Romans

Loving our Enemies

Loving our Enemies

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Head

Have someone from your group read today’s passage from Romans 12:9-21.

In this passage we are challenged to live out love in very tangible and challenging ways.  We are called to bless our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.  We hear about extreme forms of persecution all the time through the news.  Think of the recent killings in Kenya.  People were intentionally murdered because of their faith in Jesus.  While we don’t typically face this type of persecution in the US we still face forms of persecution and we still encounter enemies whom we are called to love.  

On a piece of paper jot down words or definitions that come to mind when you think of the word enemy.  We don’t typically see others as our “enemy” per say, however, consider the following definition as you are discussing what it means to have or be an enemy.   Definition: “An enemy is a person who actively opposes someone or something.  Hostile, unfriendly, someone who is not a friend”.  

Heart 

Take some time to consider the following questions: Who would you consider to be your enemy?  Who might consider you to be an enemy?  Where in your life have you experienced persecution for your belief in Jesus? Discuss your responses.     

Hands

Even if you are struggling to think of others whom you’d consider an enemy the passage above challenges us to “bless those who persecute us”, to be humble , and tells us not to “repay evil for evil”.  This could be in reference to the person who cut you off in traffic or a family member who has left you wounded.  How might you show love to the individuals whom you consider an enemy or who may consider you an enemy?  Think of one tangible way you might love this person or group of people this week through your words, thoughts, and actions.  Discuss this with your group and pray asking for the Holy Spirit’s leading and strength. 

The Body of Christ

The Body of Christ

Head

Take some time to read Romans 12:4-10 in the message translation. What images or words stand out to you? We all depend upon the body and each other for life and our ability to function well.  Take some time to imagine the body what part do you imagine yourself as?  Why do you associate yourself with this part of the body?      

Heart

Heart check: Ponder then answer the following two questions:

1) Do you consider yourself a vital part of Christ’s body?

2) Do you see those around you as vital parts of the same body you occupy?

How does lack of participation (on your part or theirs) impact the functionality of the body as a whole?

Hands

Take some time to think back on the spiritual gifts assessment from March 8th (For a quick reference of gifts and their descriptions use this link). Share your top three gifts with the group.  Which of these gifts to you find yourself living into most naturally?  Which of these were most surprising to you?  How might you live more fully into these gifts at church, home, work and so on?   Email amanda@gallerycovenant.org to get involved in what The Gallery is doing as a body!

Be Transformed

Be Transformed

Head

Being transformed by the renewing our minds: What does this mean? How does this impact the ways we live our lives as an offering to God?  We like to use the metaphor of technology updates. Our phones, computers, and most other devices regularly and consistently need updates to stay current and performing at their best. Sure, they could probably work without updates. However, by plugging in and renewing their software regularly, they receive the information they need to function to their fullest capability. The same is true of us and God. Touching base from time to time isn’t enough. We need to ‘plug-in’ regularly and communicate with God, so that we can stay fresh and renewed. We need to be in His word consistently to be reminded of who He is and who we are. What does this look like practically for you?

Heart

In Romans 12:1 Paul pleads, “ I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship.” Have every group member take a piece of paper and pen and write the follow items as a list: Eating, sleeping, prayer, driving, parenting, work, talking, playing, thinking, spending, serving, technology, attitude, relationships. Next to each word, have each person write a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’: are they honoring God with that part of their life. 

Hands

Look back over your list and pick one of the areas that you would like to see renewed. Focus on that this week, and talk with God about it. Ask God to bring about change and perspective, and help in transforming that area into an act of worship.  Read the following three scriptures: 1 Corinthians 10:31, Deuteronomy 6:5, 2 Corinthians 3:18. Choose one that encourages you and re-read it several times this week. 

The Meaning of Salvation

What does it mean to be "saved?"

Head

Each of us who are in a relationship with Christ have been ‘witness’, or have seen, the goodness of Jesus. When we share stories of his goodness or hear these stories, we are bringing the good news. Who are the people in your life, along your journey in relationship with God, that have ‘shared the good news’ with you? Was it well received? How did this impact you?

Heart

Listen to the following song together:

We know from story after story in scripture that God’s love is extravagant! I don’t know about you, but even just thinking about the amazingness of God’s love makes it feel impossible to keep to myself. It is from this place that telling of the goodness of Jesus becomes authentic. God’s love should be our motivation, rather than obligation. This love is for anyone; jew and gentile alike!

Hands

Looking back on your own experiences, how does this shape your view of bearing witness to others about the goodness of Jesus? Often when we think of witnessing we imagine a formal, sit-down discussion of biblical proportions. However, sharing your heartfelt stories of God’s work in your life can feel more organic and authentic. Take time this week to remember God’s love and movement in your life. Relisten to the song! Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you boldness, and to put on your heart people who need to hear or experience His love. Challenge yourself to do this over the week, and share any experiences you had when your group meets next.

