CG Guide (Ephesians 1:5-6)

“Predestined for Adoption” (Series: From the Mountain Peak)

Scripture: Ephesians 1:5-6

Sermon Summary 

The doctrine of election and predestination can be tricky to understand but one thing is clear, they do not present God as cold and heartless. In fact Paul claims in Ephesians 1 that God’s purpose in election was to adopt us as sons to himself. Election then was the beginning stages of our adoption process! This means our salvation is not simply redemptive (slaves set free from spiritual bondage) but it’s ultimately relational (orphans made his sons and fought into his family). Paul teaches us that in love God desired and determined to make us sons in his Son. 

Adoption is a definitive and legal status change by which we are brought into God’s family and given a new status as sons. We are no longer slaves and orphans. This is an objective reality that is true regardless of whether we feel it to be true or not. God has done this work and nothing we can do, not even our worst sins, can undo his adopting work. We are given an irreversible new name, new identity and new status. And in our adoption, God becomes our Father. This is why adoption is a glorious blessing and the crown joy of believers in their salvation. God’s fatherly identity is available to us through Jesus. God gave us his Son in order to gain us as sons. And being united now to Jesus, the Son of God, we now receive adoption as sons of God. 

Being sons of God in the Son of God means also that the affections of the Father for Jesus are the same affections he has for us. In fact, in Christ we receive the very love that was reserved for and deserved by Jesus himself. Sharing in his sonship, we become God’s beloved. That’s why in Ephesians 5:1 Paul writes, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” United to the Beloved of God, we now are beloved by God which means no depth of our sin or magnitude of our failure can reverse and rewrite God’s adoption. In Christ, we are not more loved by God at our best and we are not less loved by God at our worst.

The glories of adoption are countless but here are at least two things that will happen when we grasp our adoption. First, our prayers become more intimate. When we address God, we have the great privilege of calling him “Father.” We don’t have to dress up our words to God hoping they’ll get his attention but we can pray earnestly and intimately because we already have his ear and his favor through Christ. Second, our prayer requests become more vulnerable. Calling God “Father” reminds us that we are all his needy, dependent children. Instead of trying to put our best foot forward, we can honestly and vulnerably share how we need our loving Father to meet us in our lives. As a result of this, we share and we pray to our Father in heaven as his children. 

Suggested Group Discussion Questions 

  1. Free discussion on the passage/sermon: Did you come to understand anything new or better? Was there anything that was clarified for you, convicted you, confused you, challenged you or comforted you? Share, comment, reflect on any part of Ephesians 1:5-6 that stood out.
  2. How do you feel about addressing or viewing God as “Father”? Is this normal for you or foreign to you? Easy for you or difficult for you? Why is is our adoption the “crown jewel” of the gospel and the highest privilege to enjoy? 
  3. What are the obstacles to sharing prayer requests more vulnerably and honestly? Spell out in your own words how being a child of God affects our prayers and our prayer requests. 
  4. Doxology: Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this sermon? 
  5. Response: Formulate a one sentence prayer that’s informed by the passage and the sermon. This prayer should articulate what you desire to walk away and how you want God to apply it in your life. Have a few people share what they came up with.

CG Guide (Ephesians 1:3-4)

“Every Spiritual Blessing” (Series: From the Mountain Peak)

Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-4

Sermon Summary 

Ephesians 1 can be divided into two sections. The first section (1:3-14) deals with Paul’s praise of God for the gift of every spiritual blessing that believers are blessed with in Jesus Christ. The second section (1:15-23) deals with Paul’s prayer to God asking for opened spiritual eyes to grasp the full reality of these blessings. Verses 3-4 begin the extended praise portion of chapter 1. From these verses we are challenged with this gospel truth: A grasp of our spiritual blessings will lead us to sing God’s blessings and sacrifice material blessings.

