X – The Practice of Service

///X – The Practice of Service
X – The Practice of Service2017-03-30T17:07:01+00:00
Study Explanation
Key Scripture
Discussion Guides
Growing Exercises
Recommended Reading

Explanation

Service is another practice that reflects how well we grasp the kingdom of God.  Do we have an eternal perspective or a temporal one?  Is life about us, or is it about God and others?  Do we have a desire to reflect the nature and character of the Lord Jesus and his ministry?  Our response to these issues through our active service of others says as much about our spiritual sincerity as perhaps anything else.  It’s easy to talk about love, kindness and generosity, but it is another thing altogether to roll up our sleeves and actually sacrifice our time, energy, resources, money, reputation or relationships to actually get involved and help another human being.  There always seems to be a good reason not get involved or to help others.  People and some of the situations they find themselves in are often messy.  They often inconvenience or demand far more of us than people realize.  It’s usually far easier and more agreeable to mind our own business and simply seek our own welfare and the welfare of those we care about.  However, we are not called to seek our own welfare as the world does.  We are called to follow Jesus, and Jesus was a servant of others.  Furthermore, he asks us to serve others in his name.  In fact, it is through this service of others that his kingdom is advanced as his love, mercy, grace, compassion, acceptance and salvation are on display.  A Christian who is not also a servant has somehow missed the whole spirit of his or her identity in Christ.

KEY SCRIPTURES

Key Scriptures

Key Scriptures are designed to give a biblical overview of the topic in question.  They are extremely valuable for gaining an immediate general understanding of what the Bible teaches on a given subject.  Key Scriptures are the first place you should explore when starting a new subject.  They can be discussed individually, in part, or in whole.  Generic inductive Bible study questions are provided to assist you in your discussion.  Key Scriptures are also good for memorizing and reference.

Jesus a servant

Luke 22:27 – I am among you as one who serves. NIV

See also Matthew 11: 28-30

Service imitates Christ

Ephesians 5:1 – Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love. NIV

1 Peter 2:21 – To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. NIV

Christians serve God

Deuteronomy 6:13 – Fear the LORD your God, serve him only. NIV

Ephesians 6:7 – Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men. NI

Revelation 1:6 – To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. NIV

See also Psalm 2:11, 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 2 Timothy 1:3, & 1 Peter 2:16

Christians serve others

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. NIV

Matthew 5:15 – Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. NIV

1 Peter 2:12 – Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. NIV

See also 2 Corinthians 13:4, 1 Peter 5:2, & Acts 9: 36

God desires fruitful lives

Matthew 7:19 – Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. NIV

Romans 7:4 – So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. NIV

Service is love, mercy, and compassion in action

Proverbs 19:17 – He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done. NIV

Galatians 5:13 – Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. NIV

Colossians 3:12 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. NIV

See also Matthew 22:37-40, Deuteronomy 15: 8-9, Micah 6:8, & Ephesians 5:21

Neglect of service to others

Psalm 109:16 – For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted. NIV

Proverbs 21:13 – If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered. NIV

Inductive Bible Study Questions

to be used with individual Key Scriptures

  • What is the primary point of this passage?
  • How does this passage challenge us?
  • How does this passage comfort or encourage us?
  • What does this passage teach us about God?
  • What spiritual insights are found in this passage?
  • What are the personal & spiritual implications of this text?
  • What does this passage ask or require of us?

Key Scriptures Bible Study

to be used when studying all Key Scriptures together

  • Did any of the scriptures given surprise you? Explain
  • Did any of the scriptures given confuse you? Explain
  • Did any of the scriptures given comfort or excite you?
  • How would you sum up these scriptures to another?
  • What implications do these scriptures have for our lives?
  • Which of these scriptures would you find it valuable to memorize?

