Directly below this heading are the Lent Study Notes.  The weekly study notes can be found further down this page.

Lent 2020 Study Notes for House Groups linked to Live Lent Booklets

Week 1: Light and Energy (Starting Monday 2 March)
Discuss what you are hoping to discover through this course. How willing do you think are you are, to take some action to protect God’s creation?
Estimate how many times you have switched on some electric power today…think what it must be like to have no access to that sort of power.
Read Jn 8:12
What do you think it means to “walk in the light of life”?
Why is this important?
What would the experience of walking in the dark be like?
Read Mt 5:14 – 16
What is the main difference in these 2 passages?
What does it mean to be called to be the light of the world?
What does that mean to each one of you in your particular circumstances?
What practical things can you do to be more visible as an individual Christian or as a church at work or in the community?
How can we practically be lights in the world about climate change?
How do you think life is changed when a community gets access to reliable light for the first time?
Action: of all the suggestions in the leaflet for this week which ones will you attempt and how?

Week 2: Water (Starting Monday 9 March)
How did the action suggestions go last week?
Water is a common theme in the bible: why do you think that is so? Why is it used at baptism?
How many bible passages can you think of which involve water in some way?
Read Jn 4: 7-15
What strikes you as extraordinary about this passage? ....imagine you are reading it for the first time.
What does Jesus mean by living water? Why will those who drink it never thirst again? How do you think people who have no easy access to clean tap water might feel reading those words?
Read Mk.4:35-41
What does this story tell us about Jesus’ relationship with nature?
What hope does this give us at a time of environmental crisis?
How does this encourage us to act and how?
Action: of all the suggestions in the leaflet for this week which ones will you attempt and how?

Week 3: Land and Plants (Starting Monday 16 March)
How did the action suggestions go last week?
Where is each person’s favourite view ...does the view include any plants? Why are plants so important to us?
If you grow, or ever have grown, vegetables, or fruit even herbs on a window sill, how did it feel to do it and eat your own produce? What are the positive benefits?
Is there someone you know who would be really encouraged to receive some flowers this week?
Read: Mt6: 28-31
How do you feel reading this passage? Does it help when life becomes stressful?
Mt21:33-41.
One of Jesus’ parables ...what do you think he was trying to teach his listeners about? Was the idea of using an illustration of a vineyard good and if so why?
What does this parable speak to us about today?
Everyone is being encouraged to plant a tree/s...how might you do this and where? Maybe you can support others to do this.
Action: of all the suggestions in the leaflet for this week which ones will you attempt and how?

Week 4: Stars and Seasons (Starting Monday 23 March)
How did the action suggestions go last week?
Share memories of watching the stars on a clear night, remember how you felt and what you learned? Can you remember the first man landing on the moon...what was your reaction to that?
Read Job38. 19- 41
How does that passage make you feel?
In what ways do we act as if we have forgotten who God is?
Which season of the year do you each like the best and why?
What are the advantages of living in a country like the UK with such well-defined seasons?
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
This is a popular choice for a reading for civic and royal ecclesiastical events: why might that be so?
How might this passage help at times of stress?
Action: of all the suggestions in the leaflet for this week which ones will you attempt and how?

Week 5: Creatures (Starting Monday 30 March)
How did the action suggestions go last week?
Other than humans what creatures have you seen today?
Share in the group what your favourite creatures are and perhaps the ones you really dislike!
Sheep and shepherds are a common theme in the stories and narratives of the bible: why do you think that is so? How many bible passages can you think of which involve sheep in some way? Where sheep are being used as a metaphor what themes are they illustrating?
Read Jn 1: 29-34.
What do you think John was meaning in v.29 when he says  “Look the Lamb of God …..”
Jesus is often visually depicted as the Lamb of God: why do you think that it is such powerful image...perhaps think of the 17th century Zurbaran painting (Google it if you don’t know it).  Is it an image which helps your reflection on Good Friday as we remember Jesus’ death?
Action: of all the suggestions in the leaflet for this week which ones will you attempt and how?
What, as a group and as individuals, has this study over the last 5 weeks encouraged you to do in order to reduce our impact on the planet?    Action is needed, and needed now …what is yours?
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House Group Notes Week Commencing Sunday 8 March

Principles of Christian Giving

You may wish to begin your time together by reading 2 Corinthians 8.1-12 and 9.6-16.

The words that we use can sometimes reveal our values and our attitudes. In chapter 8, Paul uses certain words a number of times. For example…..
Grace (5 times in 8.1-7 and 7 times in the whole chapter)

Repeating words in close proximity to each other can sometimes be regarded as poor English, which is possibly why some English versions of the Bible translate some of the occurrences of “grace” in this passage in other ways, for example “privilege” (8.4 NIV), “generous act/undertaking” (8.6,7,9 NRSV). So the impact of the repetition of the word in the original language can be lost to some degree.

Many authors of the Bible use a literary device called inclusio. This is where a section is begun and ended with the same word. The purpose is to stress that this word colours the whole section. This is the case in the first paragraph of 1 Corinthians chapter 8 where, in the original language, “grace” is the sixth word in verse 1 and the penultimate word in verse 7.

This reveals that, for Paul, the springboard for generous giving is an experience of the grace of God in our lives. When we realise how, because of God’s grace, we are so rich spiritually and materially (compared with people in other parts of the world) it inspires us to be generous people.

Other words that Paul repeats in chapter 8 are…..
Overflowing (5 times)
Eagerness (6 times) Sometimes translated “earnestness”

These, and other words and phrases in chapter 8 reveal a mindset of grace, joy, liberality, abundance, eagerness and enthusiasm. It is interesting that Paul doesn’t highlight need, and he doesn’t speak of duty. It’s all about the working of God’s grace in our lives. This reveals that our approach to money, and our stewardship of it, is a spiritual issue and an important part of our Christian discipleship.

 
Questions for discussion from Sunday’s sermon…..
 
Four principles of Christian giving
 
REGULAR
Why do you think some people might be reticent to give in a regular way?
 
PRE-DETERMINED
Can you recall a time when you asked God to guide you in your giving and you felt he answered your prayer? If so, would you like to talk about it?
 
PROPORTIONAL
In the sermon there was a quotation from a man called Alan Cole…..
“The Lord measures giving, not by what we give, but by what we keep for ourselves”.
What are your thoughts about this statement?
 
JOYFUL
Can you think of an occasion when you experience real joy in giving? If so, would you like to share it with the group?
 
The Blessing of Giving
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (Luke 6.38)
What are your thoughts and feelings about these words of Jesus?

(See also Malachi 3.10; Acts 20.35; 2 Corinthians 9.8,11)

 
 

THE GRADUATED TITHE
In his book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Ronald Sider says that The Graduated Tithe has been helpful to him. It involves giving away 10% of one’s income up to an amount of income that one decides, but then increasing the percentage on the amount of income beyond that level. See pages 166f (1984 edition) or pages 152f (1977 edition).



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Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 23rd February ‘20

Joshua – Safeguards for the Soul
Joshua 23:1-24:1
 
Joshua begins with a reminder of past blessings (23:1-13)
Joshua reminded the Israelites of God’s faithfulness in fighting for them and giving them victory over their enemies, as He had promised, if they kept His covenant with them. Joshua urged the people to remain loyal and promised that God would then drive out the Canaanites that still remained in the land (Joshua 23:4-7; Joshua 23:12-13).
 
The nation as a whole had been faithful to God during Joshua’s leadership. Therefore he did not mention individual sins and failures here. Joshua, as Moses, called the people to love the Lord as well as obey Him (Joshua 23:11). He also reminded his hearers of the dire consequences of failing to obey God out of love (Joshua 23:12-13).
 
Verses 1-16 Joshua’s farewell address
Joshua had reached what he believed were the final days of his life. Before he died, he wished to address the whole nation, as Moses had done before his death (Deuteronomy 31). So he assembled all the leaders of the people from every tribe in Israel (Joshua 23:2).
 
Verses 14-16 A warning of possible future cursing
In this summary section Joshua concisely restated the main ideas previously expressed in more detail. His warning to the people was strong. God would be just as faithful in sending discipline on His people if they broke His covenant as He had been in sending blessing because they had been obedient in the past.
 
Questions

  1. We are at the end of our series from the book of Jacob, spend a few moments recapping the passages that we have covered and also the things which you have learnt or found most poigniant.
  2. What was the secret of success and prosperity that the Lord had given Joshua at the beginning of the conquest which he passes on now?
  3. Do you agree with the statement: "If Israel does not do her part, then God will not do his.” If so how does this apply to us today?
  4. The motive for obedience should be gratitude. Our present obedience, loyalty, and love (Joshua 23:6; Joshua 23:8; Joshua 23:11) should spring naturally from appreciation for God’s faithfulness in the past and confidence in His promises for the future. If you agree with this statement can you share examples of this in your own life?
  5. The Old Testament is full of illustrations of Israel’s disobedience (or rather wanting to follow the way of other nations). Why do you think they continued to make the same mistakes again & again?

 
Prayer
Spend some time praying for the needs of those in your group, then reflect on the year so far as we look towards the start of Lent next Wednesday 26th February (Holy Communion Service at 7.30pm). Lent is a time of reflection & preparation, it is also when we can each commit to do something to grow in our own faiths, discuss what this might be for you & encourage one another in your activities.
 
Lent
During Lent the Home Groups are going to be encouraged to look at the booklet produced on behalf of the Arch Bishop’s of Canterbury & York “Care for God’s Creation” which are available from Church. These give individual daily readings and then when coming together for your group notes are being provided on these to aid discussion rather than the weekly sermons.

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Bible Study Notes for Week Beginning Sunday 16 Feb

Caleb Josh. 14: 6-15

How many people do you know called Caleb? Why do you think it has never really been a popular name when Caleb is such a good guy in this passage?

Remind one another of the story of Moses sending the spies into the Promised Land ... see how much as a group you can put together ... look it up in Numbers to check how you remember the story.

Caleb and Joshua give a very different account of the land...why do you think that is so?

Why were the others so negative? Can you share any stories of when you were the negative or the positive person in such a situation?

Read Joshua 14:6-15

What do we learn about Caleb in this passage? Write his obituary.

Why do you think it is says 3 times that he followed God wholeheartedly?

What do you think is meant by that?

How can we follow God whole heartedly today...perhaps together you could write a short guide to that?

Spend some time reflecting on those ideas and how you might put them into practice.

Pray for those struggling to follow Christ for whatevereasons.

Pray for countries torn apart by war.

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Home Group Notes w/c 9th February 2020. Joshua 10:5-15

 
We’ve leapt on a bit in the story of Joshua this week -  Last Sunday we heard how in obedience to the Lord’s command to Joshua, the people of Israel marched round and round the walls of Jericho – until at the blast of a trumpet – the walls came tumbling down. The Joshua and the people of Israel knowing what it was to walk in faith and trust and obedience. But since then stuff – has happened – and chapters 7 and 8 – describe how the disobedience of one man, Achan, to God’s commands results in the Lord’s anger burning against Israel – and that after the great victory at Jericho, Joshua is defeated when he initially tries to take the town of Ai.  It’s only when Achan’s sin is uncovered with devasting and deadly consequences for him and his family that the Lord allows Joshua to capture the town of Ai and subsequently destroy it.
 
In chapter one we hear the Lord saying to Joshua be strong and courageous do not be afraid, I am with you. But we also hear the Lord saying ‘be obedient’, The people of Israel are in a covenant relationship with the Lord God, there are responsibilities on both sides and there are consequences for Israel when they fail to show faith and trust and obedience.  God is faithful; his promise is that he will not leave them or forsake them, but he will not fight for them come what may. When his people are unfaithful and disobedient, when they follow their own ways, there needs to be repentance a turning back to the ways of God. 

  • Spend a few quiet moments in your group, reflecting on the day you have had, saying sorry for any time when you have chosen to go your way rather than God’s way.  Ask for and receive his forgiveness.  
 
Israel do repent, and the Lord delivers the town of Ai into their hands.  The great city of Jericho has been ruthlessly destroyed – the great city of Ai has been ruthlessly destroyed – and it’s not so surprising then that the kings and tribes living in the surrounding countryside begin to get rather alarmed at the ways things are going. A number of the kings decide together to make war against Joshua and Israel but one tribe, the people of Gibeon, rather than joining the Canaanite coalition manage to deceive Joshua into promising that they would come under his protection and he makes a peace treaty with them. When Joshua then discovers he’s been deceived he travels to Gibeon where he honours the promise he’s made to Gibeonites, saves them from being attacked and killed by his Israelite army and they become permanent labourers for Israel.
 
