The early disciples had the privilege of walking and living with Jesus but they did not necessarily have big faith from day one of following Him. In Matthew 8, they were terrified by the storm even though the Prince of Peace, Jesus himself was in the boat with them. They needed to learn, understand and experience what it means to follow Jesus and live out authentic peace on a daily basis, regardless of the circumstances. We too may find ourselves in turmoil and difficult situations, experiencing various storms in our lives. God has promised that as we trust in Him, He will lead us to authentic peace.
Read Matthew 8:23-27, Matthew 14:22-33
- As we experience the storm of the Delta strain of COVID-19, how has it been for you? What are some thoughts and situations you have had during the past week?
- Jesus was sleeping when a ferocious storm suddenly arose and waves swept over the boat. How would you have felt if you were in the boat with Jesus then? What would you say to Him? Fast forward to the present; how do you usually communicate with Jesus when you are in a perceived storm?
- Pastor Heather mentioned that we need to learn and experience authentic peace. Jesus promises that real peace can be found in Him, the Prince of Peace (John 14:27). Share with the group some areas of your lives where you have experienced fear and have no peace. What are some barriers you may be facing in reaching out to Jesus and trusting Him?
- Read Psalm 46:1-5. This psalm was written after King David’s victory over the enemies of ancient Israel. Discuss with the group how the psalm could help you learn and understand that real peace can be found by trusting in God. Share some uplifting experiences that you have had.
- Pastor Heather explained that authentic peace is built on four principles: Purpose, Promise, Presence and Power. Discuss some of the practical ways these principles could be applied when we are faced with fear in our lives. What are some challenges in applying these principles?
- In Matthew 14:22-33, we see that Peter’s faith has grown as he tries walking towards Jesus on the water. Our faith in Jesus needs time and multiple experiences to grow, and this will lead us to experience real inner peace. Share with the group the growth progression of your faith. What are some things that you could do to help you draw closer to God?
Has there been a time when you felt fear but trusting in Jesus gave you a real inner peace? This week, pray that God will lead you to share this experience with someone. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one thing you could do to create a space to draw closer to God. Commit to doing it.
Jesus experienced immense anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew that physical pain was imminent. He also endured intense emotional pain, yet He chose to obey God’s purpose and will in His life. All of us have experienced pain to varying degrees, for short and sometimes longer periods of time. The journey of pain is real and may tempt us to panic, or dwell in hopelessness and self-pity. Alternatively, we can choose to be in God’s presence, allowing Him to hold our hand and finding shelter in the real peace that is only found in Him.
Read John 5:1-15, Psalm 23
- How have you experienced pain? What was the difference between the onset of that pain and when it finally subsided?
- Pastor Scott mentioned the various types of pain that all of us may experience in one way or another. Discuss some of them and how they could cause anguish and turmoil. What are some of the challenges they present, and how do you think we could get through them?
- In John 5, we read that a disabled man had been lying near the pool at Bethesda (‘house of mercy’) for 38 years. The man believed that he could not be healed, but then Jesus came and told him to stand up, pick up his mat, and walk. At which point did the man practice faith in Jesus? Are there any barriers that could prevent you from reaching out for God’s hand?
- Pastor Scott outlined three options during our journey of pain: dwell in self-pity; fall into panic; or hold on to God’s presence. What would influence you to choose among the three options?
- Read Psalm 23. God has promised that He is our Shepherd, and He will walk with us through the darkest valley. Share with the group how this psalm could help you through a season of pain. Think of someone who may be going through their darkest valley and ask God to guide you in sharing Psalm 23 with that person.
- As we go through the reality of pain, there are practical steps we can take:
Pray – Ask for God’s help and grace whenever we are in a place of tightness.
Perspective – Take on God’s perspective of our situation.
Peace – Reach out for our God’s hand so that we can experience real peace.
Share with the group the challenges in applying the above suggestions and discuss how we can encourage each other to work towards them.
Have you been through a season of pain and God has lifted you up through His faithfulness? This week, ask for God’s help to be a vessel of love and to lead you to someone going through a dark valley. Think of one thing you can do to help and pray for this person. Commit to doing it.
During the last week of Jesus’ ministry, He was teaching at the Temple of Jerusalem when the leading priests and elders approached and asked “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?” (Matthew 21:23). These leaders were respected by society; they had studied the Torah and could recite the prophets’ scrolls (the Old Testament) by heart. Yet when the Son of God was in their presence, fulfilling the law and the prophets, they rejected Him, resulting in the Kingdom of God being taken away from them (v.43). They thought they were doing God’s work, but this is not how history portrays their ministry.
Read John Matthew 21:33-46
- In the context of the parable, who or what is represented by the landowner, the vineyard, the tenants, the servants, and the son? Can you think of examples from the Old Testament when a servant of God is mistreated?
- Pastor Dale explained that we are tenants in a world God created, and His provision is super-abundant. What are some practical examples of us, as tenants, taking God and His provision for granted? Why do we push back against God?
- Why did the landowner send his servants? How many times did he try to intervene with the tenant farmers? What did the farmers do and why? How might you have responded in this situation?
- God is patient and persevering. How can we be more attentive to His intervention in our life?
- Read verse 40-44. Considering that this conversation happened on the last week of Jesus’ ministry, what is your understanding of this conversation between Jesus and the leading priests and elders? What do you think Jesus is trying to say to them?
- Pastor Dale mentioned that when we still live in and are bound by sin, we are like the wicked farmers. We need to pay attention to God’s intervention through Jesus, so that we do not miss the opportunity to receive Him and produce the fruit of God’s Kingdom. How are you really going with Jesus? Is there an area in your life that He is wanting you to address today?
Jesus is our Cornerstone and everything in our life needs to be built around Him. The leading priests and elders in the New Testament focused on their religious laws and elite social status to the extent that they missed the opportunity to experience the grace and love of Jesus. If you are yet to open your heart to Jesus, the Son of the Landowner, He is waiting for you to repent and to finally let Him in. (Note for leaders: this is a great opportunity to make room for the Holy Spirit to move. If there are any in your group who want to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour, please lead them in prayer.)
What is it that you can do this week to get real in your faith journey? Pray together as a group for the intervention and prompting of the Holy Spirit.