Sunday Service 10:30am

Rusty Wirt - January 5, 2020

A Simple Definition

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Discussion Questions


8.18 – My Words

Ephesians 4:17-32

1. Near the beginning of his message, Pastor Rusty shared some things kids say they wish they could have done more. Most of them involve relationships. What things do you wish you could have done more as a kid? What things do you wish you could do more of now? What’s stopping you?

2. Read Ephesians 4:17-24. In this passage, Paul states that there should be a noticeable difference between the behavior of believers and non-believers. Do you agree? Why or why not?

3. Read Ephesians 4:26-27. In what ways does unresolved anger give the devil a foothold in our lives and relationships?

4. Read Ephesians 4:29. What filters does Paul encourage us to place on our words? In what ways would a typical day’s conversations change for you if you followed these guidelines?

5. Read Ephesians 4:32. According to this verse, what is the standard for how we should forgive others? How is that different from the standard we often use instead?

1. Think of your words as the building blocks of your relationships. Take a few moments to reflect on the conversations you had in your most important relationships this past week. What things did your words build in the lives of those people? What things can you do to improve on that this week?

2. Forgiveness can be tough. What do you tend to require from people before you are willing to forgive them? Where would you be if God applied those same standards to you? Ask God to help you recall the depth of His grace and mercy the next time you hesitate to forgive someone.


8.25 – No Pain, No Gain

Galatians 6:1-3, Proverbs 27:6

1. Read Proverbs 27:6 and Ephesians 4:15. Are you more likely to believe people when they tell you something about yourself that you agree with or want to hear? What are some of the dangers of doing that?

2. Is being nice the same as following Jesus? Why or why not? Give an example of something you might not say or do if you value being nice over following Jesus.

3. Read Galatians 6:1. What guidelines does this verse give us about confronting other believers? Why are these important?

4. Read Galatians 6:2 and Romans 15:1-2. In these verses, Paul tells us that we have an obligation to help other believers who are struggling, not to merely stand by and point out their faults and failures. In what ways can we carry each other’s burdens?

5. Read Galatians 6:3, Romans 12:3, Matthew 7:1-5 and Romans 14:10-13. According to these passages, what are some of the pitfalls we need to be careful to avoid whenever we reach out to help restore someone?

1. What areas of your life do you tend to consider to be “off limits” to input from other people? Why do you think you put up those barriers? Ask God to help you be humble enough to receive wise counsel from others regarding these areas, even when it may be hard to hear.

2. Think about the last time you confronted someone close to you. How did that go? Did you treat that person the same way you would have liked to have been treated if you were the one being confronted? In light of this week’s message, what could you do differently next time to improve the outcome?


9.1 – Goodness and Pain

1 Samuel 25:1-42

1. First Samuel 25:4-11 tells the story of a wealthy farmer named Nabal. Everyone in Bible times would have understood that after David and his men protected the farmer’s flocks from thieves, the farmer would pay them for their work. However, when it was time to settle up, Nabal insulted David and his men and refused to pay them for their help. Why is it so hard to deal with people who think only of themselves?

2. In 1 Samuel 25:12-22, we read of David’s angry reaction to being treated badly. He intended to kill Nabal and every male member of his household. While David’s anger was justified, he overreacted. If we aren’t very careful when we deal with foolish, self-centered people, we will become foolish and self-centered ourselves. How can we guard against falling into that trap?

3. In the passage above, David nearly made a disastrous mistake because he was angry and frustrated. Have you ever made a bad decision in anger that you later regretted? What are three practical steps you can take to prevent yourself from acting foolishly during a moment of anger?

4. In 1 Samuel 25:23-34, we learn how the wise, resourceful Abigail helped David reconsider what he was about to do. Can you think of a time when a small-minded, petty person brought you down to their level? Can you think of another time when a wise person appealed to your better nature and stopped you from making a mistake you would have regretted? What steps can you take in the future to help make sure you avoid making the kinds of decisions you will later regret?

5. In 1 Samuel 25:35-42, God provided for David and his men and settled things with Nabal, too. How would the story likely have ended differently if David had taken matters into his own hands instead of allowing God to take care of him and his men and settle the score with Nabal?

1. Can you think of any godly friends who might, like Abigail, help you become a more mature, godly person? Consider asking them this week to help hold you accountable for making wise choices in difficult relationships.