Read Joshua 10:5-15
 
Questions
 
  • Why does Joshua choose to defend the Gibeonites? After all, they had tricked him in the first place (for details see chapter 9)
  • Notice the order of events in verses 7 and 8.  The Lord honours the promise he made to Joshua (Joshua 1:5) only after Joshua honours his promise to the Gibeonites.  What does this tell us about the Covenant relationship between God and Israel?
  • Who has the upper hand over the Amorites? (Joshua 10:9-11)
  • Commentators differ in their interpretation of verses 12-13; some taking a literal view, others that the language is figurative.  Share the thoughts of the group. 
  • The emphasis that the narrator gives in verse 14 suggests that what amazes the narrator is that God answered (obeyed) the voice of a human being.  Are you amazed when God answers your prayers?  Joshua’s prayer reminds us that we can be audacious in prayer when our requests are grounded in God’s promises to us, just as Jesus promised his disciples (read John 14:12-14) Has there been a time when your prayers do not seem to have been answered? If you feel able to, share this with your group.

 
Prayer
 
You may like to use the Lord’s promise ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’ as you pray for the people and situations close to your hearts.  

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   HOLY TRINITY, RIPON - HOME GROUP NOTES - w/b 26 January 2020
                                                                         
Joshua  4:1-7, 19-24
‘Practise Gratitude’
 
‘Nothing ages more quickly than gratitude’
(Old Latin Proverb)
 
‘Let gratitude for the past inspire us with trust for the future’
(François Fénelon, Archbishop of Cambrai  1651-1715)
 
* * * * * *
If you are able to contact members of your group ahead of the meeting, you could invite them to bring with them an object that has a particular association with a time or occasion when God blessed them, or did something special for them.
* * * * *
 
We have skipped over the story of how the Israelites crossed over the Jordan, which is told in Joshua, Chapter 3. You might like to read that story now and discuss what strikes you most from it before looking at Chapter 4.
 
In Ch.4 we read about the memorial(s?) that Joshua commissioned to remind the Israelites, and others, of the miraculous crossing of the Jordan, which was also reminiscent of how they had crossed the Red Sea 40 years earlier. The memorial(s) had three purposes:

  • INSTRUCTION
  • MISSION
  • DEVOTION
 
Some Questions to Choose From:
  1. What has made you grateful today? What are you continuously grateful for? What means do you have of being reminded of those things?
 
  1. If you have brought objects (see above) share the stories behind them. Otherwise talk about ‘memorials’ or mementos that remind you of times or occasions when God blessed you or did something special for you.
 
  1. What evidence is there that our nation has ‘forgotten God’? What might stir memories of him and gratitude towards him?
 
  1. INSTRUCTION. What prompts children’s questions about God today (cf v.6)? Share some stories of answering children’s, or grandchildren’s questions. How can we best fulfil the responsibility to pass on Christian faith to future generations?
 
  1. MISSION (v.24).  ‘Churches......are in one sense memorials.’ How far do you agree that church buildings are a powerful witness in a pluralistic society? How could Holy Trinity be even more effective in that way?
 
  1. DEVOTION (v.24, end). How can material objects, like a pile of stones or bread and wine, inspire devotion to Jesus Christ? Can you think of times where some kind of memorial in the widest sense, or outward ceremony, has inspired you to worship or to pray?
 
  1. What do the sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism mean to you? How do they express gratitude? What would we lose if they disappeared?

 
You may like to close the evening by expressing gratitude to God in prayer and praying around the themes of instruction, mission and devotion.
 
David Bailey


Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 19th January ‘20
The Scarlet Cord - FAITH in God and the GRACE of God
 
Joshua 2:1-9 & 12-15
 
Introduction
In this passage we are introduced to an unlikely character of faith living among the pagan nation that God was about to give His people. Rahab knows that this is going to be the outcome and proceeds to negotiate her own safety and that of her family
Joshua has complete confidence that God will lead the Israelites to victory. At the end of chapter 1 the people respond with the command that God had earlier made to him: “Only be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:18).
 
Questions

  1. How is that confidence reconciled with sending spies into the land first?
  2. What is the significance of the spies lodging with a prostitute in verse 1? When the king was informed that two Israelites were spying out the land he immediately took action. Meanwhile Rahab had hidden the men on the roof of her house.
  3. What was it that prompted Rahab to hide these foreign spies rather than support her own king?
  4. How does our passage suggest that God has gone ahead of these spies?
  5. This passage shows us that Rahab was both a prostitute and a liar. How then do we reconcile this with her inclusion in the list of men and women of faith in Hebrews 11:31?  (Also consider Matthew 1:5 Rahab is only 1 of 5 women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus).
  6. Imagine that you were one of those spies. What would you have learnt from this trip that would help you in your everyday life? (note Moses’ words to Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:7&8).
 
  1. What do verses 12 and 13 reveal about Rahab’s faith?
 
  1. What does our passage tell us about the spies that Joshua had sent to Jericho? (Note the difference between them and the 10 spies back in Numbers 13).
 
  1. What earlier event in the history of the Israelites is this a reminder of? What are the similarities?
[a) This is reminiscent of the Passover, where the angel of death visited the firstborn of all the Egyptian families while the Israelites were saved. b) When God saw the blood on the door frames of the Israelite homes in Exodus 12:13, He would pass over. c) Note also in Exodus 12:22 Moses’ instruction to the people that they must remain in the house. It they did not, then they would be outside of the protection offered to them.]
 
  1. In James 2:25 Rahab is described as having been justified by works. What does James mean?
 
  1. What have you found helpful from the study of Rahab?

 
Prayer
Spend some time in prayer, praying for those in leadership, in our church, in our country & internationally.
Please pray for the members of the Steering Group who are working through the Mission Action Plan Questionnaire.
In this New Year 2020, pray for the continued growth & development of Holy Trinity both corporately & for each of us individually.
 


Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 12th January ‘20
Joshua – Facing the future with Confidence
Joshua 1:1-9
 
Joshua - a new man leader!
The opening verses of the book of Joshua are the culmination of many years of preparation.
Joshua 1:2 is not everyone’s idea of an appealing job offer! So who is this man who is about to step into some of the biggest shoes in Biblical history?
 
Exodus 33:11 tells us that Joshua was a young man when he left Egypt. Moses takes him under his wing and for the next forty years he undergoes training, that prepares him to fulfil God’s promise given to Abraham 500 years earlier (Genesis 12) and lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.
 
Read Deuteronomy 31:7-8
Following the exhortation in verse 7, we find the encouragement in verse 8. What are the reasons that Joshua does not need to “fear or be dismayed”? What does the call and commissioning of a leader thousands of years ago teach us about the call to leadership among God’s people today?
 
Read Joshua 1:1-9 then look to discuss the following questions:
 
Questions

  1. Why in verse 1-2 does God state the obvious that Moses is dead?
  2. In verses 2-3 what are the reasons for Joshua to respond positively to God’s instructions?
  3. If anything, the description of the Land to be received in verse 4 made the task that Joshua faced seem so much greater and far more frightening. What reassurance is Joshua given in verse 5; and how does his position compare with that of Moses?
  4. How do these first five verses of the book of Joshua encourage us to obey the call of God
  5. Three times in verses 6 to 9 God tells Joshua to be ‘strong and courageous’. What does this suggest about Joshua and about the importance of this command?
  6. God’s promises to Joshua did not mean that he and the Israelites had no responsibilities. Identify the key responsibilities on their part from verses 6-7.
  7. In verse 8 God promises success in Joshua’s endeavours providing he follows God’s word. What parts of Joshua are identified as needing to be preoccupied with God’s word; and what do they mean?
  8. Verses 7-8 emphasise the place and the importance of God’s word in the life of both the individual and God’s people collectively. What practical application can we take from these verses that might help us to reap the benefits promised to Joshua?
  9. Verse 9 reinforces what God has said to Joshua. What can we learn from today’s study that will help us not to be dismayed when we face challenges in our lives?

 
Prayer
Spend some time in prayer, praying for those in leadership, in our church, in our country & internationally.
Please pray for the members of the Steering Group who are working through the Mission Action Plan Questionnaire.
In this New Year 2020, pray for the continued growth & development of Holy Trinity both corporately & for each of us individually.


Bible Study Notes w/c 15/12/19
This Advent we’ve been looking each week at one of the great (Advent) Themes of Hope, Peace, Love and Joy and this week we are looking at LOVE – God’s love for us and the commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength quoted by the lawyer who was trying to test Jesus but ended up being challenged himself about who is his neighbour.
The Bible Project has a good video about the nature of Biblical love – in Greek AGAPE
Talk about – the various ways in which we use the word love in English – it can mean many different things.
Read the following texts – All these texts use the Greek word AGAPE in their use of the word love.
Romans 5:8
Ephesians 3:17-19
1 John 4:7-12 (or to the end if you have time)
John 3:16
What do they tell you about the sort of love that is AGAPE?
What do they say about God’s love?
‘AGAPE is not a warm fuzzy feeling – it’s an act of will – sacrificial and selfless’
Do you agree with this statement? Discuss
Read Luke 10: 25-29 
The Lawyer is quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18
What do you think is going through the Lawyer’s mind in this conversation with Jesus? How is he trying to test Jesus?
Read Luke 10: 30-37
What is the outcome?
Reflect on these words: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself  
How can we love God?
How can we love our neighbours as ourselves? Do we love ourselves?
Finally, think and pray about the people and situations you know that need AGAPE love at this time



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Bible Study Notes Week Commencing Sunday 8th December ‘19

Advent 2 – Peace (Shalom)
Isaiah 9:5-7 & John 14:23-27
 
Opening thought
"Peace" is a very common word in English, that means different things to different people. It's also a very important word in the Bible that refers not only to the absence of conflict but also to the presence of something else. If you have the facility, follow this link which gives an excellent overview of the biblical meaning of peace and how it all leads to Jesus.
https://thebibleproject.com/videos/shalom-peace/
(alternatively search Bible Project Advent Video Peace)
 
Spend some time discussing what you have learnt from this video
 
Key verse
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

Question
Discuss the importance of this promise to us today?
 
True biblical shalom refers to an inward sense of completeness or wholeness. Although it can describe the absence of war, a majority of biblical references refer to an inner completeness and tranquillity. In Israel today, when you greet someone or say goodbye, you say, Shalom. You are literally saying, “may you be full of well-being” or, “may health and prosperity be upon you.”
If this is the way we understand biblical peace, then suddenly many verses take on a whole new meaning.
 
To have a greater understanding of the Biblical concept of Shalom look up the following Bible passages:
 
The Priestly Blessing - Numbers 6:23-26
The context of the Aaronic Blessing is curious. God told Aaron to bless Israel with peace while they were getting ready to go conquer the Promised Land. If peace means “the absence of war,” then this doesn’t make sense, since they would soon be destroying cities.
Discuss what is being referred to here?
 
From the Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5:9
Jesus is not referring to mediators or political negotiators, but to those who carry an inward sense of the fullness and safety that is only available through God. In the biblical Hebrew understanding of shalom, there is a point at which you have so much shalom that it spills out from you. And so, as you make others peaceful and inwardly complete, that makes you a peacemaker. Jesus said these peacemakers will be called sons of God. Jesus was called the Son of God. By sharing God’s uncontainable peace with others, we become just like Jesus.
How do we become ‘peacemakers? In our homes? Church? & Society?

Prayer
The General Election is this Thursday (12th December), it would be good to continue to encourage each other in prayer as we pray for those who are putting themselves forward for public office. To pray for Shalom in our own country and that those elected would ‘seek to serve the common good!’
 


House Group Notes for week commencing Sunday 24 November

House group notes Phil.4:10-20

Read through the reading.
What surprised you about this passage, what encouraged you and what challenged you?
V11...for I have learnt to be content ...what do you think that means in Paul’s life, remember he is in prison facing an uncertain future. How do you think he learnt to be content?
What would contentment look like in your life? Do we expect to be content today? Should we actively seek for contentment...if so how?
What is Paul’s reaction to receiving this gift? Can you explain your answer?
Why might he think he is being compromised by the receipt of a gift?
What does this teach us about giving 2000 years later?
V18 what do you understand by the words: a fragrant offering an acceptable sacrifice?
At the end of this epistle, what has been most memorable about it for you?
Prayer time:
Perhaps spend a few moments reflecting on v19 and 20.
Pray for the nation as we prepare for an election.
 

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   HOLY TRINITY, RIPON - HOME GROUP NOTES - w/b/ 17 November 2019
Philippians  4:6-7
‘Don’t be Anxious!’
(cf. Matthew 6:25-34; 1 Peter  5:7)
‘Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength
(Charles Haddon Spurgeon - 1834-1892)
We skipped over these verses last week so that we could return and give closer attention to an experience that’s familiar to all of us, and is perhaps especially topical: ANXIETY.
Don’t forget the context of these verses, though. Paul is talking about the unity of the Church and so probably doesn’t just have in mind personal anxiety and peace, but also anxiety that can spread in the church and lead to disagreement  and conflict (cf. v.2). This is part of a list of instructions for healthy church living referred to last week (vv.4.-9): REJOICE, BE GENTLE, DON’T BE ANXIOUS, PRAY WITH THANKSGIVING, FOCUS ON WHAT IS GOOD.
Holy Trinity’s Mission Action Planning Exercise was introduced in the services on 17 November. You will be participating in this as a Home Group. This week’s study may help you think about what is most valuable in the church’s life and mission and what makes you anxious about it.
Some Questions to Choose From:

  1. What makes you anxious? What forms of anxiety are characteristic of  the times and culture we live in?
 
  1. There is an instruction in these two verses not to be anxious, but what do they have to say about how to deal with anxiety?
 
