but that he act in loving ways.

Why was this something Paul needed to mention specifically? Because people are hard to love! Loving others is the kind of challenge that tests the best of men. It is a challenge because of sin—we are sinful and they are sinful, and there is always trouble when sin meets sin. Yet loving the hard-to- love is how we demonstrate our obedience to God. It is how we demonstrate our conformity to him. It is how we display Christ-like humility. Ultimately, it is how we give evidence of our salvation. The love we extend to others is the very same love God has extended to us through Christ.

Young Timothy was to be an example of Christian love, love he felt internally and love he acted externally. The special setting for his love was his local church, for it was there that he was to set an example before other believers. Timothy’s challenge has become your challenge. You, too, are called to love. You are called to love the people in your local church and to serve as a model of what it means to love them well, to love them creatively, to love them thoroughly, to love them even—especially!—if they are hard to love. They may be hard to love because they are difficult people. They may be hard to love because they are so different from you—older, younger, in a different stage of life, educated a different way, a different ethnicity. They may be hard to love because you are shy and they are bold. But the challenge remains.

Your church needs you to be an example of a Christian marked by love

Each of us has a comfort zone. Each of us has a group of people who make us comfortable and other groups that make us uncomfortable. Within the church, our love needs to extend beyond any comfort zone. Your love needs to extend beyond your comfort zone. The church is to be a community of people who love one another despite differences, who love one another through differences. It is the place where God showcases what he is doing in this world by calling all kinds of people to himself and binding them together in a spiritual family. Your church needs you to be an example of a Christian marked by love a Christian who displays inner transformation by outward actions. Your church needs you need to serve Christ by serving his people, the people he bought with his blood.

Here is a challenge: Try to begin a friendship—a real friendship—with someone in your church who is at least 10 years older than you. Try to begin a friendship with someone who is at least 10 years younger than you. Try to begin a friendship with someone who is disabled. You don’t need to do all of this today or this week, but over the coming weeks and months, see if you can form genuine friendships with people who are different from you. You will benefit, they will benefit, and God will receive the glory.

Home Group Guide

OPENING

What characteristics of masculinity do you believe our world highlight as true masculinity?

How might the characteristics of christian masculinity be different than the previous?

Say something like: Let’s look at the second chapter of Titus and specifically look at the text give to encourage the men.

CONVERSATION

Read: Titus 2: 1-8

From what we have learned so far from the book of Titus. Why do you believe these character qualities were so important for Paul to encourage these people with?

Which of these characteristics do you need to grow the most in when it comes to your own life? How can this growth take place?

Say something like: We see similar teaching in another one of Paul’s letter to Timothy. Read 1 Timothy 4:6-16

Paul encourages Timothy to set the example in speech, conduct and love. How can we be an example in speech?

How can we set an example in love?

How have you seen loving people change their own actions or thought about something? Why do you believe this is so powerful?

How can we as a home group be intentional inside the walls of Summit so that the people who walk through our doors see and experience to love and truth of Jesus? Do we personally do a good job of this?

What need to be your action steps over the next thirty days?

PRAYER

Ask the Lord to search our hearts and expose areas that don’t express His love and goodness in our lives.

Spirit & Truth

Leader Thoughts

This week we take a break from Titus to focus on worship. Specifically to focus on worshiping in Spirit and in Truth. God desires that our worship be genuine and from our soul. Because of the work of Jesus Christ we are able to worship God fully without boundaries. May we be people that worship Him with our work and the way we live our life.

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The following are some of the basic principles by which we seek to plan and practice corporate worship at High Pointe Baptist Church.

1. True worship is God-centered. We were created to worship, and we are commanded to worship God alone (Exodus 20:3-5; Revelation 22:9) in the ways that He has outlined in Scripture (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). Therefore, as we prepare our hearts for worship let’s remember that worship is about God, not us.

2. True worship is Christ-focused. Jesus Christ is the image of God, the creator, sustainer, and reconciler of creation, and the head of the church (Colossians 1:15-20). It pleased God to reveal Himself through the Son and to reconcile us to Himself through Jesus’ death. So with the disciples, we worship Jesus (John 20:28); Jesus is the focus of worship because He’s the focus of the Father’s work.

3. True worship is Spirit-empowered. The Bible makes it clear that we are born into this world as children of wrath and dead to God. However, by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:1-10), we are made alive to God and dead to sin (Romans 6:1-14). Only those who have been made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit can truly worship God; these are the true worshipers God seeks (John 4:21-24).

4. True worship is Word-based. God’s Word (the Bible) is the basis of everything we do in worship (announcements, welcome, singing, praying, preaching, etc.). Why? Because God works by His Word. He created by His Word (Genesis 1); He sustains His creation by the Word of His power (Hebrews 1:3); He came into this world as the Word (John 1:1); He saves us by the power of His Word (Romans 1:16). Preaching is the primary form of the Word in our worship because this is the model Jesus and His disciples left us (Luke 4:43; Romans 10:14-15) and because we are commanded to preach the Word until Christ returns (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

5. True worship engages both mind and heart. True worship requires that we engage God with our minds as we study His Word and seek to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. At the same time, it requires that we engage God with our hearts as the fullness of the Holy Spirit in our lives overflows and causes us to praise God in complete delight. This means that our worship will be passionate and Spirit-filled because it is based on the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what it means to worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

6. True worship is edifying. Though worship is about God and not us, true worship will build up believers in both mind and heart “until we all attain the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man” (Ephesians 4:11-13). In other words, though worship is all about God, it will benefit us and cause us to grow in our love for Him and one another, for worship has both a vertical (Godward) and a horizontal (corporate) direction.

7. True worship is more than Sunday. As believers in Christ, we are not to neglect gathering together (Hebrews 10:24-25). However, true worship is an everyday matter. We are to give our entire lives over to God as living and holy sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). That means we worship God in how we live, work and play every single day of our lives.

Home Group Guide

OPENING

When and where in your life did you feel most connected to God? What was the experience or environment that lead to this?

CONVERSATION

Read: John 4: 1-26

In a quick read of this story, what are some aspects of the story that really stand out to you?

Jesus reveals to this woman that He is the Messiah. What does it tell us about God that he would choose to reveal something so important to her?