2. When we respond to pain with good judgment and patience, God can use us to help break the cycle of hatred and hurt. Take a few moments right now to ask God to use you to be a peacemaker and to help bring peace into the chaos of our self-centered, angry society by starting with your own relationships.


9.8 – Relational Diagnostics

2 Corinthians 5:10-16

1. Relationships can get pretty messy sometimes and we don’t always handle that mess in healthy ways. What is your typical response when things start getting messy in a relationship? How do your friends and family members typically respond when things get messy for them?

2. Read 2 Corinthians 6:11-12. In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis states: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal.” In what ways does loving someone make you vulnerable?

3. Sometimes it’s tempting to feel like relationships just aren’t worth the trouble and the vulnerability. Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-12. In this passage, what reasons does Paul give us for persevering in our relationships when things get messy and we’re ready to quit?

4. Read John 3:16-17 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. According to these passages, for whom did Jesus die? Which people have been excluded from His love?

5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:16, 1 Samuel 16:1-13 and 1 Timothy 1:12-16. According to these passages, what kinds of things do we need to take into consideration if we are going to see people the way God sees them?

1. Think of a time when you made yourself vulnerable to someone and were hurt in the process. Did that experience change the way you related to them – and others – after that? Ask God to heal any hurt places you still have that may be keeping you from being willing to make yourself as vulnerable as you need to be in your present relationships.

2. What kinds of things tend to make it hard for you to recognize someone’s eternal value? Do you think other people might have similar difficulties regarding you at times? Take a few moments to ask God to give you a deeper understanding of His amazing love and to help you see others the way He sees them.


9.15 – Relational Diagnostics – Part 2

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

1. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17. What do you think of in a general sense when you hear the words “new creation”? In what ways are we made new when we receive God’s offer of reconciliation?

2. Read 2 Corinthians 5:18. According to this verse, who initiated this idea of reconciliation with God? How does that make you feel?

3. Read 2 Corinthians 5:19. How was this reconciliation with God achieved? Who is included in this reconciliation? What alternative avenues for reconciliation with God does He lay out for us?

4. Read 2 Corinthians 5:20. What special role does God give to those who have received this reconciliation? What is the primary purpose of this role?

5. Read 2 Corinthians 5:21. To restate this verse, we could say that although Jesus was not a sinner, He was treated like one so that we sinners, who were not righteous like Jesus was, could be treated like Him. What does this tell us about God? About Jesus? About ourselves?

1. If you are a believer, what does it mean to you to know that you have been reconciled to God? If you are not yet a believer, what would you say is keeping you from being willing to accept God’s offer of reconciliation?

2. As a believer, take a few moments to ask God how to be an effective ambassador for Him this week in your current relationships.


9.22 – Hometown Sermon

Luke 4:14-30

1. Pastor Rusty shared that the average person spends almost three hours a day on their smartphone and taps/swipes/clicks their phone 2617 times a day. Does that surprise you? Why or why not? How would you say your personal smartphone usage compares with those numbers?

2. Pastor Rusty also shared that in spite of the average person spending 76 minutes a day on the top five social media apps (which are all about connecting with others), loneliness, isolation and feelings of disconnection are at epidemic levels. Why do you think that is?

3. Read Luke 4:16-21. This passage tells us that Jesus came for the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed. We know that throughout His ministry, Jesus reached out to those who literally fit these descriptions, but His ministry goes much further than that to include those who fit this description in other ways. In what ways does Jesus help those who are spiritually poor, imprisoned, blind and oppressed?

4. Read Luke 4:24-29. What point was Jesus making by giving these two examples? Why do you think this made His audience so angry?

5. According to Christianity Today, 20 percent of non-Christians in North America say they do not personally know any Christians. Worldwide, 80 percent of non-Christians say that they do not personally know any Christians. What does this tell us about ourselves as believers?

1. How much time would you say you spend each day on your smartphone and social media apps? Compare that with how much time you spend each day in quality, face-to-face time with family members and friends. Name one step you will take this week to invest more quality time in your personal relationships.

2. How many non-Christians are in your circle of friends? Ask God to help you be more aware of opportunities to step outside your relational comfort zone and include more non-Christians.