  1. What does an anxious church look like? How to we avoid becoming one?
 
  1. How literally should we take the instruction to present our requests to God ‘in every situation’? How does doing that help with anxiety?
 
  1. Why do you think Paul includes the phrase ‘with thanksgiving’ in the instruction to present our requests to God?
 
  1. What does the phrase, ‘the peace of God’  mean to you? Can you think of particular situations, in personal life or in the church, in which the peace of God has ‘guarded’ your hearts and minds?

You may like to close the evening by sharing particular current anxieties within the group and praying for one another, perhaps with some quiet music in the background. End by saying verse 7 together, substituting ‘our’ for ‘your’.
David Bailey
 
 
Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 10th November ‘19
Series on the book of Philippians – ‘to live is Christ’
Philippians 4:4-5 & 8 – Unity in the body

 
Opening thought
The Gospel not only heals our relationship with God, it heals our relationship with others, beginning within the body of Christ. We can’t live in Gospel reconciliation and be at odds with our brothers and sisters in the family of God.
 
Key verse
This is headed in my Bible as a final exhortation:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:4-5) NB Verse 6 is for next week!

Question
I wonder if like me this is also a first or primary exhortation?
 
Introduction
Key qualities of a Gospel-centred fellowship …

  • Rejoicing Always … In The Lord! – Hearts that are captive to the joy of the Lord will not be drawn into petty quarrels.)
  • Reputation for Gentleness (Philippians 4:5a) – Speaks to our immediate reactions to obstacles, irritations, etc.
  • Accountability to God (“The Lord is near.”) – Throughout the NT, as well as the OT, no behaviour is more important than how God’s children treat one another.
  • Healthy thought habits…what is your default? (Philippians 4:8) 
You can't banish fear and anxiety by trying to block them out of your mind. You must choose something else to think about, something else to go to when your mind flits back to that fear and anxiety.

Paul lists eight things to prompt healthy thought patterns. Find something, he says, that fits one or more of these characteristics. What follows is a list of virtues:
 
"True" "pertaining to being truthful and honest, righteous."
"Noble" (NIV), "honourable" (NRSV), "honourable, worthy, holy, above reproach."
"Right" (NIV) and "just" (NRSV, KJV), "right, fair, equitable, obligatory in view of certain requirements of justice."
"Pure" pure, holy,"
"Lovely" (NIV, KJV) and "pleasing" (NRSV) pertaining to causing pleasure or delight, "pleasing, agreeable, lovely, amiable."
"Admirable" (NIV), "of good report" (KJV), and "commendable" (NRSV) The word translated here has the basic idea of "pertaining to what is being said with cautious reserve," "praiseworthy, commendable."
"Excellent" (NIV, cf. NRSV) and "virtue" (KJV) a term denoting consummate "excellence" or "merit" within a social context. Here, "uncommon character worthy of praise, excellence of character, exceptional civic virtue."
"Praiseworthy" (NIV, cf. NRSV) and "praise" (KJV) refers first to the act of praise, then to "a something worthy of praise.”
 
In other words, select something really worthwhile to focus your mind on and shift focus from your worry or anxiety to a worthy train of thought. You've heard the expression, "Just don't go there!" Here's your opportunity to practice it.
 
Questions
Q1. Is rejoicing in the Lord a feeling or an action? How should you seek to fulfil this command if you don't feel like it? What is the effect of rejoicing? (v4-5)
Q2. Why is mind control necessary for success? For mental and spiritual peace? What have you decided to focus on instead of your anxieties? How is this working for you? (v8)


House Group Notes

ALL SAINTS
Sunday 3 November 2019
9.30 am
 
The main points of the sermon were…..
  • The study of saints is called hagiology - from the Greek word for saint - “hagios”.
  • The literal meaning of “hagios” is “holy”. So the true definition, a saint is literally “a holy one” (as per the translation in the edition of the New International Version at Holy Trinity.)
  • The word “holy” literally means “set apart”, “special”, “different”, so a saint - “a holy one” -  is someone who is “set apart”, “special”, “different”. Because the word “holy” is used of God - it also means “like God”.
  • Historically, there are two sorts of saints…..
    • BigSaints: They are Christians of the past who are given special honour. They include those in New Testament times (eg St Peter, St Paul, St Mary) and those who have lived since then (eg St Hilda of Whitby, St David of Wales, St Augustine, St Francis of Assisi). It could be said that a “Big Saint” is a sort of “Super Christian”. This is not the meaning of the word “saint” in the New Testament.
    • Little” Saints”: For the first 150 years after the resurrection of Jesus, the word "saint" was used to describe anyone who was a true Christian. So whenever the word "saint" occurs in the New Testament, it refers to so-called “little” saints", or “ordinary” Christians. It never refers to what some might regard as “special Christians” or “big” saints!
  • In one session of the Freedom in Christ course, the point is made that Christians so often think of themselves as “sinners”, whereas in the New Testament Christians are always called “saints”.
  • The basic meaning of the word “holy” suggests primarily not so much a holy, moral character, as the fact that saints are separated, set apart, or wholly dedicated to God.
  • It is because those of us who know God through Christ belong to him that holy living is expected of us. So holiness is the product of our being saints, not the way we become saints.
  • The congregation at Corinth was anything but a holy people in terms of their conduct. Yet, Paul addresses the members of this congregation as saints because they were a body of people who belonged to Christ - who had given their lives to Christ.
  • Paul’s challenge to the members of that church was that they should realize (make real) in their daily lives and in their conduct what was already theirs in Christ. It was because they were the saints of God, they were to live holy lives - not the other way round. It wasn’t because they were living holy lives that they were called the saints of God.
  • It’s important to understand that you haven't got to be a saint to be a saint!
  • Saints are not goody-goodies, or holier-than-thou sort of people, they are precisely the opposite - people who realise who know all too well that they constantly need to be forgiven by Jesus and constantly need the Holy Spirit to give them the power to live holy lives that are pleasing to God.
  • Saints are people whose lives the Holy Spirit is continually refining, and while the process takes a whole lifetime, we do get there in the end.
  • More than once, Paul adds the phrase “in Christ Jesus” to the word “saints”. This stresses the point that they are saints because they are in a relationship with Christ (who is holy) and are indwelt by the Spirit who is the Holy Spirit.
  • We  don’t have to withdraw from the world in order to be holy. This is because holiness is “inside-out”, not “outside-in” - it comes from the power of the Spirit within us.
  • In the 62 occurrences in the New Testament, on all but one occasion, the word “saint” is in the plural. “The concept of a solitary saint is foreign to the New Testament  writers. There would appear to be little biblical justification for our becoming spiritual Robinson Crusoes.” (Michael Griffiths)
 
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
 
  • How can we make real in our day to day lives the holiness that is already ours in Christ? How can we depend more and more on the Holy Spirit for this?
 
  • If in the New Testament there is no such thing as a solitary saint, how good are we at exhorting and encouraging one another to make real in our experience the holiness that is ours in Christ? How open are we to being helped in this by our fellow Christians?
 
  • Do you regard yourself more as a sinner than a saint, or more as a saint than a sinner? Why?
 
  • “You don't have to be a saint to be a saint!” Discuss!
 
  • Can you think of some “little” saints who have had a special influence on you with regarding to living a holy life? You might like to say something about them and thank God for them.
 
David Butterfield
3/10/19

House Group Notes W/C Sunday 27th October ‘19
Series on the book of Philippians – ‘to live is Christ’
Philippians 3:12-4:1 – Eyes on the prize!

Opening thought
Maturity is not a destination but a journey. Life today is meaningful because of where we are headed tomorrow.
 
Key verse
So many of Paul’s letters are strewn with nuggets that I often find myself repeating during trials or difficulties, the verse that stands out for me here is:
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
 
Introduction
A common everyday cop-out is: "Well, nobody's perfect." Paul doesn't settle for such a flippant answer regarding a serious quest for Christ's fullness (3:12-13a). He acknowledges that he isn't there yet, using two Greek verbs to describe where he hasn't yet arrived. The first translated either ‘attained or obtained’ & the second ‘made perfect or reached the goal’. Paul understands that he hasn't yet taken hold of the fullness of Christ. And he realizes that he is still a work in process. God is still perfecting him, still pruning and shaping areas of his life. I wonder, was Paul's experience in prison part of God's perfecting process for him?
Paul has not obtained his spiritual goal yet, but he is not resting or turning back (3:13b-14). This passage is inspiring, every time I read it, it speaks to me again. The imagery is from a race, "I press on", "to chase, run after, pursue". Paul is single-minded: "But one thing I do!"
No matter at what stage of our lives we are currently at Paul’s example while under arrest is an inspiration. He knew his time was limited but did not want to waste any of it.
The Heavenward call (3:14) The phrase, translated "called me heavenward", and "heavenly call" translate two Greek words. It is an "invitation to experience special privilege and responsibility, call, calling, invitation." It is preceded by a word with an emphasis toward a goal which is upward. This heavenly calling can be interpreted 3 ways, 1) The prize & calling are essentially one thing. 2) The call is the summons to the successful athlete to come forward to receive the prize. 3) Paul is referring to God's act of calling to salvation, "the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
In this context the prize is "the full and complete gaining of Christ, for whose sake everything else has been counted loss." 
 
Questions
Q1. How can the past get in the way of our quest to know Christ? What do you need to "forget" so that you may focus on Christ today and tomorrow? Is there forgiving you need to do so you can grow in Christ? (3:13)
Q2. What is it like to be called upwards by God? Have you ever experienced this? What causes God's call to become dim in our hearing? How can we renew our hearing of his call? What is the content or specifics of this message or summons or call? (3:14)
Q3. How can Paul be so bold as to ask others to imitate him? Why are we so hesitant to do this? How does God use imitation in building disciples? Who is likely to imitate you? (3:17)
Q4. Why is recognizing and affirming your citizenship and allegiance vital to discipleship? How does it keep us from the temptations outlined in verses 18 and 19? What are the dangers of a church combining and confusing the concepts of temporal patriotism with a Christian's true citizenship? (3:18-21)

House Group Notes

HOUSE GROUP NOTES FOR WEEK BEGINNING SUNDAY13th OCTOBER - PHILIPPIANS 3:1-11.
 
To begin with…. think of an achievement (large or small) that you have accomplished and that you are quite proud of (ps don’t ‘jump ahead’ to thinking about the Bible passage and its meaning! This is just a bit of fun!).
How did that achievement make you feel?
A selection of questions to think about - don’t feel you have to answer all of them!
This is not an easy passage to unpick and apply to our own lives, but it is rich in theological themes. A good starting point might be to think about what you know about the writer Paul already, because this passage has autobiographical significance. One suggestion might be to read an excerpt of his conversion (Acts 9:1-9, 18-22), using 4 voices (narrator/Jesus/Paul/crowd) as an introduction.
Read Philippians 3:1-11 (if someone has The Message version, it might be useful to hear this passage read from that version).
Paul is writing to a Church community that he had deep affection for. This letter has been called the Epistle of Joy.
So, what is the difference between rejoicing and rejoicing in the Lord (v1)?
Maybe spend some time looking at the other occasions where Paul is rejoicing or full of joy in this letter (1:4,1:18, 2:2, 2:17, 4:1, 4:10). It is indeed quite amazing that Paul’s joy was so evident, yet his circumstances (in prison, frequently persecuted) suggest he faced true hardship!
Share some personal stories of when you have faced difficult issues yet have experienced a sense of joy.
Verses 2-4 can appear out of place, especially considering verse 1, and the language harsh.
How can these verses be reconciled to a contemporary understanding of the Christian faith? Is Paul justified in his vehement language?
Who - or maybe more importantly, what - would Paul tell the Church to ‘watch out for’ today?
Verse 3 - What does it mean to boast in Christ Jesus?
Look over Paul’s credentials. What “gain” was he deriving from them? Why does he now see them as loss (v5-6)?
Do you think that Paul is ‘turning his back’ on his past?
In verses 7-8, Paul continues his passionate declaration. For instance, the word Paul uses to compare his past accomplishments in v8 (‘rubbish’) implies ‘manure’, which seems more extreme than rubbish! How can this be applied to our faith in today’s world, especially when we reflect on the ‘accomplishments’ of our own lives?
Verse 9 uses the phrase ‘in him’ to refer to his relationship with Jesus, a phrase (similar to ‘in Christ’) Paul uses a lot in his letters (here is a selection of occasions when Paul uses this phrase, which you may/may not want to look at - Romans 3:22; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 2:16-20; 2 Thessalonians 1:12). What does Paul mean?
Verses 10-11, Paul says ‘I want to know Christ’, following this with declaring his all-out commitment to share Jesus’s sufferings and resurrection. What do you think he means? How does this declaration tie in with his earlier declarations?
 