In verse 19-20 the woman points to two locations that her people worship at and where the Jewish people would worship. Do you believe that people today can be guilty of limiting their worship to a time and place? How so?

Say something like: It’s really easy to come to a church building on a Sunday morning and worship God but then our daily lives through the week. look very different.

What would our life look like or how would it be different if we saw our work as worship?

It’s encouraging that this presence of God is not tied to a mountain or a temple in a city a long way away. God is everywhere. Are their areas of your life that we don’t recognize God in or at least choose not to worship there? (This maybe a job that we are displeased with, this maybe road rage, or simply in curtain friendship groups)

What do you believe it means that God desires worshipers to worship in Spirit and Truth? How does Jesus’ life change the way that people are able to worship God?

Say something like: It’s because of the death and resurrection of Jesus that you are I are granted access to approach God with our worship with clean hearts.

Do you believe that you worship God with that kind of freedom? Why or why not?

PRAYER

Take time and ask that God will reveal to our hearts and lead us to repentance in area that we don’t worship Him in our life. May we come before Him with freedom because of the work He has done.

TITUS 1:10-16

Leader Thoughts

This week we look at false teachers. We see the warning given and the instruction on how to handle false teachers of the word in Titus. This is extremely important for today’s world as people are able to hear far more teaching than ever before in history because of the printing press and this little thing called the internet. Let’s encourage our people to have a discussion on how we know if something is false teaching and how we protect our families from such things.

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The question is not whether you ever hear the voice of false teachers. You do — probably every day. The question is whether you can discern which messages are false.

If you watch any television, listen to any radio or podcasts, keep up on the news, or interact at depth with just about anyone in modern society, you are being exposed to some form of false teaching. If you cannot identify any voices you hear as false, it’s not because you aren’t being exposed, but because you’re falling for it in some way.

For most of church history, it took extraordinary energy and effort to influence the masses. Messages had to be copied by hand, and teachers had to travel by foot or horseback. There were no cars or airplanes, and no printing presses, websites, or Facebook pages. But today just about every false teacher has a Twitter account.

How, then, does the church discern true teachers from false ones in a world like ours, where it’s easier than ever to spread false teaching?

False Teachers Will Arise

We begin by acknowledging not just the possibility of false teaching, but the certainty of it. We should not be surprised to find false teaching in the church today. Jesus and his apostles are very clear that false teachers will arise. They promise it. As Jesus says,

“False christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” (Mark 13:22–23; see also Matthew 24:24)

Likewise, Paul warns the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:29–31) and his protégé Timothy (2 Timothy 4:3– 4) that false teaching is sure to come (also 1 Timothy 4:1 and 2 Timothy 3:1–6). If we had any doubts at this point, Peter joins the refrain to add another voice: “There will be false teachers among you” (2 Peter 2:1).

So, we should not be caught off guard that false teachers have arisen throughout church history and likely have multiplied in our day.

Watch Their Doctrine — and Lives

What we might find surprising — both from Jesus and his apostles — is how revealing the everyday lives of false teachers are about their falseness. They are not just false in their teaching, but also in their living.

Beneath their doctrinal error, however subtle and deceptive, we will find ethical compromises in tow. And those don’t usually come out overnight; they take time. But they will come. Here’s how Jesus prepares us in Matthew 7:15–20:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (see also Luke 6:43–44)

Jesus says it twice so that we won’t miss it: You will recognize them by their fruits. His warning may sound clear and simple at first, but as we all know, trees don’t bear fruit overnight. Eventually, however, the fruit (or lack thereof) will be manifest. And so it is with ethical compromise. What may begin as mere whispers in a private room will soon enough be proclaimed from the housetops (Luke 12:3). And so Paul instructs leaders not only to pay careful attention to their people and to their teaching, but also to their own lives (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 4:16).

No doubt, false teachers may be difficult to recognize in the moment. If we don’t have access to their personal lives, or their doctrinal compromises haven’t yet been manifest publicly in their behavior, we may find it difficult to know whether they are true. But time will tell. They will be known by their fruit — not the fruit of ministry quantity and numbers, but quality and endurance — and ultimately the quality of their own lives.

Allure of Money, Sex, and Power

In particular, 2 Peter 2 is remarkable in how it fleshes out Jesus’s warning about the fruit of false teaching. Peter has very little to say about compromised teaching, but he gives a litany of descriptions about compromised lives.

Verses 1 and 3 mention the generalities “destructive heresies” and “false words” — which indeed relate to teaching — but then, nothing further in this chapter focuses on their teaching. Everything else is about their lives.

We can boil it down to three essential categories — and all three are about character and conduct, not teaching:

  • ▪  Pride, or defying authority (verse 10) — verse 1: they deny “the Master who bought them” (also verses 12–13 and 18).

  • ▪  Sensuality, which typically means sexual sin — verse 2: “many will follow their sensuality” (also verses 10, 12–14, and 19).

  • ▪  Greed, for money and material gain — verse 3: “in their greed they will exploit you” (also verses 14–15).

Again and again, Peter’s descriptions relate to greed, sensuality, and pride — or money, sex, and power. What false teachers throughout history have shared in common is not the specific nature of their doctrinal error, but the inevitability of moral compromise in one of these three general areas.

Another way to see it is that their falseness comes out in sin against themselves, against others, or against God. In their greed, they fleece the flock for material gain. Or in their lust, they compromise sexually (whether fornication, adultery, or homosexuality, which 2 Peter 2 suggests). Or in their pride, they “despise authority” (2 Peter 2:10), and the greatest authority, who upholds all authorities, is God himself.

You Can’t Study All the Counterfeits

If false teaching, then, is not only about what our leaders say and write, but also how they live, how is the church to recognize and expose false teaching today? It’s easy to hear someone’s teaching online or at a large conference, but how can we know their lives are true?

The greatest defense against false teaching is a local church community that knows, enjoys, and lives the word of God — and holds its leaders accountable. Little, if anything, can be done to hold teachers accountable who are far away, but much should be realistic and actionable in the life of the local church.