Although Paul could have communicated chapter 1 in propositional statements about our salvation, he chooses instead to sing them in doxology. Paul begins by blessing God and this sets the trajectory of everything that follows. It is an extension of praise. God is blessed because he has blessed us. He has done this first with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. This is not a reference to heaven itself but a reference to the unseen world of spiritual reality. Our blessings are not earthly and material but spiritual and heavenly. Paul lists some of these blessing for us which include adoption, redemption, forgiveness and an inheritance. These are blessings we truly need but could never achieve on our own. However in Christ they are now ours. We are in full possession of them. 

God chose to bestow upon us every spiritual blessing even though we can only offer him our every spiritual blemish. By his grace he gives us these things not based on our effort but based on his election. God, out of the good pleasure of his will, chose us before the foundation of the world to be in Christ and thus he chose to shower us with the blessings that Christ earned and merited. Because our blessings come to us by our faith union with Jesus, these blessings are secured for us. They cannot be forfeited or taken but are forever ours because of Christ’s perfection and performance. A grasp of these spiritual blessings will lead a Christian to do at least two things. 

First, we will sing blessings to God. One evidence of how well we understand what Christ has done for us is seen in the presence or absence of worship in our lives. Those who have received every spiritual blessing desire to sing blessings to God because they understand the magnitude of the gift and also the magnitude of the grace. Growth in the gospel is evidenced not by the precision of our words in explaining the gospel but by the presence of worship in exalting over the gospel. Worship reveals we have experienced the gospel, not just understood it. When we grasp our spiritual blessings, we prioritize blessing God in our lives. 

Second, we will sacrifice material blessings for others. Just as Jesus was pleased to share his spiritual blessings with us, we can be pleased to share with others our material blessings. This is because we understand we are rich in the ways that truly matter. A conviction of what we have in Christ makes us hold more to his blessings and loosens our grip over other blessings. Then in the practice of sacrificial generosity, we learn to love less our material blessings and cherish more our spiritual blessings. The act of giving forces us to look more at what we have abundantly in Christ because we are less distracted by what material blessings we have or don’t have. Becoming sacrificially generous with material blessings then is not just good for others but is spiritually beneficial for us. 

Suggested Group Discussion Questions 

  1. Free discussion on the passage/sermon: Did you come to understand anything new or better? Was there anything that was clarified for you, convicted you, confused you, challenged you or comforted you? Share, comment, reflect on any part of Ephesians 1:3-4 that stood out.
  2. If blessing God is evidence of knowing and rejoicing in your spiritual blessings, do you have any kind of rhythm of “praising,” “worshiping,” or “blessing” God in your life? What does that look like? What results when a person grows in knowledge of the gospel but not in worship because of the gospel? 
  3. How has the practice of generosity revealed more of the spiritual blessings you have in Christ? How has a habit of stinginess blurred your awareness the spiritual blessings you have in Christ? Share. What are some ways to cultivate sacrificial generosity that reflects the gospel to others and reminds yourself of the gospel?
  4. Doxology: Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this sermon? 
  5. Response: Formulate a one sentence prayer that’s informed by the passage and the sermon. This prayer should articulate what you desire to walk away and how you want God to apply it in your life. Have a few people share what they came up with.

CG Guide (Ephesians 1:3-14, Part 2)

“The End of All Ends” (Series: From the Mountain Peak)

Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-14

Sermon Summary 

These twelve verses in Ephesians 1 are an explosion of praise that come out of the mouth of Paul faster than he can talk and write. Comprising just one single verse in the original Greek, Paul suspends the rules of grammar for a moment in order to revel in the glory of God in our salvation. From the mountain peak he declares the end of all ends, the final destination to which all roads in history lead: the glory of God. This includes our salvation. Paul teaches us in these verses that we are saved for God’s glory in order to live for God’s glory. 

The Diversity of Persons: The Christian doctrine of God makes it clear that there is one God who exists in three persons (Father, Son, and Spirit). Each person is fully God but there are not three gods. Our God is triune, meaning he is three in one. When it comes to our salvation, each person of the Trinity is work. God the Father authors it (vv.3-5), God the Son accomplishes it (v.7) and God the Spirit applies it (v.13). All three persons of the Godhead work in order to secure the believer’s salvation which was authored before the foundation of the world, accomplished on the cross of Calvary, and is being applied to the lives of people presently. 