Reflect on whether or not this passage challenges aspects of your own faith.
Pray for those imprisoned or persecuted for their faith in certain parts of the world today.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 6th October ‘19
Series on the book of Philippians – ‘to live is Christ’
Philippians 4:17-20 – God’s Generosity/Harvest
 
Introduction
The message of Harvest is about acknowledging the grace of God in our own lives through the provision that each of us receives. On Sunday we focused on the generosity of God to each one of us in our own lives & in the wider world. Which is summed up in verse 19
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.’
 On Sunday our gifts went to support the work of Bread of Life Food Bank & the Food Cupboard at the YMCA Ripon. This was an expression of our generosity but also went towards meeting a very real need in our own community.
 
Opening Question:
Is the character of Generosity working in you?
Below are some short passages to help you think through generosity both positive and negative, spend some time reading through these before you look at discussing the questions below.
Positive examples (Exodus 36:2-7; Luke 7:44-8:3; 10:33-37; 21:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7)
Negative examples (Haggai 1:2-9; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 25:31-46; 26:6-13)
 
Further thoughts:
Generosity allows us to give to others because God has given abundantly to us. It is the wise use of stewardship and the attitude that all possessions belong to God. We are merely the caretakers for His purpose. It will see the Lord as the Source of true blessing, not our selfish desires.
Greed, Stinginess, Selfishness and Miserliness are the opposites. These rotten fruits rot because we hoard them and do not use them properly as Christ called us to do. This blocks the flow of God's blessings and 'living water' from flowing in us. We will become stagnant and useless to the Kingdom or the people around us. Pride and arrogance will be the driving force, the quintessential things that God hates the most (Proverbs 6:16-18)!
Questions
  1. How would you define Generosity?
  2. What are the things that cause you to be stingy with what God gives you?
  3. How does greed counteract Generosity?
  4. What happens to our relationship with God, and with others, when we refuse to see all that we have is His?
  5. When have you most been filled with Generosity?
  6. In what situation did you fail to be Generous when you should have been?
  7. What issue is in your life now, that would improve with being more Generous?
Spend time in prayer


House Group Notes Week commencing 22 September 2019
Notes for house groups: Phil 2:1-11

Read the passage again and think which parts you find the most helpful and why, and which parts are the most challenging and why.
1:27  “ ...conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.” This underpins this part of chapter 2.
Why do you think Paul thought this was so important?
2: 1-5 What will make Paul’s joy complete? What does this actually mean in practical terms?  How can you put this into practice?
What is Paul suggesting in 2: 5-11 that they should do?
Is this easy?
How might you try to live like this? are there things that need changing in your lifestyle?
If the God we believe in, is a God who is Trinitarian ie. Father Son and Holy Spirit, ( there are hints of this in 2:1-2,) how does this help us to live in unity, harmony and fellowship?
 
Pray for those for whom living for the gospel is very costly and dangerous.
Pray for situations of disunity, conflict or disharmony.
Pray for the nation, the government , and all members of Parliament .
 
 


Week Commencing Sunday 15th September ‘19
Series on the book of Philippians – ‘to live is Christ’
Philippians 1:12-30 – Thriving in life’s storms.

 
Last Sunday we launched this series on Philippians today we continue now with a reading summed up as ‘thriving in life’s storms’
 
Could I suggest you read the passage through and pull out from it, some of Pauls troubles at that time [and the recent past eg Acts 27!]. Paul might have been expected to feel sorry for himself. Is that the tone you get from this passage? How would you describe how Paul was feeling as he wrote this?
 
Life was difficult for Paul, and is difficult for all of us at times. How do we make sense of that within our Christian faith? That big word for that is ‘theodicy’ - how can there be a good and powerful God and yet suffering? What is your personal theodicy, how do you come to terms with this? Paul seems to willing accept his suffering [v29]. I suppose all our answers will include Jesus’ suffering death and resurrection, showing that suffering has meaning in God’s redemptive plan. How willing are we, living in a safe country, to accept suffering? Around 70 million Christians have been martyred since the time of Christ – 65% of them in the 20th Century. What do we make of that from our safe Western viewpoint where the worst thing that happens to us for our faith is mild ridicule?
 
Might any of your group be brave enough to share an occasion when you had some big difficulty [suffered] and your reflection on it now? In your experience has good come from suffering? Perhaps more importantly is there a difficult issue in your life now? Where might God be working in these circumstances to bring redemption? A good opportunity for prayer here!
 
Finally, from the passage, identify the positive outcomes from Paul’s troubles at that time. Has this passage been a help to you?  Will you thrive, and even see opportunity to advance the Kingdom, in life’s storms?
 

Week Commencing Sunday 8th September ‘19
Series on the book of Philippians – ‘to live is Christ’
Philippians 1:1-11 – Growing up together
 
Introduction
What a start to the letter as Paul writes to the Church in Philippi. He obviously has great affection for them. The first few paragraphs ooze love. But when he starts to pray for these his friends, we begin to see what his ministry is all about. Let's learn from this Apostle who knew Christ well.
As we begin, let us pray: Father, as we begin our study of this Letter, we ask that your Holy Spirit instruct our hearts. Show us the nuggets that you have for us. Build them into our lives and let them mature in us, so that we might grow in Christ. Thank you for this incredible privilege of letting you speak to our hearts. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
 
Key Verses
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)
 
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ." (Philippians 1:9-10)
 
Group Discussion
This is the start of a new sermon series where we are looking at very short passages from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. This will give plenty of opportunity to engage with the text each week and it would be good if all who come to the study can come prepared by reading the passage beforehand.
 
Once you have read the passage here are some questions to help you dig a little deeper, both personally and in the group:
Q1. Do my prayers come from a place of joy? Do I lead with thankfulness when I pray for my family and friends? If not, how might I begin to model my prayers after Paul’s, with a spirit of joy and gratefulness for what God’s already done?
Q2. When Paul uses phrases like “partnership in the gospel” and “partakers with me of grace” he’s pointing the Philippians to what unites them. Why is this important for Paul? Do we personally make this important? If not, how can we?
Q3. People emulate the things they love, for better or worse. This is a universal human phenomenon. How might recognising this personally help you start resembling Jesus instead of the things you currently focus on? How does this concept help us engage the people around us with the Gospel?
 
Questions
Q1. What is the basic idea of "slave"? What is the root idea of "saint"? In what way are these words saying the same thing about a Christian's relationship to God? (1:1)
(NB in many versions slave is translated servant & holy people translated saint.)
Q2. When we become financial "partners" with a Christian missionary, minister, ministry, or church, what do we receive out of the partnership? What other kinds of support might we offer beyond financial? (1:6)
Q3. What does Paul expect God to do for the Philippian believers? Why does he expect God to do this? What is the basis of Paul's confidence? On what basis can we expect God to do this for us? (1:6)
Q4. Why does Paul ask God to give the Philippian Christians discernment? What will be the result of discernment in their lives? How does selfishness cloud discernment? (1:9-11)
Week commencing 14 July

Psalm 150
ALL LIVING CREATURES - PRAISE THE LORD!
 
The final psalm in the Hymn Book of Israel can be neatly divided into four sections, with each one answering a question about our praise of the Lord. The questions for discussion below are grouped into these four categories. Don’t feel you have to work through every question. You may prefer to focus on a selection.
 
WHERE SHOULD WE PRAISE THE LORD? (Verse 1)
 
How important is it for you to meet together regularly with other Christians to worship the Lord?
What would you say to someone who said, “I can worship God quite adequately on my own”?
 
If our praises join those of “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven”, how could we increase our awareness of this? Is it important to do so?
 
WHY SHOULD WE PRAISE GOD? (Verse 2)
 
The psalmist praises God for “his acts of power” and “for his surpassing greatness”, that is: for what he has done and for who he is. Do you find one of these two dimensions of worship easier than the other? If so, why do you think this is?
 
In response to the children’s hymn, “Count our blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done” you could over the next few days write down a list of those blessings you have received from God recently or throughout your whole life, and thank the Lord for them.
 
You could also spend a moment praying a prayer of “pure” worship for who God is and avoid the tendency to revert to praising him for what he has done or tagging on a prayer request at the end.
 
HOW SHOULD WE PRAISE GOD (Verses 3-6)
 
The writer of the psalm includes a long list of musical instruments that can be used to inspire and enhance our worship. He also refers to dancing. Is there any musical instrument that is not appropriate to use in worship? If so, why? Which instrument do you think is God’s favourite?
 
You might like to read and reflect on Amos 5.21-24 which is a stern reminder that, in worship, it’s the inward that counts, not the outward. George Herbert highlights this in his hymn, “Let all the World in every corner sing" in the line, “but above all the heart must bear the longest part” (by this he meant “most important part”).
 
WHO SHOULD WORSHIP GOD? (Verse 6)
 
The answer that is given is, “everything that has breath”! You might like to cast your eye across the page in your Bible and read Psalm 148.7-12 which is a vision of all creation praising the Lord. How does animate and inanimate creation praise the Lord?
 
This final verse is also an exhortation to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who do not know him, so that they too will “praise the Lord”. How can we make our praises more accessible and attractive to non-Christians who are sometimes present at our church services? Can the way we worship ever put people off?
 
You could end by saying Psalm 150 together or, if you have time, Psalms 148 and 150.
 

Week beginning 23 June

Ps 13
Share as a group your favourite psalms and why they are favourites?
Are they joyful psalms or more like Psalm 13?                                                     
Why do you think we still use psalms in our worship?

V1 and2
David asks God 4 times “how long ....”.  what is he asking God about?   How do you think David was feeling when he asked those 4 questions of God?  What might his life been like at that time? Can you think of times when you have asked similar questions of God? Do we need to become more patient? How can we do that?

V3 and 4
The tone of the psalm changes to prayer.
What is David praying to God about? What do you think these verses mean? Do they resonate with your life experiences?

V5 and 6
The psalmist turns to praise. What is he praising God for?
How easy is it to change from complaint (v1 and 2) to praise? Can you remember examples of being able to do that?

Prayer What do you want to praise God for tonight, this week?
Begin by having a time of praise of who God is and what he has done for us. 
Think of situations/individuals  where one imagines people are asking God how long....use that as a basis for prayer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
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Week Beginning Sunday June 9 (Pentecost)  

LIVING WATER   John 7.37-39

HOUSE GROUP NOTES

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1   In the Scriptures, the three common images of the Holy Spirit are wind, a dove, and water. What do you think the imagery of “living water” (or spring water as we would call it) teaches us about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
 
2   In the sermon, five examples of living off cistern water were given…..
  • Being focused on religious activity rather than truly on Christ.
  • Believing in my idea of what God is like (in some areas) rather than what the Bible teaches.
  • Relying on the faith of someone else rather than having an authentic relationship with Christ myself.
  • Living off an experience of God that I had “yesterday”.
  • Hesitant to believe that Jesus wants to do something new in my life today.
     Which of these (or perhaps another example you can think of) might you most easily succumb to?
 
3   In the Bible reading, Jesus outlined four actions we need to take if we want “rivers of living water” to flow from our hearts.
  • We need to be thirsty
How well do we identify with the words of the psalmist? - “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
  • We need come to Jesus
We might feel wary of opening our lives to the Holy Spirit. How might keeping in mind that he is the “Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16.7) help to alleviate our fear?
  • We need to drink
In the sermon it was suggested that feeling fearful or feeling unworthy are two reasons why we may hesitate to drink. What are the things that might hinder you from actually drinking?
  • We need to believe in Jesus (or believe Jesus)

In the sermon reference was made to Luke 11.9-10 and how Jesus emphasizes the point he was making by saying the same thing in six ways. How do we feel about taking Jesus at his word?
 
4   When Jesus said, "Out of your hearts shall flow rivers of living water" he was using metaphorical language. What do you think this metaphor means in reality - in “concrete” terms? Can you give any examples from your experience?
     You may wish to conclude by saying together the prayer that was used on Sunday…..
    Lord Jesus Christ,
    you invite those who are thirsty for the Holy Spirit
    to come to you and drink.
    As we each come before you, believing in you,
    we ask you to fill us with the Holy Spirit,
    that out of our hearts will flow rivers of living water.
    Thank you, Lord Jesus.
    Amen.