A Very Public Confession

One of the most famous verses in Christianity sates: "If you declarewith your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). This week Pastor Brad wrestles with the important questions:

  • Why the public confession?
  • Why is a heart-centered conviction in the resurrection so important?

Head

What comes to mind when you hear the word confession? (discuss). Often times confession has a negative connotation, such as in a court of law the confessing of crimes. Romans 10:9-10 refer to confession as a proclamation “with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Share times in your life where you have practiced a type of confession (marriage vows, being honest about a struggle in your life, etc). There is something powerful about speaking what is happening internally. In what ways was this powerful for you?

Heart

Have someone read the following out loud: As you listen to the following scripture close your eyes. Are there any images that come to mind as you hear affirmation that you can let go and trust God with your salvation: “The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest. It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” If an image came to mind, share with your group what you saw regarding the trust of surrender.

Hands

This week as you close your time, and throughout your personal prayer this week, practice confessing these truths at the beginning of your prayer time: Jesus is Lord. I need God and I can trust Him. There is nothing that I can confess to You today that would change my salvation and relationship with You, Lord.

Who Chooses Whom? (Part 2)

What does the choosing of Israel and the choosing of Christ have to do with God choosing us? In our second week on the controversial topics of divine election and predestination, Pastor Brad unpacks a third view (the one to which he ascribes)--Corporate Election. 

Head

Take some time in your group to read Romans 10:1-13. How does this tie into the below description of corporate election and predestination, which Brad shared in church on Sunday? What questions are you left with? How were you challenges? Read the below paragraph as a reminder: The relationship of corporate election and predestination could be compared to a ship (i.e., the church, the body of Christ) on its way to its future and final destination (i.e., conformity to the image of Christ). The ship is chosen by God to be his very own vessel. Christ is the chosen Captain and Pilot of this chosen ship. God desires that everyone would come aboard this ship and has graciously made provisions for them to do so through its Captain. Only those who place their trust in the Captain of the ship are welcomed to come on board. As long as they remain on the ship, through a living faith in the ship's Captain, they are among the elect. If they choose to abandon the ship and its Captain through unbelief, they cease to be among the elect. Election is experienced only in union with the Captain and his ship. Predestination tells us about the ship's future direction and final destination that God has prepared for those remaining on it. God, out of his immense love, invites everyone to come aboard the ship through faith in the ship's Captain, Jesus Christ.

Heart

Pick one person from your group to slowly read through Romans 10:10-13 a total of three times. The group members should make themselves comfortable and relaxed. The first time you read through the text just listen. During the second reading pay attention to the words or phrases that stand out to you. After reading the passage a third time allow some space to ponder what this passage is speaking to you. Why did the particular words or phrases stand out to you? What does this tell you about God? Yourself? Salvation? After sitting with these questions take some time to share with the rest of your group members.

Hands

After the discussion simply take some time to pray for one another. After listening to these sermons and reviewing the scripture passages today what do you feel like God is inviting you into? Where did you notice nudges to more fully live into Romans 10:1-13?

Who Chooses Whom? (Part 1)

As we continue our journey through the book of Romans, chapters 9-11 force the reader to wrestle with some key questions about who is "chosen" and why.

Heart

This week we're doing the 'heart' first. Our topic this past Sunday was a deep thinking, heavy sort: predestination. While this may be a dividing line, we want to claim that regardless of our beliefs we can find unity as a body. Pray together for closeness, connectedness, peace, and grace for the ways that we have been made differently and think differently. Pray for our pastor, Brad, and his ability to communicate this topic well in the weeks to come. Let this be the heart that carries you through all conversation.

Head

As a group, quietly re-read chapters 9 & 10 of Romans. Jot down or make note of any verses that seem to relate to the question of predestination. Read them aloud. Which seem to resonate with you the most? Which cause the most discord? What parts of the Calvinist or Armenian beliefs seem to challenge who you know God to be?

Hands

Together as a group come up with one or two questions that you'd like Pastor Brad to answer this coming Sunday as he re-addresses this topic. Use scripture and your discussion to come up with ideas.

Why the Church?

On January 10, 2010 The Gallery launched its first public Sunday morning worship service. Five years later Pastor Brad asks a very important question: "Why in the world are we doing this?!" 

Head

This past weekend pastor Brad presented us with a celebratory message. The Gallery is five years old! Whether you are new or seasoned, do you find yourself to have the spirit of thanks and celebration for what we have as a church? Share the ways that you've seen God move in our church.

Heart

We must remember how important the 'church' actually is. Sunday's sermon told us of all the ways we could be better off without church. But, the fact of the matter is that all creation cries out for us to be doing life together. As we move forward, take some time to be prayerful about the ways you are committing your life to the body of people that make up The Gallery. What passions or desires is God placing on your heart that can only be fulfilled by doing life with one another? (ex: ministry opportunities, meal groups, serving, lending more of your time to help others, etc).

Hands

Consider our mission statement: Love - Listen - Respond - Repeat. Take a moment, on paper our out loud as a group, to describe the ways that you are living out these values with God and with others.