The intricacy and the complexity of our salvation reveal the incredible love of God for sinful humanity. Without hesitation, disagreement or quarreling, all three persons of the Trinity worked together not just to make salvation possible but to actually save sinners. From beginning to end and from start to finish, salvation is fully and entirely in the hands of our God and never in ours. And despite the repelling nature of our disobedience and sin, it was God’s love and not our loveliness that compelled him toward us. If salvation is completely God’s work alone on our behalf, how should we respond?

The Unity of Purpose: Apostle Paul makes it clear that the end for which God saved us is “to the praise of his glory” (vv.5-6, 12, 14). There is no reason after this reason. And because it is God who saves us entirely and completely, we cannot seek to attain any self glory nor try to take partial credit for our salvation. It is right and proper instead to admire the mighty arm of God in saving us. So we will either continue to insist that we are participants in our salvation or will be accept that we are nothing more than mere recipients of divine grace. The reality is that God gets the glory in our salvation because he alone authored, accomplished and applies it to us. 

Paul then says that those who are saved now live and exist with a new life purpose: to live for the praise of God’s glory (v.12). All the mundane and ordinary things about our lives becomes royal and regal when they’re done for the glory of the King of Kings. When our purpose becomes his purpose, our lives are repurposed. From the way we work to the way we study, we do all things with the aim of of praising his glory. But it’s not just a matter of what we do but how we do it. Through our attitudes and the postures of our heart, we are able to bring God glory. From the simplest of tasks to the most spiritual tasks, we make it our aim to declare his glory.

Suggested Group Discussion Questions 

  1. What difference does it make, if any, to articulate how all three persons of the Trinity work for your salvation rather than thinking about it simply as, “God saves us”? Was anything surprising, shocking or stirring about this articulation? 
  2. How does it sit with you that God does all things for his own glory? Be honest. What is your response and reaction to this? What would be the reasons this truth is rejected or difficult to accept? Can you articulate why it’s ultimately a good thing for God to do all things, including save sinners, for his glory? 
  3. Do you easily see how the ordinary, mundane things in life can be done for the praise of God’s glory? If there is a struggle, describe it. Why do you think many people only perceive spiritual tasks to be for God’s glory but have a more difficult time believing that ordinary, maybe even “secular” tasks can be done for his glory as well? 
  4. Doxology: Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship God more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this sermon? 
  5. Response: Formulate a one sentence prayer that’s informed by the passage and the sermon. This prayer should articulate what you desire to walk away and how you want God to apply it in your life. Have a few people share what they came up with.

CG Guide (Ephesians 1:3-14, Part 1)

“From Eternity to Eternity” (Series: From the Mountain Peak)

Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-14

Sermon Summary 

Ephesians 1 gives us a sweeping view of our salvation which is breathtaking if we stop to enjoy it. One of the things we see in verses three to fourteen is the expanse of our salvation, beginning from eternity past and ending in eternity future. And this salvation that spans from eternity to entity is given to us by God to enjoy and embrace. 

The security of our salvation (eternity past). Paul makes an astonishing statement that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” Before we did anything good to qualify us for salvation and before we did anything bad to disqualify ourselves from salvation, God already determined according to his purpose to save those who have faith in Christ. This means that our salvation is not grounded in our spiritual performance but in God’s purpose to save us. Our performance, good or bad, cannot thwart his purpose to save because it’s by his rich, abounding love and not our abounding loveliness, that God predestined us for adoption. This kind of security means we can stop running from God every time we’ve sinned and we can stop running to God every time we’ve done something good. Our worst days won’t put our salvation in jeopardy and our best days won’t add anything to our salvation. Rather we can start resting in God that in Christ our salvation is completely secured apart from our works. 

The freedom of our salvation (earthly present). Christians can enjoy present freedom in our lives because we have redemption. Redemption means deliverance by payment of a price and Christians experience spiritual redemption through Jesus and his shed blood. This is a present reality, not a future gift to wait for. We have spiritual freedom now. Through his sacrifice, we were delivered and set free from our slavery to sin. In our sin we rebel against God through our insistence that we stand at the center of the universe. This is evidenced in our self-centeredness and selfishness. But Jesus, through the payment of his blood, released us from slavery to sin so that we can enjoy true spiritual freedom. We aren’t condemned but forgiven, not guilty but justified, not enslaved but redeemed. We are freed to a new quality of living wherein we can resist the devil, flee temptation, please God and love others. 

