5/19/19 Sermon Questions

Accidental Pharisees

Part 4: Ephesians 4:1-6

 

Life Group Questions

  • Share a story of a time where you saw true unity (as described in our sermon) happen and the results that followed.
  • Contrast that with a time in which you saw a group of people who were not unified. What were the differences you noticed in these two scenarios?
  • How would you describe the difference between unity and uniformity? How have you seen these two played out in the Church?
  • Read verses 2-3. Share a time in your life that someone lived out one of these characteristics in your life.
  • Why is unity so important for us as the Church?
  • Where do you need to seek unity, not just uniformity, this week?
  • How are you doing at loving people that are different than you? (John 13:35)
  • How are you pursuing oneness and not just sameness?

 

Sermon Notes and Scripture

Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV)

5/12/2019 Sermon Questions

ACCIDENTAL PHARISEES

Week 3:  Mark 2:23-3:6

 

Life Group Questions

  • Have there been periods or seasons in your faith that you have been more zealous for God? Did something lead you to that?
  • How do you find your rest (Sabbath)?
  • How does your view of the Sabbath change if you view it as a gift from God, rather than a burden?
  • Can you think of some “rules” that we have added to religion that God did not put there for us?
  • Are there extra fences you have added to the gospel?Are there any areas of your life where you will admit to loving rules more than people?
  • Are there any personal extra fences that I need to consider adding to my life?

 

Sermon Notes and Scripture

23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:23-28

 

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. – Mark 3:1-6

 

HOW WELL-INTENDED ZEAL GOES BAD

  1. WE START ADDING EXTRA RULES TO GOD’S RULES.

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar. – Proverbs 30:5-6

 

20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. – Colossians 2:20-23

  1. WE START USING THE BIBLE AS BINOCULARS INSTEAD OF A MIRROR.

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:2-5

  1. WE MAJOR ON THE MINORS.
  2. WE START TO LOVE RULES AND IDEAS MORE THAN PEOPLE.

Mom’s Day Out a longtime resource for Rockford-area families

Mom’s Day Out — a special ministry for children and families at First Free Rockford — celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

The ministry started as a pilot program in 1989, created as a part-time, Christ-centered child care resource for parents. Three decades ago, moms mostly did the sign-up, but today, fathers and even grandparents are involved in the program, too.

“We’re seeing second generations coming through now,” said Patti Clauson, Mom’s Day Out Director.

Patti has been here since the beginning. She said a First Free member first saw a similar program in the south back in the 1980s and brought the idea back to Rockford.

Mom’s Day Out classroom at First Free Rockford – Rockford, Illinois

Families today can enroll their children starting at 1-year through pre-kindergarten age from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and/or Fridays.

Mom’s Day Out is open to anyone in the community – not just church members. Patti said the program draws people from all backgrounds, including families from outside the U.S. who have relocated to Rockford to work in such industries as aerospace, manufacturing and health care.

Patti Clauson, Director of Mom’s Day Out

“What’s so cool is we’ll have moms who don’t know anyone in town, so they seek out a church that will be a safe place. After a few years, they’ve got play groups, the kids are enrolled in summer day camp,” Patti said. “Our goal is to bridge families from not knowing anyone to finding a home and an extended family here.”

About 120 children attend Mom’s Day Out each day. Bible-based learning aims to teach kids about good values such as sharing, helping each other, comforting a friend and much more. A typical day may include songs, counting, learning days of the week, crafts, a Bible story, and playing in the gym or on the playground.

Crucial to the program’s success has been the ongoing help of church staff and members who volunteer their time to help with activities. Mom’s Day Out also employs more than 20 teachers, meaning it’s a good opportunity for educators looking for an alternative to full-time work.

That’s how Patti got started, in fact. She was a teacher looking for care for her young daughter at the time. She started teaching, then became assistant director and then director.

“It was all God’s planning,” she said. “This is where I was meant to be.”

Mom’s Day Out runs a similar schedule to the school year calendar, starting the week after Labor Day and ending the week before Memorial Day. Registration for the next session starts in May. Visit momsdayout.net for more information, or call 815-877-7046.

Big Day of Serving promotes importance of giving back

Registration is now live for First Free Rockford’s Big Day of Serving, a special time dedicated to volunteering and community connection.

