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.

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.

CG Discussion Questions (“The Fish”)

“The Prayer” (Mercy Upon Mercy)

Scripture: Jonah 1:17-2:10

Sermon Summary: 

Many people know that they should pray but the problem is that they don’t know how to pray. This is especially true during times of suffering and difficulty. We know we should pray but we simply can’t find the words to articulate. When Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, he was in a very dark and depressing place. And yet he managed to pray. How? A close examination of Jonah’s prayers reveal that none of his prayers were original. They were all adaptions and modifications of various psalms. Every verse of Jonah’s prayer can be traced back to prayer in a psalm. 

God gave us the psalms so that his words could become our words, especially when otherwise all we would have are groans. God gives us the psalms as a provision, as an act of grace, so that we can express our heart back to him in an intelligible way. The psalms help us express our frustrations and our fears, our doubts and our distress in God-approved ways. In order to grow in prayer, it will be incredibly helpful to grow in your familiarity, understanding, meditation, and memorization of the psalms. This will give you better access to the language of God that you can use to pray back to God. 

Our comfort as Christians though does not come simply from the command – pray the psalms like Jonah. Our hope comes from the gospel. When Jesus likened his death and resurrection to Jonah’s experience in the fish, Jesus was identifying himself as the greater Jonah. But as the fulfillment of a greater Jonah, Jesus also prayed the psalms in his own suffering and despair. As he hung on the cross for our sins, Jesus was reduced to borrowing the words of the psalms. By doing this, Jesus was experiencing in himself the fullest sting and greatest agony of the the psalms. Jesus took on every experience and emotion that the psalmist articulates so that it would have no more power over us. This means when we experience these things in our lives, they can not ultimately drown us. We have new hope and new strength. 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. As a group, summarize the sermon together into a few sentences. 
  2. Share an experience where you wanted to pray but couldn’t find the words to pray. Were you eventually able to pray through it? What helped? 
  3. What is your general view and attitude of the psalms? Is it a book that you love to read or do you have a hard time enjoying it? Why? 
  4. Do you have a favorite psalm? Share it and tells others why. What about it resonates with you? How has it ministered to you and helped you pray? (Or take a favorite psalm of yours and try to turn it into a prayer to borrow)
  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.

CG Discussion Questions (Colossians 3:1-2)

“Hope in Heavenly Things”

Scripture: Colossians 3:1-2

Group Discussion Questions

  1. The gospel rests on the pillars of the death and resurrection of Jesus. List some of the benefits that Christ’s resurrection hope provides for the Christian. Which of these do you look forward to most? Share how it would impact your life. 
  2. Has hope found on the horizon/things below on earth ever disappointed you? In what was have you experienced the frailty, fragility, futility and finitude of earthly hope? How would heavenly, resurrection hope be any different?
  3. 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? 
  4. 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 Discussion (Matthew 23:23-24)

“The Weightier Matters”

Scripture: Matthew 23:23-24

Group Discussion Questions

  1. As a group, summarize the sermon together into a few sentences. 
  2. Why do you think the Pharisees and scribes gave so much attention to tithing their spices but neglected the weightier matters? What are some matters of the law you pay more attention to than the weightier ones (justice, mercy and faithfulness)?
  3. How should Christian/gospel-centered mercy and justice differ from the agenda of mercy and justice set and pushed by the world? How can you make mercy and justice a “big rock” in your life?
  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 Discussion (Jonah 1:7-9 “The Contradiction”)

“The Contradiction”

Scripture: Jonah 1:7-9

Group Discussion Questions

  1. As a group, summarize the sermon together into a few sentences. 
  2. In what areas has the Lord revealed or is revealing contradictions in your life between your profession and your practice? 
  3. What are some ways you can personally come to embrace more of the value of global missions in your own life? What has helped in the past? 
  4. List as many prayer topics about global missions that you can. Consider what kinds of things churches and Christians should be praying for. 
  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. 

CG Discussion (Jonah 1:3 – “The Runaway”)

“The Runaway”

Scripture: Jonah 1:3

Group Discussion Questions

  1. As a group, summarize the sermon together into a few sentences. 
  2. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.  
  3. How did you tend to think of/view sin before this sermon? What difference does it make when sin is understood as running away from God? How does it change the way you view sin in yourself and sin in others? How does it change the way you preach the gospel to yourself and share it with others? 
  4. Can you share a personal example of a time you chased after a god-substitute and found that it left you empty, unsatisfied and discontent? What was that experience like? How were you awakened from your disillusionment? 
  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. 

