Transforming Presence Small Groups and Individuals - Strategic Renewal

Resources for Small Groups and Individuals

Introduction: What We All Want

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. Consider this statement, “The Spirit’s purposes are becoming more clear to me—to take the Word of Christ and make it real to the people of Christ so they would honor the person of Christ in the mission of Christ for the glory of Christ.’ (page 22). How are you seeking to experience these purposes on a daily basis? What adjustments in your schedule or daily patterns can you make to more fully embrace these realities?
  2. In recent years, have you heard words about the person and work of the Holy Spirit that you suspect might be a form of “fake news”? What specifically might fall into this category? Are there some verses that you think might help dispel these ideas? If so, what are they?
  3. Reflect on this key statement: “We all want the same thing: a true, biblical, transforming, Christ-honoring experience of the indwelling Spirit of God.” On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being lowest and 10 highest), how would you rank your present desire for this?  What would you like it to be? How will you pray in the coming weeks for a deeper, sustained desire?
  4. Consider again this statement on page 27, “I have written this book not to question your experience of the Holy Spirit, but to challenge you to think of His work more clearly and speak from His Word more biblically so you can experience His transforming power in your life more consistently.” What three to five words would you use to describe your experience of the Holy Spirit thus far in your Christian journey?  What words would best describe your hopes for a more biblical and deeper transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Ask the Lord to make these hopes reality, according to His word.

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice One: Agree to Evaluate Your Assumptions

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. We’ve considered the possibility that we may need to “get past our past” regarding what we’ve been taught about the Holy Spirit and/or perhaps even certain religious experiences. Open yourself to God by praying and asking the Lord to help you see your past as it is (pertaining to the Holy Spirit) and to understand how it has shaped your present life as a Christian.  Ask him to help you keep an open mind about the ideas presented in this book and to lead you into all truth.
  2. How have you been inspired by the spiritual life of another Christian individual or church of a different denomination or tradition? What spiritual lessons did you gain from your relationship with them and how are these lessons still helping you today?
  3. How are your current views of the person and work of the Holy Spirt different than they were before you became a Christian? Are they different than some of your ideas in the early days of your Christian faith?  If so how?  What caused you to change your understanding?
  4. Can you imagine how your life might look different than it does right now if you were, in the words of Robbie Symons able to “stop trying and start relying” in a greater way?  What specifically might be different in your daily experience?

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice Two: Embrace the Spirit’s Primary Purpose

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. Have you ever observed in your own life, or witnessed anything in a gathering of Christians, that caused confusion about the real purpose of the person and work of the Holy Spirit?  Describe these moments and the questions you may have had.
  2. What are the implications of Jesus’ prayer in John 17 and his disciple-making ministry for our own discipleship, both as students and student-makers? How can you pattern your ministry efforts more specifically after his focus? (See pgs. 46-49).
  3. Do you believe your life is bringing God glory? Why or why not? No matter how you answered, what needs to happen for you to continue growing?
  4. To repent of self-glory is to pursue humility, a lifelong activity for every Christian. Practically speaking, what would it look like for you to go further in your pursuit of humility at home, at work, at church, in heart, in mind, in action, right now? For you to decrease that Jesus may increase?

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice Three: Live in the Power of the New Covenant

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. As you reflect on the experiences Daniel described on pg. 58-59, think of a time in your own life where a passage (or even a book of the Bible) rescued you from discouragement or spiritual disaster. What were the biblical texts and why did they have such a positive effect on your spiritual journey?
  2. Sometimes there is dissonance between what we know in theory and how we operate functionally. Have you ever considered that a theoretical misunderstanding of the new covenant might be contributing to stagnancy in your life with God? How would you know?
  3. Conversely, is it possible that you might know the new covenant in theory and yet be operating functionally in an old covenant framework of practice? How would you know? What might some indicators be? (Use the chart on pgs. 65-66 to stimulate some thought).
  4. At this point in our discussion of the comparison of old covenant to the new, what do you think some of the practical implications for our spiritual formation (growth in Christlikeness) might be?  Consider the list on pgs. 67-68 for starters.