First Free has partnered this year with the Rockford Park District, the Rockford Rescue Mission and Rockford Public Schools to help with cleanup and maintenance work at several locations. Volunteers will gather from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 18, at Sinnissippi Park, the Rescue Mission and the STEAM Academy at Haskell for the work.

This annual event is open to the public and typically draws more than 150 people to help. It’s a great opportunity to invite family, friends and neighbors to participate, and it also emphasizes the importance of serving, which is central to First Free’s mission and vision.

“We see the value in partnering with our community to go, tell and show the love of God in the city of Rockford and around the world,” said Meredith Domanico, First Free’s director of student ministries and organizer of Big Day of Serving.

“It’s important to give back, and Big Day of Serving creates an opportunity to do that, to defeat the apathy of just being here and letting things happen around us. This is a chance to be part of something, to take ownership of the place where we live and do our part to help make it beautiful.”

Site leaders will oversee the work at each location. Domanico said there are jobs for anyone who’s interested in signing up no matter your skillset or physical abilities.

Click here to register for Big Day of Serving times, locations and T-shirt sizes. Volunteers are asked to wear closed-toe shoes and casual/work clothes, and bring work gloves. All other equipment will be provided at the individual sites.

Call First Free Rockford at 815-877-7046 for more information.

5/5/19 Sermon Questions

Accidental Pharisees

Week 2: Matthew 9:9-13

 

Life Group Questions

  1. As you look at churches and Christians you personally know, are there any areas where you believe the bar needs to be raised in terms of what it means to follow Jesus? If so, what are they? What makes these things particularly important?
  2. How do you fight against exclusivity in the church? In our life group?
  3. Would you agree that, at some level, we are all “consumer” Christians? Why or why not? Is that a good thing, a bad thing, or no big deal?
  4. What makes this particular insight about exclusivity so important as you walk with God? How do you plan to respond?
  5. How does God want to grow and mature you in this area? Will you allow our group to pray for you to that end?

 

Sermon Scripture

Matthew 9:9-13 New International Version (NIV)

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. 10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

4/28/19 Sermon Questions

ACCIDENTAL PHARISEES

Week 1: Matthew 7:1-5

 

Life Group Questions: (adapted from Accidental Pharisees book)

  1. What are some areas of your life that you are most prone to compare yourself to others?
  2. Are there times you are inclined to use the Bible as binoculars instead of a mirror?
  3. Can you think of a time in your life when you were especially zealous for something only to discover later that your zeal didn’t line up with facts?
  4. Can you think of a time when you felt zealous for something in your spiritual life, only to find out it didn’t line up with Scripture?
  5. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were champions of self-discipline, personal sacrifice, and rigid morality. Imagine you were alive back then. How do you think you would have responded to their spiritual passion? How would you have been inclined to look at them, be intimidated by them, be repelled by them, or perhaps have some other response? Why or why not?
  6. If you could pick just one insight to put into practice this week, what would it be?

 

Sermon Notes and Scripture

Somewhere along the way the good start and the good ambition lost its heart… the Pharisees traded a relationship with God to a religion about God based on their moral performance. And ultimately, they lost sight of what God desired for them. They stopped looking in the mirror and started looking at the faults of others.

 

LOG-EYE DISEASE

1. Understanding the curse of comparison.  (1-2)

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. – Matthew 7:1-2

2. Understand our common brokenness. (3-4)

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? –Matthew 7:3-4

22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  – James 1:22-24

AVOIDING PRIDE

1. Understand the simple solution. (5)

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:5

  1. OWN OUR CONDITION
  2. FIX OUR FOCUS
  3. ASSIST MY FRIEND

1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You. – Psalm 51:1-13

 

 

Easter Service 2019

4/21/19 Sermon Questions

I AM

Week 5: John 11:25; John 11:1-4

 

 Life Group Questions

  • As we close out the I AM series, which statement has had the most impact on you? Why?
  • What did Jesus mean by His statement in John 11:4?
  • Pastor Luke said that God is not afraid of our doubts and questions, but rather uses them to take us deeper in our walk with Him. Are there doubts you need to work through right now?
  • Have you ever felt like Mary and Martha did in verse 21? Is there a situation in your life where you feel like God is delaying and you are struggling in the way they did?
  • Read verse 26. “Do you believe this?”
  • What do the I AM statements of Jesus reveal about the heart of God?
  • What area of your life do you need to turn to the Resurrection and the Life?

