Sermon Discussion Questions

SERMON SERIES: Special Message by Associate Pastor Brian Darrow
SERMON TITLE: “My Peace I Give To You”
SERMON DATE: October 19-20, 2013
ICEBREAKER: If you had to be a teacher of something, what would you teach?
1.  Looking back at your sermon notes from this week’s message. Was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you regarding the topic of peace?

2. Do you feel like you’re currently experiencing the peace of God in your life? Why or why not?

3. As Christians, it can be very easy to fall into the negativity trap. Practically, what are some ways that you can avoid being negative in your personal thoughts and attitudes? How can you help turn around situations where people are being negative?  See Philippians 4:8-9.

4. The Bible is very clear that God desires harmony and unity, particularly amongst Christians. Read the verses below and discuss them with your group.

Philippians 2:1-2

Colossians 3:12-14

2 Corinthians 13:11

5.Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Are there any unresolved tensions in your life that you are aware of? What steps do you need to take to pursue reconciliation?

Note: Pastor Brian shared from his experience that it’s possible that there are unresolved tensions in your life that you’re not even aware of. Spend some time this week outside of your small group asking God to reveal to you any issues that you’re not presently aware of.

6. John 16:24 says, “Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Is there anything that you need to ask Jesus for today?

SERMON SERIES: Special Message by Guest Speaker Dillon Petrarca
SERMON TITLE: Made Alive
SERMON DATE: October 12-13, 2013
ICEBREAKER: Describe your favorite meal.
1. Before you became a Christian, what was your purpose in life?
2. In what ways are you tempted to serve God “at your convenience” like Dillon described?
3.  Dillon shared Ephesians 2:4-10 (provided below). Which part of this passage stands out to you the most? Discuss as a group.

“ But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

4.  What are some practical ways that you can “get off the bench” and “play on the team” like Dillon described.
5. What one point or verse  from Dillon’s message spoke to you the most and why?
SERMON SERIES: Special Message by Guest Speaker Ron Binder
SERMON TITLE: Dealing With Hearts; Dealing With Hurts (Proclamation vs. Demonstration)
SERMON DATE: October 5-6, 2013
ICEBREAKER: Where is the farthest you have every traveled?
1. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not grow weary in doing good.” Share about a time when you did grow weary when trying to show love to someone.  Did you continue to try and identify what they really needed so that you could share Gospel? Explain.
2.  In what ways did hearing from Ron’s experience influence the way that you view yourself in relation to the greater world around you?
3. According to “Kingdom Math”, the formula is not “me + God”, rather it’s “me x God”, showing that when God is involved, He multiplies the fruit of our efforts. When have you experienced this principle of Kingdom Math in your own life.
4. Ron shared 3 small ways that we can get involved today: participate in Operation Christmas Child, join a small group, and share a skill with someone in need. You’re already in a small group, but what else can you practically do to serve those around you? In what ways can your group join together to serve?
5. What one point or sermon from Ron’s message spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON TITLE: Free! To Be Happy

SERMON SERIES: Free!

SERMON DATE: September 28-29, 2013

ICEBREAKER: Fill in the blank: I am happiest when ____________________.

1. How does it make you feel to think that God wants you to be happy? Explain why you feel this way.

2. What does it mean to be poor in spirit? How do you know if you’re poor in spirit at any given moment?

3. According to Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  As Christians, we get to experience the privileges of Kingdom membership now.  What are the privileges of kingdom membership and how are you personally experiencing them? (Answer these questions before looking up the verses below and compare your answers with what God’s Word says.)

  • Luke 17:21
  • Romans 14:17 
  • Galatians 5:19-22.

4. Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Read Psalm 34:13-19. How do verses 13-17 relate to verses 18-19 and the whole idea of mourning?

13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;

    his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
  he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
    He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
    but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

Share about a time when you mourned in a way that is similar to what the writer of Psalm describes.

5. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON TITLE: Free! From Loneliness

SERMON SERIES: Free!

SERMON DATE: September 21-22, 2013

ICEBREAKER: When you were in elementary school, what was your favorite activity at recess?

1. Can you think of a time when loneliness had an effect on you in one of the following ways: physically, relationally, psychologically and spiritually? Explain.

2. Have you ever felt separated from God as a result of sin in your life? What did that feel like?

3. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” Is confession to God and confession to others a regular part of your life? Why or why not?

* Note: Confession to another person is for the purpose of revealing the shortcomings, fears, and secret sins to another for the  purpose of finding emotional support and prayer. Confession to another person is not for the purpose of remission of sin. (See verse 17.)