The hope of our salvation (eternity future). Lastly Paul talks about the promise of a guaranteed inheritance awaiting us in the future. This hope is not yet fully ours but is prepared and waiting for us to acquire possession of it when we enter eternity. The gospel assures us that the best things are yet to come and this hope serves as light at the end of a dark tunnel. It reminds us that the tunnel isn’t dark forever so we can press on and endure. At the end of the finish line of life’s race God will hold forth the promised inheritance not as a reward for how well we finished but as a reward because we finished. Jesus tells us that this inheritance is the kingdom that we will receive and be received into (Matthew 25:34). That’s waiting for us in eternity. And there at the finish line Jesus stands as one who has already run before us ready to receive us into his kingdom with the words, “Well done by good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). 

Suggested Group Discussion Questions 

  1. Describe a kind of person who might need the truth of having a secured salvation in Christ (what kind of objections, questions, fears would they have?). How could the truths in this passage minister to them? Can you a share a time when you wish you knew this truth or share a time when you needed it and it ministered to you? 
  2. Describe a kind of person who might need the truth of having and knowing spiritual freedom in Christ (what kind of objections, questions, fears would they have?). How could the truths in this passage minister to them? Can you a share a time when you wish you knew this truth or share a time when you needed it and it ministered to you? 
  3. Describe a kind of person who might need the truth of having the hope that the gospel provides (what kind of objections, questions, fears would they have?). How could the truths in this passage minister to them? Can you a share a time when you wish you knew this truth or share a time when you needed it and it ministered to you? 
  4. Doxology: Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this sermon? 
  5. Response: Formulate a one sentence prayer that’s informed by the passage and the sermon. This prayer should articulate what you desire to walk away and how you want God to apply it in your life. Have a few people share what they came up with.

CG Guide (Ephesians 1:1-2)

“Transforming Grace” (Series: From the Mountain Peak)

Scripture: Ephesians 1:1-2

Sermon Summary 

The gospel is not just good news that anybody can be saved but that anybody can be changed. Which means the grace of God is not just for salvation but transformation. When you receive God’s grace, far more than just your eternity is changed but your present identity is transformed. This is evident both in the life of Apostle Paul as well as the saints in Ephesus as we see in Ephesians 1:1-2. 

When Paul identifies himself as the author of this letter, he reminds you of his transformed identity. Just a few years before, Paul would never have penned this letter. In his life before he met Christ, Paul went by his Jewish name Saul and he lived a very zealous life as a Pharisee. In particular, his life’s mission and purpose was to persecute Christians and the church of Christ. But coming face to face with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was not only saved but he was transformed. He began to go only by his Roman name, Paul, because his life’s mission and purpose were changed. Jesus commissioned him to be an apostle to the Gentiles and so everything in his life became about serving this new mission and living out his new identity. 

Reading “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus” rather than “Saul, a persecutor of the Church of Christ” is a testament to the power of God’s grace to transform anybody. We all have people in our lives who make us hesitant to believe the power of God’s grace to change a person. You may believe the power of his grace to save them but you won’t hold your breath to see them change. But what would happen if you believed they could actually be transformed? What if you no longer dismissed, ignored or avoided people because you labeled them “hopeless cases”? Imagine the resurgence of new love, new hope and new prayers for them. If you approached such people holding on to the hope of God’s transforming grace, your relationships with them would improve, your love for them would increase and your prayers for them would deepen. 

Paul then addresses his recipients who he calls “saints.” This is Paul’s preferred designation for Christians and believers. He uses this term nearly forty times in his letters. What did Paul hope to accomplish by addressing them in this way? The answer is to highlight the transforming grace of God in their own lives. The Ephesian Christians weren’t mere “saved sinners” but radically changed “saints.” This status had nothing to do with what they did but with who they were because of what Christ did for them. An identity that is achieved can be lost or improved upon but an identity received by God’s grace is perfect already. Therefore your saint status has nothing to do with how you feel about yourself but with how God views you because of his Son. 

