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

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.


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!

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

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  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  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


Pastor Matt

Andrew: Come and See (John 1.35-42)


Here are the questions for the sermon on June 25, 2017 entitled “Andrew: Come and See (John 1.35-42).”  Read the passage and then work through the questions one at a time, taking time to ponder and to let the Spirit work in you and your group.

  1. In John 1.37 two of John the Baptist’s followers began following Jesus? Why? What attracted them to Jesus?
  2. Jesus tells the two people following him to come and see where he was staying (John 1.39). Why do you think Jesus said this? What value would there have been in having these two men see where he stayed?
  3. After spending time with Jesus, the first thing that Andrew did was to find Simon Peter, his brother, so that he could share with him that the Messiah had been found (John 1.40-41). What do you think caused Andrew to be so excited to share with his brother?
  4. Spending time, just one afternoon!, with Jesus changed Andrew’s life and his brother’s life too! How are we spending time with Jesus? Is it changing our lives? Why or why not?
  5. Andrew immediately had to share with the person he loved the most that he had met Jesus. What is holding us back from sharing with people in our lives? How can we address these issues so that we will actually share the good news?

If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at


Pastor Matt