DYING TO LIVE – FEBRUARY 2024
Paradoxes of the Christ-following Life

“Dying to Live” – Ian France – 18.2.2024

NB:
As there are some new groups meeting for the first time there are two icebreakers this week – one for existing groups and one for the new groups to enable them to introduce themselves to one another. Please do whichever is applicable to your group.

Scripture
Matthew 11:28-30; 16:24-26; John 2:24-25; Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

Observation
Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus invites people to come to Him. He does not drive anyone away – all are welcome. A person may be burned out, exhausted or fed up with religion. All of these occur when that person tries to be self-sufficient, or carry the loads laid on them by other people. When a believer responds to this invitation they are invited to be guided by Jesus and learn the rhythms of unforced grace. Other versions of Scripture refer to a ‘yoke’. This was not a heavy burden in the time of Jesus for each yoke was tailor-made for the animal which used it. However a yoke would guide and direct the animal so they had to go where they were led. A young ox would be yoked to an older animal so it could be taught what was required for each response. In this instance Jesus is inviting people to be yoked with Him as they take on His yoke and follow His way. His yoke is easy and light compared with any others; it does not involve either worries or any burdens they have been carrying. In His description of Himself Jesus shows Himself as a servant who is willing and able to carry people’s burdens so they can receive the powerful and profound gift of rest for their souls. There is still work to be done, but Jesus works alongside those who accept His invitation.

Matthew 16:24-26
Those who genuinely want to follow Jesus are told they need to give up their own agendas and follow Him. They are not to run from suffering but be willing to follow Him to the cross. Everyone listening would understand that the cross had only one purpose. It was an instrument of execution. A man condemned to death was obliged to carry his own cross (as Jesus did). When this happened the condemned man knew there was no way out. When a person denies themself it is not the same as self-denial. Denying self signifies surrender to Christ and a determination to obey His will. Death to self is the radical command of the Christian life and its result is resurrection power. Following Jesus in this way is the only way to find life. Anyone who rejects Him may seem to gain the whole world, but they will lose everything in the end.

John 12:24-25
A seed needs to be buried in order to grow and bear fruit. Death is always necessary for resurrection to occur. The word ‘hate’ here means releasing life in this world to God. A believer’s home is heaven, not the world.

Icebreaker:
For new Groups: Introduce yourself and tell people when you started  attending Gracepoint; then share a fun fact about yourself – likes, dislikes, a childhood memory, a sport etc.
For existing Groups: What do you do that makes you fully alive? Why do you think this is so?

Application
‘I wish I had the courage to live a life of being true to myself’. What does this mean to you? Would you say you are living a life true to yourself, or do you wear a mask to hide your real self from others and even from yourself?
How do you feel about surrendering to Jesus? How would you feel about surrendering to anyone else? What difference does it make to you that Jesus is the One to whom you surrender?
Surrendering to Jesus is the hardest, yet the easiest thing to do. How do you experience surrendering to Jesus? Was it (Is it) a challenge to take that first step? If you have not already done so, what do you think is holding you back? If you have done so, how do you feel about such an act of surrender now? Try to explain to the other group members how it has been hard and yet easy at the same time for you.
Are there times when you have to make a conscious effort to re-surrender to Jesus? Is there part of your life that you are reluctant to hold back from Him? Why do you think that is so? Are you prepared to say ‘I surrender all?’
How have you and your situation changed when you do surrender to Him?
How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?
Prayer
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.
Service
Make a conscious effort this week to surrender completely to Jesus. Follow Him into worship, prayer, joy, sadness, pain, ministry, life. Be prepared to share anything that happened as a result of this with the group next week.

Bibliography

Matthew Chapter 11

Matthew Chapter 16

John Chapter 12

 

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