Our leaders need to be held accountable, and not held in such high esteem that we give them a pass on the normal Christian life. Pastors should be with the people. Shepherds should smell like sheep, because they live and walk among the sheep, and are not sequestered from the flock. We need pastors who know themselves first and foremost as sheep, and only secondarily as leaders and teachers — pastors who are manifestly more excited to have their names written in heaven than they are to be used as vessels in mighty ministry (Luke 10:20).

Jesus Will Rescue His Church

But you know what? We can have our systems of accountability (and we should), and we can do our best to watch both the lives and the doctrine of our leaders (and we should), but in the end there is no foolproof human system or effort. This is why 2 Peter 2:9, the apex of this chapter on false teaching, serves as such a sweet assurance — “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.”

No matter how twisted the teaching, no matter how publicly shamed the church may feel over the exposé of an unethical leader, no matter how dark the days become, no matter how helpless we may feel in guarding gospel doctrine and preserving gospel-worthy lives, we have this great sustaining hope: Jesus knows how to rescue the godly.

Jesus is not only the greatest and truest teacher who ever lived, but he also is the great rescuer, who has redeemed us from sin and will keep those who are truly his from soul-destroying error. No matter how small a minority the church becomes, and no matter how fragile we feel, the very one who is both the subject of true teaching and the model of true living is also our life-and-soul-preserver.

As God preserved Noah (2 Peter 2:5) and rescued Lot (2 Peter 2:7), so the Lord Jesus will rescue his true people from the false teaching — and false living — of false teachers.

Home Group Guide

OPENING

What are some phrase or teachings that some may think come from the Bible but do not? (Example. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”)

Why can some of these phrases be harmful to the Christian faith or ourselves?

CONVERSATION

Read: Titus 1: 10-16

We see there is a warning against a group teaching wrongful doctrine, how might we identify wrong doctrine or teaching today? How do we know it’s wrong?

Read Matthew 7:15-20
What might this bad fruit look like of those teaching wrong doctrine?

Do you find the principle of good and bad fruit to be true as you look around? What examples would you give?

Do you guard yourself against false teachers? If so how? If not, do you believe you should be more careful?

Read: Titus 1:15-16
What do you believe Paul is teaching in these statements about being pure?

Say something like: One of the teachings that this circumcision group is teaching them people is that they must become a Jew first to become a Christian. They must follow all the Jewish practices and traditions. Paul is teaching that being pure only comes from God and not from traditions of man.

What do you believe the Bible teaches about how someone is “Saved”? Do we all agree on this? What fruits do you believe your life produces? What examples would you give?

*Leaders don’t miss the opportunity to share a clear Gospel message here to your group. Give them opportunities to respond to this message.

PRAYER

Take time to ask God to search our heart of doctrine and teaches that are not from him but false teachings that we have picked up. Seek repentance from these.

PSALM 103

Leader Thoughts

This week our focus is on Psalm 103. This is a beautiful Psalm that David writes. David would cry out to his own soul that it would bless the Lord. He would go on to walk through many of the reasons why one would have to give such blessing to an amazing God. This week in our home group time. Let’s walk together through all of the Psalm together and highlight a few of the reasons given.

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The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.

Psalm 103:13-14

Psalm 103 underscores our weakness, our limitations, our “dustiness,” but with good news. This psalm celebrates God’s multifaceted goodness to us. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases (103:3). He redeems us from death (103:4). He fills our lives with good things (103:5). He gives justice to the oppressed (103:6). He is “compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (103:8). God does not deal harshly with us, though we are sinners (103:10). His love for us is great and his forgiveness broad (103:11-12).

Then Psalm 103 adds, “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (103:13-14). Knowing our weakness and dustiness, God is tender and compassionate. God’s love for us means that he does not abandon us in our limitations and sins. Rather, he looks upon us like a father with his own children. And, indeed, the Father loves us so much that he sent his only Son to bear our sin and open us up to the way of wholeness.

So, even as we acknowledge our limitations, our frailty, and our sin, we celebrate the fact that God understands who we are, and that he has come in Christ to do what we could never do on our own.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How have you experienced God’s tenderness and compassion? When you think of God as your Heavenly Father, what thoughts or images come to mind?

PRAYER: How I thank you, dear Lord, for being like a father to me. Indeed, you are my Heavenly Father, the one I call “Father” through your Son.Thank you for being tender and compassionate to me, for understanding my weakness. Your goodness to me far outstrips anything I could ever imagine or deserve.Thank you for remembering that I am dust, and thus looking upon me with gentle love.As I reflect upon my need for you, help me to experience yet again how wonderful you are.Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name. Amen.

Home Group Guide

OPENING

If someone were to ask you why you worship God, what reason would you give?

SCRIPTURE

Say something like: Today we are going to look at Psalm 103 and see the reason David would give to himself why he would worship God.

Read Psalms 103

In verse 4 we read that God would crown us with love and compassion. What do you believe this means?

What can we learn about God’s forgives and love from verses 8-12?
Do you ever struggle with feeling like your sins are not forgiven? Why is that? What should we take away from verse 13-18?

APPLICATION

We see in this Psalm that David is telling his soul to bless the Lord. If we are honest there maybe some morning that we don’t “Feel” like worshiping. What should we tell ourselves when this emotion comes?

How can we grow as believers in worship? Is this something that can be learned? Where do we start?

PRAYER

Lord give us hearts that desire to praise you the way you desire. God free us from our own desires and preferences. Remind us of your goodness and love for us. Lead our hearts to yours.

CELEBRATION

Leader Thoughts

This week in the book of Esther we see the celebration of remembering that takes places because of God’s rescue of His people. We are called in many places in scripture to be people that remember what God has done. This is not only encouraging for our own souls but it can be encouraging for our families and those around us. In our groups this week we want to take a moment and remember what God has done in our lives. There will be less questions this week for more time to share and open up as a group. Here is a great blog post by John Piper that talks about remembering.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————— One of the great enemies of hope is forgetting God’s promises. Reminding is a great ministry. Peter

and Paul wrote for this reason (2 Peter 1:13; Romans 15:15).
The main reminder is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). But don’t be passive. You are responsible only for

your own ministry of reminding. And the first one in need of reminding by you is you.

