“Walking in Unity”   [Ephesians 4:1-6]

Today is Friday, May 21st. In today’s reading, we are inspired and reminded of the calling to which we have received!

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- What are some areas or friendships in your life where you are desiring unity?

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Ephesians 4:1-6 ]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

_ Can you identify a calling you have received from God? (v 1)
_ What does it look like for you to “bear with one another in love?” (v 2)
_ Can you think of a time that you felt the unity of the Spirit/the bond of peace? (v 3)
_ How does it feel to be reminded that God is over all, through all and in all? (v 6)

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Who in your life can help you walk in a manner worthy of the calling God has given you?
_ Does the way you live your life reflect the unity of your friendships?  

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

"Local Leaders Are To Shepherd the Flock" [I Peter 5:1-5]

It's Thursday, May 24, 2018.  God, in His infinite wisdom and abiding love for His Bride, left us an organizational pattern to use within the local body of believers; a way to best "tend the flock of God".  -Chris Adomanis

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_What descriptive words come to your mind when you think of a shepherd?  How about sheep?

PRAY
PSALM 23

DISCOVER [I Peter 5:1-5]
5 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
_Why does Peter call himself an elder?  How do you think that affected the elders who were reading this letter?
_ Why do you think Peter used the verb shepherd to describe what an elder should/must do?  (Hint: read John 10:1-18 and John 21:15-17)
_Who is the Chief Shepherd?  How should those who take on the role of an Elder feel about this?
_How does one "clothe" themselves with humility?  Why did Peter choose that particular verb?
_What does the phrase "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" mean to you?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Confess and repent of times when you have strayed from the fold of God.  Return and obey the commands of the Great Shepherd, who laid down His life so you may know the peace and security of dwelling in His pasture!!!

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?
_Who in your life TODAY is the Lord prompting you to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
_Do you have someone in your life TODAY that challenges you (and you challenge back) to be an effective witness for Christ?

“Many Members - One Body” [ Romans 12:4-5]

Today is Wednesday, May 23rd. It is so easy to compare yourself to another and feel like you are not as important, useful, or necessary. This idea is especially destructive when introduced into the Church. Paul combats this idea in today’s passage, likening our role in the church to a part of a physical body. As you read, consider the role you play and the value you have. Does this align with what Scripture says?- Peter

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- What is the most important part of the human body? Why?
- How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Romans 12:4-5 ]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

_ What does it mean to be a member of a physical body? A spiritual body?
_ How does Christ unite many members into one body? By what means?
_ Why does each member belong to all the others? What does this practically look like in the Church?
_ What does this passage teach us about being a part of the Body of Christ?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Which part of the Church body do you identify as? Which part of the physical body do you think this represents? Why?
_ Do you feel like you play an important role? What does this passage teach us about the value of each part?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“He Might Be Preeminent” [Colossians 1:15-20]

Today is Tuesday, May 22th, 2018. We are in week two of our ‘Church as Family’ series, and we press on continuing to discover what it means to call each other brothers and sisters in Christ. We continue to discover what the intimacy of Christ’s church looks like locally. Today we look at Paul’s caution to true believers of the Church, to keep a keen eye for those who are within the body, disrupting the spread and teaching of the true Gospel, that they may benefit in some way by leading others astray. Please join us at our Sunday morning Gatherings, held at 9:00 am and 10:45 am.

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_What was the original purpose of our creation (humanity)? What is Jesus’ ultimate purpose in the cross?
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)?

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Colossians 1:15-20]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

_
How does v.15 compare to what Jesus says in John 10: 28-30. What does v.15 and John 10:30 establish about Jesus’ comparison to the Father?

28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

_How does v.16 compare to John 1: 1-4? What do these sections tell us about Jesus’ role in creation? What does it mean when v.16 says that all things were made through and for him?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

_What does v.17 have to say against the idea that God is only selectively active in the universe? What does this say about his omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience?

_How does v.18 relate to 1 Peter 2:1-7 (where he is called the Living Stone, as well as the Cornerstone of the Church? What does it mean to be preeminent before ALL things?

_What does v.19 establish about Jesus in correlation to his Godliness, and what do v.19-20 reveal about Jesus’ ultimate purpose of the cross in relation to all of his creation?

