Living With Margin: Defining Margin

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SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION

Objective: to take inventory of the amount of margin we have in our lives.

SG leader, pick the person who worked the most hours this week to open in prayer.

Opening Questions:

  • When in life have you been most stressed out? Describe the scenario. What happened?
  • Margin is the amount available beyond what is necessary. In other words, it is the difference between what you have and what you need. Explain what margin looks like in your life right now.

SG leader, choose someone to read Luke 10:38-42.

In this passage, Martha gives us a perfect illustration of what living without margin looks like. Martha was so distracted preparing for Jesus’ visit that she forgot the most important thing—simply spending time with Jesus.

  • Do you think Martha gets a bad rap in this story? Why is Mary’s choice better? What’s Jesus’ point?
  • Martha goes to Jesus in an attempt to force Mary’s hand. How has stress caused relational dysfunction in your life?
  • Jesus observes that Martha is worried about many things. What are some things that are causing stress in your life?
  • When margin decreases, stress increases. How is a lack of margin causing stress in your life right now? Be honest.
  • What are some specific ways you can begin the process of reducing stress in your life by creating more margin?
  • When margin decreases, your relational intimacy decreases. How does stress restrict intimacy with God and others?
  • A lack of margin can reflect a lack of faith. In what areas do you need to give up control and put your faith in God?
  • A lack of margin can also reflect idolatry. What are some things that you are placing above God? Be honest.

SG leader, pick two people to read Matthew 11:28-29 and Psalm 46:10.

These verses tell us that if we come to Jesus and be still and rest before Him, our souls will be satisfied.

  • How have you found rest and comfort through Jesus? What does this look like in your life?
  • While it sounds simple, why do you think it is so difficult for many of us to rest and be still before Jesus?
  • What is one adjustment you are going to make in your life this week in light of today’s discussion? Be specific.

Pray for one another

Have each person write down a prayer request for him or herself. Distribute them amongst group members. Pray for each other. Then be sure everyone keeps praying for his or her person throughout the week and texts or phones to check on them.

NEXT STEPS:

Here are some specific things you can do this week to take a step toward living life with the margin God intends for your life.

Take time to rest this week with Christ. This time could consist of praying, reading the Bible, or just enjoying some quiet time alone. Be creative. Remove the distractions for just a little while and allow Him an opportunity to renew your soul and your mind.

Begin the process of reducing some of the stress in your life this week. Identify one or more things that are creating too much stress and create a plan to reduce that stress. Not only write down your plan of action, but have someone hold you accountable as you carry out your plan.

Use these prayer tips to guide your time with God this week:

  • Bring to God those areas of your life that are causing stress. Ask God to help you in removing that stress.
  • Seek God’s guidance through prayer for ways He wants to create more margin in your life.
  • Confess to God in prayer those things that you are placing ahead of Him. Commit to God that you will put Him first.
  • Be still and rest before God during your prayer time. Allow Him to comfort you and renew your mind and soul.
  • Lay your burdens down before God in prayer. Tell Him what is weighing you down and trust Him to carry them for you. Seek His comfort and love.

Be Real – The Pretenders

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MARCH 19 — BE REAL 1 John 3:1-10
Message SERIES: 1 John
SCRIPTURE: 1 John 3:1-10

A Christian should not sin because:
  1. It goes against what Jesus came to do “Jesus came to take away our sins” (v5)
  2. It goes against the way Jesus lived, “…there is no sin in him” (vs. 5)
  3. It goes against what Jesus asks us to do “But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.” (v.6)
  4. It goes against the identity of Christians:
  • Sinning is inconsistent with a relationship with Christ, “But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.” (v 6)
  • It is opposed to the knowledge of Christ, “But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil,” (vs. 8)
  • It is opposed to the description of God’s children, “Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers[b] does not belong to God.” (vs. 10)

OBSERVATION:
  1. As a Christian living in the world, what challenges do you face day to day, at school, work, etc.? (See John 1:10; 3:13; 4:5; and 5:19.)
  2. John says God is a Father, we are his children, and we are to love other Christians as brothers and sisters.
    1. Why do you think John emphasizes these family relationships?
    2. What does it mean to be a “child of God?” Is that a positive term for you? What are the privileges and responsibilities of being a child of God? How can we know that we are children of God and not children of the devil?
  3. Why was it important for Jesus to be without sin? What does his sinlessness have to do with our personal relationship with God? (See Hebrews 7:27 and 10:10.)
  4. What did you find most surprising or helpful about the list of traits that indicate whether someone is considered a part of God’s family or is associated with the devil?
  5. Read John 8:31-59 and note any parallels between that passage and 1 John 3:4-10. Do you think the events of John 8:31-59 were etched in John’s mind when he wrote 1 John 3:4-10? In John 8:36, Jesus said “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” What freedom was Jesus talking about? Have you experienced that freedom?

APPLICATION:
Some in your group may be enslaved to a pattern of sin. This does not necessarily mean they’re not Christians (see 1 John 1:8–10), only that they need encouragement and support to help overcome it. This week may be a good time to bring up these matters with individuals in your group and encourage them to seek Christ for deliverance and support. Challenge the group to consider how they can love one another through the process of repentance.

PRAYER
  1. Pray that your group would be encouraged and empowered to remain in Christ and live their life in light of Jesus’ imminent return.
  2. Pray that your group would live as salt and light in the world and seek opportunities to share the gospel to nonbelievers in their life.

