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When You Wish Upon A Star Lesson #2

“When You Wish Upon a Star”
The Morning Star

(December 10-16, 2017)

The Christmas Song

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,

Jack Frost nipping at your nose,

Yuletide carols being sung by a choir

And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe

Help to make the season bright.

Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow

Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa’s on his way

He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh

And ev’ry mother’s child is gon’na spy

To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I’m offering this simple phrase

To kids from one to ninety-two

Although it’s been said many times,

Many ways: “Merry Christmas to you”!

– Mel Torme and Bob Wells

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

  1. When you think of Christmas, what are the things you think about? What are your favorite traditions?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Morning Star”.

Watch Online

Now anyone can claim to be God. Anyone. It would not take too long for you to figure out that I am not God. I can claim it – I just can’t back it up.

C.S. Lewis wrote – either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit on him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall on your feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about him being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
Mark 2:5, John 5:21, John 14:9, John 8:19, John 8:56-58, John 17:5

  1. Have you heard people argue that Jesus was just a great teacher? What was your reaction?

 

  1. Assuming you believed that Jesus was just a great teacher, and not God, would you be able to rationalize the things he said in the verses above?

 

  1. Which of these verses do you think best support C.S. Lewis’ assertion that Jesus was either God or he was a mad man?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Morning Star”.

Watch Online

Of course salvation is found in no one else. No one else. He is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through him.

All of these people, who had watched him die, who helped bury him, who truly believed that the dream was over – saw him alive.

We did not make this stuff up. All of it is true. This is a light shining out in a dark place. The light of the world has come. We were eyewitnesses to his majesty.

Those followers – believers – later on were crucified; fed to lions; beheaded for proclaiming that Jesus of Nazareth was the son of the living God. You don’t die for a lie. You don’t die for a fairy tale. When the pressure was on you just walk away. It is just not worth it.

But when you are totally convinced of the truth – there is no denying the fact that you saw him walking around after he had died on a cross – you have no choice. You have no choice but to be transformed.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
2 Peter 1:16-21, John 10:38, 1 Cor. 15:3-7, Acts 4:12,

  1. When Peter refers to the Morning Star, to what do you think he is referring? What were the reasons Peter gave for believing? If you had seen all that the disciples saw, how would you have responded? How do you respond today?

 

  1. In John 10:38 why does Jesus say the doubters should believe? What should they believe?

 

  1. In 1 Corinthians Paul describes many people who were eye witnesses to the resurrection. Does this seem like strong historical evidence of Christ’s resurrection? Why do you think some people still refuse to believe?

Reflection and Wrap-up

  1. Does it seem that our culture has reduced Christmas to a set of fairy tales? How does it make you feel? What ways have you found to keep Christ at the center of Christmas?

 

  1. How do you think Christmas would be different if the world believed the baby was God? What will you do this Christmas to emphasize God’s gift to us?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study:

  • John 14:1-11
  • John 8:42-47
  • Matthew 17:1-8
  • Revelation 22:3-6

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

When You Wish Upon A Star Lesson.2

When You Wish Upon a Star Lesson #1

“When You Wish Upon a Star”
Starry Night

(December 3-9 2017) 

The Ugly Duckling

There were kings of the orient

Bringing gifts to the child

Through the fields and deserts they came

Messiah was worth every mile

Star of wonder, star of light

Star with royal beauty bright

Westward leading, still proceeding

Guide us to thy perfect light

– Star of Wonder, JJ Heller

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

  1. When you think of stars, what comes to mind? Christmas songs? Something scientific? The wonder of God? Have you ever considered how improbable it would have been for the wise men to find Jesus on their own?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Starry Night”.

Watch Online

Sarah becomes concerned that God is not going to make this promise happen with her body. So she tells Abraham, “You should have sex with my Egyptian servant named Hagar. Maybe you can build your family that way. I am never going to have kids.”
In perhaps the dumbest moment in Abraham’s life, look what happens.

You see, when we think we know better than God, we mess up his plans. God was not worried or concerned about timing. He was going to see His promise through. Abraham is 85 when this happens. He is old enough to know better. Abraham does have a son through this arrangement, but that is not the beginning of the promise.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
Genesis 12:1-4, Genesis 15:1-6, Genesis 16:2, Hebrews 11:8-12

  1. In what ways did Abraham demonstrate his faith?
  2. Can you identify any times when Abraham’s faith faltered? What do you think caused his faith to waver?
  3. Have you ever been anxious that something you’ve prayed earnestly about would not happen? How did you handle that?
  4. Are you sometimes tempted to take things into your own hands as Abraham and Sarah did? Why do you think that happens?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Starry Night”.

