Page 1


Session 1: The rollercoaster of life Icebreaker Life has been described as a rollercoaster with all of its ups and downs. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this philosophy? Key thought Almost everyone experiences problems and adversity. Christians are not exempt but can often be confused because of their inadequate view of suffering. Key verse ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?’ Psalm 22:1 Discussion starters 1. Why may Christians have an inadequate view of suffering and adversity? 2. How has Scripture helped you cope with adversity? 3. How can we be satisfied when there is no satisfactory explanation?

Soaring Above the Storm NOV/DEC 2010

Every Day with Jesus group resource

1—10 Nov

8. Could a miracle be defined as a suspension of natural law? 9. Consider the subject of martyrdom and a God of deliverance. 10. How might people carry their faith as a talisman? The example of Jesus ‘He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.’ Isaiah 53:3 Prayer pointers • Pray for wisdom and revelation as we study this difficult but important subject. • Pray for those experiencing adversity.

Session 2: Light in our darkness Icebreaker Describe a time when God has helped you through an adversity. Key thought We must be clear that there is no automatic causal link between adversity and sin. Suffering and adversity are not inconsistent with the fact of God’s love. Key verses ‘When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”’ John 8:12 ‘For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.’ 1 Peter 2:19

11—18 Nov

7. Why may Rabbi Kushner’s view appeal to many people? 8. What evidence do we have today that God is still all-powerful? The example of Jesus ‘Jesus wept.’ John 11:35 Prayer pointers • Pray the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6 in a version such as NKJV, to include ‘the kingdom and the power and the glory’. • Ask for wisdom to comfort those in adversity.

Discussion starters 1. Why do we think there may always be causal links between adversity and sin? 2. Why do we ask the wrong questions?

4. What is the difference between optimism and faith?

3. How can we turn setbacks into springboards?

5. Why may adversity not be an adverse experience?

4. If it is impossible to answer every problem, why do we still attempt solutions?

6. Why may people react differently to the same event?

5. How would you offer comfort to a bereaved friend?

7. Why may righteous and unrighteous people suffer equally?

6. Why may love embrace suffering rather than exclude it?

EDWJextra Session 3: Pleasure and pain Icebreaker Describe how some of your pains have resulted in pleasure — eg dieting, saving for something special, studying for qualifications, exercise to get fit etc. Key thoughts God made us free, and it is man’s choices rather than God’s that resulted in a fallen world of pain, thorns and death (see Gen. 2:16—17, 3:17—19). There is a universal principle that whatever has the potential for pleasure has an equal and opposite potential for pain. Key verse ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Hebrews 12:2 Discussion starters 1. Should God have created us with an inability to disobey Him? 2. How has God turned an adversity to good in your own life? 3. Discuss the Queen’s comment after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in America: ‘The pain of grief is the price we pay for love.’ 4. How do our own emotions both reflect and differ from God’s emotions?

Soaring Above the Storm NOV/DEC 2010

Every Day with Jesus group resource

19—25 Nov 5. Why do marathon runners endure such pains of training and competing? 6. How may snow and ice (or other life events) bring both pleasure and pain? 7. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the quotes of Wald, Socrates and Augustine? The example of Jesus ‘… my joy …’ John 15:11 ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death …’ Mark 14:34 Prayer pointers • Pray for fully functioning emotions and that you will not be so afraid of pain that you no longer experience real pleasure. • Give thanks for the times when God has turned adversity to good in your own life.

Session 4: The university of adversity Icebreaker To what extent do you agree with the metaphorical proverb ‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’? Key thought Some of the greatest lessons and advances we make in life are those which come out of suffering.

26—30 Nov

Prayer pointers • Pray that God will turn your weaknesses and adversities to strengths and opportunities to minister to others. • Ask God to lead you to those orphans, widows and ‘have nots’ who you could come alongside and encourage.

Key verse ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me … For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9—10 Discussion starters 1. What has the university of adversity taught you? 2. How could you replicate the role of Mordecai in your world? 3. Contrast the reactions of Saul and David in 1 Samuel 18:5—11 and 24:1—12. 4. Why do our shells of behaviour sometimes need breaking? 5. Give examples of the ‘theology of reversal’. The example of Jesus ‘Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered …’ Hebrews 5:8

EDWJextra Session 5: God-centredness Icebreaker A relational rather than a theological icebreaker: What are your plans for Christmas (including shopping and sending cards)? Key thought We need to focus on God as He is and not as we would like Him to be, because He is committed to running the world to His agenda and not to ours. Key verse ‘To whom, then, will you compare God? What image will you compare him to?’ Isaiah 40:18 Discussion starters 1. Why do people want a God to serve them rather than want a God they can serve? 2. How can our relationship with God become stale and how can we maintain its freshness?

