If you have a favorite parable from Jesus or a story from your own life, briefly share it with the group or with a person sitting close to you.

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1 Lesson 1 - Lost and Found September, 2016 Ezekiel 34: Timothy 1:12-17 Luke 15:1-10 AS YOU GATHER Make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. Say a word or two about what you hope to gain from this study. If you have a favorite parable from Jesus or a story from your own life, briefly share it with the group or with a person sitting close to you. Also share with the group, or with a person sitting close to you, something for which you have especially been praying this week. (Either giving thanks or asking for God s help.) Before starting the video, please have someone offer a prayer for this study, for those in your group, and for those who don t know Christ. VIDEO STUDY - The Parable of the Lost Sheep Parables were part of the instructional and revelatory activity of Jesus. They are DESCRIPTIVE of God s activity rather than being PRESCRIPTIVE or predictive. The question that needs to be answered: Who is this Jesus? Luke 9:51 Luke 15:1-2 Jesus set His face to go to JERUSALEM. Tax collectors and sinners were eager to hear Jesus. The Pharisees and scribes were unhappy that they came to Him and that Jesus received them. Both groups heard the parables Jesus told. The theme of the three parables in Luke 15: JOY! According to the Pharisees, shepherds were squarely in the SINNER class. The Burden of Restoration refers to CHRIST. The lost can be found! Page 1 Lesson 1 - Lost and Found

2 GETTING INTO THE WORD 1. Why, do you think, were the Pharisees and scribes grumbling about the way Jesus received sinners? Shouldn t they have been happy about that? Do we ever feel the way they did? Why or why not? Pharisees might have grumbled because they thought they were better, more deserving of Jesus attention. Your group will probably come up with other reasons, as well. 2. In what way did the sheep in Jesus first parable in Luke 15 and the coin in the second parable contribute to being found? Not at all. All they did was to get lost. 3. In these parables, repentance = being found. How is that a good way to think about repentance? In what ways is it an incomplete understanding? > Good Repentance is not a good work we do that merits God s favor. Repentance precedes faith in the One who has found us. Salvation is solely and completely God s work. > Incomplete Repentance that comes from faith is something God works in Christians to bring us back to Himself every day. It also works in us the desire to avoid sinning and to do more good works in the future. >Which comes first forgiveness or repentance? God has forgiven all people because of Jesus, so forgiveness comes first. Repentance and faith receive the forgiveness God offers. 4. Do we think more in terms of individuals or community? Why? What is positive about that? Not positive? We are a very individualistic culture. It s good in that each must take responsibility for her/ his own actions. It s not so good in that God also wants us to be responsible for one another and to encourage each other. 5. In what way is the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin descriptive of God? He searches for us; He rejoices when we are found. 6. In what way could they also be prescriptive for us? We can follow God s example by searching for those who lost to lead them to Jesus and rejoicing over every sinner who comes to faith in Jesus. 7. What can you do this week to seek the lost? To rejoice over those who are found? Give them plenty of time to think about this and to discuss it. Page 2 Lesson 1 - Lost and Found

3 REMEMBER THIS There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Luke 15:7 Faith in Action yourselves. Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving James 1:22 Consider how to stir one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24 Following Jesus means that we intentionally seek out ways to imitate Him. That includes engaging in such spiritual practices as: Regular, corporate worship Prayer and meditation Bible study Offering to Him our time, talents, treasure In addition, we look for opportunities to offer: A clear witness to the love of Jesus Service to our family Service to our congregation Service to our community and beyond. With the group, or with a person sitting close to you, talk about some of the struggles and some of the successes you have had in one or more of those areas. (Since we repeat these questions in each of the lessons, you might want to pick just one or two areas each week to discuss, or let participants know that you will ask for one or two volunteers to share their thoughts each week.) Page 3 Lesson 1 - Lost and Found

4 Lesson 2 - The Dishonest Manager September, 2016 Amos 8:4-7 1 Timothy 2:1-7 Luke 16:1-13 AS YOU GATHER Make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. If anyone is new to your group, be sure to spend a little time introducing yourselves. Share with the group, or with a person sitting close to you, something for which you have especially been praying this week. (Either giving thanks or asking for God s help.) Before starting the video, please have someone offer a brief prayer for this study, for those in your group, and for those who don t yet know Christ. VIDEO STUDY - (Luke 16:1-15) This parable is linked to the previous one (The Prodigal Son) and the next one (The Rich Man and Lazarus) in that they all reference the proper use of POSSESSIONS. Some of the apparent difficulties with interpretation of this parable are: Jesus seems to be offering praise for the manager s DISHONESTY. The one cheated by the manager also seems to be praising him. It s hard to tell where the parable actually ends. The dilemma for the owner was whether to let the new agreement stand and take a FINANCIAL hit OR to insist on the terms of the original agreement and take a PUBLIC RELATIONS hit. The dishonest manager is praised for counting on the owner s MERCY. The dilemma for Christians is whether to serve (trust in) GOD or MONEY. This is not an easy choice, but it is one with ETERNAL consequences. The parable is DESCRIPTIVE of God s grace toward us who don t deserve it. The parable is PRESCRIPTIVE in that it encourages God s people to use our possessions wisely. Page 1 Lesson 2 - The Dishonest Manager