Watch Online

He receives his son back to life. Abraham knows that God can be trusted. Completely trusted. Abraham breathes again. So does Isaac. So did Sarah.

What do we learn here? God can be trusted. Do we believe that God can be trusted? If not, we will throw obedience out the window? If God can’t be trusted, faith is not a factor. If God is not trustworthy, if God goes back on his word, if he lies; then this is all over after today. We don’t need to be here.

But if we believe that God is trustworthy; then the response we can have is, “Here I am.”

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
Genesis 21:1-6, Genesis 22:1-12, 1 John 2:2

  1. Why do you think God waited until Abraham and Sarah were so old before fulfilling his promise? Do you think the long wait strengthened Abraham’s trust? How?
  2. How did Abraham respond when God spoke to him? Did his actions demonstrate his trust? Do you think God tests our faith and trust at times? How?

 Reflection and Wrap-up

  1. Do you feel God urging you in a direction? Or do you feel God urging you to leave anything behind that might be limiting your ability to follow?
  2. Does this message and lesson increase your ability to trust God? How does your trust in God affect the way you live your life?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:6-7
  • Romans 9:33
  • John 14:1-4
  • Revelation 22:6-7

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

When You Wish Upon A Star Lesson #1

Can`t Buy Me Lesson #4

“Can’t Buy Me”

“Salvation”

Mark 10:45, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 1:18-21

(November 26-December 2, 2017)

According to a 2016 survey completed by Lifeway Research, 60 percent of Americans surveyed said Jesus’ death is “the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of their sin.” Seventy-seven percent believe people must make efforts to receive personal salvation, with 52 percent seeing good deeds as a way to reach heaven. Overall, about half of Americans (54 percent) say only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone receive eternal salvation. Lifeway Research, September 2016.

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

  1. What things do you put your trust in?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Can’t Buy Me Salvation”

Watch Online

Salvation is a very broad term used by many religions. For Christ followers, salvation starts with redemption. Redemption is the specific result of Jesus’ death on the cross. “To redeem” means to set free by paying a price.

Refer to the following scriptures Mark 10:45, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 1:18-21 answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. In the message we see, “Sin puts us into DEBT. We can be trapped, taken captive – by others hurting us, or by our own selfish focus. We don’t follow God’s plan and sin.” What does it mean to you that sin puts us into debt?
  2. Read Mark 10:45, 2Corinthians 5:21 and 1Peter 1:18-21. What do you learn about Jesus and the redemption process in these verses?
  3. So if our sin puts us in debt to God and Jesus’s death on the cross redeems us from this debt, what does it require on our part?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Can’t Buy Me Salvation”.

Watch Online

Can’t buy redemption and we can’t buy new life. Both are given as a gift. For Christ followers the laws and commandments of God are NOT OUR WAY to buy salvation – redemption or holiness. But they are our way to be part of answering the Lord’s prayer that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The Lord’s commands are still his will. He is our Lord. We still seek to do his will. But it is NOT IN ORDER TO be saved, BUT BECAUSE we are saved.

Refer to the following scriptures Gal. 5:6b, 1 Peter 4:17-18, 1 Peter 2:22-25 and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. If we seek to do God’s will because we are saved and according to Gal. 5:6b “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” What should the Christian life look like?
  2. According to the survey mentioned at the beginning of the study, only 40 percent of Americans said those who reject or don’t believe in Jesus will be sent to hell. According to 1 Peter 4:17-18, what do you learn about the time of judgement for Christ followers and those that do not follow Christ?
  3. Read 1 Peter 2:22-25. Share with the group your story of redemption.

Reflection and Wrap-up

  1. How would you explain to a non-believer the debt we owe to God and the gift of salvation?
  2. Share with the group one thing you can thank God for in the prayer time related to your salvation.

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

  • Ephesians 2:8
  • Ephesians 3:7
  • Romans 6:23

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

Can’t Buy Me Lesson #4

Can`t Buy Me Lesson #3

“Can’t Buy Me… Happiness”

Matthew 5:1-12

(November 19- 25, 2017)

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….”