The mind has this great power: It can talk to itself by way of reminder. The mind can “call to mind.” For example, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases” (Lamentations 3:21–22).

If we don’t “call to mind” what God has said about himself and about us, we languish. O how I know this from painful experience! Don’t wallow in the mire of godless messages. I mean the messages in your own head. “I can’t . . .” “She won’t . . .” “They never . . .” “It has never worked . . .”

The point is not that these are true or false. Your mind will always find a way to make them true, unless you “call to mind” something greater. God is the God of the impossible. Reasoning your way out of an impossible situation is not as effective as reminding your way out of it.

Without reminding ourselves of the greatness and grace and power and wisdom of God, we sink into brutish pessimism. “I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you” (Psalms 73:22).

The great turn from despair to hope in Psalm 77 comes with these words: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (Psalms 77:11–12).

This is the great battle of my life. I assume yours too. The battle to remind! Myself. Then others.

Home Group Guide

OPENING

What is one of your happiest memories as a child? What makes it so great for you?

SCRIPTURE

Say something like: This week we heard about the rescue of God’s people in the book of Esther. We see the celebration of Purim even celebrated today in remembering of what God has done. Today we want to take time to share stories of what God has done in our own life.

Read Deuteronomy 6: 10-15

Why do you think it’s so important that the Jewish people not forget what God has done?

Do we sometimes forget what God has done in our life? What does this look like?

APPLICATION

Would you be willing to share a story of something great that God has done in your life? Or even your own testimony of salvation?

How do we praise God for what he has done in our life? Do we do this?

PRAYER

In your prayer time together ask each person to take God for something he has done in the other peoples lives in your group. I encourage you to even be systematic and ask certain people to pray words of praise for others stories they just heard.

Children Conversation

What are three Biblical truths that you want your children to know before they leave your home? How are you teaching them these? Showing them these?

SNOW DAY

Leader Thoughts

Because our church service was canceled this last Sunday this will be a stand alone home group lesson. There is not a sermon that connects with this home group lesson so we will need to do a little more set up than normal for our group. In this home group we will explore one passage together and talk through the application for the passage in our lives. We are going to explore the parable of the sower that Jesus Teaches.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places . . . Other seed fell among thorns . . . Still other seed fell on good soil.” — Matthew 13:3–8.

Although this is often known as the parable of the sower and the seed, it can also be said this is a parable about the soil. All four types of soil are essentially the same dirt but are in different conditions and respond in different ways to cultivation.

What made one soil more responsive and the other less?

When the New Testament was written, communities were agriculturally based. A family would be appointed a section of land to farm. Every farmer’s plot was adjacent to their neighbor’s. In order to get to the fields, the farmers would walk along the boundaries bordering each field to avoid stepping on the growing plants. The “path” was held in common by all the farmers. Over time, the soil on the path would compact. It was never plowed and never fertilized. In the parable, the seed that is sown on the path is not able to penetrate the ground because of the constant use. The condition of the first soil is hard and impermeable.

The second type of soil mentioned in the parable is the “rocky” places” or the shallow soil where the plow didn’t cut deeply enough to break up the shale or hard ground just below the surface. This soil produced only plants with weak, shallow roots.

The third type of soil mentioned is the thorny soil, most likely found in the corners of the field where the plow couldn’t reach; here, weeds overtook what was planted.

All the types of soils mentioned here are actually in the same plot of ground with one major difference: Only one area was fully yielded to cultivation, to being changed and prepared for planting. That area was called the good soil.

The greatest amount of fruit produced was not determined by how rich the soil was, but how yielded to the plow it was. The soil in each condition received seed, but not all produced quality fruit.

Everyone receives seed, the Word of God. Everyone has potential for the harvest, living a fruitful life, but the ones who will produce the most fruit will be the ones most yielded to cultivation.

Application

How I apply this passage is by asking questions: Can I be “cultivated” in my life? How correctable am I? How quickly do I repent? Can I self-correct? The greater my yielding to God’s cultivation the greater the capacity of my fruitfulness in life.

Home Group Guide

OPENING

What are some of your favorite teachings or stories in scripture? Why do these stand out to you?

What are some of the more difficult teachings in scripture for you to follow? Why are these difficult for you?

SCRIPTURE

Say something like: Today we want to explore the teaching of the parable of the sower. We want to make note of the four different types of soil. Ultimately we want to examine our own heart and it’s condition to hold and grow truth.

Read: Mark 4: 1-8

  1. What are the four different types of soil?

  2. What can we see to be true about the soil on the path? What is it teaching us?

  3. What can we see to be true about the soil that is rocky? What is it teaching us?

  4. What can we see to be true about the thorny soil? What is it teaching us?

  5. What can we see to be true about the good soil? What is it teaching us?

    APPLICATION

Say something like: All of these soils are in the same area. The only difference is how well they took to cultivation.

1. Do I allow God’s word to cultivate my life?

2. Which soil does your life most currently look like? Why would you say so? How can this change if it’s not the good soil?

PRAYER

Ask God to examine our heart. Cultivate the hardness, remove the rocks and thorns. Make in us a good soil.

Esther

Leader Thoughts

For Such a Time as This

“Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief
and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” –

Esther 4:13-14

Many people quote Mordecai’s rebuke to Esther as a life-verse which is to represent prestige, power and favor. You’ll see shirts, hats, mugs and social media posts that proudly ring out, “for such a time as this.”

But few people truly connect the context of the verse with how they are using it. Esther was being scolded for her self-indulgent, self-preserving mindset. Esther was being reproofed for living large and embracing royalty over service. Through those telling words, Mordecai was reminding Esther that she had been chosen to set her own interests aside, let go of her own ambitions and face an enemy full-on. She was to risk her life and her legacy with no guarantees of a positive outcome. That’s the “for such a time as this” Esther was challenged to accept. And that’s the “for such a time as this” God also sets before you.

It is God who has given you your job, position, resources, education and more. It is God who has opened the opportunities for you to optimize for His kingdom purposes. He didn’t place you where you are so you could eat figs all day long or post pictures of yourself on social media. He’s placed you where you are because you are in the midst of a battle; a war. You are in the midst of a seismic conflict involving Good versus Evil.