 

Sermon Notes and Scripture

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; – John 11:25

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” – John 11:1-4

 

THREE WAYS WE MAY BE DYING ON THE INSIDE:

1) DEAD IN YOUR DOUBTS (Thomas)

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” – John 11:16

 2) DEAD IN YOUR DISCOURAGEMENT (Mary)

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. – John 11:20

 3) DEAD IN THE DELAY (Martha)

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days … 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. – John 17, 21

22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” – John 11:22

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:23-26

 

THE RESURRECTION IS NOT ONLY AN EVENT – THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE IS JESUS!

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” – John 11:43-44

4/14/19 Sermon Questions

I Am

Part 4: John 6:25-36

 

Life Group Questions

  • How would Jesus’ listeners have heard Him as He talked about bread?
  • What context did they have in understanding bread (making, eating, for sustenance)?
  • In looking at Genesis 3:19, what did you learn about bread?
  • Look at John 6:26. Why did Jesus say His disciples had followed Him? What does Jesus say they should in turn do? (Verse 27)
  • In John 6, how does Jesus use the material to show their need for the immaterial? What is He teaching them through this truth about bread?
  • Throughout these verses Jesus is proving that He is the only true fulfillment. How have you seen that to be true for you? Have you reached that truth?
  • How can you be a spiritual breadwinner for the people in your life and not just filling the temporary needs of others?
  • In what way do you need to make Jesus the main dish and not just a side dish? Share some practical ways you can live that out this week.

 

Scripture

John 6:25-36 New International Version (NIV)

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” 30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe.

Sermon Notes

  1. He takes the material to show us our need for the immaterial.
  2. He re-frames our understanding of possession.
  3. He re-imagines bread-winning.
  4. He takes the critical and makes it accessible.

4/7/19 Sermon Questions

I AM

Week 3: John 14:1-14

 

Life Group Questions:           

  • Are you walking through a difficult season right now? How can our group pray for you?
  • In what ways are you seeing Jesus work in your life?
  • As you walk through difficult times in your life, how does your perspective on eternity change your outlook on your current situation?
  • How does the passage we studied this week set Christianity apart from all other religions?
  • Why is it so crucial to understand who Jesus is?
  • Is there a truth from the Scripture we studied this week that you need to apply?
  • Where in your life do you need to allow Jesus to meet you?
  • How are you living each day with a different destiny in mind?

 

Sermon Notes and Scripture

36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! – John 13:36-38

 

TRUTH FOR THE TROUBLED HEART

  1. JESUS ALLOWS US TO LIVE TODAY WITH A DIFFERENT DESTINY IN MIND.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:1-4

  1. JESUS LEADS US WHERE WE CANNOT TAKE OURSELVES.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” – John 14:5-7

  1. JESUS IS GOD WITH US.

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. – John 14:8-11

  1. JESUS INVITES US TO BE A PART OF HIS WORK.

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. – John 14:12-14

3/31/19 Sermon Questions

I Am

Part 2

 

Life Group Questions

  1. Have you ever been disconnected from someone important in your life? Maybe a parent, spouse, friend, sibling, etc. Describe how that affected your relationship. Did it put stress on it, did the relationship break? What steps do you have to take in relationships after you’ve been disconnected for a period of time?
  2. Describe the activity of God in your life right now. Do you feel like he is close, far off, uninvolved? Why do you think you feel that way? When do you feel connected to him? When you don’t feel connected, what does that look like in your life? When you don’t feel connected to him, what steps do you take to try and reenter into the relationship?
  3. What were some ways that Luke pointed to beginning ways to stay connected to Father? Which ways is the spirit inviting you to connect to the Father?
  4. Describe how God uses love as the basis for staying connected. Does that look the same or different in the way we stay connected to each other as humans?
  5. Read 1 John 4:16-21. How does this description of love strike you? Do you find this passage challenging, motivating, defeating, encouraging?
  6. What ways is Jesus inviting you to be connected to him? Are there any specific things you need to do this week or month?

 

Sermon Notes and Scripture

John 15:1-13

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

 

Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

Why being connected is important?

  1. Staying connected produces fruit
  2. Being disconnected produces nothing

How do we say connected to the vine?

  1. Do what Jesus says
  2. Love like Jesus loves