There is incredible freedom in knowing your identity as a saint is not earned by your effort but given by God’s grace. If it becomes your primary, fundamental identity then you rest in knowing God’s view of you doesn’t change nor does your own view of yourself change depending on your performance. Christ has secured it for you by taking on the fullness of your sins and giving you his perfect righteousness. When you receive this new identity then there’s no going back to who you were. You are not a sinner. You are a saint. You’re not a fraud when you do something for God even though you still feel like a sinner. You’re actually a fraud when you sin against God because you are actually a saint! This is who you really are. And in order to sustain you, God supplies continuous grace and peace for you through Jesus. 

Suggested Group Discussion Questions 

  1. In what ways do you impoverish the gospel when you only talk about what it does for your future and for eternity? What do you miss out when you only talk about what the gospel does in the present, here and now? Do you tend to think about the gospel more in a more future-oriented way or present-oriented way? 
  2. Have you ever been surprised by the evidence of God’s grace in a person’s transformation? Would you mind sharing a little bit about that? In what ways did that encourage you? On the other side, are you discouraged by anybody who seems to lack evidence of transforming grace in their lives? How have you been responding to that person? What hope does Pauls’ testimony give you? 
  3. If you are a Christian, do you tend to identify more with a sinner identity or a saint identity? Why do you think that is/what factors bring that about? What kind of practical fruit can you envision would be borne if you embraced more of your unchangeable saint status in Christ? 
  4. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  5. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.

CG Guide (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

“He Will Surely Do It” (20th Anniversary Service)

https://cornerstone-pc.com/sermons

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Sermon Summary 

Churches are imperfect because they’re full of imperfect people. It’s really no surprise that churches have so many problems then! Many people have been burned, betrayed and hurt by the church and others have been apart of doing those exact things. It’s easy in these circumstances and with these experiences to give up on the church. But there’s a reason we shouldn’t. It’s because God doesn’t. The Bible likens the church to Christ’s bride and Jesus does not believe in divorce. He will never leave his bride nor forsake his people. God remains committed to his church not because of something in the church but because of something in him: his faithfulness. 

The church in Thessalonica was a church that Apostle Paul planted. He wrote some of his most generous and gracious word to these Christians. We read in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” And yet Paul is not writing naively. He knew the church had its fair share of problems and issues. The rest of the letter unpacks and addresses those things. But still as he closes his letter he writes, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He prays for God to sanctify them because they are far from being a perfect church. They were under repair and still in draft form.

Learning about the Thessalonian church is encouraging because if a church this praiseworthy still has so many problems, it’s likely that every other church will have them too. Every church is a work in progress, with God still needing to sanctify it. But this is a work that won’t be done until Christ returns. Knowing this promise helps us be confident that what turns us off, disgusts us and frustrates us about the church now, will one day be taken care of. Until then, we can be realistic and humble with all the warts and wrinkles we see in the church. So we hopefully wait until God does what he promises and lest we doubt it Paul writes, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 

A church like Cornerstone is able to celebrate twenty years only because of God’s faithfulness. And when we look back at what God has already done, it helps us look forward in expectation to see what God will continually do. But our ultimate hope requires us to look further back than twenty years. When we look back two thousand years we see God’s faithfulness displayed in the sending of Jesus into the world to die for unfaithful sinners like us. But rather than break faith with us, he doubled down on his promise and sealed it anew with his blood. What Christ suffered on his fateful day for his church is what guarantees what Christ will do on the final day to his church. He took on Golgotha so that he can take us into glory. This is how the gospel gives us the hope that God is not yet done with the church and will one day sanctify her completely. 

