1. What are some things that discourage us from the practice of solitude?
2. What are some ways you can relate to the story of Elijah at Mount Horeb as described in I Kings 19?
3. Do you agree that many of our words/conversations are aimed at justifying our actions or inactions? How does the practice of solitude help us to overcome this need to justify ourselves in the eyes of others?
4. Discuss the needed balance between solitude and community. Why are both important? What are some pitfall associated with a lack of balance between community and solitude?
5. Review the Scriptures in the message detailing the practice of solitude by Jesus. Take time to discuss and reflect on these passages.
6. Review the practical advice on practicing solitude. What are some things we can do to carry out this advice in our lives?
7. Review the fruits of practicing solitude. Which ones do you personally connect with?
Take time to pray and ask God to help with the discipline of solitude.
What does the phrase, “Simplicity is freedom” mean to you?
Why is it important to understand that simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle?
What are some pitfalls in our lives if we fail to understand this truth? How do we cultivate this inward reality?
What are some ways we can see ourselves set free from the desire for things?
What does it mean to seek God’s kingdom first? What does the promise of Matt. 6:33, “and all these things shall be added to you.” mean to you personally?
Comment on the following statement – We buy things we don’t want to impress people we don’t like.
How does a life of simplicity help us to recognize both the greed and lust of the world as well as the promise of God for his peace and provision in our lives?
In John 10:11, Jesus states that he is the good shepherd because he lays down his life for the sheep. Compare this with the words of God to the religious “shepherds” of Israel in Ezekiel 34.
Reread I Corinthians 1:26-29. Why does God choose the things the world considers foolish? (See verse 27). What does this mean? How does this shame the wise? How significant is verse 29? What does it teach us about God and his ways? What does it teach us about fallen humanity and our ways? What are some examples of this “boasting” in our world?
Reread James 1:9-11. How should this advice effect the church and our relaitonships with others in the congregation? How important is this advice for those who are wealthy according to the standards of this world? How important is this advice for the poor?
Discuss the contrasts between the shepherds in the fields and the angelic host who announced the birth of Christ. What are some lessons to be learned about the heart of God in this event?
Bethleham was a place associated with many Biblcal events. Discuss the following events and how you think they related to God’s choice of Bethlehem as the birth place of his son . . .
The death of Rachel and the birth of Ben Oni (Son of My Sorrow) or Bejamin (Son of My Right Hand – Jacob’s name for the son born to Rachel)
The choice of young David as King of Israel in I Samuel 16.
Augustus Caesar issued the decree that fulfilled the prophecy of Micah 5:2. What does this tell us about the sovereignty of God in the history of our world and in our own lives?
Take some time and talk about Advent in general. What does this tradition mean to you? What are some ways we can celebrate advent and keep our focus on the birht of Christ during this time of year?
Share with members of your group times when the light of Christ has seen you through times of darkness.
- The prophecy candle speaks of expectation and hope. Discuss the importance of these two things in our lives in general.
- Read Romans 5:3-5 and discuss the progression of growth and maturity that takes place through suffering. Answer the following – How does endurance in trials build character in our lives? How do you define character? How does character give birth to hope? Does this imply that godly character produces hope while a lack of godly character leads to despair? Discuss.
- How does the first coming of Christ lead us to think more about his second coming?
- What are some ways we prepare for the Christmas season and celebrate its true meaning?
- Read and discuss Psalm 27:14. Why is waiting so hard? What lessons does waiting teach us?
- Was Paul’s message:
- of his own invention
- adapted from the Mystery Religions
- given to him by God
- Give reasons for your answer to Qu.1. (Consider also: Galatians 1:13-24: )
- Can you find four descriptions for the Judaizers from Phil.3?Give a reason why Paul uses each particular description of the Judaizers?
- Was Paul a fitting candidate to refute the Judaizers? Why?
- What was so different about the message that Jesus and Paul preached
- Jeremiah 31:31-34 gives an important prophecy of the New Covenant:“…they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” How does this prophecy relate to Christian water baptism?
- How does Colossians 2:11-12 relate to the Judaizers in Philippians 3:1-11?
- People do not add circumcision or other Old Testament ritual to the Gospel today in our churches. What are the modern counterparts to this in our lives today? That is to say, what do people, including Christians, trust in to give them meaning and purpose for living?
- In the following verses, what advice does Paul give Christians regarding our lives in this world?
- How have you let these exhortations of Paul guide your life so far? How could you follow this advice of Paul more closely in the future