DISCUSSION GUIDES

Jesus a Servant

X1 – Greatness through Service – Matthew 20: 20-28

Key Words: Service, Greatness, Success, Pride, Humility, Spiritual Authority

  1. Why might James and John’s mother do the talking regarding this request?
  2. What do you suppose was the reason for the request: what did they think they would gain by sitting in these special places of honor on the right and left hand of Jesus?
  3. What did the brothers’ misunderstand about God’s kingdom?
  4. How does Jesus contrast the ways of the kingdom with the ways of the world?
  5. Why do people like to be in charge?
  6. What implications does authority have regarding our needs and desires?
  7. What implications does authority have regarding how others view our needs and desires?
  8. How much authority does Jesus have?
  9. How does Jesus use his authority in relation to others?
  10. How does Jesus demonstrate an ethic of servanthood?
  11. In what context is Jesus bringing up his personal ethic of servanthood?
  12. Why is it important for the followers of Jesus to emulate his servanthood?
  13. Why is spiritual greatness attained through servanthood?
  • Approach all scripture prayerfully open
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X2 – The Servanthood of Jesus – John 13: 1-17

Key Words: Service, Jesus Humble, Spirituality, Humility, Kindness

  1. Why was foot washing in that culture a thing: why would it have been refreshing?
  2. In what ways was foot washing both practical and symbolic?
  3. Why is Peter scandalized by Christ’s insistence of washing his feet?
  4. Foot washing was a common practice in this culture: who do you suppose typically washed the feet of others?
  5. What did it say about the status of one who washed other’s feet?
  6. Why is our place in the pecking order important: socially, psychologically, personally?
  7. What is the background of the phrase, “pecking order?”
  8. Why do we tend to feel better about ourselves the higher up we go in the pecking order?
  9. What is Jesus communicating about his place in the pecking order in washing his disciple’s feet?
  10. What does this act teaching about the nature of true spirituality?
  11. How does Jesus use this occasion to demonstrate important spiritual qualities: love, humility, kindness, grace, others?
  12. What was Jesus trying to teach his disciples about leadership and service in the kingdom?
  13. How do you find yourself sometimes missing these important lessons?
  • Approach God’s Word with humility, honesty and teachability
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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X3 – Jesus Models Ministry – Luke 4: 16-21

Key Words: Service, Ministry, Poor/Needy, Messiah, Jubilee, Prophecy

  1. What did Jesus mean when he said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing?”
  2. What does it mean to say this is a Messianic prophecy?
  3. The Messiah or savior was foretold many centuries prior to this time, how does this text describe the coming Messiah?
  4. Why would most people intuitively think the Messiah was someone who was going to come and save them from foreign occupation or national oppression?
  5. Does this text describe a political Messiah?
  6. If Jesus did not come to conquer, how does this text describe his ministry?
  7. This passage makes reference to the Jewish practice of Jubilee where slaves are freed and debts forgiven, how does this context help us better understand the ministry of Christ?
  8. Who does this prophecy indicate Christ came to serve?
  9. Why do you suppose Christ focuses on the poor, needy and oppressed?
  10. What does this say about Christ’s heart?
  11. What does this passage teach about Christ’s understanding of spirituality and ministry?
  12. What should we learn from Christ about spirituality and ministry?
  13. As Christ’s body, how are we to carry on his ministry?
  • These questions are only suggestions, allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide
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Service Imitates Christ

X4 – Emulating the Attitude of Christ – Philippians 2: 5-11

Key Words: Service, Christlikeness, Worship, Heart, Humility, Jesus Humble

  1. Whose attitude should we emulate in life… explain?
  2. Which areas do Christians typically emphasize in discipleship: beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors?
  3. Why are attitudes of the heart just as vital in becoming more like Jesus than beliefs and behaviors?
  4. What specifically about Christ’s attitude does this passage teach that we should emulate?
  5. Which words and phrases in this text expound on the humility of Christ?
  6. How does humility ultimately result in exaltation for Jesus?
  7. Verses 7-8 emphasize the incarnation as being a humbling event: how and why is this true?
  8. What does verse 7 teach regarding the purpose of the incarnation?
  9. What is the logic flow of the argument regarding why we should see ourselves as servants?
  10. In what ways does humility and servanthood cut across the grain of our humanity?
  11. In what specific ways does following Christ in humility and servanthood create a challenge for you?
  12. How is obedience the ultimate act of humility?
  • These questions are simply a foundation for you to build upon
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X5 – At the Feet of Jesus – Matthew 10: 24-28