To miss your kingdom assignment because you have become too caught up in your personal kingdom itself is the greatest tragedy you could ever face. An entire nation was grateful for how Esther responded to Mordecai’s rebuke. Their lives were spared. How many can be spared in the culture where we live today when we choose to step up to service, even if it involves sacrifice?

- Dr. Tony Evens

Home Group Guide

OPENING

If you had to put into a few sentences what you believe your purpose on Earth is what would you say? Has this purpose changed as you have gotten older?

SCRIPTURE

Say something like: This week we want to look at the life of Esther. Specifically, the thesis verse of maybe in whole book of Esther. “For such a time as this” is a phrase that many of you have heard if you have grown up in the church. We see the purpose that Esther was made queen by God is to help save the people. We want to examine our own life and realize that God maybe doing something in our life that may seem difficult now but has a great purpose. We can understand this purpose when we stop looking at the here and now and start to focus on above.

Read Esther Chapter 4

  1. What can we learn about Mordecai’s faith from vs. 14? Do we show this type of faith when it comes to difficult situations we face?

  2. Esther had been put into a place of influence for such a time as this. Has there been a time in your life that God had placed you in a situation that may not have made since in the moment but you can see the purpose now? Will you share this with us?

Read Colossians 3: 1-4

  1. What does it mean for us to seek things above?

  2. When we seek things above how might that change the way we see difficult situations we find ourselves in now?

APPLICATION

1. Are their situations happening in your life now that require you to put your trust in the Lord? What does that look like?

PRAYER

Spend sometime asking God to redirect our focus on heavenly things rather than Earthly things.

Children Conversation

How can we teach our children to put their faith and trust in Jesus when times are difficult? How can we model this trust in front of our children in a healthy way that may not scare them?

Wise Counsel

WISE COUNSEL

Leader Thoughts

The Importance of Seeking Wise Counsel

Sometimes people make decisions they later regret because the counsel they heeded was ungodly. It is critical that we know how to discern what is wise, biblical advice. Here are suggestions to help you detect whether or not guidance is scriptural.

1. Look for counsel that makes frequent reference to God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ.

If you need guidance but receive advice that neglects or contradicts the principles of Scripture, the best thing to do is seek input elsewhere.
2. Think twice if there is much talk but no prayer. Even with a great exchange of ideas and human wisdom, it’s essential that someone propose, “Let’s ask the Lord to give us direction.” A prudent advisor knows that prayer is a vital element in attaining the whole counsel of God.

3. Avoid any counselor who compromises Scripture by bending the standards God has set for His children. People will sometimes say things like, “Nobody’s perfect, so a tiny bit of gossip [or gambling, or a little ‘fun’] here and there won’t hurt.” Such rationalizing can quickly lead to bondage.

4. Beware of counsel that is quick to criticize the church or its spiritual leaders. An advisor who readily discredits the church because of its visible weaknesses may be someone hiding a hurtful bias. Such people may have an agenda that is quite different from the Lord’s plan and perspective.

Remember that living within each believer is the Counselor Himself (Isa. 9:6; John 14:26), and He wants to help with all our decisions. Trust Him in everything.

HOME GROUP GUIDE

OPENING

Who are the people how have made the biggest impact in your life, good and bad? What influence would you contribute to them?

SCRIPTURE

Say something like: This week on Sunday we look at how Esther took wise counsel from her cousin Mordecai. Because she took this advice she was in the right place at the right time to save herself and her people. We also see how Haman took poor counsel and it led to his destruction. In our small group we will examine what God’s word has to say about having wise counsel.

Read Psalms 1:1-6

1. In verse one we see three different postures. What can we learn from these and what to avoid?

2. What does it mean for us to delight in the Law of the Lord? Does this still hold up today? 3. What can we learn from the analogy of the tree in verse three?

Say Something like: Ultimately we understand that all wise counsel comes from God and he has given us His Holy Spirit.

Read James 3: 17-18

4. How do we know the difference between God’s voice and our own when it comes to difficult situations in life?

APPLICATION

Do you have wise counsel in your life? Do you listen to them?

Do you continue to make some of the same mistakes in your life over and over? What does this tell us about where we are seeking wisdom?

What do we do if we have people speaking into our lives that are not wise counsel?

PRAYER

Scripture tells us in James 1:5 if we ask for wisdom that God gives generously. Let’s take time to ask for wisdom in each one situation.

Children Conversation

How do we talk with our children about having friends that are good influences in their lives? How do you encourage your children to be good influences in others life?

MARRIAGE

MARRIAGE

Leader Thoughts

During this week in our home groups we are going to look at marriage. We can see some very strange marriage situations in the book of Esther. This is a great time for us to examine our own marriages and make sure we are both honoring our spouse and the Lord with these relationships. For many of you, you are not professional councilors nor do you need to be. Our focus is to love other another, point them to Jesus and help them seek wise council if that is needed in their relationship. If you find a situation arise in your home group that seems very serious please let myself or Todd know as we would love to serve as needed. Blow is a practical blog article on five phrases we should remove from our marriage.

We want to be compassionate towards our people who are not married. Please be wise in your conversations that they are inclusive.

________________________________________________________________

It seems like marriage is just another word for “endlessly learning to communicate”. Yes, there is so much more to marriage than communication, but how many marital issues would be erased or solved if we just learned to communicate in a more healthy manner? Our 10+ years have taught us that it’s not a matter of if we disagree, but when we do, how will we handle it?

In a sentence, here’s the key to healthy communication through virtually anything: both should never quit and always communicate until you reach the other side. This, of course, takes grit and dedication... and a few bits of sound wisdom on how to resolve things more healthily wouldn’t hurt either. Thus, this post.

It’s impossible to define everything everyone should or shouldn’t say in every situation. However, there are some phrases that are usually unhelpful for marriage:

5 hurtful phrases to remove from your marriage vocabulary

1: “I’m busy...”

A very new friend of mine, Tyler Ward, wrote an incredibly insightful article called, “Busy isn’t respectable anymore.” One read through and you’ll want to remove “I’m busy...” from your vocabulary for good.

