“In the Beginning” – Pastor Jim Glesne
Genesis 1:1-2 / Revelation 21:1-5
Look back at God’s providence over your life.
God is a God of new beginnings.
The Lord will do a new thing.
1. What would be consider “new beginnings” in your life?
2. What role have other people and/or the church made in your life?
3. Read Philippians 3:6b. What is Paul saying about himself, and perhaps us?
4. How does God’s faithfulness offer us a new beginning no matter where we find ourselves?
5. Read Lamentations 3:22-23. What does that say to you?
6. What does Isaiah 43:18-19 remind us of?
“Blessed in the Ordinary” – Matthew 5:1-12 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
Like a good rabbi, Jesus did most of his important and official teaching sitting down.
In these words, Jesus takes life situations we normally would like to avoid and unlocks their treasure.
Jesus offers true joy
God’s grace is revealed most powerfully because of pain and through pain.
In our pain, we re-discover God’s power to comfort and heal and the value of loving friends.
Nobody is lucky all the time.
Nothing can break the beatitudes but our lives will break when we live contrary to their spirit.
1. How do the beatitudes help you understand the saying, “you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control what happens in you”?
2. How have you found yourself believing that you “are not blessed” when these things have happened to you?
3. How radically do these words from Jesus contradict the normal thought pattern of most unbelievers?
4. How would embracing the truth behind all 8 of these beatitudes transform your thinking and behavior?
5. What are some of the examples of Jesus “practicing what he preached” with regard to these teachings?
6. Which beatitudes are you best at? Worst at?
7. What are some of the ways you’ve become aware of the blessings described by Jesus?
“Let Go and Let God” – Matthew 4:18-23 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
Faith or foolishness
The call of Jesus is short on details and long on uncertainty.
Your fear will tell you what you are afraid of leaving behind and taking a leap of faith.
When Jesus calls
Jesus drew people to Him because His words and actions promised a better life.
Jesus has the ability to see our true talent and transforms us with a higher calling.
God uses our past
Jesus knew that fishermen would be used to frustration, hard work, setbacks and obstacles.
You already know enough to rise up and follow.
- If you had been one of those early fishermen who were invited to follow Jesus what would you have done?
- What are some of the factors that might have enabled them to make such a major decision so quick?
- Spiritually, are you:
- Still tending the nets
- Leaving the boat
- Following hard after Jesus
- Feeling left behind
- How do you feel when you compare their decisions and behavior to your own relationship with Jesus and his desires for you?
- If the disciples would have known all that was going to happen, do you think they would have still followed so quickly?
- Where do you see signs of a miracle in this story?
- How does this story help you see God’s miraculous work in your life?
“That Life-Changing Moment” – Pastor Glesne
John 1:35-42; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
“If you will change the way you are looking at things – the things you are looking at will change.”
Thoughts and Questions:
If you get to where you’re going, will you be where you want to be?
If you find what you are looking for, what else will you need to make you happy?
God uses relationships to build a relationship.
1. Jesus invites
2. Jesus insures freedom and honors uniqueness
3. Jesus involves
“Something in the Water” – Matthew 3:13-17
Our bondage to sin is far worse that the bondage in Egypt.
Our baptism is not so much a ritual as it is a re-enactment of the Red Sea experience.
Life as it should be
The cleansing power of baptism does wonders for hearts and souls.
Assurance of our acceptance and identity free us to truly live.
Baptism is an “uh oh” event
Our baptism is loaded with responsibility and calls for a life-time commitment.
Never underestimate the power of repentance and baptism.
1. What do you know about your baptism? What does this tell you about how important it was to your family? To you?
2. How much of what Jesus heard at His baptism applies to you? How has this impacted your life?
3. Who has been a “John the Baptist” to you? With what effect?
4. During difficult time s in his life, Martin Luther would remind himself that he had been baptized. Why was this important?
5. The Great Commission ties baptism to teaching all that Jesus commanded. Why is this important? What happens when the full teaching is neglected?