W/C Monday 27/5/19

Christian Soldier’s Creed       
1 Corinthians 15: 3-4
I am a soldier in the army of my God; the Lord Jesus Christ is my commanding officer.  The Holy Bible is my code of conduct: faith, prayer and the word of God are my weapons of warfare.  I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity and tested by fire.  I am a volunteer in this army, and I am enlisted for eternity.  I will either retire in this army at the advent or die in this army.  But I will not get out, sell out, be talked out or pushed out.  I am a soldier.  I am faithful, reliable, capable and dependable: if my God needs me, I am there.  He can use me, because I am there.  I am a soldier.  I am not a baby.  I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up or pepped up.  I am a soldier.  No one has to call me, remind me, write to me, entice me or lure me.  I am a soldier.  I am not a wimp.  I am in place, saluting my King, obeying His orders. Praising His name and building His Kingdom. No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy or give me handouts.  I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, cared for or catered for.  I am committed.  I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around.  I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.  I cannot lose enough to force me to quit.  When Jesus called me into this army I had nothing; if I end up with nothing, I will still end up even, for I am a soldier.  I will win.  My God will supply all my needs.  I am more than a conqueror.  I will always triumph.  I can do all things through Christ.  Devils cannot stop me, battles cannot beat me, money cannot buy me, governments cannot silence me and hell cannot handle me. I am a soldier.  Even death cannot destroy me.  I am a soldier in the army and I am marching, claiming victory.  I will not give up, I will not turn around.  I am a soldier marching heaven bound.  Here I stand.

  1. Prayfully, read the passage from 1 Corinthians.

  2. What do you think this passage about?

  1. Read the “Soldiers Creed”

  1. What is a soldier like? 

  1. What attributes does a soldier have? 

  1. Do we have these attributes? 

  1. What does a soldier think of his or her leader? 

  1. How might we better relate to our leader – using a soldier’s example? 

  1. A soldier is trained in adversity and tested in battle conditions so he or she is ready.  Think – what adversity have I faced? 

  • Pressure from friends and family 

  • Doubt and temptation 

  • Illness and hurt 

  • Shock and sadness 

  1. Let’s ask God, in prayer, to help us use these “training experiences” to strengthen us and become better soldiers.



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W/C 19 May 2019
LOVE ONE ANOTHER


Adapt to suit your group!
  1. Read the whole of John 13. When do these events take place?
  2. What is the meal that Jesus shares with his disciples recalling? What will happen the following day?
  3. What happens the three main sections of this chapter? Ask the group to summarise.
  4. Discuss: What do you think of this quote from the former Archbishop, William Temple? “We would gladly wash the feet of our Lord, but he disconcertingly insists on washing ours and bids us wash our neighbour’s feet.”
  5. The Sunday service reading was from verses 31-36. Why might it be important to realise who has just “gone” (v31)? Did Jesus wash his feet too?
  6. Jesus says: “34 ‘A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ But the Old Testament has already instructed that we should love God and our neighbour. How is this a new commandment? What’s different/new?
  7. What difference would obeying this command make to our Christian witness?
  8. Discus: In the sermon, a quote attributed to Martin Luther (but not actually from him) said: “The Christian shoemaker does not carry out his vocation by making boots with little crosses on them, but by making good quality shoes at a fair price and so loves his neighbour.” – Do you like this quote? Is it a good reflection of the Biblical view of work and vocation? Is this your attitude to your daily work?
  9. How might the church encourage a better understanding of Christian vocation in the workplace and in the home?
  10. Could the group share more each week about their daily lives and the challenges they face as Christians what they do each day?
Optional(!) if time and circumstances allow: wash each other’s feet.
Derek Walmsley. Diocesan Director of Ordinands and Vocations. 16th May 2019.


Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 12th May ‘19
A New Life with God (Our Shepherd)
Psalm 23
(Acts 9:36-43; John 10:22-30)
 
Introduction
Psalm 23 is written from the perspective of a shepherd in Palestine. It was his job to take the family’s flock of sheep out in search of food. This meant going on long journeys with the sheep. It meant living with the sheep day and night. It meant guarding them from predators. It meant finding suitable pastures for them to graze and enough water for them to drink. Being a shepherd meant thinking about the needs of the flock most of the time—much like a parent thinks about the needs of a young child, planning ahead for feeding time and rest time and play time. As the psalmist cared for his flock, he seems to have had a similar experience.
 
Group Discussion
When have you experienced joy in meeting a need for someone?
 
The psalmist sees in his experience of delighting in and providing for his beloved sheep a picture of the loving, active, intimate care that God provides day after day all through our lives. He wrote as one whose eyes are opened to the amazing truth of God’s powerful, protective, joyful, sustaining love for us.
 
Read Psalm 23
1. The thesis for this psalm is stated in the first verse. How would you paraphrase this verse for our context?
2. List the needs that God the Shepherd meets as they are described in the rest of this psalm.
3. We live in a consumer society. We tend to think of ourselves as always lacking something, always needing something more. Reflect for a moment on what it would be like to be aware that God will provide everything you need. What thoughts and feelings do you have as you reflect on this thought?
4. Which of the needs identified in this psalm are you particularly aware of God meeting in your life at this time?
5. What is it like for you to experience God’s care in this way?
6. Which of the provisions described in this psalm are you especially in need of?
7. This psalm describes our relationship with God as one in which God actively provides for us. God gives and cares and attends. We receive and receive and receive. How does this picture of God compare with your concept and experience of God?
8. Sheep are vulnerable animals, in need of their shepherd’s care. In what ways do you relate to this metaphor of being a sheep?
9. How does this picture of who we are in relationship to God (the receivers of love and care) compare with your concept of who you are in relationship to God?
10. What difference might it make (or does it make) in your life to see your relationship with God in this way?
11. Do you relate to the image of God as a shepherd? What other images come to mind when you reflect on God as the one who provides, cares, protects and guides?
12. Spend a few minutes in quiet, reflecting on God as your loving shepherd or caretaker. What thoughts and feelings or images come to you as you reflect in this way?
13. When we are experiencing a specific need, it can be helpful to remember that God, who is our loving Shepherd, desires to meet our needs. Scripture frequently reminds us to talk to God about our needs.
  • What specific needs are you experiencing at this time that you would like to ask God to meet?
  • Express your needs and your gratitude to God who shepherds you.

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W/C 28 April

Jn. 20  :19 - 31
 
Read the passage again.
Ask people what was the one thing that they will continue to reflect on from this Easter and why? (Perhaps something from their bible readings or from a service they attended.)  How will that continue to impact their lives?

19-23

What is the overriding emotion of the disciples at this point? How does Jesus respond to that?     
 Jesus seems in quite a hurry and commissions them with the giving of the Holy Spirit to do what? What does v23 mean and how do you live it out? How important is the forgiving of other people? How can we encourage it in the spheres of our lives?

24-31

What is your reaction to the way Thomas responds to the others seeing Jesus? Is it surprising, normal or odd?

What do you think Thomas meant when he said ‘My Lord and my God’ ...

What do you think v31 means?   Does that influence the way we live post Easter and if so how?

In the light of the resurrection how will you pray for the Christians in Sri Lanka?

Spend time praying for those areas in the world where people will be challenged to say Christ is Risen: Halleluiah.
 
 


Bible Study notes for Palm Sunday, Praying the Psalms
 
Readings: Psalm 1 and Luke 19: 28-40
 
The following Bible study is taken from a series on the psalms by Eugene Peterson, who wrote The Message version of the Bible. 
 
Prayer is answering speech. God Word has not done its complete work until it evokes an answer from us. All our answers are prayers. The psalms train us in this answering speech, this language that responds to all God’s creating and saving words targeted to our lives.  Our usual approach to God’s Word is to ask; ‘what is God saying to me?’ That is almost always the correct question when reading Scripture. But in the psalms, the question is, ‘how do I answer the God who speaks to me?’ In the psalms we do not primarily learn what God says to us but how to honestly, devoutly and faithfully answer his words to us.
 
Everything that anyone can feel or experience in reaction to God is in the psalms. You will find them the best place in Scripture to explore all the parts of your life and then to say who you are and what is in you – guilt, anger, healing, praise – to the God who loves, judges and saves you in Jesus Christ.  Eugene Peterson
 
Psalm 1
 
Family responsibilities, work deadlines, health issues. So much is clamouring for our attention each day. And that’s not to mention the distractions coming from the media. Most of us can’t step immediately away from the noisy, stress filled world into the quiet concentration of prayer.
 
GROUP DISCUSSION. What thoughts and concerns most often distract you when you begin to pray?
 
PERSONAL REFLECTION. Attempt to clear your mind before you begin the study. Sit in silence for a few moments. What thoughts and concerns come to mind? Ask God to help you to focus on what he wants you to learn.
 
Psalm 1 is not prayer, exactly, but the preface to prayer. We do not begin to pray by praying but by coming to attention. Psalm 1 is the biblical preparation for a life of prayer. Step by step it detaches us from the activities and words that distract us from God so that we can be attentive before him. Psalm 1 provides a gateway into the place of prayer.
 
READ PSALM 1
 
What contrasts do you notice in the psalm?
The first word in the psalm is blessed (NRSV happy). What kind of expectations should that bring to our life of prayer?
What significance can you see in the progression from walk to stand to sit (v1)?
 The law of the Lord is contrasted with the words counsel, way and seat. What does this contrast bring out?
The psalmist describes the person who delights in God’s law (v2). What is your emotional response to Scripture – not what you believe but what you feel?
Tree is the central metaphor of the psalm (v3) Put your imagination to use. How are law-delighting people like trees?
In what way are the wicked like chaff? (vv4-6)
How do these radically different pictures (the tree – righteous and the chaff-wicked) motivate you to delight in God’s Word?
Do you feel a gap (or chasm!) between ‘real life’ (family, work) and your prayer life? Discuss.
How does meditation – listening to God speak to us through    Scripture – prepare us for prayer?
How can you incorporate meditation on God’s Word into your life?
Some prayers are spontaneous – a word of thanks, a cry of pain. Other prayer is routine, giving thanks at mealtimes, in public worship. But a life of prayer requires preparation, a way of moving from inattention to attention. (The same method will not suit everyone.)How can you develop an approach to meditation that fits your circumstances and development? 
NOW or LATER: Psalm 119 is a good psalm to use in meditation. Use short chunks of it to reflect on as you prepare to pray this week.
 

Bible study notes week commencing 31 March 2019

Unanswered? Prayer
Readings Jer14:10-12 and 19.     Mt 21:18-22
 

Perhaps begin with the set readings above. Quite a contrast in God’s response to prayer?
 
You might want to share from your experience of a time when prayer was answered, and more challenging have you had prayer unanswered or the apparent answer been ‘No’?
 
Perhaps most difficult of all; have you prayed, had your prayer answered and subsequently things have worked out badly? What is your reflection on that?
 
What examples of unanswered prayer can you think of in Scripture? You might have a look at: Isa1:15,   Eze9:8,   Jer15:1,    2Cor 12:7 and Mt17:14-20. How big a part does faith play in prayer.  This might lead us to reflect that faith also plays a part in many of those whom Jesus heals.
 
If we have experienced unanswered prayer we realise we are in good company on reading the psalms– for example read psalm 22 which leads us to think of Jesus in his forsakenness on the cross!
 
Perhaps read James 4;2. Where is our focus when we pray?
 
Is prayer ever unanswered? Perhaps it is always answered but the answer may be yes, no, or not yet?
 
Is prayer asking, or listening, or what?
 
Rowan Williams says ‘prayer is like sunbathing it’s nothing to do with how hard you’re trying. You simply have to be there where the light can get to you.’ 
 
Finally here is an extract from an unknown author on unanswered prayer:
‘You asked God to give you happiness. God said: ‘No. I have given you blessings. Happiness is up to you.’
You asked God to spare you pain. God said ‘No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me’
You asked God for all things that you might enjoy life. God said ‘No. I have given you life that you might enjoy all things
However, when you ask God to help you love others as much as he loves you…’
 
 

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Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 24th March ‘19

Prayer and God’s Pardon
Luke 15:17-23 & 1 John 1:5-10

 
Introduction:
Somebody has hurt you - maybe it was just yesterday, or maybe its been years ago. We’ve all been hurt by someone, but sometimes we are bound by an emotional pain that resurfaces again and again. Thankfully, as Christians we have a God who brings such simple truth, commands, and grace. Although simple, the Bible can at times be difficult and overwhelming for us to trust and obey. Thankfully the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, provides godly guidance, strength, and love to help us overcome our human nature.
 
The Forgiving God
When we look at forgiveness according to the Bible, we must start with God. God knows all about forgiveness - His acts of grace and mercy toward undeserving people are numerous! Just look at the Israelite people in the desert complaining and turning to other idols - how many times did God forgive them when they repented?
Look at what the Bible says about God: - Read Exodus 34:5-7; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:5.
What do these verses say about God’s character?
Why is it important that our God is a God who forgives?
 
The ultimate example of God’s forgiveness is the restored relationship God offers us with himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As a sinful (or self-seeking, versus God-seeking) people, we are separated from God and our relationship is broken (Romans 3:23, 6:23).
Out of His compassion and love for us He sent His only son, Jesus, to come to the world and pay the price for our sin (John 1:29-30). Jesus took our sin, died in our place, and gave us a fresh start with God (Matthew 26:26-28; Ephesians 1:7).
 
Our Response:

Scripture teaches many things about our role in forgiveness and our relationships here on earth. With good reason, there are many frequently asked questions on the topic. Please use the questions below to work through this subject, bearing in mind the Parable of the Prodigal Son & 1 John 1:8 & 9.
 