Jonah 1-4 CG Guide (“The Lesson”)

“The Lesson”

Scripture: Jonah 1-4

Group Discussion Questions

  1. As a group, summarize the sermon together into a few sentences. 
  2. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.  
  3. Is it easier to see yourself as a person in need of mercy or others as more in need of mercy? Explain. Do you see yourself as one of the “bad guys” – immoral, irreligious, disobedient – or as one of the “good guys” – moral, religious, obedient? What does it mean to you that nobody is beyond the reach of God’s mercy and nobody is beyond the need for God’s mercy? What hope or comfort does that offer to you or others? 
  4. List the three highlighted aspects of “the spirit of Jonah.” Which do you sense in yourself most? What other things can you add to this list? Can you share an example of how self-righteousness has manifested itself in your life? 
  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. 

Sermon Reflection/Discussion Guide (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7)

“Worship Under the Sun”

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

Sermon Summary

The purpose of our weekly gatherings is to worship God. So in what ways do we ready ourselves to worship him? The Preacher says to “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God” (5:1) which means we need to prepare our hearts as we enter into God’s presence. When we come to worship God, we are entering the Holy of Holies through Christ who has torn the veil separating us from God. In coming before him verse 1 tells us that God doesn’t want mere empty religious formalism (“the sacrifice of fools”) but he wants our hearts (“to draw near to listen”). We cannot afford to gain the applause of man but lose the audience of God. Remember the words of God in 1 Samuel that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” So we should prioritize preparing our hearts to worship God. 

A humble worshipper who recognizes what’s taking place in worship will let their words be few. They won’t be chatty or babbling in God’s presence because they recognize and realize that in worship, earthly man communes with heavenly God. The Infinite One and the finite share a moment in space and time. The Holy One stoops to be with the sinful. We must remember that God is in heaven and we are on earth in order to understand and feel the reverence with which we approach God. This formality doesn’t kill intimacy with God but seeks to preserve it. God allows us to call him Abba Father but he also calls himself a consuming fire. We worship on the terms that God allows, not on the terms that we insist. 

God also detests unfaithful worshippers who come before him making all kinds of propositions and promises and fail to keep their vows. In fact, God says it’s better not to even make the vows because he’s never asked for them in the first place! Those who come to worship God and make vows in the hopes that God will do something for them are engaged in religion-centered worship. This is different than gospel-centered worship which is worship always in response to what God has already. God has kept his vow by sending his Son into the world in order to bridge the chasm between God in heaven and us on earth caused by our sin. The gospel says God came from heaven to earth to die so that we could go from earth to heaven to live. And in response to God’s sacrifice, we respond with our utmost worship. We take worship seriously because we take God’s sacrifice seriously. 

Group Discussion Questions

  1. Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.  
  2. How can you “guard your steps” in coming into Sunday service? What distracts or prevents you most from preparing your heart to worship God? 
  3. What have you found helpful in your preparation for worship? 
  4. Do you often think about coming before God in fear and reverence or are you more concerned with something else? What helps stir and sustain reverence for God in worship?
  5. Is it difficult or easy to have an attitude and approach of reverence in coming to worship? What contributes to that? 

Sermon Reflection/Discussion Guide (Philippians 4:10-20)

“Fruitful Partnership”

Scripture: Philippians 4:10-20


1. Warm-up question: What are some questions you ask before investing your money? What are some of the red flags you look out for? Can we apply this same method or the same set of questions as we invest in the gospel? 


2. The Philippian church was the ONLY church that invested in the gospel. How can we gauge how we’re doing regarding our investment in the gospel? Is there a measuring stick we can use? 

What about on a personal level? Is there room in your budget to support missionaries? Are you currently supporting missionaries/organizations? Do you feel like it’s a partnership? What is the relationship like?


3. Today’s message emphasized the benefit of investing for heavenly rewards, but what are some of the rewards we can reap now when we invest in the gospel?


4. Paul says he didn’t seek the gift, but he seeks the fruit that increases to your credit. It’s highly doubtful that the Philippian church was proving for Paul because of the rewards waiting for them. The parable in Matthew 25 (the king rewarding his servants) comes to mind when we picture the generosity of the Philippian church. Are rewards necessarily a bad motivator to invest in the gospel?