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice Four: Pursue the Indwelling Person not an External “Presence”

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. Ponder J.D. Greear’s comment, “Jesus claimed that having the Holy Spirit in [us] would be better than having Jesus beside [us].” Based on what you know from the scripture, why would this be true? Take a few moments to thank God for the ways in which these realities have bettered your life thus far.
  2. We’ve considered that if the Holy Spirit were an external power or force, then the goal would be for us to get more of it, but if the Holy Spirit is a person, which He is, then the goal is for Him to get more of us. If a Christian actually understood the Holy Spirit as a “force” what behavior patterns might emerge? If He is viewed in they ways by church leaders, what kind of words and behaviors might occur in a church gathering?
  3. If an individual truly understands the Holy Spirit as divine and a person, indwelling their life, what daily benefits would be inevitable?  If church leaders truly embrace this truth, how might it become evident in a worship gathering?
  4. Given the reality and the permanency of the indwelling Spirit for believers, as we’ve observed, one thing that can get in the way of deeper intimacy with Him are the external distractions we create for ourselves. How does this truth impact you right now? Do you see any such distractions in your life? What do you sense God leading you to do about them?

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice Five: Worship Like You Are the “House of the Lord”

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. How does the contrast between Old Testament temple worship and New Testament worship in “spirit and truth” impact your thinking about your life with God today? Do you see any Old Testament hold-overs operational in your current practice? If so, what are they and how will you intentionally reframe your thinking?
  2. Old Testament Jews were quite limited in their access to God (when, where, and how). Thanks to the finished work of Christ and the indwelling Spirit, New Testament Christians now have complete access to God anytime, anywhere. How are you taking full advantage of the potential of this quality of life in the new covenant – in your daily walk with Christ and in the focus of your corporate worship?
  3. Because the gospel changes everything, the death of Jesus was sufficient and the new covenant is our superior reality, how might you read the Old Testament differently?  What new covenant promises do you feel are especially meaningful to you right now in your Christian life?
  4. If the New Covenant focus is on what God is doing in us, then growing in our relationship with God will be a journey into the heart with the indwelling Holy Spirit and our Bibles open before us. Thus this journey involves paying attention to what’s going on in our inner life (thoughts, emotions, etc.). What does your inner life indicate God is doing in you right now? How might you work with Him in this? What might inhibit Him?

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice Six: Experience the God Who Already “Showed Up”

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. 1. Based on the teachings of Jesus and the reality of the new covenant, where is the Holy Spirit right now in his relationship to the believer? (See John 14:16; Rom. 8:10; Eph. 3:16, 20; Col. 1:27). Based on these truths, why is it questionable to expect the Holy Spirit to “show up” from some external location? What is a clearer, more biblical way to speak of our desire for a powerful work of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Review 1 Cor.12:4-7. Where is the work of the Spirit focused according to this passage? How and why does the Spirit want to work in order to manifest His grace and power?  Have you consciously focused on this in your weekly worship experience? If not, why not. If so, how has this been evidenced?
  3. As you think about the manifestation of the Spirit in and through you, consider the teachings of Rom.12:1-8; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; Hebrews 3:13 and James 5:16. How can you personally commit yourself to these ministry realities in a practical and consistent way? When and where might you find this opportunity?
  4. In light of the teaching of this chapter, consider again the truths of 2 Cor. 4:6-7.  What does this teach about the glory of God? How does this apply to your understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in and through you? If we were more intentional to teach and practice this, how might Jesus be more wonderfully glorified?  How might the church be built up?

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice Seven: Seek a “Filling,” not a “Falling”

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. Review the section “Filled for Gospel Impact” on pages 135-136. In your own words, how would you summarize the consistent effect of being Spirit-filled?  Based on these instances, do you believe the Lord wants to produce similar results in and through you? Can you think of other New Testament verses that would support this? If so, take time this week to pray for this Spirit-empowered influence through you.
  2. Review the elements of the Greek meaning of Eph. 5:18 (bottom of page 137 and top of page 138). Consider each specific reality. What would this look like in your life tomorrow? When you wake up? In your work? In your relationships? If your response to temptation? In your witness to others?
  3. Read Galatians 5:16-24. According to this passage, what does it mean to be controlled by the Spirit. What is the evidence that the Spirit is not in control? What are the characteristics that the Spirit is in control of a life?
  4. Read the description of a Spirit-filled gathering of Christians (pages 141-144). As you participate in corporate worship in the weeks ahead, how will you seek to be controlled by the Holy Spirit in this way? When and how can you practice these evidences of being Spirit-filled within a community of believers?