But why does that matter for your marriage? As Tyler illustrates, saying “I’m busy” is often just a force of habit and usually an indication of some deeper disfunction (no, not always, but often). There’s a saying: “If you’re too busy for your spouse, you’re too busy”. That being the case, we should always make time for our spouses without relegating ourselves to simply being “busy”.

If you are actually busy, that’s fine, just articulate exactly what’s going on so your spouse may understand and support you with your tasks!

2: “You always...”

Absolute statements like “you always...” or “you never...” are something Selena and I have worked very hard to remove from our marriage. We’ve yet to fully succeed! The problem with absolute statements is that they’re never true when speaking of behavior, and they are always hurtful (there are two absolute statements you can be sure of!). Absolute statements say more about who’s saying them then they do about whom they’re directed at.

If I may be blunt, absolute statements are just plain lazy.

Example: Instead of “You never want want sex...”, consider a statement like “lately, I’ve felt like we’re not connecting intimately enough. Can we talk about what’s going on?”

By being specific and purposeful with your language, you can actually move forward together instead of accusing one another. Removing absolute statements from your marriage diction will do wonders.

3: “Whatever.”

How many times have we ended an argument with a single dismissive “whatever”?

“Whatever” is the arch enemy of biblical reconciliation. By dismissing disagreements with “whatever”, you’re essentially stating that you don’t care enough about the person or disagreement to discuss further. Love never quits. Love is patient, kind, not easily angered, and always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13).

It’s not that whatever is a bad word, it’s just usually used in times when love isn’t at it’s best. Removing whatever from your marriage vocabulary will force to to either 1) explain why you’re OK with dismissing the conversation, or 2) explain why you’re truly ok with whatever.

4: The word Divorce

It’s tragic when we hear couples use the word “divorce”, either jokingly or seriously, in reference to their own marriage. Marriage only works if divorce is not an option If there’s no back door, you’ll both be committed to working through anything.

The greatest enemy we’ve seen at play in marriage is simply giving up; someone decides to step out the back door. They mentally, emotionally, and spiritually check-out of the marriage. How can you work something out if one person leaves or refuses to engage? Divorce is just that: giving up on the marriage.

Using the word “divorce” potentially cracks the door on a terrible possibility into your marriage. Would it be funny or appropriate ever if you said “I sincerely hope you die a horrible painful death”? Nope. It’s hurtful no matter how you slice it.

I implore you, remove “divorce” from your vocabulary. Don’t use it as a threat, comedic relief, or otherwise.

5: “I wish you were more like...” and “you’re just like your [parent]”

Ok, yes this is two phrases. I wanted to combine them here because I believe they come from the same place: comparison.

Comparison is truly heartbreaking. Nobody likes being compared to someone else, whether it’s a friend, a stranger, a family member, or a celebrity. People aren’t things, like cars with features to be compared. “This one has GPS”, “that one gets 40 MPG”, etc.

Nothing makes me feel smaller than when I’m unscrupulously compared to someone greater than me. Feeling that kind of small is ok, I guess, but only if it’s relation to Jesus. May Jesus be the only person we compare ourselves and our spouses to.

Here are some tough comparisons married folks tend to make; some explicitly and some internally:

  1. I wish [my wife] looked more like [other woman] (this is NEVER productive)

  2. You’re just like your father/mother.

  3. Usually used to illustrate an undesirable behavior, thus pigeonholing the person compared.

  4. Why can’t we be more like [some other couple]? (this type of comparison is especially frustrating)

I hope I’ve made a compelling case for why you should remove some phrases from your marriage.

Be selective with your words. There are two things in this life you can never get back once used, words and time. Use your words to give life.

- Ryan Frederick

HOME GROUP GUIDE

OPENING

Ask if a few of your couples will share the story of how they meet and their dating to marriage story.

SCRIPTURE

Read Ephesians 5: 21- 33

1. What does it mean that we all should submit to one another out of the reverence of Christ? How does this glorify God?

2. Does the word submission seem offensive or wrong? Why is this? Should it be?

3. Practically speaking how can we love our wife as Christ loves the Church?

4. We all understand that marriage is difficult and we may fail to show love or respect to our spouse in some situations. What are ways to restore that relationship when it’s hurt in that way?

APPLICATION

1. What are ways as a small group we can help each other have healthier and stronger marriages?

2. What are areas of growth that you would love to see in your own marriage over the next year? (Give your couples a little time to discuss them together before speaking to the group)

PRAYER

Have your couples pair up if you are able and spend time praying for each others marriage.

Children Conversation

When do you believe is an appropriate time to begin to talk with your children about sexual purity and dating?

How can we talk about relationships with our children in a way that is meaningful without being awkward or hard for them and us?

haman/anger

HAMAN/ANGER

Leader Thoughts

“Be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Is this even possible?
Not if perfect, sinless anger is the requirement, since sin infects everything we think, say, and do. But I don’t think Paul had perfect, sinless anger in mind when he quoted King David from Psalm 4:4 to the Ephesians. Paul’s point seems to be that not all anger Christians experience is rooted in the prideful, selfish soil of our sin nature.
There is a kind of anger that comes from our regenerate, Spirit-directed nature, even if it is unavoidably tainted by our indwelling sin as it passes through the defective filters of our minds and mouths. And because the Holy Spirit through David and Paul instructs us to “be angry,” it means some things must make us righteously angry.
So what does righteous anger look like in a Christian?

What Is Righteous Anger?

First, let’s ask: What is righteous anger?
Righteous anger is being angry at what makes God angry. And “righteous anger” is the right word order. Because God is not fundamentally angry. He is fundamentally righteous. God’s anger is a byproduct of his righteousness.
God’s righteousness is his being perfectly right in all his ways, all of his manifold perfections operating together in perfect proportion, consistency, and harmony. God is the very definition and standard of goodness (Mark 10:18). What God says (Hebrews 6:5) and what God does (Micah 6:8) are good because they are “righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:9) — they perfectly represent his comprehensive perfection.
So, what makes God angry is the perversion of his goodness; the turning wrong of what he made right. God calls this perversion evil. Evil twists and disfigures God’s glory, vandalizing what is most valuable, and profaning what is most holy. Evil poisons and distorts reality, resulting in the destruction of joy for every creature that chooses the perversion over God’s good.