_Ultimately what does this passage reveal about the authority Jesus has over the universe, and what does that mean for his Bride, the church, where he calls himself the Groom and the head? Where must all of the church submit to, and look up to?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Since “The righteous live by faith”, what is one way you are being called by Christ to step outside your comfort zone this week and have faith that God has a purpose through that conviction he has given you?
_ Are you spending time in the Word and in prayer, to hear the Lord speak to you? It is these two actions that lead us to repentance, as well as our daily callings to God’s will.

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?
Pray the Lord would put upon your heart the person(s) in your life that you are to share the good news of the Gospel to, through organic circumstances in a relationship. If you know who this person is God is calling you to walk with; How can you take a simple step of obedience, to show the love and passion of Christ to him/her?

Who is Family? [ Matthew 12.46-50 ]

Today is Monday, May 21st. This week our readings continue in our #realtalk series "Church as Family".  I mentioned this passage in my message yesterday, where Jesus answers the question- Who is my Family?  - Joey

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- If someone were to ask you who your family is how would you answer? 

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is as our Father, pray for our church as we grow together in this season and pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [ Matthew 12.46-50 ]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. * 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
_ What unfolds in vs. 46?
_ How does Jesus' respond in vs. 48?
_ Who does he point to in vs. 49 before he speaks?
_ In vs. 50 what do we learn about who Jesus considers family? 

*Important detail about this text: You may have noticed vs. 47 omitted in the ESV.  The reason it is omitted is because it was not included in the original  manuscripts.  
 
+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ How am I being called to tangibly love the family that Jesus defines as my true family?  What could this look like this week? 

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Unity” [ 1 Corinthians 12:21-26]

Today is Friday, May 18th. Today we are in 1 Corinthians 12:21-26. Paul writes this letter to correct false teachings in the church of Corinth. I pray that we will daily grow in patience and obedience. Praise King Jesus - Evan McGee

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- Have you ever tried to cook a meal when you realized half-way through that you are out of one of the ingredients? Have you ever been a part of a team, and your teammate did not show up to a game/event? How did the game/event go without them? - How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [1 Corinthians 12:21-26 ]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

_ What is the context of verse  21 and 22?|
_ Why is a greater honor bestowed on the parts that we think are less honorable?
_ How does verse 25 and 26 apply to both our own physical bodies and to the church?
_ How does verse 26 challenge us?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ How does one keep perspective of the importance of the body as a whole?
_ How does verse 26 challenge you to love and care deeper for others? What is a practical first step you can take to grow in unity with the church?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

Baptized into One Body” [1 Cor 12:12-14]

Today is Thursday, May 17th, 2018. We love our individuality. Scroll through Instagram or Facebook and you can find countless posts on being original, different, or one of a kind. While we each are different in many ways and no two people are exactly alike the truth is, as John Donne put it, “No man is an island”. This could not be more true for the church. In his letter to the Corinthians Paul discusses this by talking about the Church as one body with many members. While we may be different we all have the common ground of Christ. We each make up a part of the whole. Yes, we are each individual, but we are all connected in this catholic (little c) church. We have been united and baptized into one body through the Holy Spirit. We are united each Sunday when we drink from the cup of one Spirit in communion. Let us not be divided over differences but united in one Spirit. We must remember that no one is better than another and we have all been saved by the grace of God.

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ What are some differences between our brothers and sisters in Christ?
_ What differences do you think can become divisive?

PRAY
Eternal God, you have called us to be members of one body. Join us with those who in all times and places have praised your name, that, with one heart and mind, we may show the unity of your church, and bring honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
- Book of Common Worship

DISCOVER  [1 Cor 12:12-14]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

_ In vs 12 what does a body have?
_ In vs 12 what is the body being compared to?
_ In vs 13 What were we baptized into?
_ In vs 13 What examples of people are given?
_ In vs 13 What were all made to drink of?
_ In vs 14 What does the body consist of?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ What member are you in the body of Christ?
_ Do you ever expect all members to be alike?
_ Is there, someone, you can invite into this diverse body to drink of one Spirit?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“A Spiritual House” [1 Peter 2:4-5]

Today is Wednesday, May 16, 2018.  What a blessing it is to reflect on the power and hope we have as a believing community in Jesus!  The Message translation of 2 Peter 2:4 aptly says, “Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life.”  God, Himself welcomes you each day through His Word and through His Son, Jesus. Come and drink at the well of truth today to be built up as a spiritual house.   - Kim

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Reflect on the purpose of your home physically, emotionally, and spiritually?  What kind of memories from your childhood home could aid the discussion?
_ How is the Lord building up your spiritual house so that you can point others to the One who will shelter, water, feed, and protect?

