Contentment Life Group Guide
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Contentment Life Group Guide

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Small Group discussion Guide from Calvary's Contentment Series

Small Group discussion Guide from Calvary's Contentment Series

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Contentment Life Group Guide Contentment Life Group Guide Presentation Transcript

  • LIFEGroup GUIDE
  • Think About What You Have; Not What You Don’t Have A Perfect World (Genesis 2-3) Preparation: The following notes and ideas are solely for you to use as you prepare to teach this week. Feel free to use them as you wish or don’t use them at all! Observations from the story: Genesis 2-3 is the story of God’s ideal creation and man’s role in ruining it. Within this story is a powerful lesson about relying on God’s provision instead of desiring the things we don’t have. 1. Genesis 2 – What Adam and Eve had… A complete creation – With the creation of Eve, everything that had been made was deemed “good” by o God. No better assessment could be made than for the ultimate being to give full approval. Everything necessary to sustain life (not just life, but the life God intended) was present. Adam and Eve had at their fingertips an abundance of all they could ever need. An ideal living space – God placed Adam and Eve in the garden he had created for them. This was the o first custom made home. God provided trees that were good for food, but were also pleasing to look at. God did not just provide a utilitarian system by which to sustain living organisms, He was an artist perfectly combining form and function to create the best possible living environment for His image bearers. He provided a river to flow through the garden, sustaining the plants, the animals, and the people. He provided the Tree of Life (check out Revelation 22 for an interesting description of the Tree of Life). A Clear Purpose – God’s expectations for Adam and Eve were very simple. They were to be his o representatives to the new creation. He called them His “image-bearers” and He instructed them to rule over the earth and over the creatures on the earth. Their job was not to be tyrants, but rather they were to be stewards, caring for creation in the same way God would. Along with the responsibility, He gave Adam authority over the animals, even allowing Adam to name them. Freedom with Guidelines – God provided the ideal freedom to Adam and Eve in that he identified the o limitations of their freedom. Not only did God give Adam and Eve permission to eat from all the trees in the garden, He encouraged them to “freely eat”. The only guideline he gave them was that they were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which He explained would result in death. This is the ideal type of freedom for humans. An Ideal Relationship – The crown of creation was the woman. She was the completion of the man. o Together they were the ideal image of God. Just as God is a three-in-one unity with diversity, the man and the woman became a two-in-one unity with diversity. Genesis 2:24 describes this relationship as two people who have become “one flesh”. Verse 25 says they were “naked, and they felt no shame”. Their oneness was the ideal intimacy. They had nothing to hide from one another, they were completely open and honest with one another. Their relationship is the type of relationship we all desire and pursue. Summary: Adam and Eve were given everything they could possible need and desire. Nothing that was o necessary for their health, happiness, and fulfillment had been withheld.
  • 2. Genesis 3 – What Adam and Eve Didn’t Have… Essentially, there was nothing they didn’t have (except one tree). o Unfortunately, they focused on the one thing they didn’t have instead of the many amazing things they o had. 3. What Happened? Much can be said about the role of the serpent in deceiving Eve. Many lessons can be learned from this o passage about deception and how to handle temptation (It is an interesting study to cross-reference the temptations Jesus faced with the approach the serpent took tempting Eve). The decision Adam and Eve ultimately made was a result of choosing to focus their attention on the one o thing they didn’t have . o The fruit they weren’t to eat was “pleasing to the eye and good for food”(3:6) -- Ironically part of the rational that Eve used for eating the forbidden fruit was also true of all the other trees. Genesis 2:9 says that all the trees were pleasing to the eye and good for food. When we take our eyes off God’s provision, we quickly lose perspective of how great His provision is. As our eyes wander to the things we haven’t been given, it doesn’t take long for the thing God has given us to lose our luster. Ultimately, our perspective can shift so that we mistakenly believe the things we don’t have are more desirable than what we possess, even though God has promised to always provide us with what we need. Ignoring God’s overwhelming and generous provisions for them, they chose to be “self-reliant” and o look-out for their own welfare. Once Adam and Eve decided that they knew their needs better than God did, they were on a one-way path toward destruction. Choosing to pursue their wrong-headed desires instead of relying on God’s gifts led them into separation from God, and loss of their ideal home, job, and relationship with each other. 4. What Does This Mean for Us? The following are some simple statements to consider as you seek to discover some applicational principles from this passage: Sin takes root when we choose to look away(or reject) God’s provision. • Whether it is the serpent deceiving us, or us deceiving ourselves, we choose to fixate on what we do • not have rather than what we do. This often requires us to have a “puffed-up” view of ourselves as we consider ourselves as deserving of more than we truly are. Saying, “I deserve it” is a sure sign that we are on the cusp of sin. • Contentment is never having to say, “I deserve it.” • The more I “count my blessings”, the less I’ll worry about what I don’t have. • Central Theme of Lesson: Think About What You Have, Not What You Don’t Have!