4. False intimacy is the mistaken belief that I can be intimate in my relationships with others without risking being hurt. In what ways might you be settling for false intimacy in your relationships?

5. According to a study that Pastor Kent shared, in 1984, people had 3 close confidantes, and in 2004, the average person had less than 1, and the most common response to the survey was zero. Do you have any people in your life who are close confidantes that you can share your deepest, darkest secrets with, knowing that they will extend to you the grace of God and bear the load of them with you?

Solomon expresses in Ecclesiastes 7 that an upright friend is difficult to find, but Pastor Kent challenged us to become this person in someone else’s life. What steps can you take to practically become this person who other people can share their hearts and lives with?

6. Pastor Kent explained that in order to avoid loneliness, we must experience intimacy in our vertical relationship with God and in our horizontal relationships with others. Are you currently experiencing intimacy in both of those areas? Explain.

7. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON TITLE: The Ultimate Motivation

SERMON SERIES: Special Message by Associate Pastor Brian Darrow

SERMON DATE: September 14-15, 2013

ICEBREAKER: What do you keep in the trunk of your car?

1. At the beginning of his sermon, Brian instructed us to fill in the blank: What motivates you? ___________________. What did you write?

2. Has it ever been hard for you to understand God’s love for you? Why?

3. Brian shared his list of things that stirs his affections toward God. Spend some time in your group (suggest 5-7 minutes) and write down 5 things that you can do to stir your affections or positive emotions towards God. Share some of your answers with your group.

4. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and every time you see the word “love” or “it”, replace it with your name. Share the areas where your love may need growth.

5. What one point or verse from Pastor Brian’s message spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON TITLE: Free! From Fear

SERMON SERIES: Free! Part 6

SERMON DATE: September 7-8, 2013

ICEBREAKER: If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

1. How has fear of people’s opinions of you shaped your behavior in the past? According to Psalm 56, what should you do when you’re faced with this temptation?

See Luke 6:26 for further insight on the topic. 

2. In light of Proverbs 2:2-5, how do we properly learn to fear the Lord? Whenever we fear something, we have 3 options: we can fight against what we fear, we can flee from what we fear, or we can surrender to what we fear. In light of that, which response is appropriate in the fear of God? What does that look like practically in your daily life? In your marriage? In your job?

3. What is the difference between consuming fear and appropriate fear? Based on this understanding, do you have any consuming fears that are plaguing you right now? In what ways are you tempted to rationalize your consuming fears?

4. Pastor Kent explained that when consuming fear is in our lives, there are a number of different consequences. Fear:

• Divides our mind.
• Stifles our ability to think and act rightly.
• Causes indecision.
• Distorts Our Self-Perception.
• Results in panic.
• Enslaves us in uncertainty.
• Destroys relationships.
• Steals joy and peace.
• Blocks spiritual growth.
• Affects health.

When you are fearful, which of these are most evident in your life?

5. How can we love each other with God’s kind of love better in our group?

6. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON TITLE: Free! From Anger Part 3

SERMON SERIES: Free!

SERMON DATE: August 31-September 1, 2013

ICEBREAKER: If you had a “theme song” that played whenever you walk into a room full of people, what would it be?

1. Pastor Kent explained that merely being inconvenienced is not enough to justify anger, but that the offense must be primarily in conflict with and detrimental to the purposes and values of God’s kingdom. (For example, someone cutting you off on the freeway does not justify righteous anger.) How does this affect the way you think about anger and the ways that it manifests itself in your life?

2. Can you think of any ways that you can practically, in your life right now, “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21) or, take your anger, and do good with it?

3. In Mark 10:13-16, we see that Jesus gets angry when any one gets in the way of someone coming to him:

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.” NLT

Pastor Kent explained that any time we get in the way of someone finding Christ, Jesus gets angry. Can you think of any areas in your life where you might be hindering someone from knowing Jesus? (This could be something small, like choosing not to say, “hi” and share a moment with a co-worker.)

4. You can be sure that you are acting on righteous anger when, in the midst of dealing with the issue, you are able to maintain the 3 c’s: courage, confidence, and composure. When have you seen anger dealt with in this way?

5.  Pastor Kent said for anger to be righteous it must meet 2 essential qualifications; (1) It must be a sin that violates the values and purposes of God, (2) it must be guided or directed by God’s Spirit. In light of this What are some practical ways that you can check yourself to see if your anger is righteous? Can you give an example?

