SELF-CONTROL (3): Sermon Prep Guide

READ Matthew 12:43-45

What strikes you? What challenges you? What encourages you? 

How do you see these verses as being related to self-control? 

If, as Dan's been preaching, self-control is more about relying on God's strength rather than exerting our own will-power, how does this parable support this message? 


In the last sentence of these verses, Jesus points the parable directly at the generation before Him, one that is hearing His teachings but not choosing to enter into His Kingdom. In what areas of Jesus' teaching through His scriptures, through the teaching of the church, or through the Spirit's message to your own heart is a lesson being preached that you are not letting in to your "house"?

Are there areas of your life where you have obediently repented of sin, cleansed your life of sinful habits, but not replaced those behaviors with positive full life of the Spirit of God? Put another way, in emptying your life of the bad, where might you be also closing off the power of the Spirit to flow in and through you to re-fill your emptiness with the Spirit's goodness?  


What does God desire to fill your house with? 

SELF-CONTROL (2): Sermon Prep Guide

READ Isaiah 55:1-3

What strikes you? What challenges you? What encourages you? 

When one hears "self-control" our first instinct might be to think about self-denial, refraining from that which is enjoyable. How is that NOT the picture in these verses? 

When you experience pain, especially emotional, what is your very first-instant instinct? If you're like me, you grasp at what you can to escape the pain, distract yourself from it. Many of my own struggles with self-control stem from moments like this - shove a chocolate in my mouth, get lost in a Facebook rabbit hole, bark at someone in anger - all to distract or defend myself from the pain. But none of these go-to's are about my true desires. What do these verses say about our true desires and needs and what God desires to do with them? How might this shift our perspective about a God who desires us to live with self-control? 

What guides those obedient to these verses in how they "delight in rich food?" What does this tell us about the growing of the fruit of self-control in our lives?


Where do you see healthy self-control exhibited around you? What effect does that have on you, others? What effect does lack of self-control have? 

READ Ecclesiastes 3.1-14

How does this passage support a picture where self-control has an important role to play? 

How does this passage paint a picture that contrasts ways of life like asceticism (severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons)? 

How does this passage support living in a rhythm of sabbaths and sabbaticals? 

READ John 5.16-24

If anyone should be free to be self-directed, shouldn't it have been Jesus? How does this passage illustrate something different? 

What rubric or authority should determine how we behave?

How do we lean into a life that exudes self-control? 


GENTLENESS (2): Sermon Prep Guide

For an overview of the book of Jeremiah, check out this video:

You can also use this poster as a reference/overview: CLICK HERE FOR POSTER

[OPTIONAL BONUS QUESTION:] A few weeks ago, Dan preached on the story of Jonah [if you missed it, the whole book of Jonah in the bible is a short one and a great read, so check it out!]. How would you compare and contrast these two, Jeremiah and Jonah, prophets' stories? Which guy would you rather be? 

READ Jeremiah 1:4-10

What was Jeremiah's call? Would hearing Jeremiah's message feel gentle to you? 

READ Jeremiah 11:18-20

How did the Israelite's receive Jeremiah's message?

Definition: Gentleness

  • Humility, yielding, submissive, enduring injury with patience and without resentment
  • Opposites: prideful, self reliant, violent, avoidant

What is the picture of Gentleness in this passage? Is it attractive, desirable? 

Who is Jeremiah Gentle toward? 

Jeremiah's warnings fell on deaf [and hostile] ears. Israel was led off into exile. But with their former covenant wasted, God, in His grace, established a new covenant.

Check out the new covenant, READ Jeremiah 31:33-34

What strikes you? Do you see any Gentleness in God through the announcement of this new covenant? 

How is this new covenant fulfilled? [short cut hint: see Hebrews 10:14-17]

How is it possible for Gentleness to flow through us? [for a hint, see Acts 2]

How is Jeremiah's Gentleness related to our own Gentleness? 


GOODNESS (2): Sermon Prep Guide

READ Luke 19:1-10 

What do you most resonate with in this passage? What do you most resist in this passage?


How does Jesus define his purpose in coming to Earth in this story? Earlier in the book of Luke, how is Jesus' mission is defined? (see Luke 4:18) How does the story illustrate that Jesus is "on mission" in both of these respects? 


This and last week, we've been looking at the spiritual Fruit of Goodness, as "setting things to right." Last week we saw Jesus set things to right for the demoniac. Where do we see things set to right in this story (hint: this is slightly a trick question)?


What do you learn about Goodness through this story? Where do you see this type of Goodness flowing forth from the Body of Christ as members dwell in the Spirit? 


What do you learn about God through the process of reading and reflecting on your reaction to these verses? What do you learn about yourself?


What do you learn about your role in community through reflecting on this story as it may intersect with your own life?

Sermon Prep for January 11: Part 2: Thy Kingdom Come – Leviticus, Exodus, Beatitudes, Today the Day of Salvation

Getting to know you: What is something you have pursued in your life? A goal, a person, an object . . . something you’ve been willing to focus for, sacrifice for, been determined to secure for yourself? How long did you pursue it? Did you attain it? What was that like? Did anything change in your thinking/feelings/behavior in the process of that pursuit?

 Getting to know the Bible:

1)    Off the top of your head, how would you define or describe what is the Kingdom of God is or is like?

