Up Close

Part One      Part Two      Part Three    


Part One

Peter lived very closely with Jesus for the years of Jesus ministry on earth, yet as well as being used during that time, Peter also suffered and denied Jesus in those years. It is often in our times of suffering that we experience most clearly God’s strength and presence and learn significant and lasting life lessons. This was certainly true for Peter.

Discover

Read John 21:1-19. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?

Discuss

1. When you think of the Apostle Peter, what comes to mind as in the things that he did and said? Discuss.

2. Our lives are impacted by the people that we spend most time with, the books that we read and the things that we watch. What criteria do you use to filter what impacts your life?

3. Galatians 2:7-9 – What shaped Peter to be the man of faith and sacrifice that he became?

4. Peter does not hide his own failures and mistakes, but rather he embraces them and learns from them (1 Peter 2:19-24). How do your past failures and mistakes impact your life?

5. We are called to imitate Jesus by the way we live our lives, how do we actually do that? (Ephesians 4:1, Ephesians 5:1)

6. Who are you allowing to be close enough to you that they can imitate how you live? What gifts has God entrusted you with that He can use to enrich and impact others through you?

7. Who are you living close enough to that you can imitate their life?

8. How have you allowed God to redeem your past whatever it has held and allowed Him to use those experiences to impact other lives that you are touching now?

Respond

We all have both a responsibility and opportunity to influence the people that God has put in our lives. We will influence them whether we want to or not. Take some time this week to pray about one person in our network that you sense God could impact through you. Pray too about someone that you can choose to allow closer into your life to impact you for good. Do you need to spend more time in God’s presence allowing Him to deal with issues in your life just now?

 


Part Two

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, but he could see Jesus was no ordinary teacher. He wanted to find out more, so he came to see Jesus, but under the cover of darkness. This ‘up close’ encounter must have had a profound impact upon Nicodemus, as we later see him stand up for Jesus against the other Pharisees (John 7:47-50), and then finally he assisted Joseph in the burial of Jesus body (John 19:39).

Discover

Read John 3:1-21. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?

Discuss

1. Have you ever been up close to someone well known? Did what you see of them up close reflect the public image you had of them prior?

2. Read John 3:3-8. What image comes to your mind today when you hear the term ‘born again’? What did it mean in the context that Jesus used it?

3. What is the difference between turning over a new leaf (moral alignment), versus starting out a new life (spiritual birth) in Jesus? How does this apply to us?

4. Read John 3:19-21. What is the irony of these statements to Nicodemus? In what context might these verses be relevant today?

5. Read John 7:50-52. Nicodemus began to walk from darkness to light, yet faced opposition from his peers in doing so. When have you needed to be a light in a spiritually dark environment? How did it go?

Respond

We all have areas of our lives that are still in spiritual darkness, and that we may rather not have the light of Jesus shine upon. We may be fully aware of these areas, or it could be that we do not readily recognise them. Jesus wants us to walk in the light as He is in the Light. Take a moment now of quietly reflection, and to ask the Holy Spirit to show you an area that you need to allow His light to shine upon. Confess silently to Jesus, and ask for His forgiveness and life transformation in any areas that He reveals to you.

 


Part Three

For many people, they can claim busyness as almost some kind of badge. They think that their service toward God is somehow proof of their devotion to Him. But Jesus explains to His friends Mary and Martha that simple adoration is better. If we want to serve God well and fully, we need to make sure we’re serving out of a place of intimacy. When we take time to worship and adore God, to know Him and be known by Him, we’ll discover that we don’t need to perform for His approval. And we’ll serve out of thankfulness rather than striving for His acceptance.

Discover

Read Luke 10:38-42. To help get a good understanding of the passage, try to describe what is happening or being said in your own words. Take a moment to reflect and note down what stands out as important, significant or meaningful to you. What does this passage tell us about God? What does this passage tell us about people? How does this passage change how we live?

Discuss

1. The Greek word for worship is ‘Proskuneo’ which means to come towards to kiss. Does this explain what you are doing when you come to worship?

2. Obedience to Jesus can happen in two ways: either out of religious duty where we ‘do’ (like Martha); or because of an overwhelming adoration of Jesus where we cannot help but ‘be’ who and what He wants us to be (like Mary). Discuss the difference between doing and being followers of Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42)

3. Mary had learned to find her worship ‘default place’ at the feet of Jesus in her everyday life, so in a time of grief it was her natural place to go. How can we train or discipline ourselves to find our default place at the feet of Jesus?

4. Read Psalm 6. David’s conversation with God was honest and real. What do we do and who do we go to in times of pain, hurt, frustration?

5. Three times we find Mary at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39; John 11:32; John 12:3). The final time is an expression of extravagant worship. She was indifferent to what anyone might think of her. Her focus was totally on Jesus. When was the last time you extravagantly worshipped God?

6. One of the greatest challenges for long-term Christians can be apathy and familiarity with what Jesus has done for us. How can we keep a fresh perspective on worship? What might we need to change?

Respond

How do you best connect with God? Discuss together how you can set aside some time this week to explore and then engage with God in a way that makes you come alive. It might be out in God’s creation. It might be meeting the needs of someone who is sick. It could be taking time in silence and solitude. You might like several hours of uninterrupted study time. Pray for each other that God’s Spirit will move in your lives this week as you worship Him.

 



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