—The Declaration of Independence, 1776

            On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress, comprised of many founding fathers of our country, adopted the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration declared the independence of the first colonies from the tyranny of King George III of England. The Declaration established a government of self-rule by representation based on “unalienable Rights” given to all people by God. By declaring the right to pursue “happiness,” the founding fathers were not referring to the pursuit of a temporary sense of joy, but declaring the right of people “endowed by their Creator” to flourish and find lasting joy in freedom, rather than live under a military rule.

            In Galatians 5:1, the Apostle Paul declared, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.” Have you declared your independence from sin? Are you pursuing the true happiness endowed by your Creator?

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

  1. Where would you say is the happiest place you have ever been (i.e., a vacation destination, a wedding chapel, a graduation party, etc.). Describe what made this place happy and memorable.

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Can’t Buy Me…Happiness”.

Watch Online

Blessed really is more like, “oh the blessedness of….” Usually this word describes the person who is favored by God and therefore happy.

The poor in spirit are the ones who are blessed because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. To be poor in spirit is to realize that without God I have nothing.

The kingdom of heaven is not given to you or anyone based on race, based on how religious you are, not based on military zeal or how much money you have. It is given to the prostitute who realizes that without God she has nothing. It is given to the tax collector who realizes how truly poor he is without God. It is given to anyone who realizes that they are so poor that they bring nothing and do not try. They cry for mercy and that is enough.

Read Matthew 5:1-3 and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. Matthew 5 contains what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, during which Jesus instructed a crowd of followers with several “beatitudes” (or statements of

     blessings) to describe those who are happy. This lesson focuses on the first four beatitudes. Based on verses 3-6, describe each person who is blessed or happy. Would the world view these people as “blessed”?

  1. Based on verse 3, what blessing can result from being poor? Which is better, being wealthy or recognizing your need to rely on God? Explain.
  2. How does the beatitude in verse 3 show God’s love for anyone who realizes their need for him?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Can’t Buy Me…Happiness”.

Watch Online

Happy are those who depend on God.

Happy are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. This one seems odd. Happy are those who mourn. The word for “mourn” here carries a big weight. It is the kind of grief that cannot be hid. It is the kind of sorrow that aches. There are three ways to look at this. Perhaps Jesus is talking about losing someone close. We know that God can and does work through the pain of life. Happiness can happen. It is often surprising how often laughter and tears flow together. I do think that is especially true for those who are in the kingdom of heaven. Hope of heaven assures in joy, even in sorrow. It is not a false happiness, but an ache in our heart that is comforted by the presence of Christ. He is with us.

The main thought of this phrase though has to do with the sorrow of our sin. Happy is the man who is desperately sorry for his own sin. The message of the kingdom of heaven is clear.

Read Matthew 5:4-6 and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. Why are those who mourn described as blessed? Describe some blessings that can come from being comforted. How does this beatitude describe the nature of God when we repent and seek him?
  2. Based on verse 5, is being humble and meek a sign of weakness or strength? Explain how being humble and meek before God provides the correct perspective of who God is and who is really in control.
  3. Does verse 6 describe someone who is a “good person” or someone who earnestly seeks God’s way to live? Explain the difference.

Reflection and Wrap-up

  1. Explain a time in your life when you felt blessed because:
  • difficult circumstances led you to rely on God instead of yourself;
  • you felt fully accepted by God and grateful for his grace;
  • you recognized God was in control; or
  • you realized the difference between being a good person and being righteous based on God’s forgiveness.
  1. As noted in the introduction above, our country was founded on a declaration that all people enjoy rights given by God, including the right to pursue happiness. Based on this lesson, how would you define “happiness”? Are you pursuing true happiness? If not, what steps do you need to take to declare your independence from sin?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about finding happiness in God, read and consider the following passages:

  • Acts 2:38
  • Numbers 12:3
  • Proverbs 16:23

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

Can’t Buy Me Lesson #3

Can’t Buy Me Lesson #2

“Can Buy Me … Peace & Security”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

(Nov. 12-18, 2017)

He [God] requires no great matters of us: a little remembrance of Him from time to time; a little adoration; sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles, and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him.

You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we are aware of.