1. How do we forgive when we don’t feel like it?
N.B. Time will not heal the wounds; only forgiveness will.
 
2. Does forgiveness happen overnight?
N.B. We are called to repeatedly forgive without limits! (see Matthew 18:21-22; Romans 12:14)
 
3. How do you know when the process of forgiveness is complete? 
N.B. Forgiveness is about setting someone free, and that person is you! (The forgiveness process is complete when you experience the freedom from anger, bitterness, revenge, or hurt. You are freed from the power of this other person over you!)
 
4. Is there a time to approach the person who offended me?
(see Matthew 18:15-20). However we are not to judge one another as if we are sinless, but rather we should go in love (Matthew 7:1-5; Galatians 6:1-2).
We are also instructed to approach someone quickly if we realise we are the offender (see Matthew 5:23-24).
Healthy communication is good for our relationships. God wants to use us to help one another become more holy and righteous. Many times, we need to help each other realise where we fall short.
 
5. How do I know when to approach someone, or when to just forgive them?
This is not straightforward, but Holy Spirit knows your situation and what’s best for you and the other party.
The most important guiding factor should be love for the other person (1 John 4:19-21).
 
Prayer
Pray through some of the issues that have been raised in your study, praying for one another, forgiveness is not easy especially were personal hurt is concerned. Please send time supporting one another where forgiveness is difficult & painful.
The annual meeting at Holy Trinity is on Monday 15th April, please pray for the right people to step forward to fill the various vacancies.
 
 

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Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 10 March 2019

Prayer and Praise - Finding Joy in God
Bible Readings: Psalm 103.1-22; Luke 10.1-4,17-24
 
In the sermon, a contrast was drawn between praising and thanking God for what he has done for us and worshipping and adoring God for who he is. It is in the latter that we can particularly sense the presence of God and experience something of the joy that David speaks of in Psalm 16 when he writes, “In your presence is the fulness of joy.”
 
Praise and Thanksgiving
You could begin by reading Psalm 103.1-3 or Ephesians 1.3-14 and think about the things God has done that are listed by David or Paul in one (or both)  of these passages of Scripture.
 
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION…..
Which material blessings are you most thankful to God for?
Which spiritual blessings are you most thankful to God for? 
Worship and Adoration
In Revelation 5 we are given a glimpse of the worship of heaven. In the closing verses of this chapter worship and adoration is given to God for who he is. You may be familiar with these words from the closing section of Handel’s oratorio Messiah……
 
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and blessing!
Blessing and honour, glory and power
be unto him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
for ever and ever!
Amen!
 
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION…..
If a fellow Christian told you that s/he doesn’t find it easy to worship and adore God for who he is, what advice and encouragement would you offer?
In Psalm 16.11, David says to God: “In your presence is the fulness of joy”. Does this resonate with you? Would you feel able to share something of your own experience of this?
How would you describe this joy? How is it different from happiness? 
Many times in the Scriptures we are commanded to express our joy. The verb “Rejoice” occurs countless times - for example, “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4.4).
 
TWO QUOTATIONS…..
 
“Christian joy can justly be described as a discipline - an aspect of discipleship - that has to be learned”.
Stephen Barton, Joy in the New Testament (Grove Booklet)
 
“The emphasis on joy (in the New Testament) is not so much on the experience of joy, but on the active expression of it.”
Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence
 
You may wish to conclude by expressing something of this joy in prayer. You could finish by joining together in the words from Revelation 5 above. 
 



Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 24th February ‘19 

Time, Talents, Money & Giving 
1 Timothy 6:17-19 & Luke 1:26-56 

 Time to Live  - Generosity & a Called Life 

Our final Bible character is a perfect example of what it means to embrace God’s call to generosity. From the very moment that the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will give birth to the son of the Most High God, Mary finds herself shifting into a new and uncertain season of living. How she responds to God’s call is fascinating.  

 Read Luke 1:26-56 

Questions? 

Consider the Angel Gabriel's call to Mary and Mary's questions in response to this call:? 

Why do you think a young girl like Mary 'found favour with God'?? 

What aspects in this passage show that Mary had a generous heart? What sort of things did Mary care about?? 

Use your imagination to describe the seasons of living that Mary experienced prior to Gabriel's announcement, and the new one into which she was catapulted so suddenly.? 

Consider how both Mary's and her cousin Elizabeth's songs reveal Mary's character:? 

Elizabeth's song of praise focuses on Mary and how blessed both she and the baby she carries are. On whom does Mary's song focus for the most part?? 

The Magnificat echoes?a number of?Old Testament verses which Mary is?likely to have known well. Look up these ones from the Psalms: Psalm 11, Psalm 98 and Psalm 107:1-9. What do they reveal about God - as well as Mary?? 

 Going Deeper  

God trusted Mary because she exhibited the character of one who knew God to be trustworthy. She was used by God because she was?in a position?to BE used by God.? 

What choices do we need to make today, tomorrow and in the coming and months that will put us in a better position to be used by God?? 

Being God's chosen one brought Mary many joys, but also sacrifice and suffering. She carried with her Simeon's prediction that a sword would pierce her soul and it did.? 

Do you expect to make sacrifices and expect to experience suffering?through?your serving and giving? 

 
Read 1 Timothy 6: 17-19? 

Mary laid down her life and embraced God's call. How can we support and encourage one another with our own?calling.? 

Finally, how can we 'take hold of the life that is truly life' that Paul so urgently challenges Timothy to obey? (1Timothy 6 V 19)? 

 
In Summary: Generosity & Me 

Over the last four sessions we have explored the barriers that keep us from leading truly generous lives. By knocking those barriers down, we can begin to lead the kind of life that God wants for us. By doing this together we become a bigger, better and more effective tool, a powerful force and a compelling witness for other people. A bold challenge, but one that can be achieved by taking small steps.? 

Action 

Ask each group member to think of a skill or an action they could offer to help someone else in the group, for instance: helping with IT, cooking a favourite meal, offering to babysit.? 

To love one another also means to share our needs. Ask each member to think of something they might need help with such as gardening, DIY, car lifts, computer know-how ect. 

Finally, think 'outside the group'. Is there something the group could do together to express generosity to someone else outside the group?? 

Why not write your own version of the Magnificat, drawing on scriptures about God that you value?? 

Prayer? 

What can I offer, when I am so poor? 

Broken, yet chosen, what can I do more? 

I come before the Holy One, 'who will go for me?' 

I?kneel down?in worship, 'here I am, send me.' 

Amen. 

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Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 17th February ‘19 

Time, Talents, Money & Giving 
Acts 4:32-37 & Matthew 6:19-21 

 Time to Share - Generosity & Too Much Stuff 

We continue our look at generosity by focusing on Barnabas the generous encourager and the role generosity played in the early church. Then consider how we can build our lives foundations on the generosity of God. 

 Starter (preparation required!) 

Provide each person present with a paper & pen, then tell them they have one minute to list all the possessions they have in their living room. 

Then give people another minute, to consider if the house was on fire what three things from the list they have already made would they take with them?  

Compare your lists with each other. What do you think it tells you about your wealth & priorities? 

 
Introduction: Time to Share 

The time-management experts might not advocate?it, but?using our time to benefit others is a guaranteed way?of investing?our resources wisely. And the? 

same can be said?of our?physical resources - our money and possessions.? 

As Christians, we are called not to hoard and store up as many earthly treasures as we can, but to be driven by a spirit?of generosity.?(Matthew 6:19-21) 

Like Jesus' disciples, we are not required to act alone; we must learn to use our time and resources to share and encourage one another. Being part of a?generous and supportive community or family can also help us as we go through life's ups and downs.? 

There are now many voices and organisations who speak out against Western consumerism. However, it is still easy to become caught up in the grip of acquiring more and more stuff. As we study the early church?community from the book of Acts, consider ways the first Christians shared each other's burdens within their community. Would these examples work for you?? 

Before looking at Barnabas it would be good to consider the setting.?Following Pentecost and Peter's impassioned speech, 3,000 people are?baptised?and they grow together into a joy-filled, worshipping community. They live according to a different set of rules, sharing their money and possessions, allowing generosity and worship to become key to their new pattern of life.? 

Read Acts 4:32-37? 

Barnabas (once known as Joseph the Levite) is a character who is often overshadowed by Peter and Paul. His name means ‘Son?of?Encouragement' and as we read his story it is easy to see why.?He joins Paul and John Mark in various missions to the Gentiles and supports different early churches. He is involved in debates about beliefs and practice and remains a solid, strong, reliable person.? 

What do you admire about the early church community? 

Where did their great power of generosity stem from? Do you think it was one-off straight after Jesus' resurrection or do you think it is a power that we can tap into today? 

What was Joseph the Levite's gift to the church? Why do you think the church gave him the new name Barnabas? 

Read Acts 11:19-26 

What else about Barnabas' character do we learn in this section? 

Why do you think Barnabas was a successful mission leader and had such a heart for the Gentiles? 

Barnabas led a truly generous life, giving his time, his talents and material wealth to further the work of the early church. How generous are our lives? 

 

Going Deeper (1 Peter 1:22-23) 

As fellow believers, not only do we share our time, our possessions homes but we also share our opinions and our personalities. Many struggle to speak the truth to a fellow Christian and a generous believer 'speaks the truth in love'. 

Recall a time when you spoke the truth in love. Did you listen first, did you tell them many?things?or did you just focus on one thing?? 

Now recall a time when you spoke to a believer with a lack of love. What mistake did you make? (Were?you too busy to listen; was your attention divided; did you make a judgement beforehand?) Share with a group the pitfall that you have experienced. 

Consider – What one thing could you in the next 24 hours that would help strengthen the generous child of God within you? 

 

Prayer 

Pray through some of the issues that have been raised in your study, praying for one another. 

Spend some time giving thanks for God’s provision in our own lives and in the life of Holy Trinity Church. 

Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 10th February ‘19 
Time, Talents, Money & Giving 
1 Samuel 25 & Luke 21:1-4 
 
Time to Give - Generosity & Our Gifts & Talents 
We continue our look at generosity by focusing on the Old Testament character of Abigail. We look at her role as a generous hostess and steward of her household. We then consider how our own gifts and talents can be used in God’s service. 
 
Starter 
Within your group, list any gifts and talents that you possess or would like to develop or improve? Don’t be shy! Discuss briefly whether you tend to use them to enhance yourself, to build up other people or to glorify God?  
 
Introduction: Time to Give 
In the last study we focused on God as our role model for generosity and thought about shifting our perspective away from ourselves and onto others. 
This type of transformational thinking can, if we will let it, alter our whole way of life. Allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us as we consider the use of our gifts and abilities will often begin to change the ways we spend our time. We find we do in fact have time to GIVE to others and that our attitudes with difficult circumstances can lead us to act generously. The outcome of our actions may not be immediately apparent, and we may not always  receive gratitude for what we have done. Nevertheless, the consequences of acting generously can frequently generate peace and a spirit of reconciliation that can have positive benefits. We may sometimes need to give of our energies and enthusiasms when we experience the downtimes of life; we may also sometimes need to act out of our comfort zone. Jesus did not promise a life without suffering, but by using our gifts for others we will be truly blessed whatever the season of living we are experiencing. 
 
Read the passage from 1 Samuel 25 
There are three main characters in this story of generous hospitality: Abigail, wife of the foolish and rich Nabal; David, the future King of Israel, on the with 600 mighty men from King Saul and Nabal, Abigail's foolish husband, who refuses David's request for hospitality and insults David and his men. Nabal speaks a vital question, Abigail has an immediate request and David has a changed response.  
 
Highlight Abigail's personal gifts and qualities. How do her actions contrast with those of her husband Nabal? 
What were the positive outcomes of Abigail's generosity? 
What insight did God give Abigail into David's possible future? 
In similar circumstances, do you think you would have reacted like Nabal or Abigail? After all, feeding 600 soldiers is a big request to respond to. 

Abigail's decision to help David was completely contrary to her husband's wishes. Are there occasions when we need to step out of our comfort zone, even when we might not win the approval of others? 
What positive effect did Abigail's actions have on David? Why was it important that he did not take revenge into his own hands? 
Can you think of a situation where your actions have helped to resolve conflict and bring harmony?  
Going Deeper 
How was David's immediate and angry response changed by Abigail's generous hospitality and service? 
Abigail absorbs the blame for her husband's foolish actions. Was this the right decision? Why/Why not? After all she was putting her life and wellbeing at risk with an angry leader? How could you use Abigail's example in your life?  
Action 
Take some time in the week to look again at the list of your own personal qualities and talents. Do you want to make any changes? Offer them up to God in a moment of quiet. Ask God to help you react with generosity when you encounter difficult situations.?  
 
Prayer 
Pray through some of the issues that have been raised in your study, praying for one another. 
Spend some time giving thanks for God’s provision in our own lives and in the life of Holy Trinity Church. 
Pray also for our leaders at this time of uncertainty for our country and society. 
 
