Week 3 - The Joy of Jesus

Week 3 - The Joy of Jesus

Begin with silence and prayer
5 min

Gather together as a LifeGroup, as a family or find time alone in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of the living room, etc.). Invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time. Then spend a few minutes in silence. 

Why silence, even while together? Because we live in a busy, noisy world, under a non-stop assault of distraction. In the midst of all the chaos, it’s hard at times to hear the voice of God, and that of our brothers and sisters. As we gather together as a family, we want to hear what the Father is saying to and through each of us, and respond in turn. A great way to do that is to begin each time with silence and prayer.

Discuss last week’s Practice (15-20 minutes)
(If you’re short on time, skip this and go to the next section)
If you are in a LifeGroup of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender). 

Spend a few minutes catching up on life… 
Then talk through the following debrief questions:

  1. How was it filling out your block map? What observations did you have from that exercise?

  2. What are some ideas that you came up with during your brainstorming session that you have begun to implement?

  3. What was/is the most difficult part of this Practice for you?

Transition back to one large group (15-20 minutes) 

Have a conversation around the following questions:

  1. Any stories from the last week’s Practice that you would like to encourage the whole group with?

  2. Did you listen to this week’s sermon, The Joy of Jesus? What did you think?

  3. What have you learned about reaching out to your neighbors through these exercises and practices?

  4. What are some positive steps that you have experienced from these practices?

  5. What are the challenges that you have faced?

Open the Bible together
15-20 min

Have somebody read Philippians 4:4-9

Discuss the following questions:

1. What does it mean that God is the most joy-filled being in the universe? How does this meet with your experience and understanding of God?

2. What does Paul mean to “rejoice in the Lord always”?

3. What does Paul describe as the fruit of always rejoicing in the Lord?

4. How does Paul encourage people to engage with rejoicing in the Lord, being a person of joy?

4. Describe your experience with this type of joy.

Read over this coming week’s Practice before you call it a night (10 minutes)

Here’s the Practice for the coming week:

  1. Our practice this week is to set our minds on joy. We want to turn our attention to those things in our life that can help us feel, experience, and live as people of joy.

  2. Begin by think of something like paying bills, taxes or something along those lines. How did that make you feel?

  3. In this, your thought life helps shape what you feel. Our minds can be shaped and trained to bring our thoughts on particular and specific things. Write down, make a list of things that give you joy. What about these give you joy?

  4. Here are 3 ways we can position ourselves to better experience the joy of Jesus.

    1. Surrender the illusion of control. We have to let go, let go of our need to control the outcomes. As a result joy and contentment are not contingent on the situation of our life.

    2. Give thanks. Take up the practice of giving thanks. Make a daily list, journal about 1 thing in particular, etc.

    3. Focus our attention on what is good.

    4. Here are some more possible starting points. Circle and choose a few to begin with.

      1. Spending more time with the Lord.

      2. Praying more.

      3. Slow our bodies down.

      4. Rest

      5. Exercise

      6. Sleeping well

      7. Eating well

      8. Eat Together

      9. Celebrate life together

      10. Listen to music

      11. Sabbath

  5. The last thing is to throw a party, throw a party as the family of God to celebrate together the joy of Jesus.

Work through these discussion questions (10-15 minutes) 

  1. Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice of becoming people of joy?

  2. Is there anybody in your life who immediately comes to mind that you want to share the joy of Jesus Christ with? How does this connect with our previous practices?

Close in prayer
5-10 min

Share prayer requests and pray for that we would be people of joy and celebrate that with our growing family in Jesus Christ.

Week 2 - The Art of Neighboring

Discuss last week’s Practice (15-20 minutes)
(If you’re short on time, skip this and go to the next section)
If you are in a LifeGroup of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender). 

Spend a few minutes catching up on life… 
Then talk through the following debrief questions:

  1. Did you get a chance to have a meal with somebody who doesn’t follow Jesus? How did it go?

  2. What was/is the most difficult part of this Practice for you?

Transition back to one large group (15-20 minutes) 

Have a conversation around the following questions:

  1. Any stories from the last week’s Practice that you would like to encourage the whole group with?

  2. Did you listen to this week’s sermon on neighboring? What did you think?

  3. Do you view your home as an outpost of the kingdom? Or more of a castle to hide away in?

  4. How well do you know your neighbors?

  5. What’s the spiritual climate of your neighborhood? What are the challenges you face there as an apprentice of Jesus?

Read Luke 10:25-37

  1. How does Jesus use the story of the Samaritan to answer the questions who is my neighbor?

  2. What keeps us from being a loving neighbor?

  3. What is our motive for loving our neighbor?

  4. Read v38. How does this connect with Jesus teaching on hospitality and loving your neighbor?

Talk about the coming week’s Practice as a Community (10–30 minutes)
Here’s the Practice for the coming week:

Exercise #1: Block Map

The following is an exercise from artofneighboring.com

 
neighboring-community-houston heights-church
 

  • The center square is your home or apartment. The eight squares around it are your eight closest neighbors. Do the following for each neighbor:

    • On line A, fill in their name. Ideally first and last, but just put down what you know. If you don’t know their name yet, just put down question mark, or leave it blank. Do the same for the next two lines.