9.29 – Unexpected Company

Luke 7:36-50, Psalm 136

1. Read Matthew 9:10-13, Luke 7:34 and John 1:14. One of the primary characters in this week’s message is a Pharisee, who typically separated himself from everyone and everything that he perceived to be unholy and sinful in order to demonstrate his superior spirituality. In fact, the very name Pharisee means “separated ones.” In these passages, how does Jesus’ life and ministry stand in contrast to the Pharisees’ philosophy?

2. Read Luke 9:46, 10:29, 18:9-12 and 22:24. According to these verses, what standard do we often use to determine our status with God? Now read Romans 3:23. According to this verse, what is the true standard?

3. Read Luke 7:41-42. In this story, one person’s debt was ten times the debt of the other person. Which one was able to pay their debt? How were the debts paid? Now read Colossians 2:13-14 and Ephesians 2:1-5, 8-9. In these passages, how does Paul say our sin debt to God has been paid? Whose sin debts are included in this payment?

4. Read Luke 7:44-50. Jesus starts off by asking Simon a very unusual question: “Do you see this woman?” Obviously, Simon didn’t see her – at least, not in the way that Jesus did. Simon didn’t really see her – someone made in the image of God and deeply loved by Him. Simon only saw her sin. Have you ever been so distracted by someone else’s sin that you wrote them off spiritually? Have you ever been so distracted by your own sin that you have written yourself off spiritually? How does Jesus address those questions in this passage?

5. Look back at Luke 7:44-50. Compare the woman’s response to Jesus with Simon’s response. What stands out to you? What do you think accounts for the difference? What is likely to happen to those who perceive themselves to have been forgiven “little” by God?

1. Think of someone you have a difficult time “seeing.” Ask God to help you really see them, not just their sin, and to look for ways to extend the love of God to them this week.

2. How grateful are you to God for the love and mercy He has shown you? To what degree is that reflected in how you spend your time? Your money? In how you treat other people? Take a few moments right now to thank Him for what He has done for you and to check for any areas of your life where you may need a “gratitude adjustment.”


10.6 – Jesus is Coming Over for Dinner

Luke 5:27-32, Mark 2:15

1. Near the beginning of this week’s message, Pastor Rusty shared some “Guess Who?” snapshots of individuals many people would have written off as hopeless causes, but whom God reached out to and restored to Himself. What does this tell us about God? What does this tell us about ourselves?

2. Read Jonah 3:10-4:3, Luke 5:30 and Luke 9:51-54. What commonly held attitudes about sinful people do we see voiced by the religious leaders in these passages? Now read Ezekiel 18:23, Jonah 4:4+11, Luke 5:31-32 and Luke 9:55. What do these passages tell us about how God views sinful people?

3. Read Mark 2:15. According to this verse, Jesus didn’t seem to be bothered that imperfect people were following Him. And they seemed to be comfortable enough around Him to continue following Him, in spite of their struggles. Do you feel comfortable enough with Jesus to draw near to Him with your sins and failures? Why or why not?

4. If you were invited to the home of someone who had a “questionable” reputation, would you go? Why or why not? If you invited them to your home, do you think they would come? Why or why not?

5. Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus encountering people in the common places of life. What examples do we see in these verses: Luke 5:29, John 2:1-2, Matthew 8:14-15 and John 7:11-15? What other common places can you think of that could provide you with additional opportunities to connect with someone different than you?

1. Is there anyone you know whom you tend to think of as a hopeless cause? Ask God to forgive you and then take a few moments to pray for that person and for an opportunity to reach out to them this week.

2. When was the last time you had dinner with someone who is different than you? Ask God to show you someone and then try to schedule something with them within the next few weeks.


10.13 – Jesus is Coming Over for Dinner – Part 2

Luke 19:1-9

1. Read Luke 9:57, 10:38, 17:11-12 and 19:1. What do these verses tell us about the ministry style of Jesus?

2. Read Luke 19:5. Who spoke first in this encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus? Do you typically speak first in your everyday encounters with people or do you wait for others to speak first? What kinds of things make you hesitant to speak first?

3. Read Luke 19:8-9. In what ways did Zacchaeus change after his encounter with Jesus? In what ways did your life change after your encounter with Jesus?