God’s righteousness demands his anger over such destructive perversion and that he mete out commensurate justice against those who commit such evil.
So our anger is righteous when we are angered over evil that profanes God’s holiness and perverts his goodness.

What Is Sinful Anger?

But humans, being evil (Luke 11:13), are not characterized by righteous anger but sinful anger, we Christians too often included. “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” because the anger of man is more concerned with man than with God (James 1:20).I scarcely need to make this point. You know exactly what I mean. We tend to get angrier over our slighted pride than over the marring of God’s glory. We tend to get angrier over a minor inconvenience than a grievous injustice. We are often self-righteously angry like the older brother over his prodigal sibling (Luke 15:28), or selfishly angry like Jonah over the death of a plant while not caring about the welfare of 120,000 people (Jonah 4:9–11). Anger rooted in our sin nature produces “quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder” (2 Corinthians 12:20). It produces “enmity, strife . . . fits of anger [i.e. tantrums], rivalries, dissensions, [and] divisions” (Galatians 5:20). Sinful anger is so common in us that we must be regularly reminded to put away “anger, wrath, [and] malice” (Colossians 3:8) and that “everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:22).

The Loving Slowness of Righteous Anger

Righteous anger doesn’t look or feel like sinful anger because godly righteous anger is governed and directed by love. God is righteous, but he is also love (1 John 4:8). And love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4).
That’s why God repeatedly describes himself in Scripture as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:3).
God is slow to anger, “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God will bring his righteous judgment to bear on the unrepentant guilty (Exodus 34:7), but he “does not afflict from his heart” (Lamentations 3:33). And he moves with a measured, merciful, loving slowness.
If you want to see love-governed anger in operation, look at Jesus.
Jesus knew a day of judgment was coming when he would come to earth as the King of kings and “tread [his enemies in] the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God” (Revelation 19:15–16). But long before bringing judgment, he came to bring salvation to his enemies (John 12:47; Romans 5:8). And when he came to save, he rarely expressed anger.
And those who walk closest with Jesus are also marked by this remarkable patience with sinners. They too are “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). They do get angry, but like Jesus, their anger is laced with grief (Mark 3:5). Occasionally they flip tables in the temple (John 2:15–17), but they also weep over Jerusalem (Luke 13:34).

How Should We “Be Angry”?

Being angry and not sinning requires the discernment of constant practice (Hebrews 5:14) because so much of our anger is rooted in our prideful, selfish sin nature. And if we’ve suffered under the tyranny of a sinfully angry person, emotionally it can be very difficult to distinguish between sinful and righteous anger. But because it is something God calls us to, we must press into it.

So what does righteous anger look like in a Christian?

  1. Righteous anger is roused by evil that profanes God’s holiness and perverts his

    goodness. Increasingly we become “greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked,” and find “their lawless deeds” tormenting (2 Peter 2:7–8). Increasingly we care more about God’s reputation than our own. Wherever we lack in these is where we must focus our repentance, prayers, fasting, and biblical meditation.

  2. Righteous anger first sees the logs in our own eyes (Matthew 7:5). We are humbled, grieved, and angered by our own perverting of God’s goodness and we repent before addressing anyone else’s.

  3. Righteous anger is grieved, not merely infuriated, by evil. Jesus did flip tables in the temple, but he was deeply grieved over the sin that made it necessary (Matthew 23:37). Anger with no tears over evil is often evidence of a lack of love in us.

  4. Righteous anger is governed by God’s love and therefore slow to be expressed, allowing redemptive acts of love to be pursued first if at all possible. We truly want mercy to triumph over judgment for others (James 2:13), remembering Jesus’s mercy toward us and that he first came carrying a cross before coming bearing a sword.

  5. Righteous anger acts swiftly when necessary. Some forms of evil require us to be quick to speak and quick to act. The slaughter of unborn children, ethnic and economic injustice, abuse (emotional, physical, sexual), sex trafficking, human slavery, adultery, refugee plight, persecution, and other such evils call for urgent, immediate rescue (Proverbs 24:11).

We will never be perfectly angry in this age. But we can grow in the grace of righteous anger. God means us to. It is part of being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And one of his Scriptural commands is, “Be angry, and do not sin.”

- By John Bloom

OPENING

This week, as we study the book of Esther we will focus on the character of Haman. We will get an up-close view of what unchecked anger can do to someone.

Read Esther 5:9

Why do you believe Haman got so angry?
What are situations or things that often make us angry? Should they?

SCRIPTURE

Read Esther 5:10-14

We see that this type of anger robs the joy from Haman. How can anger rob our joy?

Do you have a personal example of a time that anger robbed your joy? Read Ephesians 4:26

How can we be angry but not sin? How is this type of anger different than what we see in Haman?

Righteous anger is being angry at what makes God angry. And “righteous anger” is the right word order. Because God is not fundamentally angry. He is fundamentally righteous. God’s anger is a byproduct of his righteousness.

APPLICATION

What are things in our life that should lead us to a righteous anger and how do we handle that in a God honoring way?

So what does righteous anger look like in a Christian?

  1. Righteous anger is roused by evil that profanes God’s holiness and perverts his

    goodness. Increasingly we become “greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked,” and find “their lawless deeds” tormenting (2 Peter 2:7–8). Increasingly we care more about God’s reputation than our own. Wherever we lack in these is where we must focus our repentance, prayers, fasting, and biblical meditation.

  2. Righteous anger first sees the logs in our own eyes (Matthew 7:5). We are humbled, grieved, and angered by our own perverting of God’s goodness and we repent before addressing anyone else’s.

  3. Righteous anger is grieved, not merely infuriated, by evil. Jesus did flip tables in the temple, but he was deeply grieved over the sin that made it necessary (Matthew 23:37). Anger with no tears over evil is often evidence of a lack of love in us.

  1. Righteous anger is governed by God’s love and therefore slow to be expressed, allowing redemptive acts of love to be pursued first if at all possible. We truly want mercy to triumph over judgment for others (James 2:13), remembering Jesus’s mercy toward us and that he first came carrying a cross before coming bearing a sword.