    • On line B, fill in any factoids you know that you couldn’t get from waving across the street: where they work, where they are from, how long they’ve lived there, what they do for fun, etc.

    • On line C, see if you can fill in any in-depth information: their dreams for the future, relationship status, their faith (or lack of it), experience with God or church, their childhood story, any pain, etc.

  • As a general rule, only 10% of people can fill in line A, only 3% can fill in line B, and less than 1% can fill inline C. The point here isn’t guilt and shame; it’s simply to plot out just how well you know (or don’t know) your neighbors, to get you started on the journey to loving them.

  • If you want some more ideas/help you can check out artofneighboring.com for more info or resources such as their block party kit, which is a great primer on how to throw your first block party.

 Exercise #2: Brainstorming Session

  • Brainstorm a list of creative ideas for neighboring (i.e., how to love your neighbors well by creating an environment of hospitality).

  • Feel free to do this yourself via listening prayer or over food or drinks with your family, friends, or a few close neighbors, and the music cranked up to 11.

  • Refer back to Sunday’s sermon for help to get you started

  • Once you have your list, pick out a few ideas and implement them in the coming weeks and/or months. Be intentional. Put it into your calendar!

  • As you practice hospitality, remember why we eat and drink with our neighbors, to“welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.” (Romans 15:7)

  • And don’t forget to have fun as you go out and love your neighbors!

Work through these discussion questions (10-15 minutes) 

  1. Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice?

  2. How do you feel about viewing your neighborhood as one of your primary callings from Jesus to love well?

Close in prayer (10 minutes)

Week 1 - Radical Ordinary Hospitality

Read this overview 

As a community following Jesus, we are learning to apprentice ourselves to him and taking up his way of life which means we have three goals — to be with Jesus, to become like Jesus and to do the kinds of things Jesus did. So every few months we take on a practice of Jesus.  Our spring practice of silence and solitude focused on that first goal, being with Jesus, and this next practice leans into that last goal - doing what Jesus did.

Begin with silence and prayer
5 min

Gather together as a LifeGroup, as a family or find time alone in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of the living room, etc.). Invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time. Then spend a few minutes in silence. 

Why silence, even while together? Because we live in a busy, noisy world, under a non-stop assault of distraction. In the midst of all the chaos, it’s hard at times to hear the voice of God, and that of our brothers and sisters. As we gather together as a family, we want to hear what the Father is saying to and through each of us, and respond in turn. A great way to do that is to begin each time with silence and prayer.

Reflection on Sunday’s Sermon
15-20 min

If you are in a LifeGroup of 10 or more, divide into small groups of 5 – 7 people each (ideally the same gender). Spend a few minutes catching up on life. Then talk about the following debrief questions:

1. What thoughts or reflections do you have about the sermon?

2. What does it mean for hospitality to be both radical and ordinary?

3. Were there any specific things you heard from God regarding hospitality?

Our Practice for the coming week is incredibly simple: follow Jesus’ example of eating and drinking with somebody who has yet to experience the Father’s welcome. And the beauty of this Practice is that anybody can do it. All it takes is a table. 

Open the Bible together
15-20 min

Have somebody read Luke 7:36-50.

Discuss the following questions:

1. What is the setting for what happens? Who is there?

2. What is so upsetting to the host?

3. How does the treatment of Jesus by the woman compare to his treatment by the host? What is Jesus getting at by highlighting this?

4. What does this reveal about Jesus’ heart and his practice of hospitality?

Read over this coming week’s Practice before you call it a night (10 minutes)

Here’s the Practice for the coming week:

Exercise #1: Listening Prayer  

  • (If you can, get somewhere quiet for this one. If you are not able to, that’s ok.)

  • Invite the Holy Spirit to give shape to your imagination. Ask him to bring a name or face to mind for you to share a meal within the coming week(s).

  • Contact that person and invite them to share a meal with you.

Exercise #2: Share a Meal with Somebody

  • This next part is pretty straightforward – eat and drink with somebody!

  • Ideally, open your home or apartment. If that doesn’t work, invite them to a third space (a restaurant, café, etc.)

  • This might be a great time to learn how to cook a few good meals. A quick search of the internet will yield loads of easy-to-prepare, super delicious meals.

  • As you host the meal, think of creative ways to express the love and welcome of Jesus toward your guest.

  • During your time together, ask questions, listen and don’t be afraid to share meaningful conversation. At the same time, view small talk as a form of hospitality, of creating room for the guest. Just focus on loving them, not on“selling them” on Jesus.

  • Pray (internally) for your guests before, during, and after your meal. Whatever you want to see God do in their life, pray into that.

Work through these discussion questions (10-15 minutes) 

  1. Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice?

  2. Is there anybody in your life who immediately comes to mind that you want to share a meal with?

Close in prayer
5-10 min

Share prayer requests and pray for the people that we will invite to share a meal and for God to continue to reveal people for us to show radical ordinary hospitality to.