For this session, you’ll need . . .
- A small (or at least cheap), wrapped “re-gift” from/for everyone in your group.
Note: If you have time, turn your opening experience into a full-blown “white elephant party.” Or do it as prescribed below. The follow-up questions will work either way.
Laying Down Your Day (20 minutes)
As your group members enter, have them place their gifts on a nearby table or on the floor—somewhere they’re easily accessible.
Have everyone grab a gift to start off your session. Once everyone’s taken a gift, open them simultaneously. Have a good laugh, and then discuss:
- When have you given a “re-gift”—or been the obvious recipient of one? Either way, how did you feel about giving/receiving it?
Ask for a volunteer to read Matthew 7:7–11. Then, discuss this question:
- How do we sometimes treat God’s good gifts like our “re-gifts” here? Be specific, if possible.
Ask for another volunteer to read the following excerpt from “Lay Down Your Crown.” Then, discuss the question that follows:
Everything we have from God, ultimately, is a gift. . . . “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1). Why then do we live as if this isn’t true—as if we need to have a contingency plan in case this “God thing” doesn’t work out?
- What’s your response to this question? And again, what does it say about how you regard God’s good gifts?
God has given us many good gifts—not the least of which is new life in him. But he doesn’t give his gifts just for our sakes. They’re meant to be “re-gifted”—to others, and sometimes even back to God himself. This is how gifts become fruits—and as you’ve read this week, that’s what we want to be known by. So let’s dig further into this.
Laying Down the Word (20 minutes)
Ask for a volunteer to read the following excerpt from “Lay Down Your Dreams.” Then, discuss the questions that follow:
God has often blessed us by giving us the desires of our hearts. The thing about following Jesus, though, is that he keeps us moving. . . . Moving forward almost always means leaving things behind—even good things . . . so God can give us something even better—or transform it into something better. However, God often doesn’t show us “the better thing” until we’ve given him what he’s asked us to give him.
- When have you experienced this truth?
- Tell about a time God prepared you for something, but it meant letting go of something else. Why do you think God wanted you to let that thing go? What were the results?
- Why do you think God often doesn’t show us “the better thing” until we’ve given our good gifts back to him?
Ask for a volunteer to read 1 John 3:16–18, and then discuss:
- We’ll explore this more next week, but let’s start today: How does laying down our lives—even the good things in our lives—enable us to love others better? Provide an example, if you can.
Laying Down Your Life (20 minutes)
Have everyone get into their pairs. If anyone’s missing, help group members find another pair for the rest of this session. Again, have no more than three people together.
Laying down our lives isn’t easy. But as Jesus did, we do it for the sake of others, that they too can have new life in Jesus. And as we do, God raises us up higher—and closer to him.
You’ve had a lot of stuff to process on your own this week. Therefore, the rest of this session will be devoted to processing it in your pairs (or trios). Take the time to share your answers—and the questions you’re still struggling with—with one another. When you’re done sharing, take the time to pray for one another. Invite God deeper into the process he’s already started in each of you.
Also, set aside a time during the week to touch base with one another, whether that’s phone, e-mail, texting, whatever. Once you’re done, stay quiet until everyone’s had a chance to finish sharing and praying for one another; then, you’re free to leave—or to keep hanging out and sharing together.
- How have you responded to your readings from the Sermon on the Mount this week? What’s hit you the hardest, and why?
- Reflect also on your “Lay It Down Today” assignment in “Lay Down Your Life.” (Reread Romans 6:3–4, 12–14; 14:7–9, if you need to.) Discuss your answers to the following questions from that assignment:
How is God calling you to be “instruments for righteousness”? What still needs to die for you to fulfill that calling? Where do you need to trust God and just walk, regardless of the consequences? Where do you need to accept that “you are not under law but under grace” and get on with it?
Again, close your time together in prayer for one another. And may God continue to bless you—and those he puts in your path—as you lay down your lives even further!