Key Words: Service, Discipleship, Christlikeness

  1. Who is the student and who is the teacher in this passage?
  2. Who is the servant and who is the master?
  3. What does Jesus imply regarding our relationship with him by using terms like student and servant?
  4. List at least 10 synonyms for each term.
  5. What does verse 25 teach about how these relationships overlap: how is being a student like being a servant?
  6. It seems obvious why a student would desire to be like his or her teacher, but why might a servant desire to be like his or her master?
  7. How do we know as students and servants of Christ when we are doing a good job imitating our teacher and master?
  8. Describe at least 10 qualities of Christ you admire and desire to imitate.
  9. Why is it important to strive for such lofty qualities regardless of whether they are achievable or not?
  • Create your own study by adding and subtracting questions as needed
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Christians Serve God

X6 – Hearts Reserved for God – Joshua 24: 14-26

Key Words: Service, Idols, God’s Jealousy, Worship, Heart

  1. The gods of the people in the land represented fertility, weather, bounty, power, war, and so on: what would have been the attraction of these gods to the people of Israel?
  2. Why would God be opposed to the people following these other gods alongside him?
  3. What does it mean when he says he is a jealous God?
  4. How and why is jealously in this instance a positive and not a negative sentiment?
  5. The text implies that worship necessarily involves service; do you believe this is true?
  6. How might people serve these other gods: Baal, Ashera, Molech, and Dagon?
  7. What, in contrast, is involved in serving God?
  8. What gods compete for the allegiance of our hearts today?
  9. Does something have to be religious to compete with God for allegiance in our hearts?
  10. Have you made a clear declaration to worship and serve the one true God?
  11. Why is that often hard and what factors make it difficult to follow God today
  • Your questions are probably better than mine
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X7 – A Beautiful Gift – Luke 7: 36-50

Key Words: Service, Beauty, Worship, Sacrifice, Humility, Gratitude

  1. Did this woman engage in an active worship of Jesus or a passive worship of Jesus?
  2. What is the difference, if any, between active worship and passive worship?
  3. What did this worship cost this woman: financially, socially, and psychologically?
  4. How does the cost of the worship enhance the sentiment?
  5. Why is Jesus so kind and understanding towards this woman who lived a sinful life: maybe even as a prostitute?
  6. Why might this woman’s behavior have encouraged or blessed Jesus?
  7. Did her worship or service provide benefit to anyone else?
  8. What types of service minister primarily to God?
  9. According to verse 50, why does Jesus forgive the woman?
  10. How and why are her actions the result of faith?
  11. What can you do this week to serve and minister to God?
  • Spend time with the questions prior to leading a group or coaching time
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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X8 – The Privilege and Glory of Service – Revelation 5: 6-10

Key Words: Service, Judgment, Serving God, Blessing

  1. Who is the being described in this passage?
  2. Where does this scene take place?
  3. How high are the stakes in this text?
  4. The scrolls and seals represent the judgments of God as his final kingdom is inaugurated, why is the Lamb worthy to open the seals; hence, enacting judgment?
  5. Why would dying to secure a people for God qualify Jesus to judge the world?
  6. Describe the people the Lamb has purchased?
  7. Why were they purchased?
  8. Why might some people take offense at being purchased to serve God?
  9. How do you feel about being purchased to serve God?
  10. Will anyone be counted in this number who does not desire to serve God?
  11. Going beyond even this passage, what are the eternal benefits of serving God?
  12. Why is it a privilege to serve God?
  13. Why is serving God the height of the human experience and blessedness?
  14. Do most people view serving God in this light?
  • Interrogatives are keys that unlock wonderful secrets 
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Christians Serve Others