6. In 1 Peter 2:19-23, Peter presents us with the example of Jesus concerning how we are to respond to the offenses of others who hurt us – How does this relate to the issue of righteous anger and personal suffering?

1 Peter 2:19-23 ”For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” (NLT)

7. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON TITLE: “Free!” From Anger Part 2

SERMON SERIES: Free!

SERMON DATE: August 24-25,2013

ICEBREAKER: What was the highlight of your summer?

1. Are you more of a hot head or a stewer when it comes to your anger? Why?

2. Do you feel that you are able to control your emotions (“rule your spirit” Proverbs 16:32) or do you struggle with emotional outbursts? Why? What would your closest friends say about you in this regard?

3. Is it difficult for you to ignore petty offenses? Why or why not?

4. Have you ever asked yourself Pastor Kent’s questions about understanding your feelings of anger? If yes, how did those questions help you process your anger in a more healthy way?

5. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON TITLE: “Free!” From Anger

SERMON SERIES: Free!

SERMON DATE: August 17-18,2013

ICEBREAKER: Share with your group about a time when you did something dumb/funny as a result of your anger.

1. Do you feel like you’re experiencing the abundant life that Jesus wants you to have (John 10:10)? Do you think anger could be holding you back from experiencing God’s abundance in your life?

2. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” What is holding you back from immediately addressing this issue of anger in your life? Are there any anger issues or conflicts present in your life right now that have remained unattended to?

3. Pastor Kent mentioned 15 ways that seething anger damages you:

1. Anger breaks our fellowship with God. We can’t be at peace with the Lord while we are angry with another individual (Matt. 5:23-24).
2. Your relationships with other people will suffer. For example, a marriage will not thrive if one or both spouses become angry and refuse to address the problem.
3. You will develop a critical spirit. Bitter people often become judgmental in an effort to justify their negative feelings.
4. You will lack peace. Hostility makes you restless and robs you of joy.
5.Anger leads to emotional isolation. When people are wounded, they often try to protect themselves from further hurt by pushing others away.
6.Anger results in frustration and anxiety. You may expect betrayal or constantly question the motives of those who are kind to you.
7.It leaves you feeling empty. When we cut ourselves off from friendships in order to prevent further hurt, God allows us to feel lonely.
8.It can also cause you to become narrow in mind and heart. You begin to criticize and belittle others—perhaps through joking––but the barbs are real and not quickly forgotton!.
9. Anger sometimes manifests itself through chronic tardiness. By being late, people seek to demonstrate that no one can tell them what to do.
10. Hostility can make you disagreeable. If you have unresolved anger, it can make you argumentative with everyone, not just the person who offended you.
11.Anger can make you sloppy on the job. You may begin to justify failing to look your best, do your best, and be your best at work as a way to express your dissatisfaction.
12.Anger can cause you to lose your enthusiasm. Anger has a draining effect. You may withdraw from social activities or lose your excitement for hobbies and passions.
13.Hostility, if left unchecked, results in procrastination. It diminishes your ability to concentrate, so you are less likely to complete tasks.
14.Anger can contribute to obesity, because people try to comfort themselves through food.
15.It also prevents genuine sexual intimacy in marriage. Your partner can’t fully give themselves to you because they fear being hurt by the unpredictability of your rage.

Are any of these present in your life? If more than one, which one are you experiencing most frequently and why?

4. When is the last time you felt your heart close towards someone? What caused it, and were you able to keep your heart tender towards that person? If not, what steps can you take to open your heart toward that person?

5. How do you practically turn someone over to God for vengeance and still love them?

6. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON TITLE: “Free! From Anxiety”

SERMON SERIES: Free!
SERMON DATE: August 10-11, 2013
ICEBREAKER: What clubs or sports teams were you a part of in high school?
1. Pastor Kent shared a list of symptoms that might indicate that you have a problem with anxiety. Can you recognize any of those symptoms in your life? What do you worry about the most?
2.James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” What is something that you need right now, but haven’t asked God for? What has kept you from bringing this request to God
3. Pastor Kent explained that God’s resources are only available to those who put Him first in their lives. Do you feel like God is providing for all of your needs right now?  If no, what adjustments do you need to make to get God in His rightful place in your heart?
4.Share an example from your life that illustrates that God’s timing is better than your timing.
5. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON SERIES: Free by Senior Pastor Kent Sparks

SERMON TITLE: “Set Free By Jesus”

SERMON DATE: August 3-4, 2013

ICEBREAKER: Tell your group about the worst hair cut you ever received.