PRAY
Precious Lord Jesus.  You are our firm foundation.  You have set our feet upon a rock and made our steps secure.  Forgive us for doubting your constant presence in our lives. We forget your faithfulness and daily provision so easily.  Give us eyes to see You in all of Your fullness today. Remind us of our value in You, strength with You by our side, and responsibility we have as we walk as Your sons and daughters in this world.  Help us stand firm as the world around us tries to blow our spiritual house down.

DISCOVER  [1 Peter 2:4-5]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

_ Who is Peter addressing in verse 4 when he says, “you?”
_ Who is the antecedent to the pronoun “him?”
_ Who is “rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious?”  You? Jesus? Or both you and Jesus?
_ If you are chosen and precious, how does that change how you interact with the world?
_ How is each believer “like living stones?”
_ How might 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?” shed light on this question?
_ What is the condition of your spiritual house?  How are you being shored up by other living stones? How are shoring up other living stones?
_What were some of the roles of the Old Testament priests?  What does it look like in 2018 to be a holy priesthood as a community of believers?
_ What might a spiritual sacrifice through Jesus Christ look like in your home, neighborhood or church?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Is there an area of your life that you need to remember that you are called by God, chosen and precious?  If so, where and what is your next step this week?
_ Are there any area Jesus is inviting you to shore up another believer?  What action can you take to encourage them?
_ Is there a place that you are lacking power or strength to stand firm as a spiritual house?  How does remembering that God’s Spirit dwells in you change your perspective?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“God’s House” [ Ephesians 2:11-22 ]

Today is Tuesday the 15th of May: As part of our human survival instincts, we find comfort in the familiar. It is often difficult to bridge the gap between the different or unknown. With so many different backgrounds and opinions just within our small community, let the world, how can God’s house ever be united? Today we jump further into Ephesians to find out just how. - Daniel

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_Think of a time where you were in a new social situation. How did you break the ice and build a rapport?

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER [ Ephesians 2:11-22 ]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

_
What does Paul ask us to remember? How did this result in us having no hope?

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

_
Who were the two groups that were once divided?
_How did Jesus abolish the law and provide salvation to all?
_How does this remove the hostility and make us as one?

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

_
What does it mean for Jesus to be our cornerstone? How does this change our relationship with fellow Christians?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?
_
Reflect on your life without Jesus. Consider how he could change or has changed your life.
_Do you see divisions within the household of God?
_Are you actively building the household of God with Jesus as the cornerstone?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Unified” [Ephesians 4:1-6]

Here we are at another Monday, the start to a new week. Today is also the start of a new series for the Dailies and the sermons, #ChurchasFamily. These next two weeks we will be looking at Scripture that shows us how the church is meant to be family. What a gift this can be, a family when perhaps you do not have one or one that is distant in some way. Today we are looking at Scripture that teaches us to be one, to be unified. I pray that as we study the Word today we can begin to see how we can practically apply what we are learning to the church we call family, Downtown Hope. - Mallory

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- What have you been meditating on from yesterday’s sermon?
- What does family mean to you? Is it something good? Or is it something broken?
- How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)

PRAY
Lord, we come before You desiring to do what is right. Help us to see how we are family and how we can continue to grow as a family at Downtown Hope and as the Church as a whole. We live in a broken world with broken families and broken churches. Lord, we ask that you would heal this brokenness in our own lives and in the lives of those we hold dear. Teach us to be one body, unified and seeking Your will. We love You and are grateful for the family provided to us through the Church. Amen.

DISCOVER  [Ephesians 4:1-6]
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
- What is the calling Paul is referring to in verse 1?
- Why is it important to walk in a manner worthy of that calling?
- What does it mean to bear with one another in love?
- What is the one Spirit in verse 4?
- What can we learn from the unity and oneness of the Trinity?
- Why is unity, oneness, so important?  

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
- How can I “walk in a manner worthy of the calling”? (v.1)
- How do we maintain “the unity of the Spirit”? (v. 3)
- How do I live out what these verses call for in my small group? Here at Downtown Hope? In other areas of my life?  

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Hidden Mystery”  [ Romans 16:25-27]

Today is Friday, May 11th. This morning we are encouraged as we read Paul’s hope for the gospel and for God’s glory!