4. Read Matthew 14:55-58, 19:16-22 and John 6:60-66. Despite the fact that Jesus was God in the flesh, was a master communicator and loved everyone unconditionally, not everyone received His message. What lessons can we learn from that regarding our relationships with unbelievers?

5. Read Mark 4:26-29 and 1 Corinthians 3:5-8. What do these passages tell us about spiritual transformation? How can these principles help us as we develop relationships with unbelievers?

1. Despite the fact that he was wealthy and had a certain amount of power, Zacchaeus was so desperate to see Jesus that he climbed a tree. Do you know anyone who, although they appear to “have it all,” seems to be desperately searching for more? Take a few moments to pray for them and ask God to open their eyes to truly see Jesus as He is.

2. How many people do you typically see “as you go” through any given day? Do you take time to really “see” them and connect with them or are you usually rushing to get to the next thing you have to do? What one step can you take this week to add more margin to your life so you have time to begin building relationships with some of these people?


10.20 – Jesus Is Ready To Listen

Luke 8:40-56

1. Read Luke 8:41-43. In what ways are Jairus and this woman different? What things do they have in common?

2. Read Mark 5:25-34 and Luke 8:43-48. What risks did this woman have to take to get to Jesus? What risks did you personally have to take (or might you have to take) to get to Jesus?

3. Read Luke 8:49. How do you think Jairus felt when he heard this report? How does it make you feel when you ask God for something but it doesn’t happen on your timetable?

4. Read Luke 8:50-56. What truths can we learn about trusting Jesus from what happens next in His encounter with Jairus?

5. Read James 2:17. Both Jairus and the woman believed Jesus could help them. Was that enough? Why or why not?

1. Would you consider yourself an insider or outsider regarding organized religion? Whichever you are, in what ways does this week’s message help you feel included and cared for by Jesus?

2. Is there any area of your life in which you are not acting upon what you say you believe about Jesus? What step can you take this week to change that?


11.03 – Life in Exile

2 Kings 25:1-11, Daniel 1:1-8

1. In this week’s message, Pastor Rusty shared D.A. Carson’s statement that “the rate of cultural change has sped up.” What cultural changes have you noticed in the last year? In the last five years? How are these changes different from what you experienced when you were growing up? How does that make you feel?

2. An exile is someone who has been sent away or kept away from their own country. Read 2 Kings 24:2-3,8-14,20. According to these verses, why did the kingdom of Judah go into exile?

3. Read Daniel 1:1-21. How would you feel if you were suddenly taken captive and carried off into a land and culture that was foreign to you? What lessons can we learn from Daniel about how to thrive in such an environment?

4. Read John 15:19, Phillipians 3:20 and 2 Corinthians 5:6-10. In what ways could believers be considered exiles in this world?

5. Read Matthew 5:13-16, John 15:16 and 2 Corinthians 5:16-20. According to these passages, what is the purpose of our “exile” here? How does that purpose influence how you look at the culture?

1. What is your typical response to cultural changes that differ from your personal beliefs and preferences? Anger? Fear? Disgust? Apathy? Compassion? Something else? Take a few moments to ask God to give you a fresh perspective that is spiritually responsive rather than emotionally reactive.

2. Name one positive thing about the current culture. In what way(s) could that be harnessed to influence people for Jesus?


11.10 – The Dividing Line

Daniel 1:1-14

1. Read Daniel 1:8-14. Although Daniel had a difference of opinion regarding the king’s plan for him, he used wisdom in how he expressed that opinion. What principles can we learn from his example about how to engage those with whom we disagree?

2. Read Psalm 119:9-16,33-34,105. Daniel’s convictions arose out of his love for God and His Word. To what degree would you say your love for God and His Word influences your decisions on a daily basis? What other things tend to compete with that?

3. What things about our present culture disturb you? What steps have you taken – or could you start taking – to help bring about positive change in those areas?

4. Read Romans 12:1-2. What things about our present culture do you enjoy? In what areas do you find the need to apply scriptural filters to avoid making moral compromises?

5. What are some of the dangers of simply “going with the flow” of the culture?

1. Think of a time when you confronted someone regarding a cultural issue and the encounter did not go well. In light of this week’s message, what could you do differently next time?

2. Is there any area of your life in which you find it difficult to resist cultural influences? Name one step you can take to help you stand by your convictions in the future.