Community Group Questions 12/2/12

Tip of the Week:
Make sure you plan a social during the Holidays to give your group the chance to interact outside of the usual group setting
Announcements:
Please share whichever of the following announcements apply to your group
  • The Fuge Hangouts
    • Wednesdays Starting 12/5 from 2:30-5pm
    • Waffles of all kinds
    • Students come after school
    • Also looking for volunteers to help out
  • Christmas Eve Service Times
    • We just wanted to give you a heads up that we will be having 2 Christmas Eve Services this year.
    • They will be held on Christmas Eve at 5pm and 6:30pm
    • Grab some cards and give them out
    • Start inviting your friends and neighbors now
  • Razzle Dazzle
    • Mark your calendar for 12/12/12 as our Women's Ministry will be hosting an ornament exchange called Razzle Dazzle.
    • It has been declared that when you say Razzle Dazzle you have to do Jazz Hands
    • You can register online of in the back of the auditorium after service today
    • The cost of the event is just $5

Sermon Title: Black Friday Sunday

Main Text:  John 1:43-51

Topics:

  • This passage opens up at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He is gathering disciples. This doesn’t seem weird to us at all, but in fact it was strange. Most rabbis would not pursue disciples, but would wait for people to come to them. But Jesus is the one searching out and calling His disciples.
  • In fact, what it says is that he “found” Philip. Almost like Jesus was hunting Philip down. This, in and of itself, is a power illustration of the gospel. Just like other rabbis would wait for others to find them, other religions give its followers ways they find salvation. But in the same way Jesus finds his followers, so the Gospel teaches that God saves us, since we have no ability to achieve salvation ourselves. The fact that Jesus came and found you, should powerfully impact us.
  • What happens next, is very revealing of how that truth should impact us. It says Philip found (same word) Nathanael. Philip who was found by Jesus, instinctually went and found his friend to bring to Jesus too. This is the impulse of a Christ follower.
  • But sometimes, those who are following Christ are hesitant to do that. And our hesitation comes is out of concern for the person’s reaction... the very reaction that Nathanael had.
  • When Philip said that He had found the Messiah and that it was Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael was skeptical. He said, “can anything good come out of Nazareth.” He essentially said, “no way. Common, that’s ridiculous.”
  • Philip’s reaction to Nathanael is to simply say, “come and see.” He didn’t get into long debates. He didn’t bite back. He wasn’t even discouraged. He simply said, you are going to have to see for yourself.  Philip simply invited Nathanael.
  • Nathanael came to Jesus and as Nathanael was coming Jesus said, “this guy has no deceit in him.” Nathanael was taken back and asks Jesus how he knows him. Then Jesus said, “before Philip came up to you, I saw you sitting there under the fig tree.” Nathanael was blown away, how did Jesus know that? He said “ok, I’m convinced you are the Son of God.” Jesus revealed Himself to Nathanael in a personal way that opened his eyes.
  • But Jesus continues and says, “you will see even greater things than this.” Then he says to them a really strange phrase that is anchored in the old testament, “you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” This is an reference to episode in the life of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob.  Jacob would later be named Israel, so he is the namesake of the people of God. Jacob had a dream that heaven opened up and there was a staircase or ladder coming down. The stairs stretched from earth to heaven and angels were going up and down.
  • Jesus is saying that the angels are ascending and descending on “the Son of Man.” The Son of Man is an Old Testament term for the Messiah. So he is saying, that the He is not just the fulfillment of Jacob - Israel. He is saying that He is the ladder!
  • Jesus says to Nathanael that he will see that Jesus is the way to be saved the way to heaven.
  • This whole passage shows the powerful nature of how we become Jesus’ followers:
    • We find the Messiah
    • But only because He first found us
    • We go and find others and bring them to the Messiah
  • If we have been found by the Messiah, we should let that joy and awe motivate us to find others.
  • But we are not responsible to convince them, debate them, argue them, we are just simply responsible to say, “come and see.” We want them to connect with Jesus. And Jesus will impact them personally.
  • How often does someone come to church and say, “I can’t believe the words we sang today...” or “I can’t believe that was preached today... that is exactly what I am going through right now.” And that person is convinced that God is speaking right to them. That is what Jesus does. He will personally connect with the person, and speak right into their lives. He will speak to them in a way that they cannot deny who He is.
  • But we often get nervous to invite people, because we wonder if they will be critical or skeptical. That is just like Nathanael.  We just need to say, “come and see.”
  • And here is the most motivating part. Notice how Jesus had been thinking about Nathanael even before Philip arrived? Sometimes we feel like when we invite people, it is like we are cold calling them. But that is not true, Jesus has already been at work. He has already been working in their lives, so that when you say, “come and see,” they actually just might. We shouldn’t make the decision for them. We should prayerfully and expectantly say, “come and see.”
  • We have no idea what was going on under the fig tree for Nathanael. But whatever it was, it seems like it was a significant moment. Because Jesus was watching him. There are so many who are right now having an “Under the Fig Tree Moment.” At this time of year they are ripe for Jesus to speak into their lives. Maybe they are:
    • Uniquely and particularly open to spiritual things because of the holiday season and traditions.
    • Discouraged at how their year turned out.
    • Fearful about the circumstances in their lives.
    • Feeling all alone at this time of year.
    • Reminded at the holiday season of tragedy that has struck their lives.
    • Empty and wanting to know what will fill the hole in their lives.
    • Wanting something spiritual for their kids at this time of year.
    • Feeling guilty and feeling that they are far from God at this point in their lives.
  • We have a unique opportunity at this time of year to go find those people under the fig tree and say to them, “come and see!”
  • Here’s the challenge: invite more people to hear the Gospel this Christmas than ever. Say “come and see” to more people than you ever have.
  • Here are some ideas:
    • Invite Cards
      • Stick a Christmas invite in with your Christmas card.
      • Bake something, or buy poinsettias and give them to your neighbors with a Christmas Eve invite.
      • Ask if you can put a stack in the lobby of your business, or the business that you frequent.
      • Keep a stack in your car, purse, wallet and watch for opportunities
    • Social Media and Email:
      • Invite people to the event on Facebook.
      • Make your social media picture the brand for a while.
      • Use your status to invite people.
      • Download art for phones, computers, tablets
      • If you are serving on one of the teams preparing for Christmas Eve, talk about it post pictures on social media.
      • Forward on the invite email.
    • DON’T: put them on cars, or in mailboxes, or anything else that is imposing and illegal.