*Another passage to consider: Ephesians 5:25-27

Suggested Group Discussion Questions 

  1. If you had experience growing up in the church, what was it like? Did you tend to see more unity/peace or division/hostility? What impressions about the church did you develop? If you didn’t grow up in the church, what were the impressions that were formed from what you saw and heard about the church? 
  2. Was/is there ever a moment you didn’t want to associate with the Church in general or one particular church? Would you mind sharing the reasons? Were you able to get over it and if so, how? If not, what are some enduring questions or points of conflict? 
  3. How does it make you feel that Paul acknowledges both the need for the church’s continuing sanctification but also the hope that God will complete what he started in the church? Please elaborate. 
  4. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  5. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.

Cornerstone Adult Sunday School Fall 2021 Schedule

Cornerstone Adult Sunday School

September 19-December 19, 2021 – 10:30am

“How to Love Your Family” (Nancy Yang; September 19, 26 and October 3)

A healthy family leads to a healthy community life. Utilizing a biblical framework of Family Systems Theory, we will explore our past family dynamics to understand the way we interact with our family members today. We will learn practical skills to communicate our feelings, forgive much, and love our families to better love our community. 

“The Image of God: the Crown of Creation” (Paul Yu; October 10, 17, 24)

This class seeks to answer one of life’s ultimate questions, “What does it mean to be human?” It is only through a biblical-theological lens that we are able to understand our core identity as an image bearer of the triune God. This class will provide an introduction to the fascinating topic of the image of God by unpacking how the image is first constituted at creation, ruined by the Fall, and redeemed in Christ. We will also broadly demonstrate how the image of God is central and fundamental in navigating key contemporary conversations like race, abortion, gender issues, etc. 

“Ears to Hear: Sound, Silence, and the Christian Life” (Eddie Pyun; October 31, November 7, 14)

He who has an ear, let him hear! The Bible is full of commands to hear and to listen—but how often do we think about how we can use our hearing to the glory of God? In this class, we’ll think biblically and practically as we reflect together on the topics of sound and silence. We’ll aim to become better and more intentional listeners to our God, to one another, and to God’s world around us—whether in the commotion of life or in the still and quiet.

“Secrets Thoughts of the Unlikely Person” (Jenny Picard; November 21, 28)

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it is the most “unlikely person” who turns out to suffer a great deal? Suffering looks very different for everyone but sadly within the church, too many people walk through it alone while putting on smiles for others to see. We often feel it’s inappropriate or unacceptable as Christians to feel this way. Yet Scripture points us to the spiritual warfare and the encouragement from Christ that is at work in his people. In this class we will dive into the truths of God’s Word concerning the “unlikely person” and the brothers and sisters in Christ who desire to help. 

“Foundations for Defending Your Faith” (Ben Picard; December 5, 12, 19)

It is often believed that defending the Christian faith is reserved only for trained theologians. And we’ve certainly felt that “untrained” feeling when sharing the truths of the gospel. Yet Scripture teaches us that all Christians should be ready to give a defense for their hope in Christ. This class will equip us with the knowledge and tools required to defend our faith with humility, love, and confidence squarely centered on the triune God and his Word.

1 Kings 17:8-16 Discussion Guide

“Behind Enemy Lines” (Guest Preacher – Rev. Chris McNerney)

Scripture: 1 Kings 17:8-16

Group Discussion Questions

  1. What immediately comes to mind when you think about missions? (including places, people, work to be done) Share your thoughts. 
  2. What do we learn from this passage about God’s activity and involvement in missions work?
  3. Why does it matter that God sends Elijah to Zarephath? What does that mean about where God wants us, His people, to be?
  4. How have you experienced God’s grace through your relationships with people who deny Him?
  5. How does God use Elijah during his time in Zarephath?
  6. Who are some people you consider to be enemies? How can you serve/pray/care for them better in the days ahead?
  7. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  8. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.

Wisdom and Our Plans (Discussion Guides)

Please use the following questions to aid in your own personal meditation on wisdom and our plans in Proverbs as well as be a guide for your group discussion. You can find the sermon on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/3OXaJPiov5E

Remember that as a group you do not have to cover all of these questions. You can dive deeper into fewer questions as long as you don’t go off on an irrelevant tangent. Also, group members feel free to ask follow up questions! Please respect everybody’s time and don’t sacrifice time for sharing prayer requests and praying for one another.