 



Bible Study Notes W/C Sunday 27th January ‘19 

Time, Talents, Money & Giving 
Jonah 1:4-17 & Matthew 12:38-45 

Time to Grow - Generosity and a Change of Heart 

This first week we are starting by drawing inspiration from the story of Jonah and by considering how both God and Jesus are our models of generosity. 

 

Starter 

From your knowledge of the book of Jonah (you might need to give an overview) take it in turns to think up possible excuses that Jonah might have had for turning God down. Finish the sentence: 'I can't go to Nineveh because..! 

Go around the group and ask each person in turn. 

 

Introduction 

Life is so much easier when things are black and white, don't you think?? 

Faith appears simpler when divided up into sacred and secular, into things that God smiles upon and things we think He scorns. We readily compartmentalise our lives, separating the 'spiritual' from the rest. This has a profound impact on our priorities and determines how we decide to use our?time. 

From the first verses of the Bible to the last, it offers a glorious picture of a generous Creator God who lavishes upon his work infinite care and attention. And we, made in his image, are invited to join in the adventure and travel through life with Our Heavenly Father as our God and King, serving, partnering, learning from and loving Him in ALL we do.? 

Read the passage from Jonah 

What did Jonah do to try to ignore God's call on his life?? 

Have you experienced seasons in your life when you have felt you may have taken a wrong turning? How did Jonah get back on course?? 

What is your Nineveh? Who?are?the people or what are the tasks you retreat from and why? 

If time allows read Chapters 2, 3 & 4. 

What new insights into Jonah's motives do we encounter in these passages? What stops us from being open to God's new possibilities for us?? 

What barriers might stand in the way of us living fulfilled and generous lives?? 

Highlight God's acts of generosity in this story. Consider Jonah 3:10.? 

How might generosity have transformed Jonah's perspective?? 

 

Jesus & Jonah – Read Matthew 12:38-45 

Remember Jesus saying ‘Now one greater than Jonah is here.’ There are lots of?comparisons that we can make. Jonah complains about being 'banished' from God's sight; Jesus cried 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'? 

(Matthew 27:46). But where Jonah was facing death, Jesus?actually died. Where Jonah escaped death, Jesus came back to life.? 

And there's more.?Take a look?at the line that says: 'Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit God’s love for them (his grace)' Jonah 2:8.? 

He's talking about people, and?despite the fact that?God is about to have mercy on his soul, Jonah shows no compassion for the people he is being sent to help. Jesus, on the other hand, went through an agonising death because of His compassion. He is truly greater than Jonah. 

When we come to think about it, many of us are more like Jonah than Jesus, aren’t we? 

In what ways do we ignore so many of God's commands, as well as His?grace and His love for us? How can we stop getting caught up in our own misguided view of things?? 

Do we sometimes prefer that God would act with signs and miracles rather than being prepared to roll up our sleeves and get?stuck?into living generously?? 

Give examples of how Jesus is our role model for generosity. How can we become more like Him in serving others rather than focusing on ourselves? 

Pray through some of the issues that have been raised in your study, praying for one another. 

 

Action 

Think of one simple generous action you could do for someone else this coming week, share with one other person what you could do. 

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For week commencing Monday 14 January 2019

Wedding at Cana John 2 :1-11 

Re read the passage and discuss what the surprising elements of the event are for each of you. 

What do you learn about Jesus’s mother from this conversation with Jesus? 

Can you think of other places in John’s gospel where she is portrayed? Again what do you learn about her from them? 

What does this passage tell us about Jesus at the beginning of his ministry? 

How do you think the servants responded to this event? 

What do you understand as the glory of God? 

What was it about this sign that revealed for the disciples the divinity of Jesus? 

What do you understand as the difference between belief in God and trust in God?  

Pray for those involved in the Alpha courses . 


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For week commencing Monday 14 January 2019

Responding to God’s Word

(Nehemiah 8.1-3,5-6,8-10; Luke 4.14-21)

Sermon Summary

Jesus’ attitude to Scripture

* “For Jesus, the Old Testament was true, authoritative and inspired. For him, what Scripture said, God said.” (John Wenham, Christ and the Bible)

* Jesus consistently treated the historical narratives as straightforward records of fact.

* Jesus used the Old Testament as the court of appeal in matters of controversy.

* Jesus said that the Scripture cannot be broken. (Jn 10.35 & Mt 5.18)

* On 5 occasions Jesus challenged his hearers with the words, “Have you not read?”. He then quoted from the Scriptures. (Mt 19.4; Lk 6.3; Mt 21.16; Mt 22.31; Mk 12.10.)

* On at least 15 occasions, Jesus made the same point by using the phrase, “It is written” by which he meant, “It is written in the Scriptures”. (Examples: Mt 4.1-11; Lk 10.26; Mt 21.13; Lk 24.27,45-46)

* On one occasion (Mt 19.4-5) when Jesus quoted from Genesis 2, he said, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning said”, even though in Genesis these words were written by the author of the book and are not ascribed to God. This is an example on the lips of Jesus where “God says” and “Scripture says” are interchangeable.

* Jesus had a very high view of Scripture. As Christians, when we consider what we believe and how we behave, we need to keep in mind the importance place that Jesus gave to the Scriptures.

Our Response

* Have confidence in the Scriptures.

* Read the Bible regularly, ideally daily. Use Bible reading notes if you find them useful. Try reading through the whole of the Bible or the whole of the New Testament using a reading plan. Read through short passages over a few days possibly with the help of a commentary.

Useful commentaries: “For Everyone” series by John Goldingay (OT), Tom Wright (NT), or the older Daily Study Bible Series (William Barclay).

* When reading the Bible ask the question, “What is God wanting to say to me about my understanding of this particular issue?”

* What do we do about difficult parts of Scripture? Some passages are difficult to understand. Some are easy to understand but difficult because of what they say. “It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” (Mark Twain)

* It is important that we don’t grapple with Scripture alone but as the people of God together. We have to wrestle with Scripture and try to interpret it faithfully. It’s easy to swim to along with the post-modern tide and to allow experience to overrule Scripture.

* Regarding issues that concern our world, our nation, our community, our family, our Church, our own lives, is our first thought to ask ourselves the question, “What does God think about this?” and “What do the Scriptures teach about this?”.

Quotations

“Never lower the revelation of Scripture to the level of your experience.”(Jim Graham)

“A man who loves his wife, will love her letters and her photographs because they speak to him of her. So if we love the Lord Jesus, we shall love the Bible because it speaks to us of him. The husband is not so stupid as to prefer his wife’s letters to her voice, or her photographs to herself. He simply loves them, because of her. So, too, we love the Bible because of Christ. It is his portrait. It is his love-letter.” (John Stott)

Questions for Discussion

* On a scale of 1-10 how confident do you feel about Scripture? Why do you give it this score?

* Share together the different ways of personal Bible reading that you have tried over the years. Which have you found most helpful?

* What do you feel about difficult parts of Scripture? When is it appropriate to reinterpret something in the light of the different cultures of the Bible and life today, and when is it not appropriate to do this?

* When we consider some of the issues of our day: Brexit, migrants, funding of public bodies (eg NHS, schools), the shortage of housing, etc, what light can Scripture shed on these?

* In what areas of our lives as individuals and together as God’s people might Jesus challenge us with the question, “Have you not read?”?

A Prayer

Heavenly Father,
we thank you for the gift of holy Scripture which, by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, you caused to be written for our learning.
Grant that we may read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it, that it may be a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths.
This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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House Group Notes W/C Monday 10th December ‘18
2 Kings 5:7-15 (& Matthew 10:5-8)
Does God heal today?
 
Introduction
I could give many different examples of experiencing or seeing God’s  healing touch, so it is with a certain amount of irony that I find myself struggling with acute back-pain as I write these thoughts & prepare for Sunday.

We can get stuck on the subject of healing by thinking that we only mean physical healing, but some of the most profound healings that I have seen people experience are emotional & relational healings.

I know of and I have experienced God’s healing and the passage from 2 Kings 5 highlights a number of issues, not least that Naaman was not an Israelite but an enemy. In 2 Kings 5 it states that Naaman is the commander of the Syrian army, one who was "great and honourable man in the eyes of his master" because, wonderfully, "by him the Lord had given victory to Syria" (see 2 Kings 5:1).

Different sources suggest that the victory ascribed to the Lord in this passage is the one mentioned in 1 Kings 22, the battle between Israel and Syria. It is thought that Naaman is the one who struck wicked King Ahab (1 Kings 22:34).

Two things of note, however, is that while Naaman was a "mighty man of valour," he was also a leper (see 2 Kings 5:1); and that while the Word of God says the Lord gave victory through him, he was but a pagan commander who bowed to Syrian deities.

Opening Question
What does God's mercy have to do with Naaman?

Naaman was a leper, until God healed him.
The rest of 2 Kings 5:1-19 tells us how a young Israelite girl, whom Syrians took captive and was made to wait on Naaman's wife, told her mistress that a prophet in Israel can heal his master's leprosy and his subsequent healing. I love the way in which God relates to this man & ministers to him at his point of need, with no preconditions! This is an example of God’s Grace.
 

Discussion Questions
  1. Aside from having skin restored to perfect condition, Naaman received so much more:
        The revelation that the God of Israel is the only God 2 Kings 5:15 tells us that Naaman, because of his healing, came to realise that         there's no other God but the God of Israel. He received a personal knowledge of God because of what he experienced.

        What do we know about God from your experiences with Him?
  1. The ability to give thanks As a distinguished war veteran, Naaman was proud. He initially expected Elisha to come to him and heal him instantly. Naaman did eventually humble himself, receiving healing. While pride caused him to get angry at Elisha, his eventual humility allowed him to be healed. And his healing turned him into a grateful man who experienced the Lord's goodness.

        Are we grateful at what the Lord does for us, even when His methods and discipline aren't pleasing at times?
  1. The decision to worship the LORD alone. Because of his healing, Namaan made a very great decision: to worship God alone. (see 2 Kings 5:17)

        What about us? Have we decided to worship the LORD alone?
 
Prayer
Every Saturday evening at Costa Ripon a small team from Churches Together in Ripon make themselves available to pray for the needs of other people. Spend time praying for them & the witness they give.

Give thanks for those things we have each received & answered prayers.

As we approach Christmas & the different services which give us an opportunity to invite those who do not God personally, spend time praying for those people you are planning to invite.
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House Group Notes W/C Monday 19th November ‘18
Ephesians 6:1-12 & Luke 10:17-20
How can I resist Evil?

 
Introduction
This is a weighty subject and something that can cause different approaches one might be to simply deny the existence of the Devil & that it is just the way people are. The second could be to have an unhealthy view seeing the Devil as the cause of all problems in the world. I once heard someone preach how it was the Devil who tempted King David when he watched Bathsheba bathing (2 Samuel 11), his rational was that if she was bathing, she must have been dirty so how could she have been attractive! Still makes me chuckle thinking about this incident. I think a far more accurate description of our own shortcoming and the devils’ involvement is to make sure that we do not do Smutty Faces work for him!

Matthew 5 deals extensively with not allowing disagreements between individuals to become bigger and bigger issues. The advice that Paul gives in Ephesians 4:26 ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

There is not a great deal of scriptural evidence for the existence of the Devil, so we do need to be careful that our understanding is Biblically based and not on popular culture. In the Gospel reading the 72 speak of how the devil had to flee, they witnessed many signs of good overcoming evil.

Ephesians 6 is a passage I continually find myself referring to too, as the truths within really do enforce the Good News of the gospel to me personally but also instruct me on how I should live as a Christian resisting evil and living a life I am happy with.

Paul reinforced this idea with a reference to Deuteronomy 5:16, where God promised to bless the obedient child. Christians have normally divided the Ten Commandments into the first four (directed towards God) and the last six (directed towards their fellow man). But the Jews divided the commandments in two sets of five, seeing the law to honour your father and mother more as a duty towards God than a duty towards parents.

As people of God we need to be armed with God’s power to be able to stand firm in God’s promises for us. With God’s help we are able to stand firm against all immorality, deceit, and disobedience, filled with the Holy Spirit armed with God’s power.

If you have not already read Ephesians 6 read it through before working through the following questions:
 
Discussion Questions

  1. What dangers are there in ‘an excessive and unhealthy interest’ in the devil?
  2. What is the difference between temptation to sin and sin itself? Why is the distinction so important?
  3. In Ephesians chapter 6 St Paul mentions 6 pieces of the Christian’s ‘armour’. What do you think each of these means in practice?
  4. In spiritual warfare, who is the enemy?
  5. Where do we find the truth with which we are to be girded?
  6. Why is righteousness to be worn as a breastplate?
  7. What are Satan’s flaming arrows?
  8. How does faith shield us from them?
  9. Why is salvation described as a helmet for the head?
  10. How does the Bible serve as a sword?
  11. What must we do at all times? 

Prayer
Think of the areas of your life where you experience the greatest difficulties (these could be spiritual attacks), if you feel comfortable in your group please share so that others can support you in prayer.

We all have areas of weakness in our own lives, pray for each other that you would be strengthened and not give into those things which are not edifying or distract us.
Pray for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit for each other so that you might be equipped for whatever you might face this coming week.