Be Real – Truth or Consequences

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MESSAGE SERIES: 1 John
ACTION STEPS
SCRIPTURE: 1 John 2:18-29

Vs. 18 Let’s look at two ideas that stand out: “antichrists” and “last hour”.
  • “antichrists” were those who were against Christ. Whoa; wait a minute. There’s not just one antichrist – there are more? There were ungodly false teachers in John’s day, and during the intervening centuries they have increased both in number and in influence.
  • “If it was “the last hour” in John’s day, why has Jesus not yet returned?” The phrase “last hour” or “last times” describe a kind of time, not a duration of time. “The last hour” began back in John’s day and has been growing in intensity ever since. There were ungodly false teachers in John’s day, and during the intervening centuries they have increased both in number and in influence.
Who are the “antichrists”?
  1. Vs. 19 They came out of the church
  2. Vs. 22 They deny Christ
So what do we do now?
Vs. 20 – “But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth.” Listen to the Holy Spirit within you. John is emphasizing that the Holy Spirit will teach you in the ways of the right and wrong. There will be times when you will hear something and you will sense that it isn’t right. Does this mean we don’t need bible teachers? Teachers are a gift to the Church and we need them to lead us in the Word.
Vs. 24“So you must REMAIN FAITHFUL to what you have been taught from the beginning.” The word “remain” means to take root. Get rooted to the truth! What truth? The truth that Jesus is the Christ and he is central to our faith.
Vs. 28“And now, dear children, REMAIN IN FELLOWSHIP with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.” For more about “remain” see John 15:1-17.

OBSERVATION:
  1. What does your relationship with the Church say about you?
  2. What do you learn about false teachers in this passage?
  3. Has there ever been a time in your life when the Holy Spirit made you aware of false teaching?
  4. Why is it important to regularly ask the Holy Spirit to teach you?
  5. Apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit, another way to combat false teaching, according to John, is to know and remember the gospel. Out of everything he could have said, why do you think John said this? (See Paul’s presentation of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1–11 as another example.)

APPLICATION:
This week, pay close attention to what friends, pastors, leaders, the media, etc., say about your family, humanity, society, and God. Write down as many statements as you can. At the end of the week, consider each of these statements and evaluate whether they are wholly true, partly true, or completely false. Discuss your findings and conclusions with the group.

PRAYER
1. Pray that the group’s love and devotion to the Church mirrors that of Jesus.
2. Pray that the Holy Spirit would give the group greater discernment to detect and expose false teaching in their daily lives.

Be Real: 1 John 2:15-17

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Message SERIES: 1 John

SCRIPTURE: 1 John 2:15-17


Vs. 15 – The word “world” is kosmos in the Greek and it is used to describe the SPIRITUAL SYSTEM—that is, the earthly system of values, beliefs, and behaviours that reject God and his purposes. And in 1 John 5:19 he writes, “19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.” When John uses “the world” in this sense, He is referring to a way of life that rejects God and his rule.

The point John wants to make is that you cannot love the world and God at the same time.
Vs. 16SO HOW DO YOU KNOW if you love the world? John identifies three (worldly) cravings that are characteristic of a worldly way of life.

  • “Craving” is a compound word which takes the normal word for desire and puts a prefix on it that intensifies it. Literally, it could be translated “hyper-desire.” Craving begins with a healthy desire but takes it to an unhealthy extreme.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with desire. Most of them are God-given. What the “world” does is takes these natural desires and corrupts them, or exaggerates them, so that they become unnatural.
  • Craving for physical pleasure
  • Craving for possessions
  • Craving for pride

Vs. 17 – The problem with pleasure, possessions, and pride isn’t so much that they are wrong; it’s that they’re not enough. They don’t last, for one thing. Pleasure is fleeting. Possessions lose value. And earthly accomplishments are soon forgotten or surpassed. They don’t last.

The cravings are too shallow. They cannot satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts.
You see, it’s not just pleasure we’re looking for; it’s joy.
We don’t need more stuff; we need contentment.
It’s not achievement we’re after; it’s significance.
And these things can only be found, ultimately and eternally, in relationship with God, which is why John says, “…anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”

OBSERVATION:
  1. What was your reaction to John’s statement: “Do not love the world or the things in the world”?
  2. John describes love for the world as “the craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.”
    – What are some “worldly” struggles in your life right now? Do these worldly struggles compete with your love for God? Do you love these things more than God? How is God helping you overcome these struggles? Do you have an increasing love for God and a decreasing love for the world? Why or why not?
  3. According to John, what does having a love for “the world” and the things of the world indicate about our relationship with God?
  4. What does (or would) it look like to fight and avoid worldly temptations in your daily life?
  5. The theme of our study is “Love One Another.” How does this week’s passage relate to John’s big idea and his hope for Jesus’ Church?

APPLICATION:
This week, have each member of the group compare their social media experience, advertisements, and entertainment with all that is in the world according to John. They should ask themselves: What temptation is this based on? Is it the craving of pleasures, craving possessions, or pride? Discuss your findings with one another throughout the week or before the next time you meet.

PRAYER
  1. Pray that God would make you and your small group aware of any blindness or dullness they have toward worldly temptation(s), so they can see, confess, and turn away from it.
  2. Pray that God would fill everyone in the group with the Holy Spirit, empowering them to live the life God has called them to live. (See Ephesians 5:18.)