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.


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


~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.

Joseph of Arimathea — Bold Love (Follow) Mark 15.42-47

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.


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


~Pastor Matt

  1. Read through the first part of verse 43. How is Joseph of Arimathea described?  What does it mean that he was a “prominent member of the Council” and that he was “waiting on the kingdom of God”?
  2. Mark tells us in verse 43 that Joseph “went boldly to Pilate” and asked for Jesus’ body. What was so bold about Joseph’s request? What was he risking, if anything?
  3. In verses 44-47 five people are listed as witnesses that Jesus was dead – the centurion, Pilate, Joseph, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary. Why is it important to know that Jesus actually died? How would this passage speak to those who still say today that Jesus merely appeared to die on the cross?
  4. In the legal code of the Old Testament (specifically in Numbers 19.11-22) it says that touching a dead body makes someone unclean and intricate ceremonies are needed to make one clean again. Now read verse 46. What does this say to you about Joseph’s love for Jesus?
  5. The love that Joseph showed Jesus was quite bold, even though he literally could get nothing in return since Jesus was dead. How bold is our love for Jesus today? What might prevent us from being as bold as Joseph was?  How do you think we can demonstrate a bit more boldness?

Takeaway: What is one BOLD way that you can demonstrate love for Jesus in your life his week?

Mary and Martha: Being and Doing (Luke 10.38-42)


Here are the Questions for Reflection for last week’s sermon.  I hope you enjoy them!

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, questions, or comments, please contact me directly at mbarnes@discoverthejoy.com.  Thanks!

Pastor Matt

  1. How familiar are you with Luke 10.38-42, the story of Jesus visiting the home of Martha and Mary? Do you like this passage of Scripture? Why or why not?
  2. What is the main thing we can learn from this passage? What can we learn from Jesus here? What can we learn from Martha?  What can we learn from Mary?
  3. In verse 39 we are told that Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teaching, which was a common way to talk about discipleship in the ancient world. However, back then it was quite rare for women to be allowed to be disciples in this way. What does this tell you about Jesus?  What does it tell you about Mary?
  4. The Greek word in verse 40 for “preparations” is diakonia, which means “service” and is where we get the English words “deacon” and “deaconate.” Does knowing that Martha was engaged in service in this passage change the way you think about her? If so, in what way?  If not, why not?
  5. The conversation between Jesus and Martha in verses 40-42 reveals that she is comparing herself to Mary, which is causing her lots of anxiety and is preventing her from learning from Jesus well in this moment. How common is Martha’s comparison issue for both men and women today? How can we prevent this problem?

Finding a Place to Settle (Psalm 107.1-9)


Here are the questions for this week based on the sermon that Rev. Kit Ripley preached last weekend.  Please feel free to use them as you see fit.  The hope is that you’ll use them for your personal devotions or within your community (i.e., your small group, Bible study, or Sunday School).  Thanks!

Questions for Reflection
~Pastor Matt Barnes

  1. In v.2 the psalmist encourages those who are redeemed to tell their stories. Why do you think he’d make this request? Why are stories so powerful? How can we, as followers of Jesus, do a better job of telling our stories?
  2. There are 65.3 million people in the world who are displaced from their homes due to war, famine, natural disasters, and other causes. What do you think that we as the Church can do to alleviate some of their pain and suffering? How can we be a place that allows them to settle, as in v. 7?
  3. It’s pretty clear from this passage that God cares deeply about those who are wanderers in deserted wastelands (v.4). Besides exiles and refugees, who else might be correctly identified as “wanderers in deserted wastelands”? How might we do a better job of identifying people like these who are in need?
  4. Have you ever felt like you’ve been stuck in the desert all by yourself (physically, emotionally, spiritually, or otherwise)? What did you do? How do you wish people would have treated you during this time?
  5. If we as followers of Jesus did a better job of providing places for people to settle down, what would the impact be on our reputation? And why does this matter?

Takeaway: How can you, your small group, Sunday School class, or your family help someone who is an exile or refugee in our community?


