1. What Do You Do? – Have your group members take turns sharing their answer to the question, “What do you do?” Even if your group is very familiar with each other, still ask them to participate in this exercise. Most people will most likely answer with their job or career. After everyone has answered, discuss why no one said they do the Lord’s work. Discuss creative ways to answer the question “What do you do?” when others ask in the future, highlighting the fact that every Christian works for the Lord.
2. Surprise Ministry – Before group, the leader puts the names of each group member on a slip of paper in a bag. During group, have each member draw out one name (if someone draws their own name, have them put it back and draw another). Challenge your group to find a way to minister to the person they drew out sometime during the week.
3. Group Gifts – Provide a poster board or large sheet of butcher paper and a bunch of sticky notes. Have your group silently reflect on the gifts and talents they have been given and write each one on a different sticky note. These can be spiritual gifts, but they can also be skills (such as photography or cooking) or knowledge (such as math or engineering). Have group members take turns sharing their gifts and sticking the sticky notes on the poster board or paper. At the end, marvel at all the different, diverse gifts God has given your group. Pray that God will help your group find opportunities to use your gifts to further His kingdom.
1. Read Ephesians 2:1-5. We were once condemned and spiritually dead. What changed and why?
• Intent: Because of His love, God’s mercy has saved us by grace and made us alive in Christ Jesus.
2. Read Ephesians 2:8-10. Note that verse 9 says "works" and verse 10 says "good works." Why is this significant?
• Intent: Before becoming a Christian, our works tended to be prompted by a selfish motive. After we are in Christ, the Holy Spirit motivates and enables us to do truly good works out of love for the Lord and others. See Mk. 10:18 for the contextual meaning of "good" used in this passage. People may be more or less good or bad, but only God is absolutely, perfectly, eternally good. Before the gospel can be received, people must understand that they are not good in God’s sight, and that no amount of human effort or religious observance can make them so.
3. Ministry has been defined as “carrying forth Christ's mission in the world,” which includes doing good works. (A) What is an example of a "good work"? Is it small daily choices or something big? Is it just living the Spirit-filled life? (B) Since God has laid out good works in advance for you, how do you know what those good works are?
4. (A) Read James 1:22. It would appear from this passage that having Bible knowledge can sometimes be a trap. Why is this possible? (B) Read James 2:8, 14-17 and 24. What is the antidote?
• Intent: James 2:19 tells us that Satan’s demons have Bible knowledge and rebelled. Our motivation, on the other hand, is love (Jas 2:8, 1 Cor. 13). If we do not have love, first for God, then people, we will likewise fail to apply our Bible knowledge and miss the “good works” that God formed for each of us before the foundation of the earth.
5. How can spending time alone with God help motivate our actions, including good works?
• Intent: By spending significant time meditating on His word (Psalm 119) and in prayer, the Holy Spirit grows our love for God and others, revealing how we might minister in Christ’s name.
6. What does it mean to you to be God's "workmanship" or "handiwork"? How does this personalize who God created you to be?
• Intent: Responses may include recognizing and appreciating that the Lord uniquely created each individual, and God planned specific good works for each person to do.
7. (A) What good work by a fellow Christian have you observed? (B) What is a good work you believe the Lord has prepared for you to do in the future? This could be helping or leading a ministry in the church, community outreach, helping a friend or family member, evangelism, going on a missions trip, civic involvement, or something else.
8. Why are we to do good works? How do they affect those who observe them? (See Tuesday’s devotional)
• Intent: To bring God glory and point people back to Him (Matt. 5:16).
Make four signs and place them in the corners of the room. One sign says “Discernment,” one says “Courage,” one says “Opportunities,” and the one says “Other.” At prayer time, explain the four signs and have group members go to the corner of the room they feel most applies to their situation. Discernment is for people who need discernment about their own God-given gifts and how to use them. Courage is for people who need the courage to put their faith into action and begin ministering to others. Opportunities is for people who are seeking opportunities to use their gifts and serve. Other is for anything else someone needs prayer for in relation to this sermon topic. Have each corner group pray for 2-3 minutes together. (If there is a corner with only one person, that person can pray on their own or the group leader can join them.)
1. Refer to discussion question 7(B): What is a good work you believe the Lord has prepared for you to do in the future? What do you need to do to start that good work?