Weekly questions and information
Paul is telling us one reason he wrote, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Here Paul reveals his top priority is not himself, but the gospel. He is unconcerned for himself because he knows he will, without a doubt, be delivered from prison, either by death into Jesus’ arms, or by acquittal into continued service to Christ. In either way Jesus will be honored, and Paul will be satisfied.
In this week’s study we will identify Paul’s priority, and try to show that it flowed from his trust in and satisfaction with Jesus. We will then examine our own priorities and think through whether our self-concern is a result of failing to experience Christ’s concern for us.
- What stood out to you in Bill’s sermon on suffering?
- Honestly complete the sentence: For me, to live is _________?
- Read Vs 21. What is the priority of Paul’s liflook like for Paul to honor Christ in life? In death?
- What about Paul’s experience of Christ allows him to prioritize the Gospel and Christ’s honor above his own wellbeing? What guarantees does he have from Christ?
- Comment on this statement: “Joy comes from seeing our ‘little stories’ in light of God’s big story”
- How do your priorities in life affect those around you? Do others see the gospel as a priority in your life and become more confident in the Lord?
- What about your experiences of Christ convinces you that to die and be with him is gain? In what ways has Christ captured your heart with the prospect of fruitful labor?
- What changes do you need to make to your lifestyle to demonstrate that the gospel and Christ’s honor are your top priorities?
In these verses Paul reminds the Christians at Thessalonica that, while he was with them, he said repeatedly they would experience persecution. Just as he had predicted, persecution had struck, and they were fully aware of the fact. Suffering is the way of the Christian.
Peter describes believers’ trials as a good thing, because they prove the genuineness of our faith and bring praise, glory, and honor at Jesus’ coming (1 Peter 1:6–7). James states: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4). Such a positive attitude would enable the Thessalonians to see God’s purpose in trials and keep them unmoved by their afflictions (1 Thessalonians 3:3).
Christians in America are often surprised by suffering. Many a believer’s faith collapses underure. But suffering is a tool in the hand of a loving sovereign God, to increase our ministry, produce humility, and redirect our attention toward heaven. So this week’s discussion will be on the purpose of suffering.
- Did anything stand out to you from Bill’s message from 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 on suffering?
- What is it about suffering that causes people to ask why?
- Bill reminded us to expect suffering for the cause of Christ. How is this attitude different from the attitude that most American Christians have towards suffering and trials because of their faith in Christ?
- Is it sometimes good to suffer? Is there a benefit to it? Read Psalm 119:71; Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4; John 9:1-3.
- It seems that some people suffer more than others. Why is this? Read Isaiah 55:8-9, Psalm 73:16-17, Psalm 135:6.
- When tragedy strikes in your life, how do you cope? Do you scramble to find some framework to make sense of it all in the moment? Do you temporarily adopt a religious framework just to get through and then discard it when it’s not useful anymore? Or do you have a worldview that is objective, immovable, and not subject to the ever-changing circumstances of life? What is that for you?
- Focusing on the greater reward helps us endure difficulty. Bill said the hope of heaven was the reason many early believers embraced suffering. What do you say to those who say that heaven sounds boring or that they don’t WANT to live forever?
- Do you have any final thoughts on the issue of suffering?
Christians are involved in spiritual warfare against a real adversary—Satan and evil forces. If we doubt we are at war, we can be deceived. If we believe we are at war, we would likely take action and get prepared. Satan’s strategy is to get you to take eyes of the truths of scripture and on to the temptation.
A strategy of war is to know enemy, know your strategy, know your resources. Satan’s strategy to get you to take eyes of the truths of scripture and on to the temptation so we will talk about our strategy and resources as believers.
- What stood out to you from the weekend sermon? Summarize it in a sentence or two.
- What lies do you believe that you need to identify, challenge and replace with truth?
- What do you find yourself focusing or thinking about that you shouldn’t be focusing? What’s taking your eyes off the scriptures and on to the temptation?
- Read Luke 4:1-12. What made these temptations tempting?
- What was the power in the truths of scripture Jesus quoted? Were they just magic words that when quoted, caused Satan to flee or was there something more?
- Are you familiar enough with the scriptures to know the truth and not be fooled by a counterfeit?
- Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Why does Paul begin this section with the command to be strong in the Lord? How does one obey that command?
The scriptures are the word of God with authority and when obeyed, has the power to transform us from the inside out. Paul is thankful that the scripture were received and accepted and obeyed by the Thessalonians.
Three important words to our maturity as believers:
- What stood out to you from the weekend sermon?
- Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14. Read it again but translate it into your own words.
- What’s the difference between the words “Receive” and “Accept”? Why are they important?
- How do you view the Bible?
- As the word of God with authority?
- A book of suggestions?
- A buffet line in a cafeteria where you pick and choose?
- What effect does the Word of God have on us if we believe it to be true and not just from humans?
- Comment on the idea that the word of God is like a mirror that reveals what we truly are but sometimes make us uncomfortable so we pick and choose what of scripture we will receive.
- Read Matthew 13:1-8. What soil best describes you?
- What do you want God (the Farmer) to do in your heart so you can bear fruit?
- Read Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus talks about the importance of the foundation in this. Parable? According to the text, what is the rock or the sand and why is it important?
Paul admonishes the Thessalonians to walk in a manner worthy of God. He points out his conduct so that those reading his letter would learn from his example and do likewise.
Paul showed these believers what it looks like to Walk in a manner worthy of God. From his behavior in Thessalonica, three words stand out — Character, Communication and Conduct. This week’s discussion will center around these three words and how to make your life count.
- What stood out to you from Bill’s message?
- In verses 3 and 4 Paul refers to motives. Why are motives important? What things are specifically mentioned about what Paul didn’t do as he shared the gospel? What are some ways we can have wrong motives in ministry?
- Character is what you truly are. Reputation is what you want people to think you are. Pressure reveals our character or what is truly in us? Has this pandemic revealed something you need to work on? How can you work on it?
- Read verses 5-7. Comment on what Bill said that “Most conversations are people trying to get something from someone else.” Do you agree with that statement? Have you ever done this? Explain.
- Read Colossians 4:6. What do you think Paul means when he writes “Let your speech always be gracious”? Is it possible to be gracious and to still present a message that might be hard to receive? Explain.
- Read Ephesians 4:1-3. What does Paul mean when he says walk (live) worthy of the Lord?
Character, conduct, and good conversation matter. If your life is characterized by these three things, you can say your life is not in vain.
We looked at the lives of 4 women in Jesus’ genealogy, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba and how they became part of the lineage of the messiah.
Your story is God’s story Tell it!
- Reflect on what you have heard in Steve’s message. What are a few things you found out about God from this message? What is you biggest takeaway?
- Read Ephesians 2:10 and Deuteronomy 32:7. How have you discovered that there is purpose in your past? In what ways do you believe God wants to use your experiences to encourage others? Describe some for your group.
- Someone once said, “If we had no shortcomings, there could be no overcomings.” Think about your weaknesses. What are they? Get vulnerable and share with your group. How might God use these shortcomings to encourage the life of another person?
- Telling your story can be intimidating. What are some concerns you have about sharing your faith with people you know?