Bible Study (Adult)

United in Peace, for the World, We Are Called to Be Disciples Who Make Disciples

The Way of Jesus: Matthew 4:19-20

Overview

This week we hear the invitation of Jesus to “Follow me.” It’s an invitation to walk in his way, to do what he did, to go where he calls. For this week’s small group we invite you to practice (and plan to practice) the text.

You may want to break into smaller groups to allow for more robust conversation.

DEMONSTRATING THE GOOD NEWS
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV).

The practice of outreach is about making what is paramount to Jesus paramount to us: loving the outsider and pursuing the lost. As followers of Jesus, we are called to demonstrate and announce the good news of Jesus—both acts are essential components of what it means to engage a lost and broken world.

We demonstrate the good news by

  • Responding tangibly to a needy world
  • Creating and advancing the good, true, and beautiful in every sphere of life

DISCUSSION

Share with one another:

  1. What opportunities exist for you to demonstrate the good news this week?
  2. Where in your work, parenting, school, or _____ do you have the opportunity to partner with God in the renewal of that space?
  3. What is one specific next step you will take this week to engage the world around you?

Spend time praying for the people and places God has put on your heart. Feel free to use the following prayers:

  • I pray that you would provide for _____ who is in need this week. I pray that you would be present with those who are needy among us, and that you would show me how I can be present with them as well (Acts 4:32-35).
  • I ask you to open my eyes to injustice around me, and I pray that you would show me how to participate in your work of justice and mercy this week (Isaiah 58:6-7).
  • Your kingdom come, your will be done, in ______ (workplace, family, school) as it is in heaven this week (Matthew 6:9-13).

DAILY EXAMEN
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19, NIV).

“Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness” (Psalm 26:2-3, NIV).

The Examen is an ancient spiritual practice that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience. We believe that God is present and at work in all of our experiences, but the reality is that we often fail to notice this. The Examen is designed to cultivate our awareness of God’s activity in our life. As we review the events of the past day or week, we search for two things: times when we were aware of God’s presence (“consolation”), and times when we missed him (“desolation”). Over time, this practice can train us to more readily recognize God’s presence and activity in the present moment, particularly as we become aware of patterns.

PRACTICE TOGETHER

In Silence

Think back over your day or week, and identify moments of consolation and moments of desolation.

Share

  • Consolation: When were you aware of God’s presence? When did you feel close to God?
  • Desolation: When were you unaware of God’s presence? When did you feel distant from God?
  • What patterns do you notice? What significance do you see in your responses?

Pray

Thank God for his constant presence with us—that he is with us when we are aware of him, and with us when we aren’t. Ask for his help to recognize him in the places we tend to miss him, the situations that cause us to doubt, the times we feel alone.

PRACTICE BLESSING
“When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them” (Luke 24:50, NIV).

“To give a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer. It is more than a word of praise or appreciation. It is more than pointing out someone’s talents or good deeds; it is more than putting someone in the light. To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to a person’s Belovedness.” —Henri Nouwen

The discipline of blessing is a beautiful gift we can offer one another in the midst of a culture that constantly critiques and compares. What do we see in each other that is worthy of honor? If we were writing toasts for each other, what would we say? What do we see or believe about who someone is that they might struggle to believe about themselves?

PRACTICE TOGETHER

Share blessings for each person in your group, one person at a time. Ask one person to sit and receive while the other members of the triad take turns blessing them.

For those doing the blessing:

  • If you know the person well enough, call out something true and good about who they are and bless them for it—even something you have noticed in your group discussion today: “John, I bless you for your faithfulness as a friend. God, thank you for X, Y, and Z about John, and help him to continue pursuing you and becoming more and more like you.”
  • If you don’t know the person well enough to do the above, bless them with something more general. Fruits of the Spirit are a great place to start: “John, I bless you with joy, that you would delight in God’s love for you this week. God, would you fill John with joy this week.”
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