1. It is human nature to be tempted to return to the yokes of slavery that Christ freed us from. In what subtle ways do you find yourself drifting back into bondage and slavery?

2.Pastor Kent described three big items from the value system of our culture: the lust of the flesh (bodily appetites), the lust of the eyes (materialism), and the boastful pride of life. Of the three, which are you most tempted to fall into? Explain.

3. Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” When you see a friend drifting into bondage, what do you usually do to help them besides prayer? How does that work out? Why? Can you share personal experience?

4. There are several indicators that let us know that we are drifting back into bondage (losing interest in God’s Word, losing passion for prayer, increasing relational conflict, etc.). Are any of those present in your life right now? How far along do you usually get before realizing that something is seriously amiss?Practically, what can you do to keep yourself from continuing to drift?

5. Of the four ways in which Christ sets us free, which one do you struggle with accepting and experiencing most in your own personal spiritual journey?

6. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON SERIES: Special Message by Senior Pastor Kent Sparks

SERMON TITLE: “How God Makes Us Like Jesus Part 2″

SERMON DATE: July 27-28, 2013

ICEBREAKER: Name 3 things you think will become obsolete in ten years.

1. How can you practically cooperate with God as He strives to make you more like Jesus?

2. Share a recent example of a time when you were able to overcome a temptation to sin? What happened? How were you able to avoid falling into sin?

3. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible , as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” In light of this verse, are there any difficult relationships in your life right now that you might need to tend to?

4. When we seek payback or revenge after being wronged, we are assuming the role of God who says “It is mine to avenge,” (Romans 12:19). Is it difficult for you to trust that God will take care of it and ensure justice? Do you struggle with the desire to get revenge and get even? Explain.

5.Share about a time in your life when someone who you perceived to be your “enemy” did something kind for you. How did that make you feel? How did you react?

6. Share about a time in your life when you were able to learn a powerful/meaningful lesson through failure.

7. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON SERIES: Special Message by Guest Speaker Don Roy

SERMON TITLE: “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?”

SERMON DATE: July 20-21, 2013

ICEBREAKER: If you could choose any actor or actress to “play” you in a movie about your life, who would you choose and why?

1. Share about a time in your life when you asked, “Why, God?” Do you feel like you got an answer?

2 What is a trial that you have gone through in your life that you are able to see that God used for his intentions?

3. Don explained that God is the Potter and we are the clay and he uses difficult circumstances in order to mold and shape our character. Have you ever felt like you didn’t want to be what God was forming you in to? Explain.

4. How has God used something painful in your life to benefit another person?

5. What one point or verse from Don’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON SERIES: Special Message

SERMON TITLE: “Looking Around”

SERMON DATE: July 13-14, 2013

ICEBREAKER: If you could be famous for one thing, what would it be and why?

1. Are you currently chasing after something—a goal, job, relationship, or possession—that you hope will give you peace and contentment? Explain.

2. Who or what are you tempted to look at as your point of reference to tell you that you’re “okay”?

3. In the sermon, Andy says that just like a great parent doesn’t compare his or her child to another child, God doesn’t compare us to other people. Is it difficult to believe that God loves you like that? Why or why not?

4. Read Galatians 4:4–7. When you pray, do you refer to God as “Father”? If you do, how does that affect the way you relate to God? If you don’t, why don’t you?

5. What one point or verse from Pastor Andy’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

SERMON SERIES: Special Message

SERMON TITLE: “How God Makes Us Like Jesus Part 1″

SERMON DATE: July 6-7, 2013

ICEBREAKER: What is your favorite weird food combination?

1. Pastor Kent explained that if we want to grow up spiritually, we have to be in God’s Word which includes: reading it, studying it, memorizing it, thinking about it, and applying it in our lives. Are you in God’s Word on a regular basis? How do you personally benefit the most from God’s Word?

2. According to Ephesians 4:11-13, the Pastor’s job is not to do the work of the ministry, but rather to equip the people of the church to “build up the church”. In what ways can you practically fulfill your role? Discuss with your group.

3. Pastor Kent shared the importance of meeting regularly with other Believers. How has God used your participation in your small group to positively impact your spiritual life?

4. Every problem has a purpose. What is a problem that you have faced recently that you can see that God has used for a purpose?

5.  When you’re in the midst of a trial, is it difficult for you to share your true feelings? Are you the silent sufferer? Why do you think revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing?

6. What one point or verse from Pastor Kent’s sermon spoke to you the most and why?

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