The Samaritan Woman – Evangelist Extraordinaire (John 4.1-30, 39-42

Friends, please use these questions for reflection for your private devotions or in your small-group or adult Sunday School class.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, then please email me directly at mbarnes@discoverthejoy.com.

Grace and peace,

~Pastor Matt

  1. In verse 4 we learn that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” What do you think that means?  Why do you think Jesus HAD TO go through Samaria?
  2. What sorts of barriers existed between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman? What do you think others would have thought of Jesus had they seen him with the Samaritan Woman, keeping in mind all of the barriers?  What did Jesus do about these barriers in this passage?
  3. Jesus talks about water quite a bit in this passage. How does he use the water imagery in verses 13 and 14?  What is the significance of Jesus’ water becoming a spring?
  4. Why do you think Jesus brought up her relationship status? What can we learn from Jesus about how he brings it up and when in the conversation he does so?
  5. Read verses 28-30 and 39-42. How would you describe the change in the Samaritan Woman’s life that occurred thanks to this one encounter with Jesus?  What we can we learn about how to follow Jesus and how to share about Jesus from her?

Takeaway: Demonstrate your gratitude toward Jesus this week by sharing and/or being the good news of Jesus with at least one person where you work, live, or play this week.  Before you do so, pray.  After you do so, find a way to follow up with them.

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Thomas – Doubting Disciple (John 20.24-29)

Questions for Reflection

~ Pastor Matt

  1. Read through this passage (John 20.24-29). Do you think it’s fair that the disciple Thomas is always called “Doubting Thomas”?  Do you blame him for feeling the way he did and saying the things he said?  Why or why not?  Can you relate to Thomas?  Why or why not?
  2. At the end of verse 27 Jesus commands Thomas to “stop doubting and believe.” What do you think about this command?  Does it seem fair that Jesus asks Thomas to stop doubting?  Is that something someone can do easily?  Why or why not?
  3. In verse 28 Thomas’ reaction is really strong. How would you characterize his reaction?  Why do you think he reacted so strongly?  Put yourself in Thomas’ shoes, how do you think you would have reacted?
  4. What do you think about what Jesus says in verse 29? Do you feel blessed since it’s pretty safe to say that none of us have seen Jesus with our physical eyes?  In fact, what is blessed about not seeing Jesus but believing in him anyway?
  5. What role does doubt play in the life of a follower of Jesus? What role does it play in your life?  How do you deal with it?  How do you move forward through it?  How do you help others deal with doubt?

Takeaway: Be honest with yourself and with God this week about any doubts you might have.  And then trust that God’s covenant love is strong enough to hold you tight!

Joanna and Susanna: Out of Their Own Pockets (Luke 8.1-3)

These questions are intended for your personal devotions and/or your small group or Sunday School class.  I pray you find them beneficial!  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please email me directly at mbarnes@discoverthejoy.com.  Thanks!

~Pastor Matt

  1. What advantages and disadvantages came with Jesus traveling from one place to another in his ministry? Why do you think he might have made this choice?  As followers of Jesus today, should we be influenced by Jesus’ choice to move about?
  2. Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God. What is the “good news”?  Now think about people who you know where you work, live, and play.  In their line of thinking, what’s good news to them?  Can we address both as followers of Jesus?  How?
  3. Jesus’ ministry included proclaiming the good news (v. 1) but also setting people held captive by demons free and healing the sick (v.2). In other words, Jesus cared about people’s spiritual wellbeing and their physical wellbeing also.  Why do you think it is so tempting for us to only focus on one of these or the other?  What’s so hard about doing them at the same time?
  4. Who was Herod? What do you imagine Chouza’s job as manager of his household included?  Would Joanna have had any status within society as the wife of this important man?  Why do you think Luke would include all of these details here?
  5. Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many other women helped support (literally, “serve”) Jesus’ ministry out of their own means. What can we learn from them?  How can we serve Jesus’ continued ministry today?

Takeaway: How are we sacrificially serving the ministry of Jesus today?  What is one way we all can do so more this week?