Personal Reflection/Group Discussion Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most about the teaching? What was most challenging, confusing, convicting or clarifying to you?
  2. On a scale of 1-10, do you tend to under-spiritualize (1) or over-spiritualize (10) decisions you need to make? On what kind of matters are you most likely to seek God’s guidance?
  3. How do you tend to think God gives guidance? What signs do you look for in order to see if God is giving you the divine green light or red light? Has your interpretation ever led to bad consequences or greater troubles/problems? When and how has it worked out for you? 
  4. Have you grown in wisdom/developed wisdom over the past several years? In what ways have you grown in it? How can you tell? How did you come to grow in and develop more wisdom? 
  5. What are the decisions and plans in your own life that you need God’s wisdom and guidance and others’ prayers concerning? Share and then pray for one another. 

CG Discussion Questions (“The Second Chance”)

“The Second Chance” (Mercy Upon Mercy)

Scripture: Jonah 3:1-3

Sermon Summary 

What do you call it when somebody gives a person a second chance who doesn’t deserve it? Foolish? Absurd? Illogical? God has another name for it. Merciful. When we mess up, often in the same things, God does not grimace and scowl at us but he is ready and poised to show us mercy. Jonah messed up when he disobeyed God and tried to flee his presence. And yet in chapter 3, we see Jonah being recommissioned by God for the same task. Using almost the exact same words as chapter 1, the word of the Lord comes to Jonah. But the key difference? It was “the second time.” Why did God give Jonah a second chance when Jonah had proved himself so unfaithful? Was God in short supply of messengers and prophets? Not at all. This recommission reveals something about God and his heart. He is a God of second chances and infinite chances. 

There are many instances in the Bible where God did not give somebody a second chance. Lot’s wife, Moses, King Saul, Ananias and Sapphira, and the list goes on. The point is that nobody deserves a second chance from God. Let alone a third, fourth or fifth one. When God calls Jonah to serve him again, this is not just good news for Jonah but for us as well. It reveals something tremendous about God, not something impressive about Jonah. God gives Jonah a second chance not because Jonah had merit but because he is full of mercy. In the same way, God gives us infinite chances because of his mercy, not our merit. After all, we’re the only part of God’s whole creation that dares to hear his voice and disobey. The skies, the waters, the sun never needed a second chance from God because they never disobeyed. And yet we, the pinnacle of God’s creation, need God’s mercy again and again. 

God does not show us mercy upon mercy because he is giving us chance after chance to prove ourselves and earn our own salvation. God does not given second chances for redemption but for relationship. For our redemption God gave us Jesus. Jesus came as one greater than Jonah and he did everything right the first time. He came to this earth and lived in perfect obedience. Because he got it right the first time, even when we get it wrong, God stills counts his Son’s obedience as ours. So Jesus redeems us, not our second chances. So then why does God give second chances? For relationship. Because we know God is the Father of mercies and a God of infinite chances, we can keep coming to him again and again. We never need to fear that we will bankrupt him of his mercies. And so we can keep coming to him again and again, unafraid that he will ever turn us away. He will meet our mistakes with mercy, our failure with forgiveness, and our sins with his Son. 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever had a transformational experience of receiving a second chance from another person? Have you ever had to give another person a second chance that was costly for you? 
  2. What are some of the reasons you feel hesitant to come to God after you’ve sinned? Is it different if they are reoccurring/habitual sins? How do you imagine God views you and thinks about you in those moments? 
  3. If the spectrum ranges (1-10) from viewing yourself as deserving God’s mercy (the error of entitlement) to viewing yourself as unworthy of God’s mercy (the error of disbelief), where would you place yourself? Has it changed over the years? What contributes? How does where you are on the spectrum affect your relationship with God? 
  4. Have you come to truly believe that God is “the Father of mercies” (2 Cor. 1:3) and “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2:4) or is there a suspicion of it? How can you believe more that God doesn’t simply possess mercy but that God is merciful? What difference would this make?
  5. Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message? 
  6. Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.