  • GROUP MEETING Sharing Life: - Remember, everyone should at least know everyone else’s names. Take some time to make sure this is the case before you move on. - Ask the group members if any of them have a “story” to share from the past week. If appropriate, take a moment to pray for the “life situations” of the group members as they are revealed (remember, you’ll take more time later for group prayer). - Have as many people as possible answer the following question: Describe the most perfect meal you can imagine. What are the most “tempting” elements of the meal? Formative Time: This time is designed to be a discussion driven lesson, every question can be answered by one or several students. You may need to supplement or change these questions as necessary for your group. You are free to use these questions in any way that you deem appropriate for your group. - What place on earth do you think is closest to being like the Garden of Eden? o Since this is a somewhat subjective question, people may need a minute to think about it. Be prepared to give your own answer first, however, if someone has an answer immediately, let them kick off the discussion. If necessary, ask follow-up questions to the different members who answer (Have you been there? Give us descriptive details about that place…) - In chapter two, what is the most appealing element of God’s creation? Why? o If needed, point out the different aspects of creation that are described in chapter two (the Garden, the trees for food, the river, the animals, God’s instructions, Adam’s responsibility…) - Which of the following words best describes God’s initial creation. Why? o Complete o Ideal o Perfect o Good o Unbelievable - Which of the serpent’s arguments do you think made the most sense to Eve? Why? o “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” o “You will not surely die” o “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” - Read Genesis 2:9 and Genesis 3:6. What do you think made the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so much more appealing than the other trees? o The only difference was the acquisition of knowledge. Apparently, the desire to have more knowledge was what drove Eve to eat from the forbidden fruit. Point out that the knowledge gained by eating the fruit was apparently something God didn’t think Adam and Eve needed. - Why do you think Adam and Eve were attracted to something God hadn’t given them? What are some of the things we are attracted to that God has not given to us? o Depending on the discussion, this might be a good place to talk about what it means to covet, and how “chasing” the things God hasn’t given us can distract our attention from the things God has given us and wants us to have. - Why do you think Adam and Eve lost sight of all the good things God had provided for them? o Talk about our tendency to take our eyes off God’s provision when we start to focus on all the things we don’t have. Discuss how illogical it was for Adam and Eve to give up all the things God had provided just to get the one thing He hadn’t. - What good things has God provided for you that you tend to lose sight of?
  • - What is a simple step you can take this week to pursue the development of contentment in your life? Developmental Time: - Ask the group members if anyone would like to share something they’ve been doing differently in their life recently that demonstrates spiritual growth. Encourage each other to set “formative” goals for the coming week. - Take time for group members to share prayer requests. - Pray for the given requests. Try to vary the way you do prayer time from week to week so it is more than just “vain repetitions”. Some ideas are: o One person prays o Pray for each request as it is given o Sentence prayers around the circle o Partner (or threes) prayer o Silent Prayer o Have group members write prayers out and then read them. o Etc… (you’re creative!) - Remind group members of their commitment for the week and encourage them to carry it out!
