Sunday, October 03, 2021

Hebrews | Week 5 | Small Group Questions





Coastline Bible Church just started a brand new sermon series called: "Greater." For the next several months we are going to look through the book of Hebrews together. The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience living in the first century. They are likely experiencing persecution and thinking about abandoning their faith. The author teaches us how Jesus is greater than: the prophets, angels, Moses, Abraham, the Law, the old covenant, and the high priest. We learn that Jesus is greater than anything that has preceded Him. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | Our Encouragement | Hebrews 3:7-19

Hebrews chapter 3 is focused on helping the early church stay encouraged as they follow Jesus. The author uses Israel as an example of how to not harden your heart to the Lord. The negative example of Israel serves as a positive example for how we are to live for the Lord. Sometimes bad news is what leads to good news. The good news is that the church is called to encourage. In this world we will be persecuted, harassed, and possibly attacked for following Jesus. One role of the church is to support each other when we encounter difficult times. The best way to encourage others is to make sure you are living a life encouraged by the Lord. 

1) Researchers have investigated the phenomena of how encouragement affects the brain and the development of the brain. Share a time when someone encouraged you and it changed the trajectory of your day, week, or life. 

2) Israel hardened their heart to the Lord while wandering in the wilderness. Read Hebrews 3:7-11, Exodus 32:1, Numbers 12:1-2, and 20:1-12. Discuss some of the ways Israel was disobedient to the Lord and the consequences they experienced. 

3) The opposite of hardening our heart is having a tender heart to the Lord. Read  Romans 5:5, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Colossians 2:2-3, and 2 Timothy 2:22. What does Scripture teach us about having a heart for the Lord? 

4) The author wants the church to have a heart committed to the Lord and not a sinful heart (Read Hebrews 3:12-15.) How have you seen sin hurt your relationship with others and with the church? How does sin cloud our vision? 

5) Hebrews 3:13 is a primary point of application in this entire text. We are called to be people of encouragement. Read Psalm 10:17, Acts 9:31, Romans 12:6-8, and Philippians 2:1-3. How can you be a person of encouragement this week? 

6) To be a person of encouragement we all need to be encouraged. Where is an area in your life that you’re feeling discouraged right now? How can this small group come alongside you to encourage you this week? 

7) Read Hebrews 3:16-19. The chapter ends with a series of leading questions. It’s almost a summary of the authors thoughts. Where do you need to enter the rest of the Lord this week? 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

Hebrews | Week 4 | Small Group Questions


Coastline Bible Church just started a brand new sermon series called: "Greater." For the next several months we are going to look through the book of Hebrews together. The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience living in the first century. They are likely experiencing persecution and thinking about abandoning their faith. The author teaches us how Jesus is greater than: the prophets, angels, Moses, Abraham, the Law, the old covenant, and the high priest. We learn that Jesus is greater than anything that has preceded Him. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | Worthy of Honor | Hebrews 3:1-6

In Hebrews 3 we come to the second encouragement in the letter to the early church: fix your thoughts on Jesus. The short statement has such power. The letter was written to Jewish believers who grew up in Hebrew homes. They knew the Old Testament, the Law, and then trusted Jesus as their Savior. But the pressure from the outside world was causing many of them to leave Jesus and return to Jewish customs. In Hebrews 3 the author encourages the believers to fix their thoughts on Jesus. He wanted them to place their confidence in Jesus and not in the Law. His hope was for them to hold firmly to the confidence they have in Jesus knowing what we focus on is where we will end up.

1) In the early 2000’s a game called: ‘Bigger and Better’ gained national attention when Kyle MacDonald traded a paper clip up for a home! What is the fascination in our culture getting something bigger and better? 

2) Read Hebrews 3:1-2. We are encouraged to fix our thoughts on Jesus. Share about a time in your life when you were so focused on accomplishing something you spent all your time to make it a reality. How do you fix your thoughts on Jesus? 

3) The New Testament has an emphasis on the renewing of our mind (Matthew 22:37, Romans 8:5, and Colossians 3:9-10). Discuss how Jesus has renewed your mind and what the outcome has been? How has your thinking changed for the better? 

4) The early believers wanted to return to Moses. Read Hebrews 3:3-4. To return to Moses meant to return to the Law and the law can never save us. Have you ever been tempted to walk away from Jesus? What tempted you to leave? 

5) Read Exodus 3:1-13 and John 14:6-14. Write out some of the differences between the ways Jesus and Moses accepted their calls. Have you explored the call God has on your life? What do you think it is? 

6) Moses was faithful as a servant and Jesus was faithful as a Son (read Hebrews 3:5-6). Read Numbers 12:-19 and Romans 8:1-8. Talk about how Moses and Jesus were both faithful to the call God had on their lives. 