Philip and Nathanael: Found (John 1.43-51)

Questions for Reflection

~Pastor Matt

  1. Read through verses 43-45. What is the significance of the three times that the word finding/found is used?  Who finds whom?  Today, who is finding us and who are we to find?
  2. In verse 46 Nathaniel says something rude about the people of Nazareth. What do you think about Philip’s response?  Is his response something that we need to incorporate into our ways of talking more and more?  Why or why not?
  3. In verse 48 Jesus says that he saw Nathaniel under the fig tree before Philip called him. Why do you think that Nathaniel responded the way that he did in verse 49?  What was so special about Jesus seeing Nathaniel under a fig tree?
  4. How do you make sense of the imagery used by Jesus in verse 51? What is Jesus talking about?  What might it mean for us today?
  5. Who in our lives needs to be found? Say their names out loud and/or write them down.  When will you imitate Philip, asking them to “come and see” the one who saved you and who loves you with an everlasting love?

Takeaway: Commit to pray for someone in your life who needs to be found every single day this week.  And then pray for them!

Nicodemus: Born Again (John 3.1-15)

Questions for Reflection

~Pastor Matt

  1. Who were the Pharisees? What do you think about them?  In verse 1 we learn that Nicodemus was a Pharisee.  How well does Nicodemus fit your preconceptions of who the Pharisees were?
  2. Why do you think Nicodemus came to Jesus at night? What did he have to conceal?  What did he have to lose?  Are there people today who try to come to Jesus in secrecy?  Why do you think they might do this?
  3. A major theme of this passage is being born again. What does that phrase mean?  How do we, as followers of Jesus, demonstrate that we’re born again?  What are the signs of spiritual life?
  4. Read Numbers 21.4-9. Now read John 3.14-15.  Why would Jesus make this analogy about the snake being lifted up?  How was Jesus like that snake that Moses lifted in the wilderness?  How are we all like the Israelites who were bitten by snakes?
  5. Who in your life needs to know or be reminded that being born again is the only way to have eternal life? How can you let them know?  Talk your answer out and try not to use “churchy” words.

 

Takeaway: How can we all make ourselves more approachable for people who think they need to come to Jesus at night like Nicodemus?

Zacchaeus: From Stealing to Salvation (Luke 19.1-10)

Here are this week’s Questions for Reflection.  If you have any issues, questions, thoughts, or concerns, please contact me directly at mbarnes@discoverthejoy.com.

Thanks!

~Pastor Matt

  1. Considering that Zacchaeus is described as “a chief tax collector who was wealthy” (verse 2), how do you think he was viewed within the Jewish community of first-century Jericho? Who in our society today might be comparable to Zacchaeus?  How can we do a better job of being hospitable toward all people?
  2. In the ancient world, important and wealthy men did not run and they certainly did not climb trees but in verses 3 and 4 we learn that Zacchaeus did both of those things! What does this say about Zacchaeus?  What can we learn from him here?
  3. What do you think about the word “must” that Jesus uses in verse 5? Why MUST Jesus do this?  And then what do you think about the word “gladly” in verse 5?  What is creating so much joy for Zacchaeus?
  4. Read through Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus in verse 8. What stands out to you?  What does this response tell you about Zacchaeus and his faith?
  5. In verse 10 Jesus reveals in one short phrase his entire mission: “to seek and save the lost.” Is that our mission too?  What about it is difficult?  How might we better participate in Jesus’ mission?

 

Takeaway: What are you willing to do to see Jesus and to participate in his mission?  What is one practical way you can be more in line with him this week?

Levi – Transformation (Luke 5.27-32)

Here are the questions for reflection for this week. These are intended to be used by individuals during their personal devotions or small groups, Bible studies, or Sunday School classes.

Enjoy!

If you have any questions, comments, issues, or comments, please email me directly at mbarnes@discoverthejoy.com.

Thanks!

~Pastor Matt

  1. How do you imagine tax collectors like Levi were perceived by their fellow Jews in first-century Palestine? Why were they perceived this way?
  2. Jesus invites a despised tax collector to follow him, to be a disciple. How do you think this made Levi feel?  What do you think this communicated to other people who might have also been looked down upon in first-century Palestine?
  3. Read verses 28 and 29 again. Describe Levi’s responses to Jesus.  What do you think we can learn about following Jesus today from Levi in these two verses?
  4. What do you think of the Pharisees’ question in verse 30? Is it fair to say that many people today wouldn’t be able to ask the same question of us? Why or why not?  Who are we, as followers of Jesus, most known to eat and drink with (not who SHOULD we eat and drink with but who do we ACTUALLY eat and drink with)?
  5. Read verses 31 and 32 again. How should Jesus’ words in these verses influence the way we live today as individuals, families, and as a community?  What are some practical ways we can care more about “the sick” and help bring “sinners to repentance”?

 

Takeaway: Who is “sick” in your circle of influence that could use the cure that only Jesus can provide?  Reach out to them in one way this week.