Weekly Sermon Reflection

By: Reality SF

Why Don’t We Pray At All Times and in All Ways?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we began our series on spiritual warfare by addressing the importance of prayer and how we ought to approach it. In his sermon, Pastor Dave focused on the command in Ephesians 6:18: “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (emphases added). With all those “alls” in mind, Dave asked, “Why don’t we pray like this?” He went on to propose several ideas, which are helpful to accompany with some reflection questions:

1. We just don’t get around to it. We’re busy people, and on top of that, we have a deep-seated fear of missing out. For you, what do you find yourself prioritizing over time with God in prayer?
2. We misunderstand the nature of prayer. Deep down, perhaps we doubt that prayer really works—that it actually changes anything. Do you struggle with this? Consider Jesus’ encouragement in Luke 18:1-8.
3. We’re not lifting all of our heart and mind to God. Perhaps distraction, preoccupation with temptations, boredom, or even lack of faith deter us from prayer. But what if you actually brought all of those things to God when you prayed? Imagine asking Him to help you and to unite your heart to His. That is the way toward “praying in the spirit,” which Dave described as being deeply connected and alive to God at all times and empowered by Him so that when you pray, you are praying from a place of being with God.

Discuss your answers to the above questions with your community, along with the Scriptures and sermon. Our CGs are currently in Regular Time material, which you can find here.

What Keeps You from Leaning Back on Jesus?

In his first sermon back from sabbatical, Dave Lomas shared an image of discipleship as leaning back on Jesus, just as the beloved disciple did in John 13:21-29. In this metaphor for the Christian life, a disciple knows Christ deeply and is attuned to what matters most to Him. To be able to practice this way of life, Pastor Dave recommended these three things:

1. You have to show up. Regular, daily prayer is crucial. How can you pursue consistency in silence and solitude with God?
2. You must put away distraction. Technology and entertainment can hinder us from deeper soul matters such as faith, forgiveness, healing, integrity, and even mortality. What is currently distracting you from your relationship with Jesus?
3. You need to let go. You may be capable of setting many ambitious goals and cleverly achieving them—and, you may be tempted to bring this kind of striving into your relationship with God. What might it look like for you to release control of your relationship with God to God?

Discuss your answers to these questions with your community, along with the Scriptures and sermon. Starting this week, our CGs have entered Regular Time material, and you can find it here.

Summer on the Mount Teaching Series

What Hinders You in Practicing Jesus’ Teachings?

At Sunday’s gatherings, we reflected on Jesus’ invitation to stability through the intentional practice of His teaching. In his sermon, Matt Barrios shared that Jesus, in calling us to this stability, offers a remedy for the instability of life in our world. As you consider all that we have learned over these last three months in the Summer on the Mount series, reflect on these questions:

1. Having heard Jesus’ teachings about life in God’s Kingdom, do you understand them? If there are some parts that you’re confused about, how can you find clarity?
2. Do you overcomplicate (or oversimplify) any of Jesus’ teachings so you can avoid practicing them? If so, what might more authentic faithfulness and practice look like for you?
3. Do you have any fears about what practicing Jesus’ teachings might cost you? What are you afraid of losing?

Discuss your answers to these questions with your community, along with the Scriptures and sermon, using this week’s CG material.

Are You on the Narrow Path? How Can You Tell?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on the narrow way of Jesus and how it leads to true life, freedom, and transformation. In his sermon, Toby Kurth said that as we pursue the narrow and often difficult path of following Jesus in our world, Jesus Himself will lighten our burden and transform us through the power of the Holy Spirit. And as we are transformed through relationship and dependence upon Jesus, the people around us will also be transformed. As you begin this week, consider these reflection questions about Jesus, His path, and your life:

1. Is the current path you’re walking on one that you can walk arm in arm with Jesus?
2. Are your beliefs about Jesus actually leading to good fruit in your life? (Think about the Fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.)
3. Who are the main influencers in how you live your life? Are their words compatible with Christ’s words?

Discuss your answers with your community, along with the Scriptures and sermon, using this week’s CG material.

