Virgil Brazle - Connections Pastor

How Good Is Your Dirt?

Dig In Questions:

Read Matthew 13:1-23

1) Have you ever been put off, turned off, or offended by the things that Jesus said? In your faith journey, how have you overcome those obstacles or objections?

2) The farmer was intentional about sowing or planting the seed, even when he knew some of what he planted had little chance of surviving. Why was he so intentional? What does that teach us?

3) Have you ever shared the good news of Jesus’ love with another person and felt like the message fell on a hard path? How did it make you feel? Does it help to know that many of the people that Jesus encountered daily also rejected His love and teachings?

4) We recognize that when Jesus talked about “Good Dirt”, that he wasn’t meaning dirt without thorns, rock, or hard places - but rather - dirt that is fruitful in spite of these things. In what ways have you found yourself either in the past or present being choked, scorched, or hardened? If you struggled in the past, how would you encourage another who is struggling now?

5) Read Matthew 9:35-38 and Matthew 28:18-20. In light of what Jesus said in these verses, what should our response be regarding those who have the heart (dirt) on which the good news of Jesus has never been planted?

6) Knowing that we are learning from Jesus, the One whose words give eternal life, how will you live differently as a result of His teaching on the parable of the dirt?

Don’t Hide Your Light

Dig In Questions:

1) Are there people that you have either intentionally or unintentionally left in the darkness? If so, what can you do keep it from continuing to happen?

2) In the sermon, it was said that Jesus’ teaching was not about keeping a check list, but rather, developing a heart and a spirit of love for God and in turn, a passion and compassion for people. Do you find that this is easier said than done? What are you doing to develop your love for God and for people?

3) Read Matthew 5:14-16. What are some ways that these verses apply to you personally or that you want them to apply in your faith journey?

4) What are some excuses you have used to not be the “light of the world”?

5) Do you remember a time that you were still in darkness? How did the good deeds of others help you get out?

The Mustard Seed

Dig In Questions:

Read Matthew 13:31-32, Matthew 28:18-20, & Acts 2:38-47

1) Stories speak to us - that’s why Jesus told so many. Do you have a “go to” story from the Bible? Share that story and tell why it’s especially impacting or meaningful.

2) If asked to describe the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God to a friend, how would you do it?

3) Whether you are a new believer or have been one for a long time, do you remember when the seed of faith was first planted in you? What was your initial reaction? How has it grown and changed you?

4) When sharing your faith with others, have you ever thought that your prayers were unanswered or that your witness was in vain or that your words were lost in the wind? How does knowing that God is responsible for the other person’s growth change your perspective on sharing His good news?

5) How can you help newcomers to faith or to Fork realize that they are welcome and have a place in the Kingdom?

6) If the plan of God is for every person among the people of God to count for the advancement of the Kingdom of God, then in what ways are you advancing God’s Kingdom?

Doubt and Depression

Dig In Questions:

Read Job 19:25-27

1) Are there hurts in your life that you have kept to yourself? Knowing that others are here to help bear your burdens, can you share them with your group? Pray for each individual as they share.

2) Read through some of the “one anothers” - Romans 12:10, Romans 15:7, 1 Corinthians 12:25-26, Ephesians 4:2-3, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Galatians 5:13-14, Galatians 6:2. Talk about how each of them can be lived out in a practical way in your life.

3) During the message, you were encouraged to really see the people you have been called to love. When you think about your Sunday morning opportunities, how can you not just see the people around you, but get to know their names and get to know their stories as well?

4) Does being reminded that we are moving in the same direction and that we have a common goal help you to think of yourself less and focus more on the needs of others? If so, how?

5) Read Romans 8:18-39. What comfort do we find in these verses? What encouragement do they give us? How do they give us hope?

God Rewards Our Faithfulness

Dig In Questions:

Read Esther 8

1) Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you felt like God gave you a fresh start or a new lease on life?

2) At FCC, we often say that “We are a bunch of imperfect people seeking after a perfect God”. How have you seen that demonstrated in the Bible? How have you seen that demonstrated in your own life?

3) In the sermon, it was said, “Rewards aren’t something we deserve - they are not something we earn.” If you are a Christian, how has God rewarded your faithfulness? If you are not yet a Christian, how have you been rewarded by doing life with believers?

4) Think of someone who you see as a person of great faith. What sets them apart from all the other “nice people”? Are there places in your life that need changed in order for people to see your faithfulness?

5) Read Psalm 84:10. Has this been your experience in life? How so?

We Are Not Forgotten

Dig In Questions:

1) Left out. Left Behind. Last one picked. Un-wanted. Un-heard. Unnecessary. Not needed. Not included. Not noticed. With out purpose. With out a plan. Without hope. Too damaged. Too lost. Too far gone. Failed. Floundering. Forgotten.

Do any of these reflect how you feel or have felt in the past?

2) Have you ever felt Forgotten by God? Describe what that experience was like.

3) We live in an “Instant Society”. How have the instant access and availability of so much of life caused you to have distorted or unrealistic views of your relationship with God?

4) How has your pain or struggle or bad situation actually brought you closer to God? Why do you think it did?

5) Describe a time in your life where you actually waited on God and realized that his plan and purpose was better than the one you wanted to rush into.

6) Read Romans 8:28. What do we learn about God’s plans from this verse? What do we learn about our lives from it?

Our Situations Don’t Define Us

Our Situations Don't Define Us - Dig In Questions:

Read Luke 1:26-38 & Matthew 1:18-25

1) If you were in Mary and Joseph’s shoes, how do you think you would have reacted to the angel’s announcement?

2) Virgil talked about “What the heck, God?” situations that cause us to question what God is doing in that moment. Are you in one of those or have you been in the past?

3) Why do you think God allowed good people in the scriptures to experience bad situations?

4) How do you think that God can use your life situations to bring glory to Himself?

5) We are not defined by our situation; rather, our situations align us, describe us, refine us, and remind us. Can you think of how your situation has helped you grow in your faith?

Pray that God would help you to trust Him with your situation just as you have trusted him with your salvation.

Deborah, Barak, & Jael

Deborah, Barak, & Jael - Dig In Questions:

1) What comes to your mind when you think of the term Dark Horses?

2) Have you ever found yourself at a place in life where you felt like you were not a winner, not successful, or not even thought of? How were you able to move past it?

3) Has something in your past or in your present held you back from doing what God is calling you to do? If so, how?

4) On Sunday, Virgil said that “We live in a world that is physically, emotionally, and spiritually oppressed.“ In what ways do you see this to be true? How might God be calling you to be a rescuer?

5) We see from Deborah, Barak, and Jael that just because a person can’t do everything that needs to be done, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t do what they have been equipped to do. Are there things that you are equipped to do for God’s Kingdom that you are not doing?

6) In what ways can you see the church making a greater difference in the world if every believer used their unique giftedness to serve, and recognized that the part they play is necessary for the good of the whole body? How will you help that to happen this week?