– Practicing the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence, circa 1666.

read more…

Can’t Buy Me Lesson #1

“Can Buy Me … Love”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

(Nov. 5-12, 2017)

I’ll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel alright
I’ll get you anything my friend if it makes you feel alright
Cos I don’t care too much for money, and money can’t buy me love

Paul McCartney; Recorded by The Beatles 1964 read more…

Kingdom of Heaven Lesson #5

  “Kingdom of Heaven – Fishing Net”

Matthew 13:47-50

(Oct. 29-Nov. 4 2017)

During the summer of 2017, twenty-five people from StoneBridge went to Ecuador to work with Compassion International and visit their sponsored children. On the way to the church in Santa Elena, they passed banana trees. Each tree had a mesh bag around the large stem with bunches of bananas. When asked about the bags, the guide explained the bags protected the bananas from insects and other things that would damage the fruit. Now bananas are an export crop of Ecuador and they are sorted before shipping. Bananas that are medium in size and unblemished bring the highest price and are sent to the United States.

Answer and discuss the following questions with your group.

  1. What are some things we sort out and what do we use for the basis of this sorting?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Kingdom of Heaven – Fishing Net”

Watch Online

Like a fisherman separating the good fish from the bad – like a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats – the Son of Man will separate humans on the basis of who acted justly and who did not.

The kingdom of heaven is about loving God and loving people. It is loving people that lives out the value that the hungry need to be fed; the thirsty and the unclothed and the sick and imprisoned need to be loved. This calls us all the time to the help people be restored to God and to each other. And yet Jesus says, “If you help a person who is poor, who is hungry, who is thirsty, who is in prison – you are helping me.” You see there is absolutely no difference, none at all. When you see another human being you are looking into the face of Jesus.

Read Matthew 13:47-50 and Matthew 25:31-46 and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. What is God’s basis for sorting people according to these Bible verses?
  2. These passages teach that in loving people in a tangible way we are actually loving Jesus. How might knowing this impact our witness to these groups of people?
  • our family and coworkers
  • the homeless, orphaned, disabled, or poor
  • those with a mental health issues, or in foster care or imprisoned 

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Kingdom of Heaven – Fishing Net”.

Watch Online

The very first people Jesus called where fishermen. “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” These fishermen would have gone out on a boat, thrown out a net and dragged it so that it would be full of fish. They would take the boat load of fish to shore and separate the bad from the good. Fishing was about meeting and separating.

Being fishers of men involves telling others about Jesus and warning people about judgment, because there will be a separation.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. Read John 3:16 and Colossians 1:19-20. Considering these verses, how would you explain to someone what God’s love is and who Jesus is?
  2. After reading 1 Timothy 2:3-6, how would you explain God’s plan for us?
  3. Read Ephesians 2:4-5. How would you explain the grace of God to a non-believer or someone seeking to know Jesus?

Reflection and Wrap-up

  1. In the message we hear that the “net is moving closer to shore” which means we are moving closer to the final sorting of mankind. This statement should lead us to ask ourselves: Do we love people enough to tell them about Jesus? If we do, what would you share about him?
  1. As a small group, what are some ways you can reach out to the poor, tired, hungry, thirsty, hurting and imprisoned in our community?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about the message topic, read and consider the following passages:

  • Ephesians 6:7
  • Romans 12:13
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:8

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

Kingdom of Heaven Lesson.5

Kingdom of Heaven Lesson #4

“Like Treasure”

Mathew 13:44

(October 22-29, 2017)

The hunt for a treasure chest said to contain millions in gold may have claimed its third victim this past summer (July 2017). A 31-year-old man went missing while searching for the treasure (estimated value $2 million) that art dealer, Forrest Fenn, claims to have hidden in the Rocky Mountains. The clues to its location are hidden in a poem written and published by Fenn in 2010. With the discovery of a body in the Arkansas River, friends and family of this man fear he might have been the victim of a hunt that has already claimed the lives of two Colorado men.

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

  1. Have you ever searched for a treasure? Why?
  2. What is the most money you have ever spent on a single item? Was it worth it? Why or why not?
  3. What is the most valuable thing you have ever found?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Like Treasure”.

Jesus says that the kingdom is found sometimes just like that. Many of you weren’t really looking for anything. You were fine. SO you thought. Oh you might have had some interest in spiritual things – but you just were doing life. Going about your business. Maybe someone said to you, “Would you like to go to church?”

“I’m good. Really, but thanks for asking.”

Maybe someone asked you to go to a fireworks show at a church. Sure – no harm in going to that. But something happened that night. You saw things and heard some things that piqued your interest. You decided to investigate – came to church. Your curiosity continued. Could this be real?

Refer to Matthew 13:44-46 and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. In one story the treasure was stumbled upon by a man, in the other story the merchant went looking for the pearl. What are some ways people might stumble on the Gospel message?
  2. What are some ways that people actively seek after God, eternal life, religion, or the “treasure” of the Gospel message?
  3. Both men in the stories knew right away how valuable the treasure or pearl was. How can we help people understand how valuable the gospel message is to their eternal life, personal life, family, and relationships?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Like Treasure”.

