Small Group Questions

Playlist – Changed

Introduction:

There are few real guarantees in life. One of them is change. Change can be good and change can be not so good. There are changes we want to make and there are changes that need to be made and there is often a chasm between the two. The good news is that God has a plan for your life.”They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)  If we trust in God, He will change and grow us to be more like Jesus Christ. This week we are looking at some principles from God’s word that will help us succeed in actually changing.

Bottom line: Real change requires supernatural power. 

Something To Talk About:

  1. The principle of dedication: commit my body to God: Any change in any area of your life begins with your physical body. Why? Because your body affects your behavior. The reason most people never change is that they don’t have the energy or the willpower to change. That is why the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 to “offer your bodies.” It has to be your choice. If you don’t choose to change the physical, you are not going to change.  
  2. The principle of concentration: I must refocus my mind: In Romans 12:2 verse two Paul writes, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think…” Change begins with the mind. When you break down the process of thinking into a manageable number of steps, you reduce the perceived risk associated with change. We’ve got to stop thinking about what you don’t want and start thinking about what you do want. Stop focusing on what’s bad for you and focus on what’s good for you. Stop focusing on what others want you to do and focus on what you know you should do. To transform our minds, we need to change our focus by focusing on Jesus.  
  3. The principle of evaluation: humbly assess my current state: You know there is something you want to change, but, we tend to make excuses or turn a blind eye. Currently assessing your state means that we take a measure of where we are at. Until you do, nothing will change. You can’t make progress if you don’t have a starting point. Verse Romans 12:3 3 says, “…Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”  Assessing your current state includes assessing your faith. Trusting God is the secret to any change. We have limits; God does not. 
  4. The principle of cooperation: get group support: This is something that is pretty straightforward. You can’t change by yourself. You were made to be in community. The Bible says “one another” 58 times, as in—care for one another, encourage one another, support, pray, greet, share with one another. We are all parts of His body and each of us has different work to do. To make a real change you need to be in real community and do it together. 
  5. The principle of affirmation: fill my life with love: Romans 12:9 says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.”  That means loving in a genuine way and respecting and honoring others. And what is true love? True love is saying, I love you and I’m going to help you, but you need to change because this: fill in the blank is going to harm you. Then celebrate those successes. Love is the motivation. 
  6. The principle of motivation: nurture my enthusiasm: Enthusiasm for change over the long haul is tough. No matter how much we changed in the beginning, we will always run low at some point. So, how do we nurture that enthusiasm? It is not just about positive thinking, it is about spiritual enthusiasm. Romans 12:11-12 says, “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”  Our enthusiasm is based on belonging to God. That will never change and that foundation helps us to change with enthusiasm.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to present our bodies as living sacrifices? How is this worshiping God? How do we go about doing it?
  2. Change and transformed are similar: Transformed means to change into something different. The Holy Spirit changes us from the inside out to be more like Christ. How does this happen? He changes our hearts, our minds, our thoughts, our character, our actions, and our feelings. What is needed from us to help make those changes?
  3. Read Romans 12:3: How are we to think of ourselves? How are we not to think of ourselves? How does verses 4 and 5 relate to the way we think of ourselves?
  4. What does Paul mean by pretending to love others? What is hypocritical love? Any examples in the Bible? What does “hate what is wrong” mean to you? What does the “hold tightly to what is good” mean?
  5. Can real change happen out of community? Why or why not?
  6. How can we keep our spiritual fervor/enthusiasm? 
  7. Change is often difficult: Where could you get stuck in this process?
  8. What changes would you like to see in your life as a result of this message?

Take One Thing Home with You:

So there is a lot of talk about change, but not a lot of real change. And that is what we all want –  real change. But real change is not that easy to come by. We believe, that since we have tried and failed to change that we are a lost cause. You have seen other people make significant changes. But your history or temptations or problems make it different for you. The good news of Jesus is that you and I can change. Part of the problem is we often try to change in the wrong way. It seems our first instinct when we want to change is to do something. We think activity will change us. We want a list of do’s and don’ts. People aren’t changed by therapy or analysis, rituals or disciplines. They are changed by God. Only God can make real change.