If you have any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or comments, then please feel free to contact me directly at mbarnes@discoverthejoy.com.

Thanks again!

James and John: Want to Be Great? (Mark 10.35-45)

Here are the Questions for Reflection for this week!

  1. From almost any perspective it appears that the request James and John make in verse 35 is shocking. Why do you think they made this request? What makes it shocking?  Do we ever make similarly shocking kinds of requests of Jesus?  If so, like what?
  2. What does Jesus mean when he uses the words “cup” and “baptism” in verse 38? Do you think James and John understand what Jesus meant when they answer in verse 39? How do we still experience Jesus’ “cup” and “baptism” today?
  3. Read Mark 15.27. How does this verse help make sense of Mark 10.35-40, especially regarding who will be on Jesus right and left in glory? What does this teach us about human definitions of glory versus Jesus’ definition of glory?
  4. What does it mean to “lord it over them” in verse 42? Have you ever had a leader over you “lord it over” you? Has this ever happened in a church you’ve been a part of?  How should Christian leaders be different from leaders who don’t follow Jesus?
  5. Look over verses 42-45. What in these verses really stands out to you as the most needed advice for followers of Jesus today? Why did you pick what you did?  What are some ways that we can live this advice out in our everyday lives?

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!  My email address is mbarnes@discoverthejoy.com.  Thanks!

Pastor Matt

Peter: Peaks and Valleys (Matthew 16.13-23)

I hope that you find these questions useful in your personal devotional time and/or during your community Bible study times, such as in Sunday School or in small groups.  If you have any questions, thoughts, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  My email address is mbarnes@discoverthejoy.com.  Thanks!

  1. In verse 13 we read that Jesus and his disciples were in Caesarea Philippi, which was a city that had a large Gentile population. What, if anything, does this tell us about Jesus and his priorities? What can we learn about taking the gospel of Jesus outside of our comfort zones?
  2. Jesus asks the question in verse 13, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?,” and the answers given tell us quite a bit about who people back then expected the Messiah to be. Well, who do people say Jesus is today? What do people’s answers to that question reveal about their understanding of Jesus?
  3. In verse 15 Jesus makes the question more personal: “Who do you say I am?” Is this question still pertinent to us today? How would you answer it? How would the people you are close to where you work, live, and play answer it?
  4. Jesus commends Peter for his answer (verses 17-20) but Peter later reveals that he doesn’t really understand the kind of Messiah Jesus is (verse 21-22). Do we have similar problems to Peter? Do we experience peaks in our faith with Jesus followed immediately by valleys?
  5. In verse 18 Jesus tells Peter that he’s a rock on which he’ll build the church but in verse 23 he tells him that he’s become a stumbling block to his mission. In what ways have we as individuals and as a community gotten in the way of Jesus’ mission in Alhambra and beyond? What can we do to be more in line with Jesus and his mission instead, taking our proper place behind Jesus, following him?

~Pastor Matt Barnes

Mary Magdalene: He Knows My Name (John 20.1-2, 11-18)


Here are the Questions for Reflection that I’ve prepared for this week.  Feel free to use them in your personal devotionals or in your small groups and Sunday School classes.

  1. How would you describe Mary Magdalene’s emotions in verses 1-2 and 11-13? Is the way that she felt typical for someone in her position? Why or why not?
  2. Why do you think that Mary did not recognize Jesus in verse 14? What was preventing her from seeing him for who he really is? Is there anything that prevents us from recognizing Jesus in the world today?  How might we see him more clearly?
  3. What changes in v.16 that allows Mary to recognize Jesus? Read John 10.3-4. Does this passage in John 10 help us understand why Mary might have recognized Jesus?
  4. Does Jesus call out to us using our names today? Where might we hear his voice calling us? How do we differentiate his voice from other voices, including our own voices?
  5. How would you describe the change in Mary Magdalene from the beginning of this passage to verse 18? How might we become as excited as Mary to obey Jesus in telling others the good news that we have seen the Lord?

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly!  My email address is mbarnes@discovertherjoy.com.


Pastor Matt