7) Scripture teaches us that we are a house of God. Read Matthew 25:14-21 and Mark 10:43-45. How can we focus our attention on serving others this week in an effort to bring glory to God? 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 

Hebrews | Week 3 | Small Group Questions





Coastline Bible Church just started a brand new sermon series called: "Greater." For the next several months we are going to look through the book of Hebrews together. The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience living in the first century. They are likely experiencing persecution and thinking about abandoning their faith. The author teaches us how Jesus is greater than: the prophets, angels, Moses, Abraham, the Law, the old covenant, and the high priest. We learn that Jesus is greater than anything that has preceded Him. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | Our Humble Hero | Hebrews 2:10-18

As we look at the second half of Hebrews 2 we see the author continue to teach us about the greatness of Jesus. He goes to great lengths to teach how Jesus is greater than the angels. This might have created a point of confusion for the original audience because Jesus held his divinity and took on our humanity. We learn a great point about belonging to the family of God. For us to belong to the family of God we need a pioneer who would invite us into that family. That is Jesus Christ, our humble hero. As we study Hebrews 2:10-18 keep your mind open to the many ways that Jesus shared in our humanity. Because Jesus shared in our humanity He is able to empathize with us in the suffering we endure while we wait for the completion of our salvation. 

1) Doug opened his sermon and talked about the benefit of doing life with others. He shared about how the men in our church gathered together and there was great joy. Share about who you’re doing community with in life and how that impacts you. 

2) Read Hebrews 2:10-13. Jesus humanity enabled Him to bring many sons and daughters to glory. The author teaches us that Jesus is the pioneer of our salvation through what He suffered. Read Luke 23:26-43 and talk about how Jesus suffered. 

3) Scripture teaches us that we are adopted as the children of God. Read the following passages and talk about what changes when we view ourselves as children of God. (read Acts 13:26, Romans 8:14-17, Galatians 3:26, and Ephesians 5:8). 

4) In Hebrews 2:14-16. Jesus humanity enabled Him to deliver us from death. Read  Matthew 2:1, Mark 4:38, Luke 2:52, and John 4:6-8. Talk about how these verses teach us that Jesus shared in our humanity. 

5) Jesus had to take on human flesh in order to defeat Satan. Jesus didn’t die to save the fallen angels (see 2 Peter 2:4). Presently Jesus is helping the descendants of Abraham (that is you). Share how you saw Jesus help you this month. 

6) Jesus humanity enables Him to be a sympathetic High Priest to His people (Read Hebrews 2:17-18). Now look at 1 Samuel 2:27-36. We read that Eli was not a merciful and faithful High Priest. Talk about the difference between the two men. 

7) During His time on earth Jesus faced suffering. Some of this took place immediately after His baptism (Read Matthew 4:1-11). Because Jesus suffered He can empathize with our suffering. Share about a time when Jesus met you in your suffering. 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Hebrews | Week 2 | Small Group Questions




Coastline Bible Church just started a brand new sermon series called: "Greater." For the next several months we are going to look through the book of Hebrews together. The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience living in the first century. They are likely experiencing persecution and thinking about abandoning their faith. The author teaches us how Jesus is greater than: the prophets, angels, Moses, Abraham, the Law, the old covenant, and the high priest. We learn that Jesus is greater than anything that has preceded Him. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | The source of Salvation | Hebrews 2:1-9

Most scholars agree that the book of Hebrews was written before AD 70. The letter teaches us about how Jesus is greater than anything that has come before Him. In Hebrews 2 the author continues to teach us that Jesus is greater than the angels. We learn that Jesus is the source of our salvation. No matter how glorious the angels are they will never be able to offer us salvation. They are heavenly beings who cannot die. But Jesus took on the flesh of humanity and became our spotless offering on the cross to win our salvation. As we study Hebrews 2:1-9 think about your own salvation. Think about when you gave your life to Christ and radical life change that took place. If you have yet to place your life in Christ, look only to Jesus for salvation and you will find it. 

1) Neal shared with us about a summer camp he preached at and a young man giving his life to Jesus. Share with your small group about your salvation event. Where were you at, who invited you, how did God draw you to Himself? 

2) Read Hebrews 2:1-4. We are encouraged to be careful to not “drift away” from the faith. Read 1 John 1:9, 2 Timothy 3:16, James 1:21-25, and 2 Peter 1:5-10. Talk about what causes believers to drift away from the faith and how to combat that. 

3) One of the reasons the author wrote this book was because people were drifting away from the faith because of persecution. Read Acts 12:1-24. Where do you see the church experiencing persecution right now? 

4) In Hebrews 2:3 we read about ignoring this great salvation. Read Jonah 1, Matthew 25:31-46, and James 1:22. The repercussions for ignoring God are great. How can we help people obey the Lord and find this great salvation? 

5) There are a number of spiritual ramifications for drifting away from the Lord. Take some time as a group to talk about ramifications. Take some time to talk about the benefits of following Jesus. (Psalm 5:3, Psalm 119:11, John 4:24, 2 Corinthians 9:7)

6) Read Psalm 8. The author is quoting King David who teaches us about the authority God has given mankind. What does this verse teach you about your role in creation? What does this verse teach you about how Jesus is greater than angels? 

7) Read Hebrews 2:9. We may not see angels but we do see Jesus. Share about a time how you saw Jesus at work in your life in the last week. It might have been in a neighbor, a friend who helped out, or a way the church came alongside you. 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus. 