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice Eight: Filter the Message in the Music

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. Review the section of the bottom of page 148 about the power of music. What strikes you about these truths?  Describe some moments when music has been specifically powerful in your life? How did these experiences effect you spiritually, emotionally or spiritually? Why was this the case?
  2. Review Col. 3:16. What is the connection between the “word of Christ” (the message of the gospel, the teaching of new covenant) and your heartfelt worship? Describe a specific time when the revelation of God’s truth produced a powerful response of worship in your life? How and why did this occur? How can you be more conscious and committed to this reality week by week in your gatherings with other believers?
  3. Reconsider the ideas on page 160 about the horizontal dimensions of singing. Have you ever experienced this in a gathering with others? Why do you think this does not happen more often?  What would be the benefit of a greater focus on this aspect of singing?
  4. Reflect on 1 Thess. 5:19-24. What guidelines do you find here for your corporate worship? How can you apply these? What is the Lord’s ultimate goal for these principles, according to this passage? What promise makes it all possible?

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice Nine: Enjoy the Gift of Biblical Emotion

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. Review the scriptures describing the emotion of God (see page 165). Which of these surprise you? Which ones encourage you? With these realities in mind, how can you better experience emotion as a child made in the image of God?
  2. Now consider the example of Jesus along with the descriptions of the emotions of the Holy Spirit (pages 165-166). How could the indwelling Spirit work in you to give you healthier and balanced emotions? Would your family and friends say you are like Jesus in how you experience and express emotion? Why or why not? How can the Holy Spirit help you with this?
  3. Review the quote by Jon Bloom on page 170. What do your emotions tell you about your hopes? Your loves? Your trust?  In what ways are your emotions healthy? In what ways might your hopes, loves and trust be more biblically grounded?
  4. Re-read the section on truth guided emotions on pages 171-172. Think of two or three scriptures you would like to memorize to fuel godlier emotional expressions. Why did you pick these particular verses? In a week or two, report back to a family member or spouse about any change you have sensed in your feelings.

CLOSING PRAYER

Practice Ten:  Maximize Your New Covenant Life Plan

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. As you think of the challenge of seeing your Christian life through a distinctly new covenant lens, what specific changes do you think will occur in your life? Try to make a list of three to five specific commitments.
  2. Reconsider the challenge to cultivating a new appreciation of the finished work of Christ (see pages 184-185. How would you describe your typical experience of gratitude for the new covenant in connection with your regular participation in the Lord’s supper? If it needs to be more thoughtful and compelling, what specific changes should you make? How can the celebration of baptism more powerfully cultivate a deeper appreciation of the new covenant for you and your church?
  3. Pages 185-195 describe eleven “inside-out” truths that should intensify our experience of the Holy Spirit. If you picked just one of these as most necessary for your life right now, which would it be? Why? Make a commitment to memorize the verses associated with this reality and find one other person to pray for your application of these truths.
  4. Reflect on Eph. 3:20-21. As you meditate on all the possibilities of the indwelling Spirit, how would you like to trust Him to do more in and through you in the coming days? Be specific. How would like the Spirit to transform you?  Control you? Use you?

CLOSING PRAYER

Conclusion: Pursuing the Hope of a New Covenant Revival

APPLICATION & DISCUSSION

  1. As you reflect on this chapter, what have been your previous understandings of revival? Do you feel they have been based on clear New Testament teaching? Are there any adjustments of understanding and expectation you feel you need to embrace as you continue to focus on a greater work of the indwelling Holy Spirit?
  2. What is your response to Norman Grubb’s statement that revival is simply “obedience to the Holy Spirit”? (page 202).  If this is the case, in what ways do you need revival? How and when do you need a deeper and more consistent obedience to the Holy Spirit?
  3. Have you ever known a powerful “roof off – walls down” experience within a gathering of Christians? (See page 203). What prompted this? What was the result?  How can you continue to pray for and participate in this kind of focus?
  4. As you conclude, carefully reconsider Andrew Murray’s final words on page 207.  How would you summarize, in your own words, his challenge? How can you practically apply these thoughts in the coming days? Make it your prayer that, by the power of the indwelling Spirit, it will come to pass.

CLOSING PRAYER