A lot of the decisions in the kingdom of heaven will not add up, will not make sense. Especially to someone who is on the outside looking in.

Why would you give up your vacation to go build a house in Mexico? That makes no sense.

Why would you commit to teaching fourth graders every Wednesday night? That does not make any sense. You know that night is lady’s night. You will be missing out. You used to be so fun. Oh well – suit yourself.

Why would you sponsor a kid in Ecuador at $38 a month? That’s like an Apple watch. What are you doing?

I believe that one of the things that is missing from most of our lives is the sense of adventure – the risk…

Refer to the lesson’s scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. The men went and sold everything to buy the field and the pearl. What are people in our world afraid they will have to give up to have eternal life?
  2. What are some things that people are willing to “give up” for the kingdom of God?

Reflection and Wrap-up

  1. What does it mean to you to give up everythingfor the kingdom of heaven?
  2. What might you have to give up?

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about message topic, read and consider the following passages:

Luke 12:27-34; Luke 18:18-30; Colossians 2:2-3; Hebrews 11:24-27

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

Kingdom of Heaven Lesson #4

Kingdom of Heaven Lesson #3

“Kingdom of Heaven”

(October 9-15, 2017)

 The Ugly Duckling

In the story of the Ugly Duckling, one of the little birds is perceived by the other birds and animals as a homely little creature and suffers much abuse from them. He wanders sadly from the barnyard and lives with wild ducks and geese until hunters slaughter the flocks. He finds a home with an old woman, but her cat and hen tease and taunt him mercilessly and once again, he sets off alone.

Later, the ugly duckling, now fully grown and mature, unable to endure a life of solitude and hardship any more, decides to throw himself at the flock of swans, deciding that it is better to be killed by such beautiful birds than to live a life of ugliness and misery. He is shocked when the swans welcome and accept him, finally to realize by looking at his reflection in the water that he has grown into one of them. The flock takes to the air, and the now beautiful swan spreads his gorgeous large wings and takes flight with the rest of his new kind family. 

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

  1. Have you ever felt like the ugly duckling? Can you describe a time when you felt like you were pleasantly surprised by an outcome or someone else?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #1.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Kingdom of Heaven #3”

Watch Online

Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is more than meets the eye.

In Matthew 13:33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds[a] of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Once again – Jesus uses an everyday moment to teach what the kingdom of God is like. He would have watched his mom go into the courtyard – along with the other women in that little area of Nazareth. Bread would be made, probably daily ..

The amount that Jesus is talking about would have been enough to feed 100-150 people. 60 pounds would have required about 3 pounds of leaven to ferment the flour.

A little bit leaven transformed the flour – then there would be some leaven held back to used the next time bread would be baked. This scene would happen all over the region. 

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
Matthew 13:33; Galatians 5:9; 1Cor 5:6-8; Matthew 16:6
 

  1. In Matthew 13:33, Jesus uses leaven or yeast to describe the kingdom of heaven. Given that leaven changes dough from within, what effect does being a part of God’s kingdom have on us?
  2. Describe how the Holy Spirit is like leaven and Christ followers are like dough. How are Christ followers like leaven to the world?
  3. Once leaven is mixed into dough, it not does not stop working and it transforms the entire batch of dough. How do these principles apply to the Holy Spirit and us? Us to the world?

Read the following excerpt aloud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Kingdom of Heaven #3”

Watch Online

Life to the full – to the brim –

The Kingdom of Heaven is a group of people – the church that lives out the life of – loving God and loving people – and in doing so it transforms you. It transforms life. Jesus filling the water jars with wine is a glimpse of heaven’s joy.

We all yearn of life like that – for all the way to the brim – wine not water – leaven bread not unleavened bread – …

Jesus was letting us know – the kingdom of Heaven provides more than enough – and it comes in the form of joy because we know God.

This parable also lets us know that we are transformed from the inside out.

Leaven changed the character of the flour. So too when we live the life of the kingdom of Heaven we are transformed from the inside out.

Refer to the following scriptures and answer/discuss the following questions.
John 10:10; John 2:1-11

  1. How does the story of the wedding in Cana help remind us that Jesus wants us to have life to the full?
  2. Explain how the work of the Holy Spirit in influencing and changing you affects all aspects of your life, including you marriage and relationships, your family, your character and business ethics, your conversations, what you watch on TV, etc. 