What Are You Asking, Seeking and Knocking for?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on Jesus’ command in Matthew 7:7-11 to continually pursue our Father in Heaven through prayer. In his sermon, Britt Merrick highlighted a problem in how we typically view prayer – as a means to our own ends and desires. God’s great purpose in prayer, however, is to bring us to Himself in daily, dependent, and loving relationship. We are generally results-oriented, while God is process-oriented; we are radically goal-oriented, while God is radically relationship-oriented. And though prayer often does have goals and results, God is most interested in communing with us and forming us. As you approach prayer this week, consider:

1. What do I most often ask, seek, and knock for? What does this reveal about my heart?
2. What is usually my ultimate goal in prayer?
3. When I don’t get what I ask for, do I doubt God’s goodness? How can I be reassured of His goodness?

Discuss this experience along with the Scriptures and sermon using this week’s CG material.

Have You Been Judged? Have You Wrongly Judged Others?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on Jesus’ command in Matthew 7:1-6, 12 to not hold others in condemning judgment but rather to offer compassion and truth in love. In her sermon, Ruthie Kim encouraged us to move away from a heart posture that condemns and shames others. Instead, she invited us to shift into the powerful position of Christ-like love, where we affirm the value of every human being and desire God’s best for them.

As you consider the role of judgment in your life, reflect on these questions:
1. Have you been judged and shamed, and is that impacting the way you relate to others?
2. What is your natural heart posture toward those closest to you in daily life? (Think about family members, roommates, coworkers, friends, and neighbors.)
3. What would it look like for you to choose love and care as your natural posture toward these people? What would doing so require of you?
4. Bring all of this to Jesus, and ask Him to transform your heart. Invite the Holy Spirit to empower you to operate in this way.

Discuss this experience along with the Scriptures and sermon using this week’s CG material.

What Should We Do with Our Worry and Anxiety?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on Jesus’ command not to worry but to instead entrust ourselves to the gracious, attentive care of God. But how do we do that? In his sermon, Tim Chaddick offered a few ideas:

First, meditate on these three truths in Matthew 6:25-34 that can help disarm worry:
1. Worry is contrary to common sense. (v. 25-27)
2. Worry is an enemy of faith. (v. 28-30)
3. Worry is a matter of the heart. (v. 31-34)

Second, choose to view moments of anxiety and worry as invitations to prayer. When you find yourself worried or anxious about something:
– Pray continually, as often as the worry comes to mind. God’s mercies are new every morning!
– Pray specifically, sharing with God exactly what is bothering you. Ask the Lord to provide for your needs, but also ask Him to help you understand why these specific circumstances trouble your heart so much.
– Pray thankfully, remembering that God is a good Father who has provided for you in untold ways—so you can trust Him with what is worrying you now.

Discuss this experience, as well as Sunday’s Scriptures and sermon, with your community using this week’s CG material.

What Do You Treasure the Most?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on Jesus’ command in Matthew 6:19-24 to pursue God as our ultimate treasure instead of the fleeting pleasures of wealth. In his sermon, Rashad Clemons defined treasure as something of exceptional value that is kept safe. So reflect on this question: what do you treat as exceptionally valuable and go to great lengths to protect? (Often we can discern what we truly treasure most by looking at what we spend the most time and money on.) Next, consider what heavenly treasures you pursue (or would like to pursue). Bring all these realities and desires concerning treasure to Jesus, and ask Him what continued faithfulness looks like for you. Then discuss this experience along with the Scriptures and sermon using this week’s CG material.

Can You Bring Your Deepest Desires to God?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:5-18 on the ways God satisfies our deepest desires through the spiritual disciplines. In his sermon, Al Abdulla addressed our common struggle to discover what we truly want in life. Though we often shift ways of finding satisfaction, it’s always to fulfill the same root desires: to be seen, to be significant, and to be secure. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus affirms these desires as good, and He seeks to point us to who truly satisfies them: His Heavenly Father. So this week, take Jesus’ instruction to pray alone in a hidden place to your Father in Heaven. As you pray through the Lord’s Prayer, what is happening to your desires? Is God sorting them out? Is He satisfying them? Is He reshaping them? Discuss this experience as well as Sunday’s Scriptures and sermon with your community using this week’s CG material.