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- What are some specific ways in your life that you’ve experienced God’s glory?

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Romans 16:25-27 ]

+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

“25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

_ How has God strengthen you recently? (v 25)
_ Has God revealed any mysteries to you? (v 25)
_ What does it look like to “bring about the obedience of faith” in your own life? (v 26)

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Who in your life can help you seek out revelations from God?
_ Are you living in obedience of faith?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

Final Greetings [Romans 16:21-23]

It's Thursday, May 10, 2018.  Paul is wrapping up his letter to the body of believers meeting in Rome.  He specifically mentions several individuals who, besides Timothy and Lucius (who could be Luke, the author of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles), are people we know very little about.  Why did he do this? What can we glean from this sweet send off that we can apply to our Christian walk today? - Chris Adomanis

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_How do you feel when a friend introduces you to someone you don't know in very glowing terms?  How are you at doing the same for others?

PRAY
Heavenly Father, thank you for brothers and sisters in the faith that love and care about us.  I pray that the Church of Jesus Christ takes seriously Your command to love another (see John 13:34-35 and I John 3:11, 16, and 23).  Amen

DISCOVER [Romans 16:21-23]
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.
22 I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord.
23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.

+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
_What can you learn about the eight people listed in these verses?  Their nationality? Their standing in the community? Their character?  
_Doesn't it seem like the chapter was going to end with verse 20?  Instead, Paul comes back and lists these eight people before his final benediction in verses 25-27.  Why?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Confess and repent of times where you have missed opportunities, whether purposeful or not, to do and/or to say things that build others up, especially those in the Family of Faith (see Romans 15:2, I Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24)

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?
_Who in your life TODAY is the Lord prompting you to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
_Do you have someone in your life TODAY that challenges you (and you challenge back) to be an effective witness for Christ?

“Wise to Good + Innocent to Evil” [ Romans 9:1-12]

Today is Wednesday, May 9th. We have almost come to the finish line of Romans - congratulations for making it through. Today, we continue to read Paul’s final words to the Roman church. As you read, consider how Paul’s charge to them also applies to you. - Peter

CONNECT (Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- How do you filter out potentially inappropriate content from your life? For example, do you only see movies with certain ratings or are you pretty lenient? Do you set up boundaries for yourself, and if so, what do they look like?
- How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Romans 16:19-20 ]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

_ What does Paul first commend the Roman church for?
_ What does Paul tell the Romans to be wise to and innocent to? Why?
_ Paul re-focuses the perspective of the Roman church by reminding them of what in verse 20?
_ How is this an encouragement in light of the broader context of this passage (Read verses 17-18)?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ How does one stay wise to what is good and innocent to what is evil? Does this describe you, or are there idols in your life that are drawing your attention and intellect?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Smooth Talk and Flattery” [Romans 16:17-18]

Today is Tuesday, May 8th, 2018. I hope you are having a wonderful morning, partaking in prayer and reading the scriptures. This week we will be finishing up Romans, gaining the last bit of wisdom Paul wrote to the Romans, completely inspired by the Holy Spirit. Today we look at Paul’s caution to true believers of the Church, to keep a keen eye for those who are within the body, disrupting the spread and teaching of the true Gospel, that they may benefit in some way by leading others astray. Please join us at our Sunday morning Gatherings, held at 9:00 am and 10:45 am.

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_What are some examples of lies that could make a new believer stray from the truth of the Gospel, and why can these lies sometimes be hard to see through?  
_ How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Romans 16:17-1]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

_Why is it important as a church to be very aware of those who are within a church community to disrupt, and serve their own well being? What could the effect be on the Church? What effect might this have on people who are watching the community from the outside?
_Since Paul’s rule of caution is pretty clear, let us address what sometimes may be unclear. How do we pinpoint those who are in the church to disrupt?

+To answer this please see the following passage from Matthew 7: 15-20

 15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

+  Please also see a passage from John 10: 7-14

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me

Both of these passages have to do with being able to tell who are the sheep and who are not, by their fruits and their ability to hear and discern Christ.

From these passages please answer the question above both passages.

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Since “The righteous live by faith”, what is one way you are being called by Christ to step outside your comfort zone this week and have faith that God has a purpose through that conviction he has given you?
_ Are you spending time in the Word and in prayer, to hear the Lord speak to you? It is these two actions that lead us to repentance, as well as our daily callings to God’s will.