2)    What would the Jews have thought the Kingdom of God was about at the time of Jesus’ birth?

a.     Read Exodus 19:3-6

3)    What did Jesus say the Kingdom of God was like/about?

a.     Read Luke 4:14-30

b.     Read Mark’s version of the above story in Mark 1:14-15 [note both accounts immediately follow the temptation in the desert and are followed by Jesus’ cleansing of the man with the unclean spirit]

c.     Read Matthew 5:3-12

4)    What does Jesus’ take on the Old Testament show us about what God has always had in mind with regards to the poor and the Kingdom of God? Read at least two of the following:

a.     Deuteronomy 14:22-29;

b.     Deuteronomy 15:1-18;

c.     Leviticus 19:1-10;

d.     Leviticus 25:1-28;

e.     Leviticus 19:11-19 (do not favor poor or wealthy)

 How do I apply myself to this message?

What does the reality of the Kingdom of God and its nature do to instruct how we can a) think about God’s plan for the world around us b) feel towards God, and feel towards people around us and c) live our lives accordingly?


Sermon Prep. for Sept. 7: Ephesians 2.1-10: Saved by Grace

This coming Sunday, we will re-enter our sermon series on Ephesians. If you would like to prepare for Sunday's sermon, you are welcome to use the below study guide as a resource. This guide will also instruct our community group discussions. To join a group, contact

Ephesians 2.1-10: Saved by grace


Getting to know you: Recount a memorable walk or hike you’ve taken that involved following a guide. What was the setting like? What was your guide like? What made the walk memorable?


Pray that God would open "the eyes of your innermost self" (Eph. 1:17) to God's light.


Day 1:

Getting to know the Bible: Read Ephesians 2.1-10

Write down your initial impressions.

What one word sticks out to you most in this passage?

You and the Bible: From what do you need Christ to save you?

Try sketching a picture of you traveling on a road based on these verses.


Day 2:

Getting to know the Bible: Read Isaiah 30.18-22

Based on this passage, how do you think God feels about showing you grace and mercy?

You and the Bible: How does this passage make you feel about walking in God’s way?


Day 3:

Getting to know the Bible: Read Psalm 1

Express verse 3 in your own way [whatever suits you: write, draw, graph, sing . . .]

You and the Bible: How does this passage make you feel about the idea of walking in God’s way?


Day 4:

Getting to know the Bible: Read Luke 7.36-50

If Jesus says that in serving “the least of these,” we serve Him (Matt. 25:40), how might the woman in this story show us how to serve “the least of these?”

You and the Bible: How much have you been forgiven?


Day 5:

Getting to know the Bible: Re-Read Ephesians 2.1-10

Does a new one-word stick out to you in this passage after spending time in the others? What’s the difference between works-based-salvation and salvation-based-works?

You and the Bible: Why were you made alive? For what purpose(s)? (vs. 10)

Ramping up to re-enter the Ephesians Sermon Series

Starting in September, we will re-enter our Ephesians sermon series. You can catch up on Dan's sermons on Ephesians 1 here under "Letter to the Ephesians." And/or you can spend some time in Ephesians 1 for yourself using the following guide. 

Use as much or as little of this study guides as you find edifying. You might consider breaking up each of the following 4 sessions over 4 days of study.

Consider praying Ephesians 1:16-29 repeatedly for your community group as you anticipate (re)joining them this fall.

To learn more about our group offerings visit our Community Groups page. To sign up for a community group, please email Zoë Reyes, Community Development Director, at zoefaithreyes at with the type of group you're interested in, the nights your available and/or a particular group leader you'd like to join. 

Session One: Ephesians

Read through the whole book of Ephesians to get an overview. Just read.

Session Two: The Wealth of His Grace

Read Ephesians 1:1-10

1) How do we form our identity in Christ? 

2) What has God delivered you from in particular? What would your life look like without the work He is doing in and for you now and throughout your life? [see vs. 4-10, esp. vs. 7] 

3) We aren't chosen for our own sake, but for the sake of what God wants to accomplish through us. In what ways might God want to bless (or how is he already blessing) others through you or your Christian community? ( N. T. Wright. Ephesians)

3b) For further study:
Read Genesis 12:1-8.  How do you see this passage relating to what Paul is talking about here in Ephesians? How do you see this passage relating to you personally?

4) What is God’s plan? (see vs. 10)

5) What do you learn in these verses about Jesus and our relationship to Him? 

Session Three: Inheritance and the Spirit

Read Ephesians 1:11-14

1) Is there a particular statement that you find particularly thought provoking or penetrating?

2) What is our promised inheritance (v. 11)? (N. T. Wright. Ephesians)

3) What do you learn in these verses about Jesus and our relationship to Him?

Session Four: Knowing the Power of the King

Read Ephesians 1:15-23

1) What do you learn in these verses about Jesus and our relationship to Him?

2) Paul doesn't imagine that all Christians will automatically be able to recognize the power of God. It will take, as he says in verse 17, a fresh gift of wisdom, of coming to see things people don't normally see. And this in turn will come about through knowing Jesus and having what Paul calls "the eyes of your innermost self" opened to God's light. What should and shouldn't using this power look like in our daily lives? How have you experienced this power in your life? (N. T. Wright. Ephesians)

3) What is the church?

4) What does it mean to be the fullness of the one who fills all in all?