Community Group Questions 12/23/12

Announcements:
Please share whichever of the following announcements apply to your group
  • WPWM New Study
    • Starting a new 7-week study on 1/23
    • 10am and 7pm - same study, just two different times to jump in
    • Childcare - Day time study only (10am)
    • Study Guides will be available at the study for  $15 each
  • WPMM New Study
    • Starting back up after the holidays
    • Stay tuned for exciting details in the coming weeks
  • Christmas Eve Invites
    • Tomorrow is Christmas Eve
    • We will be having a completely different service from today
    • Christmas Music, a special message and some really cool secret elements
    • Take Big invite card to your neighbor personally
    • Bring someone with you - 5pm and 6:30pm

Sermon Title: The Gift is a Who, Part 3: Who is First

Main Text:  Colossians 1:15-18, Matthew 2:1-12

Topics:

  • We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “the world doesn’t revolve around you!” And it’s always true... or is it?  Is there actually anyone who is at the center of everything?
  • According to the Bible, there is a person WHO is preeminent, the first, the most important: Jesus.
  • It says that He is the firstborn of creation. This does NOT mean that He was the first thing created. Jesus is NOT a created being. John 1:1-2 establishes that Jesus has existed since the beginning. It is actually a heresy to say that Jesus is a part of creation, because it undermines His full divinity. So what does it mean that Jesus is the firstborn?
  • The phrase Jesus is the “firstborn of all creation,” is more pointing to his position. It is understandable that this is a little lost on a contemporary audience because birth order means much less to our culture. In ancient culture, particularly ancient Jewish culture, the firstborn was established as the next leader of the house. They were responsible for their siblings and kin. They were given much more of the inheritance. So the original readers would have understood this to be communicating about His position over the rest of creation.
  • It also says that all of creation was made for Him. That means the universe was created in such a way that Jesus is intended to be the central figure. So think about it: when He is first, things function how they are supposed to. When we try to put ourselves first or anyone else first, things break down. It may feel counter intuitive but putting Jesus first is the strongest position we can possible be in.
  • Initially it may seem like this truth is a turnoff, but this is something that the scripture writers are celebrating.  Usually coming across someone who acts like they are “the center of the universe” is repelling. But in this case it is being publicized.
  • It is because this is good news for us. In various ways all of us fight being self-centered. And that is an exhausting fight. Trying to keep ourselves at the center of our own world leaves us:
    • discouraged from unmet expectations
    • embittered with envy
    • frantic with impatience
    • lonely without genuine friendships
  • There are so many ways we can see that putting ourselves or others first is not the way the universe was meant to operate and will break down.
  • The Holiday Season:
    • I put my own expectations and desires for the holidays first and they clash with the expectations and desires of family and friends, I am frustrated and disappointed.
    • I make it my goal to make the expectations of my spouse/kids/friends come true. I can’t please them perfectly and meet their needs I am frustrated.
    • I put Jesus first. Which leads me to worshipfully focus on him this Christmas. That leads me to encourage others to do the same. Out of that I serve other people as best I can. Their reaction doesn’t steal my joy because I am doing it for Jesus ultimately. That brings me the most joy I could have had this season anyway!
  • Friendships and Marriage
    • I put myself first, and people don’t want to be around me.
    • I put someone else first, and I get exhausted by the one-way relationship. There is a lack of genuine give and take, so that hurts the vulnerability and intimacy of the relationship. They get me to do things I don’t want to our I know are destructive.
    • I put Jesus first. This leads me to serve but not be negatively influenced by people. This also leads me to be willing to be vulnerable with people. This leads me into satisfying relationships.
  • Parenting
    • I put myself first. I have a need for my child to succeed or perform at a level they cannot. I miss who they are and there is a fractured relationship. I so need a relationship with them that I do not lead them or discipline them, which will eventually hurt the relationship.
    • I put them first. I may be so focused on making them happy, I do not lead them. I am focused on making them successful by my definition. But that may not be what God wants for them. I want them to have their desires but may sacrifice God as a result.
    • I put Jesus first. I lead them to make their Heavenly Father the priority. God does more in them and through them than I ever could as a parent. I have parented with grace, wisdom and leadership. This created a healthy relationship.
  • Finances
    • I put myself first. This desire is so insatiable that maybe I practice unwise financial practices, and I find myself in bad shape. I can never have enough and I am unhappy.
    • I put another first. I learn that I cannot make them happy with money.
    • I put Jesus first. I practice wise biblical financial practices. I no longer have the gnawing discontentment of materialism. I care more about what he can do through my resources and find great joy in how I can serve others through the resources he has given me.
  • Church
    • I put myself first. Church is for me, it is supposed to meet my needs. I go to a church and at first it is the greatest thing ever. Then after a while I am angry when it doesn’t do things the way I want and I leave angry, bitter, and demoralized.
    • I put others first. All I do is serve at church. I just try to meet everyone else’s expectations. I am not getting filled up. I am getting burned out. I end up exhausted and empty.
    • I put Jesus first. I realize the main reason I come to church is to bring joy to Jesus. I care less about my preferences and more about what God wants from me. I maintain balance in my family. I serve and let other people serve me.  This give and take keeps me fresh.
  • Jesus, the fact that Jesus is the center of the universe is a huge gift to us. One that intersects with our lives right now. Lay down the burden of not being first. Lay down the burden of trying to make someone else happy.
  • Let’s reorder our lives and find how much stronger we are because of it.

Key Questions:

  • Why is it such a turnoff to be around someone who acts like the world revolves around them?
  • Do you find that people like that are usually aware that they come across like that? Why do you think that is?
  • What is so attractive about people who are others centered?
  • Read Colossians 1:15-18
  • Of all the ways this passage describes Jesus’ position in the universe, which impacts you the most?
  • How does life break down when we put ourselves first?
  • How does life break down when we put others before Jesus?
  • In what area of your life do you most tend to put yourself first?
  • In what area of your life do you most tend to put others before Jesus?
  • What will it look like to put Jesus first in that area?
  • How can we regularly remind ourselves to not slip back into the old habit of putting ourselves or others before Jesus?

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