Soaring Above the Storm NOV/DEC 2010

Every Day with Jesus group resource

1—5 Dec The example of Jesus ‘… I have come to do your will, O God.’ Hebrews 10:7 Prayer pointers • Confess any self-centredness and ‘demandingness’. • Tell God that you have come to do His will and work to His agenda, not your own.

Session 6: Remember Icebreaker Play Kim’s Game to emphasise the role of memory. Many small objects are placed on a tray and covered by a cloth. The cloth is removed for one minute before re-covering the items. Wait a further minute, and then people should write down all the articles they can remember. Give the person who remembers the most a bar of chocolate (from the tray!). Key thought Don’t forget in the darkness what you have learned in the light.

6—10 Dec The example of Jesus ‘Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered?’ Matthew 16:9 Prayer pointers • Ask God to help in your reading, meditation and memorising of Scripture. • Ask God to fill you with the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead (see Rom. 8:11).

Key verse ‘Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.’ Isaiah 46:9 Discussion starters

3. How may ‘demandingness’ reveal itself?

1. Why may communion be important to our faith?

4. Why should we cry for mercy before we cry for help?

2. How do we lose perspective and how can we keep it?

5. Why should God’s glory be our first interest when we are in trouble?

3. Are you an Easter Saturday Christian or an Easter Sunday Christian? 4. How can we cope with disturbed emotions? 5. Discuss Tozer’s quote, ‘Always learn to judge the future by the past’.


Session 7: Being honest about our feelings Icebreaker Give an example of when you have felt irritated or angry — eg after receiving a parking ticket, when dealing with unhelpful people, in a traffic jam, listening to someone else’s mobile phone ringtone etc. Are you a person who vents their emotions or bottles them up? Key thought Be willing to admit to any disappointment or confusion that may arise or those feelings will be internalised and wreak havoc in your system. Key verses ‘When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.’ Psalm 32:3 ‘“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.’ Ephesians 4:26—27 Discussion starters 1. Is it unspiritual to be negative?

Soaring Above the Storm NOV/DEC 2010

Every Day with Jesus group resource

11—15 Dec

The example of Jesus ‘Then He said to them, My soul is very sad and deeply grieved, so that I am almost dying of sorrow.’ Matthew 26:38 (Amplified) Prayer pointers • Confess any disappointments with God. • Ask God to help you handle emotions properly, in accordance with Scripture.

Session 8: Jesus is God wearing our flesh Icebreaker What do you most like and dislike about Christmas? Which is your favourite carol? Key thoughts If I cannot avoid adversity, I will, with God’s help, seek to use it for good. God does not simply ask us how we feel; He knows exactly how we feel because in Jesus He has been in our condition. Key verse ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.’ Hebrews 4:15 Discussion starters 1. Have you ever used apparently purposeless pain that God has allowed into your life?

2. How do you deal with negative emotions?

2. How can we guide our pains to fruitfulness? (Consider John 15:2.)

3. How does controlling emotions differ from repressing or suppressing them?

3. Explain your own views on healing based on your understanding of the Bible.

4. Why does anger arise and how can it be controlled?

4. Why may identical experiences produce different characters?

5. Why should we be careful when making friendships with emotional people? (See Prov. 22:24—25.)

5. How can we thrive on difficulties?

16—25 Dec

8. How should we speak to others about suffering? 9. Why may we feel God does not hear our prayers? 10. What may be the modern equivalent of washing a person’s feet? The example of Jesus ‘During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.’ Hebrews 5:7 Prayer pointers • Thank God for sending His Son, thank Jesus that He came and thank the Holy Spirit for new life in Him. • Pray that others will experience Christ at Christmas and receive His life, comfort and strength.

6. How do the life and experiences of Jesus reveal what God is truly like? 7. Why is it impossible to believe in an uncaring God?


Every Day with Jesus group resource

Session 9: Just passing through Icebreakers What did you receive for Christmas? Contrast a holiday-maker and a resident in a tourist resort. Key thought As a Christian, this world is not our home, we are simply passing through. Key verses ‘But our citizenship is in heaven.’ Philippians 3:20 ‘… they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth … Instead, they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one.’ Hebrews 11:13, 16

Soaring Above the Storm NOV/DEC 2010

26—31 Dec

The example of Jesus ‘Jesus knew that … he had come from God and was returning to God …’ John 13:3 ‘They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.’ John 17:16 Prayer pointers • Pray that our perspective of eternity will overrule our perspective of time. • Pray that you will learn and apply the ten attitudes so you can soar above the storm of adversity.

Discussion starters 1. In what sense are Christians aliens? 2. How can our perfect future impact our imperfect present? 3. What is the difference between groaning and moaning? 4. What tension is revealed by the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer ‘on earth as it is in heaven’. 5. Describe your concept of heaven. 6. Review the ten attitudes. 7. What has impacted you most from our studies and how will you change as a result?