X9 – Loving our Neighbor– Luke 10: 25-35

Key Words: Service, Love, Spirituality, Compassion

  1. Describe the perceived self-righteousness of the priest and Levite?
  2. How do you think Jesus would describe the spirituality of the priest and Levite?
  3. How might the average Christian today describe the spirituality of the priest and Levite?
  4. Why is it that love, compassion, mercy and service seem to be overlooked by so many religious people?
  5. According to verse 27, what virtue is Jesus illustrating with this passage?
  6. What statement is Jesus making about love?
  7. Was the Samaritan intentional, reactionary, or both… explain?
  8. Is love intentional, reactionary, or both?
  9. Is service intentional, reactionary, or both?
  10. What qualities do you believe Jesus desired to emphasize in the life of the Samaritan?
  11. Which of these qualities do you most need to improve in your life?
  • Be like a detective who interrogates scripture 
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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X10 – Serving the Least of These – Matthew 25: 31-46

Key Words: Service, Compassion, Judgment, Reward, Hell

  1. Does this passage seem harsh to you? Explain why or why not.
  2. What message is Jesus trying to communicate with the parable: the nature of salvation or the fruits of salvation?
  3. What indication does the passage give that the goats think they are genuine followers of Christ?
  4. What is the reaction of the goats when they are banished to eternal fire?
  5. According to the parable, how will Christ know his sheep?
  6. How do the sheep respond to praise for serving Christ?
  7. Who is “the least of these brothers of mine?”
  8. Where are such people found? Why should love, kindness, mercy, compassion and service characterize the followers of Christ?
  9. What does it say about the spirituality of a Christian when he or she does not possess these qualities?
  10. How would you stand up under this judgment?
  • The insight is found in scripture; questions are simply tools to mine the ore
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X11 – Serving with Grace – Romans 15: 1-7

Key Words: Service, Grace, Weak, Forbearance

  1. How would you describe the general attitude towards others espoused by this passage?
  2. What are the failings of the weak?
  3. What might it mean for us to bear up these failings?
  4. Why is it often extremely difficult to endure the shortcomings of those less spiritually mature than us?
  5. When is it difficult for you to demonstrate grace to others?
  6. Why might it be pleasing to self to be judgmental, condescending or self-righteous when others have many failings?
  7. Who is our neighbor?
  8. What is the context of pleasing our neighbor in verse 2?
  9. Does this mean we do whatever he or she desires?
  10. What if they desire something destructive or inappropriate?
  11. How and why do we build others up?
  12. According to verses 3 and 4 who example are we following when we bear with others and build them up?
  13. How does God assist those who, according to verse 5, follow Christ in this way?
  14. How does bearing with others and building them up demonstrate acceptance towards others?
  15. What is the logic flow of verse 7?
  16. Does knowing how Christ bore you up and is building you up make it easier for you to do the same for others?
  • Follow the lines of curiosity 
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God Desires Fruitful Lives

X12 – The Vine and Branches – John 15: 1-17

Key Words: Service, Dependence, Spiritual Fruit, Discipleship

  1. Why do gardeners cut off branches that do not bear fruit and even prune branches that do?
  2. According to verse 8 how do we show ourselves to be true disciples?
  3. What exactly is a disciple?
  4. Why must a genuine disciple necessarily bear the fruit of his or her master?
  5. According to verses 5-9, what is the secret to bearing fruit or being a genuine disciple of Jesus?
  6. What does the image of the vine and branches teach us about remaining in Christ?
  7. How does Jesus define fruit in verses 9-17?
  8. Compare verse 5 with verse 9, what insight does this give us regarding how to remain in Christ?
  9. How do verses 16 and 17 tie fruit and love together?
  10. What is the fruit of love? How do we cultivate the fruit of love?
  11. Why is it necessary to rely on Jesus and remain in him to bear the fruit of love?
  • Group leaders may wish to consult a commentary for background information 
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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X13 – The Fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5: 22-23