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?
Pray the Lord would put upon your heart the person(s) in your life that you are to share the good news of the Gospel to, through organic circumstances in a relationship. If you know who this person is God is calling you to walk with; How can you take a simple step of obedience, to show the love and passion of Christ to him/her?

Locally Known [ Romans 16.1-16]

Happy Monday, May 7th.   This morning we begin our last week and last Chapter in the book of Romans.  It has been a joy to journey together as we have grown deeper into Jesus' revealed righteousness!  Today's passage might appear to be mundane but don't miss the profound truth we discover about the forming church in Rome and how vital it is that we are locally known. 

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- Who are the people who know you by your name? 
- How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for the local community of believers he has connected you with- pray for them by name.  

DISCOVER  [Romans 16.1-16 ]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae,2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. 3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me.8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
_ How many people does Paul list in these 16 verses? 
_ Take some time to read through the notes on each person, what do you notice about Paul's language?
_ Why do you think Paul devotes this much time to this seemingly mundane part of Romans? 
_ What does this passage teach us about the relational nature of the first planted churches? 

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Are you known the local church you are part of?  Do you know people?
_ How is Jesus calling you to step into knownness in new ways? 

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

Copy of “Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome” [ Romans 15:22-33]

Today is Friday, May 4th: Happy Friday! I hope that you are able to enjoy this lovely warm weather God has provided us while it lasts! Today we continue with Paul through the book of Romans as he closes out chapter 15. Paul is writing to the Romans in reference to his desire to return, when he will return, and what that will look like. It is an encouragement to the believers in Rome that he will soon be with them again. Paul also tells the Romans to continue supporting those around them, both spiritually and physically. I pray that our understanding of the gospel will grow deeper, that our ability to love God will expand, and that we will praise King Jesus daily.  - Evan

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- Have you ever had a reunion with a long-since seen friend or family member? What was it like?
- How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Romans 15:22-33 ]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

_ What was hindering Paul from seeing the people of Rome? (see the verses prior to this passage)
_ What do you think is the purpose of Paul’s encouragement to the Romans?  
_ What does verse 27 mean when it says “they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings”?
_ What is interesting about verse 29 in reference to the way that Paul eventually makes it back to Rome?
_ Why do you think Paul is asking the people of Rome to join him in prayer?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Who is someone that you need to either reach out to or reconcile with?
_ How can you be bolder in asking others for prayer? In what other ways can you embrace the unity of believers around you through the Holy Spirit?  

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome” [ Romans 15:22-33]

Today is Friday, May 4th: Happy Friday! I hope that you are able to enjoy this lovely warm weather God has provided us while it lasts! Today we continue with Paul through the book of Romans as he closes out chapter 15. Paul is writing to the Romans in reference to his desire to return, when he will return, and what that will look like. It is an encouragement to the believers in Rome that he will soon be with them again. Paul also tells the Romans to continue supporting those around them, both spiritually and physically. I pray that our understanding of the gospel will grow deeper, that our ability to love God will expand, and that we will praise King Jesus daily.  - Evan

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
- Have you ever had a reunion with a long-since seen friend or family member? What was it like?
- How is the Lord impacting someone you are walking with (to help grow in or discover Jesus)

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER  [Romans 15:22-33 ]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

_ What was hindering Paul from seeing the people of Rome? (see the verses prior to this passage)
_ What do you think is the purpose of Paul’s encouragement to the Romans?  
_ What does verse 27 mean when it says “they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings”?
_ What is interesting about verse 29 in reference to the way that Paul eventually makes it back to Rome?
_ Why do you think Paul is asking the people of Rome to join him in prayer?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Who is someone that you need to either reach out to or reconcile with?
_ How can you be bolder in asking others for prayer? In what other ways can you embrace the unity of believers around you through the Holy Spirit?  

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“By the Power of the Spirit of God” [Rom 15:14-21]

Today is Thursday, May 3rd, 2018. Often times when talking to someone about the Gospel I have thought “If I just knew a little more. If I just understood this passage a little better. If I could just explain this more simply then I could help them understand.” A good friend and pastor once said to me “The moment I realized that it isn’t my words, but the Spirit of God, that converts the heart was the moment I was set free.” This is not to say that the study of the word is of no importance, but as Paul says it is “by the power of the Spirit of God” not by our own intelligence or works.