  • Wanting What Other People Have Can Get You In Trouble Greener Grass (1 Kings 21) Preparation: The following notes and ideas are solely for you to use as you prepare to teach this week. Fell free to use them as you wish or don't use them at all! Observations from the story: 1 Kings 21 is the story of King Ahab and Naboth. It is a morality tale about one man’s integrity, one man’s desire for something that wasn’t his, and how a lack of contentment ended badly for everyone involved. The story is a great lesson in being content with what God has provided for us. 1. Naboth and the Land Naboth refuses to sell Ahab the land because it was the inheritance of his fathers. In Israel the land did not belong to the people. God owned the land and allowed the Israelites to dwell on it as strangers and aliens. When God gave the people the land to live upon he gave each tribe an inheritance. The goal was to make sure that everyone had enough land to live upon, so there would be no poor in the country. Laws like levirate marriage, provision for women (similar to the kinsman redeemer of Ruth), and the year of jubilee, kept the land in the hands of the family. This prevented the accumulation of wealth into the hands of an elite minority who would then impoverish the poor. (See Lev. 25, Num. 27) 2. Power and Monarchy Of particular interest is Samuel’s warning about instituting a monarchy in Israel. The ideal for Israel’s government was that God would be the king. When they insisted on having a human king there would be consequences, specifically in regard to the land ownership system instituted by God. In 1 Sam 8 Samuel warns “He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.” In this case the king wants to take the vineyard for himself. The inheritance system was designed to prevent the acquisition of wealth into the hands of a minority power and the monarchy undoes this. Ahab desires the land and feels that it is within his rights to acquire it. (see 1 Sam 8) 3. Ahab and Power Ahab allowed his power to be used for treachery when he gives his royal power to Jezebel to deal with the situation. Jezebel wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed the letters with Ahab’s seal. Rather than simply taking the land by force, Jezebel schemes a way to acquire the land without paying for it. She has Naboth falsely accused of speaking against God and the king. When Naboth is dead Ahab seizes the land. 4. Ahab and Grace Ahab repents and God shows grace. When confronted with God’s judgment by Elijah Ahab dons sackcloth and humbles himself before God. As a result, God delays his judgment and reserves it for Ahab’s sons. Notice that although Jezebel technically committed the sin, it is Ahab who bears the judgment. He allowed his power to be used for injustice and for his own personal gain. Central Theme of Lesson: Wanting What Other People Have Can Get You in Trouble.
  • GROUP MEETING Sharing Life: Remember, everyone should at least know everyone else’s names. Take some time to make sure this is • the case before you move on. Ask the group members if any of them have a “story” to share from the past week. If appropriate, take a • moment to pray for the “life situations” of the group members as they are revealed (remember, you’ll take more time later for group prayer). Play Game: Have each person write 5 things that they would like to have. Write each one in a sentence • such as “I would like a new car.” Share this with your group. Now play a second round having each person add the word “your” before the thing wanted. Such as “I • would like your new car.” Have each person read the new statement to the person to their left. Talk about the difference in meaning adding the word “your” makes. • Formative Time: Read through 1 Kings 21:1-29 as a group • How do people feel about those who use their power to take from others? • o Have group members talk about instances where they have seen this happen. Talk about how people react when things like this happen. What role does power play in the sin of coveting? • o Power makes it easier for someone who is coveting to take what they want. At the same time it is important to realize that coveting is wrong even if no action is taken. Jesus teaches that coveting itself is a sin. Is there a difference between desiring and coveting? • o Often times coveting is desiring something that belongs to someone else. A desire becomes covetous when it is focused on what God has given to another person. There is a big difference between wanting a wife and wanting someone else's wife. Whatever we have has been given to us by God and it is wrong to want what God has given to another person. How does the movement from desire to coveting become a greater sin? • o Great sin often starts as something that seems small and innocent. A sin of the heart that goes unchecked can become a sinful action. A simple desire can turn to jealousy and coveting. Coveting can turn into theft. We must realize how dangerous though and heart sins are. These are not “small” sins. This are big sins waiting to happen. God had provided Ahab with everything he needed. What happened when Ahab started wanting • more than God provided? Who was hurt? o Naboth is killed. His family lost the land which they depended on for their survival. His wife lost a husband and his children lost a father. Ahab's decision hurts the whole country. As a result of Ahab's actions God declares that the whole country will fall. How do you feel about God's decision to give grace to Ahab? How does Ahab's repentance set • right the destruction caused by his sin? o Some sins have consequences that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Ahab cannot undo the damage done to Naboth. It may seem unfair that Ahab repented and escaped God's judgment. It may be frustrating that Ahab didn't “get what he deserved.” Still we can praise God for this because like Ahab, those who believe in Jesus will escape the judgment of God. Who do you hurt when you want more than God has provided? How do you feel when people take • something from you?