Key Words: Service, Spiritual Works, Maturity, Good Deeds

  1. How do most people intuitively define having a fruitful Christian life: having a good family, respect and admiration as a moral person, generosity and good deeds, leading people to Jesus, effective ministry in a local church, other… explain?
  2. Contrast and compare the fruit in this passage with the concepts most Christians have of fruitful Christianity.
  3. Why do you suppose measurable, result oriented qualities are absent from this list?
  4. Let’s refer to the qualities in this passage as spiritual fruit and more measurable qualities, such as the ones in the first question, as behavioral fruit; does spiritual fruit always lead to behavioral fruit?
  5. Does behavioral fruit always lead to spiritual fruit? Explain this dynamic.
  6. In light of this passage, how would you define a fruitful Christian?
  7. In light of this passage, how would you define a spiritually mature Christian?
  • Seek to connect the dots with other scriptures and Bible content 
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Service is Love, Mercy, and Compassion in Action

X14 – Pass it On – 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7

Key Words: Service, Compassion, Hardships, Trials, Comfort, Love, Spirituality

  1. How does verse 3 describe God?
  2. List the various ways God has demonstrated compassion towards you.
  3. List the various ways that God or your faith has brought comfort to your life.
  4. What practical value does faith have for you during difficulties and hardships in life?
  5. What reason does verse 4 give for God providing compassion and comfort in your life?
  6. Does it surprise you that one of the reasons God expresses compassion and comfort, (as well as, or in the form of love, mercy, grace, goodness, providence, etc…), is for you to pass these comforts on to others?
  7. Why does God desire that we pass on what we have received from him?
  8. Is it legitimate for a person to say they are filled with God’s compassion, comfort, love, mercy and grace and not desire to pass it on?
  9. This passage speaks a great deal about hardship and suffering; why is our tangible response to hardship and suffering a test of the quality of our spirituality?
  • There are no greater tools for effective Bible study than humility, honesty, and diligence
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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X15 – Preferring and Deferring to Others – Philippians 2: 1-4

Key Words: Service, Relationship with God, Peace, Unity, Humility

  1. What encouragement do you have from being united with Christ?
  2. What comfort do you have from his love?
  3. Break down the concept of “fellowship with his Spirit.”
  4. Do you feel any sense of intimacy or communion with God… explain?
  5. What tenderness and compassion have you received from God?
  6. How do verses 2-4 teach we should respond to such gifts from God?
  7. Why is peace and unity emphasized in verse 2?
  8. What other qualities or attitudes are necessary to be a peacemaker?
  9. Paraphrase verse 3-4 in your own words.
  10. What practical implications come from considering others better than yourselves?
  11. Why does it require humility to consider others better than yourselves?
  12. How should God’s love and grace impact the attitude and behavior that Christians have towards others?
  • You are responsible for your level of engagement
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God Equips Christians to Serve

X16 – A Serving Community– Romans 12: 3-8

Key Words: Service, Spiritual Community, Spiritual Gifts, Selflessness

  1. Why do people sometimes have a tendency to feel superior to others?
  2. How do we view and treat those we look down on?
  3. What do you suppose Paul is trying to say when he encourages the Corinthian church to look upon themselves with sober judgment?
  4. Many people view others as a means to an end or for what others can do for them; how does Paul encourage the Corinthians to view each other?
  5. How unique is the perspective of, “what can I do for you,” rather than “what can you do for me?”
  6. How does the way the body is supposed to function differ from how the world functions?
  7. How are the gifts a function of God’s grace?
  8. If gifts come by grace, how much basis do we have to feel superior because of our gift?
  9. Describe the spirit in which we exercise our gifts?
  • Go beyond the obvious by avoiding “Yes” or “No” answers
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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X17 – The Common Good – 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11

Key Words: Service, Spiritual Gifts, Spiritual Community, Unity

  1. What does the parallelism of verses 4, 5 and 6 reveal about spiritual gifts?
  2. Why do verses 4-6 emphasize the unity of the Spirit while speaking generally about all gifts?
  3. What does verse 5 reveal about spiritual gifts when it refers to gifts with the synonym “service?”
  4. What does it imply about gifts when verse 7 refers to them as the “Manifestation of the Spirit?”
  5. According to verse 7, why are the gifts given?
  6. How do people sometimes make the gifts about themselves rather than the common good?
  7. Why is it important for us to not allow one person’s gifts and passions to overshadow or diminish another person’s gifts and passions?
  8. How does this list of gifts compare to the one in Romans 12: 6-8?
  9. What does it say about spiritual gifts that the various lists of gifts in scripture all contain different gifts?
  10. What does it reveal about God’s purpose and desire for us that he gives us special abilities or spiritual gifts to serve others?
  • Think before answering
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X18 – Gifted to Serve – 1 Peter 4: 7 -11