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House Group Notes W/C Monday 12th November
 

Romans 8:1-2 & 12-17 & John 14:15-21

What does the Holy Spirit do?

Introduction
Earlier this month Chris reminded us that the Holy Spirit or God’s Spirit appears right at the beginning of the Bible on page 1, Genesis 1:2. He is described as brooding over the Earth at Creation, waiting to bring life and breath to the world. Paul in Romans 8:2 also picks up on this theme of the Holy Spirit who brings life to the believer through Christ. If Christ came to give us  ‘fullness of life’ (John 10:10) then it is through the on-going work of His Spirit in the world and in us that this freedom comes. The Holy Spirit sanctifies our lives. As we say in the Creed: ‘He is the Lord, the giver of Life’, He is at work making us new creations, deepening our faith and understanding and bringing about transformation as we produce new fruit (Galatians 5:22-25).
 
As we look through the Bible we see the Holy Spirit involved in the life of individuals but also in the life of God’s people. In the Hebrew Scriptures He comes for God’s purposes to be achieved; artistic gifting (Exodus 31:3); prophetic utterance (1 and 2 Chronicles) the gift of leadership (1 Chronicle 12:17-18) but it is for specific people at specific times.

Then in the gospels the Holy Spirit’s work is seen most clearly through the life and person of Jesus. Jesus is conceived by the Spirit (Luke 1:35), baptised in the Spirit (Mark 1:9-11), empowered by the Spirit (Matthew 4:1) performs great signs and wonders through the Spirit (Matthew 12:28), surrenders his Spirit back to God (Matthew 27:50) and then is raised by the Spirit (Romans 8:11).  

Whilst we usually talk of Jesus being the incarnation of God, the gospels show Him pneumatologically operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. And this is important because Jesus, who shared our humanity, shows what is possible for each one of us as when we are filled with the Spirit.

Jesus promised the Spirit to the disciples. In John (14:14-15) Jesus talks about the Father “sending another advocate or counsellor who leads in all Truth”. As Chris noted the word ‘another’ in Greek is allios, and it means one of the same quality.  Jesus is returning to the Father but another of the same calibre is coming, another like Jesus and like the Father, of divine nature and power.  Again, before His ascension Jesus said “you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere…”(Acts 1:7). At Pentecost, the Festival of First Fruits (Acts 2) this is fulfilled.  The Holy Spirit is sent and the Church of Christ is born. Therefore one of the most significant things the Holy Spirit does is to continue to build the church, both in number, in depth of faith/understanding and in action (Ephesians 2:21-22). 

The Spirit does this by: drawing people to God and convicting them of their need to change and accept Jesus as Lord (John 16:8); filling new believers as they are ‘born again’ at their baptism (Acts 2:39) and filling all believers when we continue to ask (Ephesians 5:18).  He brings wisdom and truth (John 16:9), revealing God’s word and promises through scripture, through prayer and through encounter. He gives gifts, which equips us for ministry (I Corinthians).
 
As believers we celebrate that the same Spirit (not changed, or diluted, or of a different quality) who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us (Romans 8:11). He works in us, inspires us, comforts us, challenges us, heals us, and disciples us (1 Corinthians 12:11), He imparts God’s love to us (Romans 5:3-5) and God’s hope (Romans 15:13). He empowers us to live victoriously for the cause of Christ and the glory of the Father.

Please reflect on the passages and your experiences of Holy Spirit at work.

Discussion Questions
In Romans 8 Paul reflects on the struggle between our human natures and the things that please God. How does the Spirit help us in this and how do we surrender our lives to the power of the Spirit?

Satan ‘condemns’ but the Holy Spirit ‘convicts. In a world full of the blame game, how do we tell the difference and how do we respond?

The Holy Spirit gives us gifts (1 Corinthians 12). What gift/s do you think God has given you and also to HT as a church?

Can you think of a time when the Holy Spirit has come alongside you? How did you know? What happened and did it change you or your understanding of God?

In what way is God’s Spirit working through you and Holy Trinity bringing life and growth for the New Creation?

Prayer
Pray for one another to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Pray to know the Spirit’s leading and voice, what is He saying to us?

Pray to receive and use the gifts of the Spirit to build up and grow the ministry of God within Ripon and its churches.

Pray for the Spirit to deepen our relationship with God, to help transform us and develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.

Ideally pray for each person in the group and listen for words and pictures from the Spirit for them, to encourage and affirm them.

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House Group Notes for week commencing Monday 29 October

Who is the Holy Spirit?  

Joel 2:28-32 & John 16:1-15


Introduction

Holy Spirit is described using different words in the Bible. “Breath, Wind, Spirit, & Mind” In the Old Testament where you see the words spirit, wind, or breath, when used in conjunction with describing the actions & work of God the Hebrew word is ???????? “ruach”. In the New Testament the same words are translated from πνε?μα “pneuma.” In both instances it is worth noting the variety of English words to give a better understanding. The first time God’s Spirit appears in the Bible is on Page 1 – Genesis 1:2.

Some of the ways these words are used in scripture:
The first and most basic meaning in the Old Testament for ruach is “breath.” The invisible life-energy that you breath in and out is actually God’s gift to humanity. Genesis 2:7.

Wind is an invisible power that animates humans (breath) and all creation. God’s presence appearing is often connected to wind. Gen 3:8.

Spirit is the invisible, life-animating energy of God that is present in his creation, sustaining all life. Psalm 104:29–30.

Mind - this usage concerns a frame of mind. Psalm 32:2.

The Spirit in the New Testament

Jesus’ origins are traced to the creative work of the Spirit. Matthew 1:18.

Jesus’ baptism is a deliberate recall of Genesis 1:2, Luke 3:21-22.

The Gospel of Luke highlights more than any other gospel the role of the Spirit in empowering Jesus and his mission. Luke 4:1 & 10:21.

The Gospel of Luke highlights more than any other gospel the role of the Spirit in empowering Jesus and his mission. Romans 1:3-4.

Jesus’ resurrection life of the Spirit was then passed onto his followers. John 20:21-22.
In Acts, the coming of the Spirit is equated with the arrival of God’s temple presence. Acts 2:1-3 & the Spirit and Jesus are nearly identical, guiding and directing the followers of Jesus. Acts 13:2 & 16:6-7.

In Paul’s letters, the Holy Spirit is equated with the presence of God and the presence of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 13:10.

For Paul, the Spirit brings the divine resurrection life of Jesus into the life of his followers. Romans 8:11.

God gives gifts to his followers through the Spirit to empower them for ministry. 1 Corinthians 12:11.

The Spirit is bringing about new creation in the lives of Jesus’ followers, producing new ‘fruit.’ Galatians 5:22-25.

All of the above is very much an introduction & background information which can either be used by the group as a whole or alternatively by individuals on another occasion.
Another word is used to describe Holy Spirit is in John 16:7 – Advocate.

Think about how the disciples would have been feeling after been told that things would be better after hearing the comforting words from Jesus. Do you personally regard Holy Spirit as an Advocate / Helper?

After reading the passages from Sunday discuss your experiences that relate to the passage from Joel.

Discussion Questions

Does thinking of God as breath, wind, or animating energy depersonalise God or make God seem closer and more intimate?

Consider Acts 16:6–7. Where, if at all, might one draw a line between Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

Why does God partner with us to create life through the invisible means of the Spirit rather than through a more practical method?

Does God’s Spirit only improve existing talents and abilities within us so that we can serve God, or does God’s Spirit grant us entirely new talents and abilities that we previously did not have?

Is it possible to resist God’s Spirit?  If so, how?  If not, where does human free will come in?

In what ways is God’s Spirit specifically working through you and Holy Trinity Church today to create life within the New Creation?

Prayer

Spend time praying for one another to be filled or equipped for the tasks at hand. If time allows it would be good to pray for each person in the group individually.
Pray that Holy Trinity would become more reliant on the promptings of the Holy Spirit, both for individuals & corporately.

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House Group Notes for week commencing Monday 22 October

How does God use us?  

From the sermon: “The most important word in the question ‘How does God use us?’ is not ‘use’ or ‘us’ or even ‘how’, but ‘God’. Our work should be God-centred worship.” 

Ephesians 2:10: “We are… created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  

Discuss together why you think God did this. See 1 Corinthians 3:6,  
2 Corinthians 6:1 & Luke 6:35. The sermon suggested that God wants us as partners in his work so that we will be blessed. Do you agree? 

Discuss together what “good works” God has in mind. To do this consider what God’s plan is for the earth and what things on earth matter to him e.g. concern that knowledge of God will fill the earth, concern for reconciliation, the poor, the oppressed etc.  From your knowledge of God and the Bible write a list together of these characteristics of God. 

God equips us to partner with him in these good works through our inclinations, skills and talents, spiritual gifts and Holy Spirit direction (i.e. instructions in the Bible, e.g. “make disciples”, and specific things that he lays on our hearts). 

Inclinations: Ask each person in the group to indicate what specifically they identify with in the list of God’s characteristics, e.g. concern for the poor. 

Skills and talents: Read Exodus 31:1-6 and then discuss which skills and talents each member of the group has, e.g. artistic, culinary, administrative. You may need to help and encourage one another here – no false modesty please! 

Spiritual gifts: All Christians have at least one spiritual gift – see  
1 Corinthians 12:7. (Note: the New Testament Greek gives no indication of who is to profit from the gifts, whether Christians or non-Christians.)  
Read Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-10, Ephesians 4:11 &  
1 Peter 4:10-11.  From these verses make a list of the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament.  Note: there may be others not mentioned. 

Then identify which gift(s)/roles the Lord has given each member of the group. Again, you may need to help one another.i 

Holy Spirit direction: Remind one another of the instructions that the Bible gives as to what we should be doing as Christians e.g. pray constantly.  

Then, if you feel able, share with one another anything that you feel Holy Spirit has laid on your heart for partnership with him. Are you aware of what he has prepared beforehand for you to walk in?  If not, how can we be?  

Discuss how we can discern how God wants to use us individually (or collectively) when there are many areas for which our skills or obedience qualify us.  How do we decide when it is appropriate to “do” because it is Biblical or in obedience to the church leadership and when are we discerning an area of partnership with God to which he is calling us? Does it matter? 

God’s Dream:  Read John 5:19 

Do you think that we have a big enough vision of God’s dream for us at Holy Trinity/ Ripon (or wherever you live, work, play etc.) for the poor around us, the refugees among us etc. i.e. a big enough comprehension of what Father is doing and wants to do? If yes, do you think that we are fulfilling our part in it? If no, discuss how we can discover it so that we can partner with him.  

 

Prayer 

“There’s a lovely old Russian proverb: ‘Pray to God but continue to row for the shore.’ Prayer must outwork itself in action, and so this bookii is about more than prayer and presence. It is also about mission and justice. It is about the saying of prayers, to be sure, but also about the becoming of prayers in a thousand practical ways.”  Pete Greig 

Pray for one another and the church collectively that we will discern where God wants to use us and how we will do it. 

Pray around any specific areas that have arisen as you have shared with each other during this study. 

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House Group Notes for October 14th. 


Why and How to read the Bible. 


To begin with…. 

1. Has anyone a ‘special’ Bible – one given to them etc? Which version/translation do you find the most helpful? 

2.How do you read the Bible? Do you have a routine, do you use Bible notes or plans? Are there any useful apps/resources that you’ve found helpful? 

NB to Group Leader – these opening questions presume that everyone reads their Bible – is there an opportunity for group members to articulate their thoughts and experiences without it seeming like they’re ‘owning up’ to not reading the Bible? 

 

Read Psalm 19:7-9. 

The Psalmist uses 6 names for God’s Word. What do these names tell us about the concept of God’s Word in the Old Testament (different translations may use different words)? What ‘names’ (or analogies) are given to the modern Bible, are these helpful? A challenge – can you come up with 6, as the Psalmist did?! 

The Psalmist uses 6 attributes of God’s Word, discuss each of these. How are these attributes relevant today (there may be some overlap with the 6 names/analogies you came up with in the last question)? 

The Psalmist uses 6 ‘ministries’ or actions for God’s Word – what are they? How do you relate to these in your experience of the Bible? Are there other ways that God’s Word ‘helps’ you? 

Try this – read the Psalm together, either splitting the group into 3 to say the different parts of each verse, or use 3 individual voices.  

 

Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17. 

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”. 

What are your first reactions to this passage? ‘Unpack’ the 4 attributes mentioned in this verse. It’s too easy sometimes to refer to the positive, gentle, affirming parts of God’s Word, and to bypass the difficult, challenging passages. How should we approach this issue?  

 

Mark Powley said this - ‘Don’t worry about what you don’t understand – concentrate on living out what you do understand’. What do we do about the difficult parts of the Bible and the parts we don’t understand?  

 

How could applying Mark Powley’s suggestion change our experience of reading our Bibles? 

 

In finishing…. Share thoughts about how we could enhance our Bible reading. 

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