Who is someone that you consider a family member even though they are not actually a blood relative?
Thank You, Father, for the families You have given us.
1 John 4:20 NLT: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?”
Bethany’s mission statement is “bringing all people into the life, family, and purpose of God.” Christianity is as much about our relationships with other Christians as it is about our relationship with God. Let’s talk about how the church can become as close to you, or even closer, than actual family members.
Jesus started a new family, a family that is not based on physical attributes or genetic makeup (read Ephesians 2:14–16, 19). If another person is a Christian, then that individual is your brother or sister in Christ, regardless of whether you would normally hang out with them.
What are some of the attributes that people use to categorize people as being “in” or “out” of their group of friends? (e.g., political affiliation, race, financial status)
Jesus is the foundation of our new family. Regardless of our backgrounds and appearances, we have a lot in common.
What are some of the things that all Christians have in common?
Because we are family, we should pursue authentic relationships with one another.
When was the last time you pursued a relationship with another believer? Were you able to become friends with that person? Share with the group.
We should accept everyone in the family of God. Be on the lookout for those believers who need to be connected to others, and reach out to them.
In His Word, God tells us to carry one another’s burdens, to share with those in need, and to pray for and with each other. As Christians, we are supposed to do life together.
When was the last time you shared with another believer in need or prayed with another believer?
Make a coffee date or lunch/dinner date this week with another believer (guys with guys, ladies with ladies, couples with couples). When you get together, be sure to discuss spiritual matters at some point during your visit.
Think of someone you know who is a believer, but not well-connected. Invite that person to your home for dinner or out for coffee (guys with guys, ladies with ladies, couples with couples).
The Path of Life
Do you know someone who is in need? What could be done to meet that need?
Thank You, Lord, that You put our feet on the path of life.
“You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence” (Acts 2:28 ESV).
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers… . And they were selling their possessions and belongings and sharing the proceeds with all, as any had need” (Acts 2:42, 45 ESV, emphasis added).
Raising our hand to be saved is not the end of our spiritual journey, but only the beginning. The real joy comes when serving the Lord becomes our lifestyle. Being on the path of life brings enjoyment because we are in love with the things of God.
The things that we love and enjoy we become devoted to. Nobody has to prod us to engage in our favorite activities, because we are fascinated by them. The path of following the Lord can become the joy of our lives because of the level of joy found in His presence.
The only way to change a bad habit is through pain, and the best way to establish a good habit is through reward. In the same way that we exercise physically, we can exercise our spirit man by spending time in God’s Word and presence. As we form good habits on the path of life, part of the reward is the pleasure we experience in the presence of the Lord.
Have you ever felt pleasure while spending time with the Lord? Share with the group.
Bible reading is key to experiencing joy in the presence of God and to hearing specific words from Him. Something will jump off the page and speak volumes to your spirit man.
When did you develop the habit of daily Bible reading? Share the change it made in your life.
Fellowship needs to be a regular part of our calendar. The Bible assumes we will be part of a local church. Many New Testament scriptures emphasize the importance of being in fellowship both in homes and in church.
How do you feel when you get together with other believers? What reward of fellowship have you personally experienced?
We need to pray on track. Because our attention span is so short, it is helpful to have a specific track to pray through. The Lord’s Prayer, for example, takes us through an outline to order our thoughts as we pray.
Important points in prayer are worship: singing psalms, worshiping God in His glory; repentance: examining our hearts and minds and receiving cleansing; infilling: inviting the Holy Spirit to empower us; and petition: asking God to bless and help our families, friends, and leaders.
Are you satisfied with your prayer life? What track do you follow, and how does it help you?
When a believer finds his enjoyment and recreation in the things of God, he is safe on the path of life. Don’t sit on the fence and live a wishy-washy life. Get into God’s presence and train your spirit man to derive pleasure there.
This week, read the Bible with a plan and pray on a specific track as Pastor Larry described. Allow your enjoyment to start in God’s presence and end in fellowship with other believers.
What did you and your family eat for Easter?
Thank You, Father, for bringing people across our paths.
John 4:6–7 NLT: “Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’”
John 4:28–29 NLT: “The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?’”
Could it be that you are not as much a people person as you think you are? Have you ever felt like you don’t have a moment’s peace because people constantly interrupt and talk to you? God, however, loves people nonstop. As God’s people, we need to be like Him, aware of those He places in our paths, Don’t cop out on ministry opportunities by saying, “I’m just not a people person,” or “That’s not how I’m wired.” Jesus never used excuses to avoid ministry, and neither should we. Even though He was very tired, He ministered to the Samaritan woman and thus changed her life. In this lesson, let’s look at three ways to accomplish God’s mission of bringing all people into His kingdom.
Do you consider yourself a people person or are you more task oriented? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each position?
Jesus crossed cultural taboos by asking the woman at the well for a drink. He could have gotten His own water, but He wanted to strike up a conversation with her. Although He had grown up in a culture that frowned upon such interactions, He looked beyond the fact that she was a Samaritan. For many of us today, there is a tendency to guard against compassion because we feel we are frequently taken advantage of.
Have you ever struggled to see people with compassion because of the sector of society they come from? What helped you to change your preconceived ideas? Share with the group.
Jesus used a very straightforward approach with the woman. He did not pull any punches, but boldly shared a word of knowledge about her life of sin. She then went and told her entire village to “come see a man.” She was bringing people to the Lord before she herself was converted! Don’t let the devil convince you that you should keep your walk with the Lord to yourself. Share it often and share it boldly.
Has God ever used you to invite others to come to Him? What is your most effective “pickup line” that you use when sharing with others?
We accomplish God’s mission by sharing what the Lord has done in our lives. If we can go on and on about a great restaurant experience, why can’t we go on and on about our church and what Jesus has done for us? Your testimony is the best sermon you will ever preach. Tell others three things: (1) who you were, (2) what God has done for you, and (3) where you are now.
Have you gotten better at sharing your testimony in a timely fashion? What has helped you grow in this area?
Peter needed the assistance of others to bring in the miraculous catch. Similarly, we are not meant to walk this Christian life alone. Don’t isolate yourself from your brothers and sisters in Christ; this is where discouragement happens. Join a team to accomplish the task of bringing in all people to the kingdom.
Sometimes you have to press through and extend yourself to others even when you don’t feel like it. In those times, be compassionate, and share what has happened in your life.
Practice telling your story in a 90-second version, sharing who you were, what God has done for you, and where you are now. Ask someone this week, “Where are you planning on going to church this weekend?” Then invite them to Bethany in the same way you would rave about an exceptional restaurant experience.
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