  • Take some to reflect on how far reaching the results of our sin are. When people covet and take o from us the hurt often extends beyond ourselves. One sin can hurt many people. Ask if any of the group members would be willing to give an example of a time when coveted and • took something that belonged to someone else. o Group member may not answer this, so you might want to be prepared with your own example. If someone does share, question them about the consequences of their actions. Even if there are no apparent “bad” results point out how God feels when this happens. What is the opposite of coveting? • o God had provided a system so that everyone in Israel would be taken care of. God wanted there to be no poor among his chosen people. Yet there have always been those who take what belongs to others. God's plan is for his people to care of each other. How can we live that plan out today? Challenge each group member to be aware throughout the week of times they might be tempted to • want what other people have. Caring Time: - Ask the group members if anyone would like to share something they’ve been doing differently in their life recently that demonstrates spiritual growth. Encourage each other to set “formative” goals for the coming week. - Take time for group members to share prayer requests. - Pray for the given requests. Try to vary the way you do prayer time from week to week so it is more than just “vain repetitions”. Some ideas are: o One person prays o Pray for each request as it is given o Sentence prayers around the circle o Partner (or threes) prayer o Silent Prayer o Have group members write prayers out and then read them. o Etc… (you’re creative!) - Remind group members of their commitment for the week and encourage them to carry it out!
  • Don’t Let Love for Money Become More Important Than Your Love for God Greed=Big Trouble (Matthew 26:6-16) Preparation: The following notes and ideas are solely for you to use as you prepare to teach this week. Feel free to use them as you wish or don’t use them at all! Observations from the story: Matthew 26:6-16 is a contrast of two drastically different views of money (more details of this story can be gleaned from Mark 14 and John 12. Although there are some details in the three accounts which seem to be in conflict, they are not unresolvable, and enough similarities exist to allow us to reasonably assume we have two perspectives of the same event). Mary spent her money to honor Jesus; Judas betrayed Jesus to gain money. 1. Mary’s Story The value of the perfume – According to Matthew, the perfume was “very expensive”. According to o John, it was worth a “year’s wages”. In other words, it was worth the equivalent of a very luxurious new car. You can imagine that the “wasting” of such a valuable commodity would cause quite a stir. The act of pouring the perfume – Significant symbolism can be seen in Mary’s act of pouring out the o oil on Jesus. First, by anointing him, she is identifying Him as royalty. Second, by washing his feet, she identifies herself as a servant/slave to Jesus. Third, by breaking the jar, not just pouring a portion, she is demonstrating a 100% devotion to Jesus. Fourth, a woman in public with undone hair would have been considered to be one with “loose morals”. By washing Jesus feet with her hair, Mary was demonstrating her commitment to honoring Jesus in spite of cultural expectations and at risk to her own reputation. The response to Mary’s act – Judas responded to Mary’s act by wondering why the perfume hadn’t o been sold so that the money could have been given to the poor. Likely, his motives were not pure, as we know he was dishonest with the disciples money. However, it appears that the other disciples at least agreed with Judas (likely with honest intentions), because Matthew says the disciples (plural) were indignant. Since we have the whole story, it is easy for us to pass judgment on the disciples wrong response, but I wonder if in the same situation we might not have had a similar response, calling into question whether Mary’s act was “good stewardship”. How we respond to an apparent waste of money is a window into our true beliefs about the value of money and the value of others. We are sometimes far more judgmental toward those who waste money than we are toward those who waste many other things. Jesus’ teaching in the moment – Jesus saw Mary’s act as a “beautiful” thing. Rather than debating o what the highest priority for money should be, he taught that Mary should be commended for her sacrifice rather than scolded. By saying, “the poor you will always have with you”, Jesus was not downplaying the importance of taking care of the needy; He was trying to express the significance of the moment and the impending events. Even though the disciples didn’t fully understand, Jesus was telling them that they would be able to take care of the poor the rest of their lives, but their time with Him was coming to a close. Mary’s act was an example of the importance of embracing our relationship with Jesus when given the opportunity, we don’t know when that opportunity will be gone (whether it be death, rapture, or a hardened heart).