6. How have you experienced God’s power through your baptism?
7. Whose baptism are you praying for on a regular basis?
“Seeing the Big Picture” – Matthew 2:13-23 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
The exile of baby Jesus reminds us of the dual threats of evil and ego.
Trust and obedience are once again highlighted by the holy family’s behavior.
An Awesome God
This story clearly reveals both the awesome power of God and God’s personal compassion.
God’s nature and will are not found by looking at our personal discomfort but are revealed in God’s faithfulness.
Getting on with life
The wisest and safest way live is under the shelter of God’s purposes.
As you face the problems of the New Year, make sure you also focus on God’s promises.
1. Where do you see similarities between your life and these experiences of Mary and Joseph?
2. What are some of the reasons why Mary and Joseph would have been tempted to doubt God rather than remain trusting and obedient? What can you learn from their experience?
3. How does this story change our perspective about thinking “bad things” shouldn’t happen to “good people?
4. When you look back at your life, when/how have you been the victim of evil/ego? How might the evil and ego been your own doing?
5. When/how can you now see that God was doing some amazing things during some of the most difficult times your past? How does the passage of time make that perspective easier to see?
6. How does this story help prepare you for the uncertainties of the coming year?
“Believe!” – Matthew 1:18-25 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
The problem with pride
Joseph’s first inclination would have been badly misguided.
Because of his humility, Joseph played a key role in our salvation story.
It takes a miracle/messenger
The radical transformation in Joseph is God’s goal for all of us.
God enables us to cross the border from the possible to the impossible.
Now it’s our turn
Joseph’s story reminds us that obedience is better than understanding.
Develop the attitude that problems are always loaded with possibilities.
1. How would you have felt if you had been in Joseph’s shoes as the Christmas story began to unfold?
2. How was Joseph’s “faith” challenge similar or different from Mary’s?
3. Why do you suppose some scholars think getting Mary and Joseph to “trust and obey” was bigger miracle than the virgin birth?
4. What comfort and encouragement can you gain from observing that Mary and Joseph left a powerful legacy by making great personal sacrifices in order to serve God?
5. Mary and Joseph both needed angels (messengers) to prepare them for what was being asked of them? How can you be more open to God’s messengers in your life? How can you be His messenger to others?
“Listen!” – Matthew 11:2-15 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
When faith leaks
Doubt can easily have a domino effect on the rest of our life.
In times of great stress we may find we look in the wrong places and listen to the wrong voices.
Re-energized by hope
Jesus preaching and teaching was a powerful mixture of criticism and encouragement.
Jesus shows us our faith is to be in the resurrection not in a revolution.
Now and not yet
Look and listen for a word from Jesus this Advent Season.
Be especially alert for the power of Jesus that gives you courage when things don’t change.
1. What are some of the reasons John the Baptist would have been so disillusioned?
2. What can you learn by comparing your life/circumstances to his?
3. What do you think of Jesus’ answer to John?
4. What do you think John was expecting from Jesus? How did his expectations contribute to his discouragement?
5. Look at how Jesus praised John, why should John find that comforting?
6. Look at how Jesus treated John in his dire predicament, what should that tell you about what you can expect in your struggles?
7. What advantages do you have over John in facing your doubts/fears?
“Prepare!” – Matthew 3:1-12 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
What the crowds know
John the Baptist spoke powerfully because he had a radical message and a radical method.
When we fail to plan we are planning to fail.
A much better way
God’s grace in Jesus motivates us to repent
Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of life.
1 John 1:8-9
Know your three R’s
Recognize – repentance is for failing people
Remorse – use the six hard words
Renewal – replace you old habits with better ones
2 Corinthians 5:17
1. How were the people in the crowds that came to listen to John the Baptist the same? Different?
2. Why is it so important (and hard) for religious people to repent?
3. What are some of the reasons it was so important for a messenger like John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry?
4. What are some of the similarities between the world of John the Baptist and our world?
5. What are some of the events/who are some of the people that helped prepare you for Jesus entry into your life?
6. What are some of the ways you can help others prepare to receive the Kingdom Jesus brings?
7. What are some of the things Victory has done in the past year to help “prepare the way of the Lord?”