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ How do you share the Gospel of Christ with those around you who don’t know Him?
_ Do you rely on the Power of the Spirit of God or your own?

PRAY
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

DISCOVER  [Romans 15:14-21]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. 15 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, 21 but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,

   and those who have never heard will understand.”

_ How is Paul Satisfied?
_ What are his brothers filled with?
_ What is Paul reminding them to be?
_ What should the offering of the Gentiles be?
_ In who does Paul have reason to be proud?
_ What will Paul speak of?
_ Where will Paul speak of it?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Are you sharing the gospel where it isn’t?
_ How can you rely on the power of the Spirit of God?
_ Is there someone who doesn’t know the Gospel who you are hesitant to share with?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Promise-keeper” [Romans 15:8-13]

Today is Wednesday, May 2nd.  Blossoms abound as spring bursts all around us.  The promise of new life, spring greens to baby birds, cannot be missed in God’s seasonal landscape.  God’s redemptive landscape also promises abundant life to BOTH Jews and Gentiles in our passage today.  Each will praise His name as the One who restores our joy, peace, and hope. - Kim

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Discuss the purpose of a promise.   Why is promise-keeping such a worthy trait?  Think and reflect on a promise you kept and/or a promise you broke.  Share an example with the group.
_ How are the Lord’s promises different than our promises?  How are they alike? How does trust impact those you are walking with as they grow in or discover Jesus?

PRAY
Lord, thank you for being with us on our journey.  We are sinful and you have the right to judge and condemn us, yet you don’t.  You have promised that You would save your people, both Jews and Gentiles. You also promised that You would do the work of our salvation, through your son Jesus, the Messiah, Mighty King, and Suffering Servant.  Thank you, for your promise. Thank you for keeping your promise and bearing fruit in our lives.

DISCOVER  [Romans 15:8-13]
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?
(Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)

8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles,

   and sing to your name.”

_ Why did Christ become a servant in vs 8?  To whom was he called to be a servant to? What did it confirm?
_ Who are the patriarchs?  What promises were given to them?  (See Gen 12:1-3, 17:7, Gen 26:3-4, and Gen 28:13-15) for more information about these promises)
_Who do we see glorifying God for his mercy.  How are both Jews and Gentiles addressed in this short text?

10 And again it is said,

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,

   and let all the peoples extol him.”

_ What unifying message do we see in verse 10?  To whom is this quotation referring to when it says “his people?”
_ How have these repetitive verses built upon one another in inclusivity from verse 9 to 11?

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,

 even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;

in him will the Gentiles hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.


_ This quotation from Isaiah 11 points to a promise God makes to David through the God’s own Spirit that indwelt him.  There would be one who come from his line who would not only be a King over God’s chosen tribe, but also Gentile nations.  He would reign and rule over all in unity of the Spirit. How does that same Spirit resonate in Paul’s words to the Romans?
_ What is Paul asking God to do for both Jews and Gentiles?  How are these groups unified in verse 13?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs)
_ Is there an area of your life that you are being called to unity?  If so, where and what is your next step this week?
_ Is Jesus is asking you to remember one of his promises today? Which one and why?  Who are you walking with who would also benefit from remembering this promise?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?

“Together As One” [ Romans 15:5-7 ]

Today is Tuesday the 1st of March. As Christians, we are called to live with one another as a community of believers worshiping our savior. However, in our human weakness, living in such close proximity can cause stress and frustration. How then do we live the way that was intended for us with our sinful nature? - Daniel

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_When have you been in a situation where you were surrounded by people whom you love but were increasingly frustrated by them?

PRAY
Take some time to thank and praise God for who He is, to pray for those you are walking with, for the needs you/group are facing, and for the Spirit to open your heart and eyes as you read the passage, which has been completely inspired by God.

DISCOVER [ Romans 15.5-7 ]
5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn?

_Paul is praying that God will allow us to live in harmony with one another. Who exactly are we to live in harmony with?
_How does living in harmony with one another change the way we glorify God?
_Why is it important that we glorify God together?
_How has Jesus welcomed us?
_How does the example Jesus showed us help with welcoming one another?

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?
_Are you in harmony with other members of Downtown Hope?
_Are you in harmony with Christians outside of Downtown Hope?
_Does your relationship with your fellow Christians bring glory to God?

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?