  • 2. Judas’ Story The value of Jesus – Judas agreed to betray Jesus for only 30 pieces of silver. This would have been o the equivalent of three months wages. In other words, Judas was willing to sell Jesus for one-quarter the cost of the perfume Mary had poured out. To say that Mary valued Jesus 4x more than Judas is to greatly oversimplify this story. The sad truth is that while Jesus was king and master to Mary, he was nothing more than a commodity that Judas was willing to buy and sell. Judas’ act of betrayal – Even though the chief priests were looking for an opportunity to kill Jesus, o they did not approach Judas with this proposal. He approached them. His question to them is a window through which we can understand his motivation. He said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” Judas’ intention was simply to make a profit. If he received a high enough offer he was likely willing to do just about anything, including betraying Jesus. 3. What Does This Means for Us? The temptation for Mary would have been to be more concerned about what the disciples thought about o her use of money than with what Jesus thought about her use of money. We need to avoid the same temptation to give in to the pressures exerted by our culture regarding the “appropriate” use of finances. The media, our neighbors, and sometimes even our friends and family bombard us with the philosophy that “we work hard for our money” so we ought to use it to make our own lives easier, more fun, and full of possessions. Nothing could be better than having Jesus say that our use of money is “a beautiful thing for him”. o How we use our money is a demonstration of what is truly important to us. When we choose to selfishly o pursue riches and profitability instead of sacrificing for Jesus sake, we are not all that different from Judas. (This is a difficult truth, as we have no villains worse than Judas. No one wants to be like him.) These passages do not teach against wealth, nor do they teach that wealth and riches are inherently o wrong. Although some people misunderstand James, he did NOT say, “money is the root of all evil”. He DID say, “the love of money is the root of all evil”. Our love for money is best reflected by what we will do to gain money and how hard we will work to hold on to money. For Judas, loving money meant he was willing to do anything in order to get money. For Mary, holding on to money was not important, it was clearly secondary to honoring Jesus. We need to regularly evaluate the lengths to which we go to earn money, and our willingness to part with money. Central Theme of Lesson: Don’t Let Your Love for Money Become More Important Than Your Love for God!
  • GROUP MEETING Sharing Life: - Remember, everyone should at least know everyone else’s names. Take some time to make sure this is the case before you move on. - Ask the group members if any of them have a “story” to share from the past week. If appropriate, take a moment to pray for the “life situations” of the group members as they are revealed (remember, you’ll take more time later for group prayer). - Have as many people as possible answer the following question: “Imagine you received $50,000 cash in the mail today. How would you spend it? Be as specific as possible.” Formative Time: This time is designed to be a discussion driven lesson, every question can be answered by one or several students. You may need to supplement or change these questions as necessary for your group. You are free to use these questions in any way you deem appropriate for your class.. - As a group, read Matthew 26:6-16. o Explain that the account in the gospel of John identifies the key players in this story as Mary and Judas. - How do you think you would have reacted if you had been at the party when Mary poured out the perfume? (be honest!) Explain your answer. o I would have laughed at her for wasting so much money o I would have been disgusted because the money could have been used better o I would have quietly wondered if she was mentally stable o I would have stood up and clapped for her courage o I would have been moved by her devotion o I would have run home to get my own perfume bottle - Why do you think the disciples responded the way they did? o Point out that while Judas may have had impure motives, the other disciples likely thought her money could have been put to better use. Discuss how you think the disciples might have responded after Jesus complimented Mary (this will be just guessing as we have no account of the rest of the conversation). - What symbolism can we see in Mary’s act of devotion? What was she saying about Jesus by anointing him? What was she saying about herself by washing his feet (John version)? Why did she break the jar open instead of just pouring it out? o Use the study notes above to prompt answers to this question. - Contrast Mary’s view of Jesus with Judas’ view of Jesus. o You may get some different good answers on this if people are willing to think and share honestly. The key is that Mary was willing to sacrifice herself for Jesus and Judas was willing to sacrifice Jesus for himself. - What do you think caused Judas to be willing to betray Jesus? Did what happened at the party influence Judas to go through with his betrayal? Why or why not? o The Bible isn’t clear about exactly why Judas went to the chief priests. We know at least part of it was for the money, but there were likely other factors as well. Many people believe that he realized he had been wrong about Jesus’ agenda. As a group, explore why each of the gospels places these stories next to each other. - Judas was willing to buy and sell Jesus. How are Christians sometimes guilty of doing the same thing? o Suggest that sometimes we see Jesus as a “thing” that will provide a service for us, whether it be fixing a tough situation, healing an illness, relieving stress or tension, or getting us out of a jam.