5 GETTING INTO THE WORD 1. Do you think the suggested interpretation of this parable is helpful? Why or why not? We cannot insist on this interpretation as being the right one, or the only right one. It seems to be the best one to address the difficulties mentioned in the video. Participants should be allowed to point out deficiencies if they see them. 2. The dishonest manager first tries to figure out what he can do to earn a living (a matter of life and death for him). While the plan he ultimately executes involves some action on his part, why does it ultimately rely on the mercy of the owner? If the owner had chosen not to honor the new contracts, the manager s plan would have failed. 3. How did he know his master was merciful? He didn t immediately throw him in prison, which he could have done. 4. Give some examples of ways people (you?) try to serve both God and money. Why does Jesus say that it s not possible to do so? How can we improve in this regard? > Allow plenty of time for this discussion, but try to steer participants to talk more about themselves than others they have observed we want personal application here. > Don t beat up participants who acknowledge a problem here, but don t let them off the hook too easily, either. We need to honestly face up to our sin and then gratefully receive God s forgiveness and His strength to do better. 5. Why did the Pharisees ridicule Jesus? How did He respond? Probably because they didn t like what He said and it was just easiest to make fun of Him. He responded by confronting them in the following verses, then telling the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. That is next week s lesson. 6. The Pharisees were lovers of money (16:14). That s a pretty clear description of their attitude towards it. What is your attitude towards money and possessions? a. It belongs to me, keep your hands off b. It belongs to the bank and credit card companies c. It belongs to God I manage it for Him Let participants wrestle with this for a bit. It s probably the case that we ve all reacted in each of those ways at one time or another. The goal, of course, is to get to the point where we gladly and fully accept the Scriptural teaching expressed in Point c. Page 2 Lesson 2 - The Dishonest Manager

6 REMEMBER THIS No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Luke 16:13 Faith in Action yourselves. Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving James 1:22 Consider how to stir one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24 Following Jesus means that we intentionally seek out ways to imitate Him. That includes engaging in such spiritual practices as: Regular, corporate worship Prayer and meditation Bible study Offering to Him our time, talents, treasure In addition, we look for opportunities to offer: A clear witness to the love of Jesus Service to our family Service to our congregation Service to our community and beyond. Talk about some of the struggles and some of the successes you have had in one or more of those areas. Page 3 Lesson 2 - The Dishonest Manager

7 Lesson 3 - The Rich Man and Lazarus September, 2016 Amos 6:1-7 1 Timothy 6:6-19 Luke 16:19-31 AS YOU GATHER Make everyone feel welcome and comfortable. If anyone is new to your group, be sure to spend a little time introducing yourselves. Share with the group, or with a person sitting close to you, something for which you have especially been praying this week. (Either giving thanks or asking for God s help.) Before starting the video, please have someone offer a brief prayer for this study, for those in your group, and for those who don t yet know Christ. VIDEO STUDY - (Luke 16:19-31) Luke tells us in verse 14 that the Pharisees were LOVERS OF MONEY. Our parable comes almost immediately after Jesus chastises them for that. Unlike the Egyptian folk-tale, Jesus is NOT saying that being poor or being good gets a person into heaven. He IS saying that your BELIEF about heaven will determine how you LIVE on earth. The name Lazarus means he whom God HELPS. The point of this parable is NOT to give us a detailed description of heaven and hell. The point of this parable is that GOD S WORD contains all that people need to know and we must accept it in that way. The parable is DESCRIPTIVE of God s gracious action in taking His people to heaven. The parable is PRESCRIPTIVE in that it encourages God s people to use our possessions to serve God by helping others. Page 1 Lesson 3 - The Rich Man and Lazarus

8 GETTING INTO THE WORD 1. In your opinion, why does God give material blessings to some and not others? There will no doubt be a variety of answers. We do want to make sure to note that material blessings don t necessarily mean that God is pleased with someone or that the lack of health or wealth means He is displeased. 2. What does God want His people to do with the material blessings He gives to us? In general, He wants us to manage them for His purposes. There are many specific answers that could be given: provide for our family; share with those in need; support the church, missions, and other worthwhile causes. 3. Tell about a time you shared a material blessing with someone and, in turn, were blessed yourself. It might take a bit for specific memories to come, but they should be there. It might be helpful if you can provide an example first from your own life. Don t rush this give them some time to think of an example themselves. 4. Can you think of a time you had the opportunity to share with someone in need but didn t do so? If given another opportunity, would you do anything differently? We might not choose to anything differently, but we certainly might. We are not always able to provide what somebody needs. 5. In Acts 20:35, Jesus is quoted as saying, It is more blessed to give than to receive. While it is often those who want to receive what we have to give who like to quote this verse, it is still a wonderful reminder to us. Give some reasons why Jesus words ring true for you. Some thoughts: > Would you rather be in the position where you re able to give or where you need to receive? >By giving to others, we so often receive something in return. That might be something tangible, or it could just be the good feeling that comes with helping others. > God created us to be like He is, and He is a giving God. Page 2 Lesson 3 - The Rich Man and Lazarus

9 REMEMBER THIS If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead. Luke 16:31 Faith in Action yourselves. Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving James 1:22 Consider how to stir one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24 Following Jesus means that we intentionally seek out ways to imitate Him. That includes engaging in such spiritual practices as: Regular, corporate worship Prayer and meditation Bible study Offering to Him our time, talents, treasure In addition, we look for opportunities to offer: A clear witness to the love of Jesus Service to our family Service to our congregation Service to our community and beyond. Talk about some of the struggles and some of the successes you have had in one or more of those areas. Page 3 Lesson 3 - The Rich Man and Lazarus

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