Key Words: Service, Spiritual Gifts, Grace, Hospitality

  1. What does verse 10 reveal about the purpose of spiritual gifts?
  2. How is it possible to compromise the purpose of spiritual gifts in our lives and not view or use them to serve others?
  3. According to verse 10, what happens when we do not use our gifts to serve others?
  4. Why does faithfulness to God necessarily involve serving others?
  5. What does it mean to “faithfully administer God’s grace?”
  6. Once God’s grace has been given to us, how and why are we then stewards of that grace?
  7. What actions or activities are listed within this entire passage?
  8. How are prayer, love, hospitality, teaching and service all expressions of God’s grace?
  9. What gifts has God given to you?
  10. What spiritual gifts has God given to you?
  11. How much of what God has given to you has come by grace?
  12. What specific ways do you feel God may wish you to serve others with the grace you have received?
  • Thoughtful silence is the soil of epiphany
Rating: 5.0. From 1 vote.
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Neglect of Service to Others

X19 – Oppressors and Predators – Psalm 10

Key Words: Service, Oppression, Abuse of Power, World, Wicked, Poor/Needy

  1. According to the passage, how do the wicked view God?
  2. What is the wicked man’s philosophy in life?
  3. How does the wicked man view others; especially the weak and poor?
  4. Verses 5 and 6 describe how such a person often prospers, do you believe that such people often prosper in life?
  5. With whom does this text contrast the wicked man?
  6. Three times the text uses the term “victim,” and twice uses the term “fatherless;” it also uses terms like the “oppressed,” “weak,” and “innocent.”
  7. Who are these people in our society and what does scripture teach regarding our obligation to them?
  8. Contrast how the righteous and wicked view hurting and needy people.
  9. How do verses 3,6,11 and 13 describe the culpability of the wicked and attitude towards their actions?
  10. What does the text teach about ultimate judgment and true prosperity?
  •  Seek Nuance
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X20 – Religious and Apathetic – Isaiah 58: 1-12

Key Words: Service, Religion, Apathy, Fasting, Seeking God, Heart

  1. According to verses 1 and 2, who is God speaking and how does he feel about them?
  2. What is Israel’s complaint against God in verse 3?
  3. Fasting is an intense form of seeking God; what are some of the ways we seek God today and how do we generally expect God to respond to these activities?
  4. What do verses 3b-5 teach about the quality of their fasting and why is their fasting, in effect, nullified before God?
  5. What do verses 6-9 teach about the qualities God seeks in those who genuinely seek him?
  6. What does this teach us regarding God’s view of religious activity?
  7. How is religious activity validated in God’s eyes?
  8. Why is it hypocritical for Christians to worship God and seek him while ignoring the needs of the poor and hungry?
  9. According to verses 9b -12, how does God respond to the seeking of those who serve those around them?
  10. To what extent is serving others seeking God?
  11. When is serving others not seeking God?
  12. Is it possible to genuinely seek God without serving others?
  • Be sure to explore all the resources for each doctrine, virtue, and practice
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GROWING EXERCISES