  • When we only turn to Jesus in the bad times, he is not our king and master (as he was to Mary), rather he is an elixir we have purchased from a snake salesmen. - How does our use of money demonstrate our values and priorities? Is this a good or bad thing? Why? o This question requires difficult honesty. Remind your group that it is always hard to call your own motivations into question, especially when you know the answer might reflect poorly on you. However, this is also a great opportunity to grow spiritually. - How can a proper view of money lead to contentment? o This is the closing question because the assumption is that each person can take their answer to this question and begin applying it to their life. Encourage everyone to think about this question and to come up with one or two goals they want to work on throughout the week regarding their ideas and activities related to money. Caring Time: - Ask the group members if anyone would like to share something they’ve been doing differently in their life recently that demonstrates spiritual growth. Encourage each other to set “formative” goals for the coming week. - Take time for group members to share prayer requests. - Pray for the given requests. Try to vary the way you do prayer time from week to week so it is more than just “vain repetitions”. Some ideas are: o One person prays o Pray for each request as it is given o Sentence prayers around the circle o Partner (or threes) prayer o Silent Prayer o Have group members write prayers out and then read them. o Etc… (you’re creative!) o Remind group members of their commitment for the week and encourage them to carry it out!
  • Don’t Build Your Life Around Stuff That Will Never Last Rusty Toys (Matt 6:19-21) Preparation: The following notes and ideas are solely for you to use as you prepare to teach this week. Fell free to use them as you wish or don't use them at all! Observations from the story: Matthew 6:19-21 contains one of Jesus’ most powerful and well-known teachings about money, possessions, and priorities. His words are should inspire us to consider who our true masteris. 1. Wages and Worry: Matthew 6:1-34. The passage 6:19-21 occurs in an interesting context. It forms a bridge between two sets of teachings. It comes immediately after a series of teachings that show how giving, prayer, and fasting are to be done. These three disciplines are to be done in private. Those who do them in private will receive their reward from God. Those who do them in front of men already have received their reward in the form of the “applause of men.” So with this reward in mind Jesus teaches us to store our treasures in heaven rather than on earth. In verse 24, Jesus once again picks up on the metaphor of reward and wages when he teaches that man cannot serve both God and money. In verse 25, we find a 'therefore' which links the teachings involving rewards, treasure, and money to a teaching about worry. In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus teaches that we should not worry about material things. Jesus instructs us to seek first the kingdom of God. When we do that God will give us everything we need. If we are pursuing the kingdom, the rest will take care of itself. 2. Material Matters: Matthew 6:19-21 We live a material life. We are made of flesh and blood. We must eat and drink. So how are we going to be able to keep our minds on the kingdom of God, rather than on our flesh and blood? This is the question that Matthew 6:19-21 answers. When we perform the spiritual disciplines of giving, fasting and praying in private we receive a reward from God in heaven. By doing these things the right way we can keep our focus on God and on his kingdom. A treasure in this passage simply means something that is stored up. It could be anything from wealth to wages, to money, to crops, to clothing. In a material life it makes sense to us to store up our extra wealth and keep it for our own benefit. But material wages can be a big distraction from God and his kingdom just as the wages of the 'applause of men' can be for spiritual disciplines. Jesus teaches us that our concern should be to store up treasures in heaven. When we do this we can keep our focus on God and his kingdom just as preforming spiritual disciplines in the right way can. When we store up treasures in heaven our heart will follow our actions. 