Reflection and Wrap-up 

  1. How are you, or how can you be, like leaven in your family, neighborhood, workplace and society?
  2. How can the slow work of leaven in making dough rise encourage you when
    1. you struggle with sin, and
    2. you do not see immediate change in others from your efforts to spread the gospel? 

Pray Together as a Group

Additional Study:

  • Philippians 4:8, Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Matthew 13:11-12, Romans 5:17

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

Kingdom of Heaven Lesson.3

Kingdom of Heaven Lesson #2

“The Kingdom of Heaven”

Parable of the Mustard Seed 

Matthew 13:31-32

(October 8-14, 2017)

            In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Duncan, the King of Scotland, is a good, considerate and kind King. He sees potential in Macbeth and tells him, “I have begun to plant thee, and will labor to make thee full of growing.” The good King Duncan commits to personally labor so Macbeth can grow and succeed. Has someone in your life “planted” you and helped you grow as a Christ follower? Are you planting seeds of faith?

Answer and discuss the following question with your group.

  1. Are you a “plant person” with a green thumb, or are plastic plants safer in your home?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #1. 

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Kingdom of Heaven”.

Watch Online

Yes, Jesus spoke to big crowds at time, but most of the time it was with just one person. One blind guy. One woman who could not get well. One tax collector named Zacchaeus. One little kid with a lunch. One rich young ruler. Yes, sometimes Jesus spoke to large crowds, he has some intense moments in the temple courts. But mostly Jesus met people. A woman at a well. A short guy in a tree. A time in a garden with his friends.  One seed planted at a time. The big thing for Jesus was not the crowd, but the person.

Where we would tend to say, “bigger is better, crowds are awesome,” the kingdom really spreads one seed at a time. Don’t forget the power of the small. I love the fact that we have lots of people attending our services, but I have a feeling that Jesus says, “That does not impress me. What impresses me is that one kid gets sponsored, that one person gets baptized, that one marriage gets restored, that one person finds sobriety, that one mom finds courage.”

Read Matthew 13:31-32 and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. What do you think the seed and the soil in the parable each represent? Describe what the man in the parable does with the mustard seed.
  2. What does Jesus say the mustard seed will do when planted in the garden? How is planting a seed in a garden like sharing the gospel?
  1. What does the nature of a mustard seed teach us about the power of sharing the gospel with one person, serving one person or one family in need, or “small” acts of Kingdom work?

Read the following excerpt out loud or watch message segment #2.

An excerpt from the StoneBridge message, “Kingdom of Heaven”.

Watch Online

In the book of Acts, in the first chapter it tells us that after the death of Jesus and after he had come back from the dead there were only 120 people who believed. What? Only 120? Jesus was walking around after he had died and people were still not convinced. But that was it, 120. My guess is that they looked around the room and thought, “This is not going to work. I know what Jesus said, but this is a group of folks that don’t have what it takes. We are a group of folks that never had what it takes to be great. We didn’t even believe that Jesus was coming back from the dead. We had our doubts.” But they decided to start planting little mustard seeds. And from that 120 seeds that they had that day, it has become the Christian Church that we know today.

Never be discouraged by a little group, a little gathering, a little beginning. That is how the kingdom of God works.

Read the verses noted below and answer/discuss the following questions.

  1. Based on the following passage, describe what is happening with the number of people becoming Christ followers.
  • Acts 1:15, Acts 2:41, Acts 4:4, Acts 6:7, Revelation 7:9-10
  1. In order for a seed to grow, it has to die and be buried. Explain how the mustard seed describes Jesus and the result of his death and resurrection. Based on the description of the birds and the nests in this parable, where is the home of a Christ follower?

Reflection and Wrap-up 

  1. How can the nature of a mustard seed, which spends much of its time underground, provide encouragement to us when we do not see the results of our ministry or the times we share the gospel?
  1. Where is your “garden” for sharing the gospel? Is there a specific person in your “garden,” or your circle of friends, family, neighbors or co-workers, that you can share the gospel with or help grow in faith?

Pray Together as a Group 

Additional Study

If you have time during your Small Group or you want to study more about the Kingdom of Heaven, read and consider the following passages:

  • Matthew 14:15-16
  • Matthew 3:2
  • Matthew 7:21
  • Matthew 10:7

For the printable PDF of this lesson, click the following link:

Kingdom of Heaven Lesson 2