Who Is the Primary Audience of Your Life?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:1-4 about how we practice good deeds and for whom we do them. In his sermon, Ryan Jones addressed the pressures we feel in our culture to perform for others and craft our public image. As you think about your life so far this year—the work you’ve done, the time you’ve spent with people, and the things you’ve posted on social media—who have you done it all for? Spend some time in silence and solitude with the Lord this week, and ask Him to reorient your heart and mind. Meditate on Scriptures like John 16:27Romans 8:14-17, and 1 John 3:1, and receive the truth of the Father’s love for you. Then discuss this experience as well as Sunday’s Scriptures and sermon with your community using this week’s CG material.

Who Are Your Enemies? Can You Love Them?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on Jesus’ very challenging commands of how to respond to and love our enemies. In his sermon, Josh Waidley helped us to clarify who our enemies are: your enemy is anyone who you view as less than yourself. In doing so, you refuse to see them as an image-bearer of God. Applying this definition, who are currently your enemies? How does it feel for you to honestly label them as such? As a first step toward coming to love our enemies, Jesus calls us to pray for them. So bring this person (or people) before the Lord. What do you need to honestly share with God about them? Can you ask God to give you a heart to love them? Discuss this process as well as Sunday’s Scriptures and sermon with your community using this week’s CG material.

Are Your “Yes” and “No” Trustworthy?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on the costliness, danger, and folly of making vows. Jesus points back to the practice in the Old Testament, and He says don’t do it at all! Don’t swear by anything. Instead, He commands us to simply say “yes” or “no.” In your relationships, would simply a yes or no suffice? In other words, can your friends, family, coworkers, roommates, etc. actually count on you to keep your word? Discuss this with your community using this week’s CG material.

A Changed Heart Leading to a Renewed Life

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Law, and how this impacts the ways we approach righteousness and anger. In his sermon, Jeremy Treat explained how Jesus upholds God’s commands and brings a deeper righteousness that can change us at the heart level. Through the cross, Jesus frees us from our sin and gives us His righteousness—so now we can genuinely think and live as whole human beings empowered by the Spirit. But what sort of change does this produce in our lives? Discuss this with your community using this week’s CG material, focusing on the specific struggle of anger.

Salt and Light: How Can You Partner with God?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on what the Bible says about light and how often, God Himself is described as light. As we studied what this tells us about the Lord, we then considered what Jesus might have meant when He told the crowd, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). In her sermon, Ruthie Kim proposed that Jesus is inviting us to partner with Him in God’s mission of rescuing, restoring, and renewing the world. So what does it look like for you and your community to partner with God in His mission? Discuss while using this week’s CG material and ask the Lord for wisdom and the power of His Spirit!

The Beatitudes: Does the Kingdom Surprise You?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on Jesus’ announcement in the Beatitudes of who is blessed and who belongs in God’s Kingdom. As you heard these words and listened to Pastor Britt teach on them, were you surprised by how this Kingdom works? How does it differ from the ways you’re prone to view the world? What do these truths tell you about God? This week, we encourage you to study the Beatitudes with your community and discuss with one another how to respond to the realities of God’s Kingdom among us. View this week’s CG material.

Will You Slow Down Before Taking on the Yoke?

At yesterday’s gatherings, we reflected on the importance of slowing down to Jesus’ pace and lifestyle in order to experience true life, joy, and peace. In his sermon,  John Mark Comer put this question to us: “Will we continue at breakneck speed through life and just try to work in a little of Jesus’ stuff along the way? Or will we radically alter the pace of our life, slow down, and take up the easy yoke with Jesus?” Jesus’ yoke is His teaching, which we find in the Sermon on the Mount. So as we begin this series, we encourage you and your community to become more familiar with Jesus and His overall message through this week’s CG material.