  1. Speak with a pastor regarding ministry in your church and how to get involved. Ask this pastor to help you navigate the process your church has for becoming involved in ministry.  Discover the various ministry opportunities in your church.  Explore ministries that interest you.  You may wish to contact the leaders of these various ministries.  Pray about which ministries you would like to pursue.  Finally, get involved and begin serving.
  1. Pray for three divine appointments this week. Not all service involves structure ministries through your church or local ministry center.  Some of the most significant service and ministry is organic and simply part of the ebb and flow of your life.  We are surrounded by people who all have many needs.  We serve others as we meet these needs.  The key is learning to recognize the needs of others as ministry and service opportunities.  Pray for God to provide you with at least three opportunities for spontaneous and natural acts of service this week.  When God shows you the opportunity, you act on it.  Of course the goal is to do this continuously and integrate the everyday serving of people into your lifestyle.  Discuss this project and how it went with your Christian friend.
  1. Volunteer at a local ministry center. This could be a food bank, health clinic, women’s center, meal provider, advocacy center, senior care, etc…  If you cannot find something a pastor at your church may be able to make a recommendation.  Try to find something that interests you and that you have a passion for.  Volunteer multiple times if you are able and try out different ministries.  The goal is for you to find a ministry that you believe in enough to volunteer on a regular basis.
  1. Start a ministry to meet a local need. People start local service organizations all the time.  If you have a passion for a particular people or ministry, and that need is not currently being met, you may wish to do something about it.  People in our church have started a tutoring ministry, seminars to help students and parents navigate the college search and admissions process, advocacy for abused children in Africa, a ministry to homeless people, and an after school girls club.  The possibilities are nearly endless.  You will wish to meet with a pastor from your church to guide you in the process; especially, if this ministry will operate within the structure of your church.
  1. Make a list of five ways to serve each member of your immediate family. Service and ministry begin in the home and with those closest to us.  This is because service begins with the right heart and attitude.  This cannot be faked and must begin at home.  How can you best serve each member of your household?  Actually make a list of five ways you plan to serve each person in your household, and then follow through with the list.  These can be anything.  I will vacuum for my wife without being asked three times per week.  I will make lunch for my son and his friends when they watch football at my house.  Part of the exercise is to do these things without drawing attention to them.  You quietly serve because you desire to emulate Christ.  Discuss your plan and how things unfold with your Christian friend.
  1. Make a list of three ways to serve a co-worker, neighbor or friend. Again, sometimes the best service takes place within the natural course of our lives.  The question is ‘how do we develop attitudes and patterns of service in our lives?’  We have to start somewhere.  Identify several people in your life that God may desire you to serve for one reason or another.  Who are the people in your life that have real needs.  Maybe you can take someone to lunch or a ball game.  Maybe you can cut a neighbor’s grass.  Maybe you can help a coworker with a project.  The possibilities are endless.  Identify those you wish to serve.  Make a plan.  Stick with it.  See what happens.  Discuss your plan and how things unfold with your Christian friend.
  1. Take a spiritual gift inventory. There are lots of inventories available.  It is best to check with a pastor from your church to discover which one they recommend and is consistent with your faith tradition.  I also recommend having your spouse or very close friend take the inventory for you as well.  Then contrast and compare answers and results.  This enables you to explore blind spots.  It also helps you dig deeper and gain a fuller understanding of how God has wired you.  It is also important to act on the results of the spiritual gifts inventory and begin to adjust your life to account for your spiritual gift.  Remember, God gave you your gifts to use in the service of others.  Discuss the implications of your spiritual gifts with your Christian friend.
  1. Research the S.H.A.P.E. concept and seek to discover your unique SHAPE for ministry. SHAPE is an acronym for Spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences.  Many feel that a person’s SHAPE can give their lives and purpose in life a laser sharp focus.  At the very least, understanding your SHAPE can improve self-awareness and give direction for ministry.  This can ultimately lead to a greater sense of purpose and fruitfulness in life.  There is one book in the suggested reading on this subject.  However, there is also a great deal of material on the internet as well.  Many churches also have SHAPE seminars complete with various inventories to help people understand how they are wired for ministry.  Discuss your SHAPE with a pastor or Christian friend.

RECOMMENDED READING

  1. When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fickert
  2. Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton
  3. Good News to the Poor: Social Involvement and the Gospel by Tim Chester
  4. Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World? by Eugene Cho
  5. The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution by Barry Asmus and Wayne Grudem
  6. I am a Church Member by Thom Rainer
  7. Ministering Through Spiritual Gifts: Recognize Your Personal Gifts and Use Them to Further the Kingdom by Charles Stanley
  8. H.A.P.E. by Erik Rees
  9. What’s So Spiritual about Your Gifts? By Henry Blackaby and Mel Blackaby