Key Questions:

  1. Take some time to share some personal testimonies about being invited to church:
    1. Who was the first person to invite you to church?
    2. How had God been working on you when you were first invited to church?
    3. What was your reaction?
    4. What made you stay?
    5. When was the first moment you felt like Jesus was speaking directly to you?
  2. Hypothetically, if you had never been invited to church what would your life be like now? Where would you be? How would you feel?
  3. Read John 1:43-51
  4. In what way is Jesus finding Philip an illustration about what makes the Gospel unique, compared to other philosophies and religions?
    1. With other religions we have to get to God.
    2. With the Gospel, God comes after us.
  5. Pure Speculation: what could possibly be going on in Philip’s life, that when Jesus simply says, “Follow Me” he does?
  6. Pure Speculation: what do you think Nathanael could have been thinking about under the fig tree, that made it the exact right moment for Philip to approach him?
  7. What makes us nervous about inviting people?
  8. Nathanael’s skepticism was about Jesus being a Nazarene. What are modern people skeptical about, when being invited to church?
  9. There are many reasons why the Christmas Season is a time when people are uniquely open to coming to church. What are some of those reasons?
  10. What have been some successful ways you have invited people to church in the past?
  11. What are some practical ways, you are going to invite people this year?

Don't forget to post your attendance after group.