3. A Tale of Two Masters Perhaps the central teaching of Matthew 6:1-34 is found in 6:24. Jesus teaches that no man can serve two masters. In the teachings on giving, fasting and praying the contrast is made between rewards received from man and rewards received from God. In 6:19-21 The contrast is between treasure on earth and treasure in heaven. In 6:24 the contrast is between God and money. In 6:25-35 the contrast is between the pagans who seek food, drink and clothing and the disciples who are to seek the kingdom of heaven. In all these contrasts there is no compromise. You cannot have your cake and eat it to. You can either receive your reward from God or man. You cannot receive payment from both. You can either store up treasures on earth or in heaven. You cannot do both. You can either serve God or money. You cannot do both. You can either seek first your material needs or seek first the kingdom of God. You cannot do both. God understands that we are flesh and blood creatures but
  • He does not want us to serve our material nature. God wants us to serve him alone. Those who do, will receive rewards that only God can provide. God will reward us. Our hearts will be with our treasure in heaven. Our confidence in God’s provision removes the need for worrying. Central Theme of Lesson: Don’t Build Your Life Around Stuff That Will Never Last. GROUP MEETING Sharing Life: Remember, everyone should at least know everyone else’s names. Take some time to make sure this is • the case before you move on. Ask the group members if any of them have a “story” to share from the past week. If appropriate, take a • moment to pray for the “life situations” of the group members as they are revealed (remember, you’ll take more time later for group prayer). Have as many people as possible answer the following question: Describe the most perfect meal you • can imagine. What are the most “tempting” elements of the meal? Have everyone in the group answer the following question: • “There is a fire. You can save five things. What would you save?” Discuss what people chose and why they chose it. • Have the group discuss this question: • • How do people form emotional connections with material goods? Formative Time: As a group, Read Matthew 6:19-21 - What are the alternative choices Jesus suggests we must make regarding treasures (vv19-21), desires (vv22-23), and masters (v24)? • While all of life cannot be measured in black and white treasures, it often helps us to understand our own spiritual status if we can identify the ends of the spectrum and then honestly place ourselves between them. Here, though, Jesus makes it clear that there are some choices we make which make it impossible for us to follow him. Discuss why this is true. - How is our treasure linked with our heart? Our heart and our eyes? Our eyes and our body? Our master and our money? How does your choice of treasure, master and perception (vv19-24) affect your attitude toward life? • Too often we have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives. As a group discuss how so much of who we are and what we do is inter-related. Our spiritual development is definitely impacted by many choices we might often think of as irrelevant. - What can you learn about God’s care for you based on his care for the birds and lilies? • Read verses 25-27 a couple times if necessary to help them set in. Understanding God’s provision for us is crucial if we are to truly let Him be our master. - Considering your actions throughout the past week, is your quot;bank accountquot; on earth or in heaven? Who has been your master lately? Why? • Whether we like it or not, our actions are a very honest demonstration of our priorities. As a group, talk about how we might act differently if we want to demonstrate the priority of being like Jesus. - Why do we worry so much about money and possessions? Why pray when you can worry? What causes you the most worry? What is God saying to you through this passage about handling your particular worry?
  • Caring Time: - Ask the group members if anyone would like to share something they’ve been doing differently in their life recently that demonstrates spiritual growth. Encourage each other to set “formative” goals for the coming week. - Take time for group members to share prayer requests. - Pray for the given requests. Try to vary the way you do prayer time from week to week so it is more than just “vain repetitions”. Some ideas are: o One person prays o Pray for each request as it is given o Sentence prayers around the circle o Partner (or threes) prayer o Silent Prayer o Have group members write prayers out and then read them. o Etc… (you’re creative!) - Remind group members of their commitment for the week and encourage them to carry it out!