  2. Righteous anger acts swiftly when necessary. Some forms of evil require us to be quick to speak and quick to act. The slaughter of unborn children, ethnic and economic injustice, abuse (emotional, physical, sexual), sex trafficking, human slavery, adultery, refugee plight, persecution, and other such evils call for urgent, immediate rescue (Proverbs 24:11).

    PRAYER

Take time to confess our sinful anger and ask for repentance.

Children Conversation

How do we help teach our children that anger will rob their joy?
How should we respond to our children when they see our unrighteous anger?

MORDECAI/ HUMILITY

MORDECAI/HUMILITY

Leader Thoughts

This week as we study the book of Esther we are focusing on the person of Mordecai. Mordecai plays a large role in this book. Many would even believe that he is the author of this book. As Todd walks through a few different characteristics that we see in Mordecai we are going to focus on his characteristic of being humble. We see in the story of Esther how Mordecai is exalted because of his humility. Let us take a look at what scripture has to tell about about humility.

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Ten practical ways to reflect God’s humility

1. Humbly acknowledge God in everything

For the sake of our own souls, we need to regularly bow our hearts to our magnificent, awe-inspiring and humble God. There are no human words that can describe who He is and how He has blessed us.

Job 26:11,14 ESV The pillars of heaven tremble and are astounded at his rebuke. Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?”

Psalm 8:3-4 ESV When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

Let’s make it a point to always humbly ask God for His will for all our plans and decisions. When we presume we know what’s right, we fall into idolatry because it sets us above God’s will.

1 Samuel 15:23 ESV ... and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry...
Proverbs 3:7 ESV Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

PLEASE TAKE SOME TIME AND SHARE WITH CHAD ABOUT THINGS GOD IS DOING INSIDE OF YOUR HOME GROUP. OTHER LEADERS NEED THE ENCOURAGEMENT.

2. Confess and repent of pride

Pride won’t allow God to sit on the throne in our hearts to rule over and redeem our past, present and future. This will eventually destroy us. Let us humbly repent for our pride and all the times we have tried to control our own lives in the false belief that we have the power to.

Romans 12:3 NLT ... Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Proverbs 11:2 ESV When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

3. Thank God every day

It is God’s will that we thank Him in any circumstance, because He knows this helps us keep our hearts in check. As we humble ourselves, we will be surprised by how long our lists can be if we truly are thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Let us not hesitate to deflect any praise we receive and make it a point to thank our Father in heaven instead. He is the true Source of all our talents and gifts.

4. Stop grumbling

Many forms of grumbling, whining or protesting stems from a spirit of self-entitlement and self- righteousness. When we humble our hearts and submit to God instead, we will be positive shining lights in our world.

Philippians 2:14-15 ESV Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

5. Stop passing judgment

We all have the tendency to conclude certain things about other people, not realizing that we are in reality, passing judgement on them. It is even worse if we conclude that “they will never change” or “they are beyond hope”. Not only do we judge them, we also curse them. Such judgmental pride assumes we are all-knowing and entitled to condemn others. It also implies that God cannot work a miracle in their lives. This slanders and offends our all-powerful and merciful Father in heaven. This is something we need to actively avoid.

Matthew 7:1 ESV “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

6. Stop boasting

Pride tells us we deserve recognition for our achievements, sacrifices and giving. In some sense, we wish to be worshipped; neglecting that God alone deserves all worship. God promises to reward those who humbly wait on His personal praises, and not crave the recognition and praises of other people. Let us serve, love and sacrifice joyfully, without seeking the approval of people.

2 Corinthians 10:17-18 ESV “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

7. Stop seeking attention

Some people enjoy drawing attention to themselves by being pushy, boastful, crude or antagonistic. All this behaviour is driven by the innate belief that other people should listen to or follow them. Humility, on the other hand, will gently consider others first.

Philippians 2:4 ESV Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Ephesians 4:2 ESV with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

8. Admit mistakes and weaknesses readily

The fear of admitting our faults and vulnerabilities is driven by a desire to protect our personal image. We idolize our reputations at the expense of God’s. Like the apostle Paul, we should not be afraid of exposing our personal weaknesses, so that people will see Jesus’ Holy Spirit working in us. This takes true strength as well as true humility.

2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

9. Consider others as more important

The thought of considering others first is most unnatural to human beings. Even as children, we loathe to share our candy and toys. True humility is demonstrated when we do just the opposite. It shows our hearts to be free of fears and selfish intentions. We are able to love those whom God loves, regardless of how they behave towards us. Jesus set the perfect example by humbly dying on the cross for all of us.

Philippians 2:3 ESV Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

10. Forgive and bless others

The choice to forgive and bless those who offend us is a true test of our humility and submission to God. The Bible tells us to pray for and bless others, especially those whom we see as our enemies. It doesn’t tell us to try to bless our abusers, it simply tells us to just do it.

Ephesians 4:32 ESV Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Luke 6:27-28 ESV “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

Unforgiveness is a form of pride that implies we are better than other people and deserve only worship and adoration. This pride keeps us from being good representatives of a humble God who sent His Son to die for us. In contrast, we are to actively bless those we are inclined to hate, resent or find intolerable, so that they get to experience the wonderful grace of the humble perfect God we serve.

- By Jennifer Sum

Home Group Guide

OPENING

1. As we have read through Esther or heard Todd’s sermon from Sunday, what are some characteristics of Mordecai that stood out to you?

The primary characteristic that we are going to focus on for our study is humility. We can see in Esther 3:2 that Mordecai would not bow down to Hamman because he honored God more. Ultimately God would exalt Mordecai.

2. Do you believe that humility is a characteristic that all Christians should have? Why or why not?

SCRIPTURE

Read Luke 14:7-11

1. What do you believe Jesus is trying to teach to his disciples by His statements here?

2. What does true humility look like in our culture? Is this hard to live out? Why or why not?

3. What are examples of God humbling the proud and exalting the humble that you have seen in scripture or life?

APPLICATION

1. Is humility something you feel you struggle with? What has this looked like in your life?

2. What are ways that we can grow in humility? (Use some of the above ideas in the Leader Thoughts)

PRAYER

Use John 3:30 to be the structure of your prayer. Examples... God increase in my life that I may decrease in pride. God increase in my family, so I may decrease my control.