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Hebrews | Week 1 | Small Group Questions



Coastline Bible Church just started a brand new sermon series called: "Greater." For the next several months we are going to look through the book of Hebrews together. The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish audience living in the first century. They are likely experiencing persecution and thinking about abandoning their faith. The author teaches us how Jesus is greater than: the prophets, angels, Moses, Abraham, the Law, the old covenant, and the high priest. We learn that Jesus is greater than anything that has preceded Him. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | High Above it All | Hebrews 1

Sometimes we need a different angle to view things from. It might be a new perspective that shows us what we’re missing, lacking, or how we’re not seeing for the whole picture. We just started a brand new sermon series called: “Greater” and began studying the book of Hebrews. The letter was written to Jewish people living in the first century. The early church was being persecuted and many of the believers were slipping back into Jewish customs to avoid persecution. We know it was written to Hebrew people as it talks about the Old Testament in great depth. These first four verses are some of the most poetic, poignant, and clear verses in the New Testament about who Jesus Christ is. Let’s study Hebrews 1:1-14 together! 

1) Neal shared a story about climbing a mountain and getting a different view of the same thing. Share about a time when you saw something from a different vantage point and how that changed your perspective. 

2) Read Hebrews 1:1-2. We read that God has spoken to us through the prophets in a variety of ways. Read Matthew 5:17-20 and talk about how Jesus is greater than the prophets who preceded Him. 

3) We learn that God has spoken to us through His Son. Read Luke 4:16-21. Jesus knew one of the roles of the prophets was to point people to Himself. Share how God’s Word has spoken to you and pointed you to Jesus. 

4) Read Hebrews 1:3-4. We learn that Jesus is the exact representation of God. That means if we want to know God we need to look to Jesus. Read these verses and talk about how they help us know God: Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 9:36, and John 11:35. 

5) Jesus is not only the author of life but the sustainer of life. Read Philippians 2:5-11. In the letter to the church in Philippi, Paul teaches us about the character and nature of Jesus. How do these verses help you understand who Jesus is? 

6) Neal said the church is going through trying times right now. He talked about how we need to make sure that Jesus is the foundation of our living. Share about how you have trusted in scaffolding and not Jesus as the foundation. How will you change? 

7) Read Hebrews 1:5-14. In the last ten verses we see multiple ways that Jesus is greater than the angels. Pick a couple of these verses, go read them in the Old Testament and talk about how Jesus is greater than the angels. 

Close your time in prayer. Pray for strength to invite a friend to meet Jesus.  

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Tender Commandments Overview



This summer we preached through the Ten Commandments at Coastline. In my opinion it was the best sermon series we've ever done. I think the plurality of voices in the series was a huge win and the planning for this time was deep. 

One thing we do at Coastline is what I call: "Big picture sermon planning as a team." Let me explain this a touch more. We have about six different people who sit in the room for sermon planning. We use the white board to line out: sermon title, big idea, ideas, Scripture, songs, video clips, illustrations, books, and quotes for the sermon. 

I love the team dynamic that plays out in the room. We start each session in prayer and aim to line out four to five sermons. Sometimes we get more stalled and other times we are moving quickly. In every situation we trust that the Lord is leading the process. 

From there I take the white board notes and put them in a Google Doc that is shared with the team. Since we just finished the Ten Commandments I want to share all those notes with you! 

Here are the notes that came from our team planning. It's a way to show you what goes into the planning of a series:

June 20 | Exodus 20:1-3
Sermon Title- None Before Me

Big Idea- We put Him first because of who He is and what He’s done

Ideas-
Philippians 3:19
Isaiah 44
Mark 10:17-27
Teach about other gods that people worship 
Tie into previous sermon on how we can tell what matters in our lives 
Israel was called to be set apart (not set aside). Teach on Santification? 
God was concerned about getting the Egypt out of them. -Dave Roberts 
God’s brought us all out of something. We need to help fill in that blank. -Becky Shipe 
In the rich young ruler the commandment was put to the test 
God gave us the commandments in a desire to provide and protect us 
Illustration- What struggle do you put in front of God?
Core Value- We put God first 

I- Items
D- Duty
O- Others
L- Longings 

Songs:
Egypt 
Your great name 

June 27 | Exodus 20:4-6
Sermon Title- Don’t Reduce God 

Big Idea- Out thoughts about God determines our worship of God 

Ideas-
Exodus 32- Aaron and the golden calf
Psalm 115
John 4- the Woman at the well 
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. ... Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. - Tozer
Our image of God will have everything to do with our worship of God. -Dave Roberts 
Westminster Shorter Catechism- the chief goal of man is to worship God and enjoy Him forever 
The heart is an idol factory 
God is a jealous God. We have a negative connotation of jealousy in our culture 
Jealousy and love aren’t in opposition to each other
How does idol worship affect those around us: Family, spouse, kids, relatives, work?
Our concept of God determines our life before God 
Left to our own devices we will make anything into an idol. -Dave Roberts 
It’s so important we get our understanding of God correct 

Songs:
Egypt 
Your great name 
The Blessing 

July 04 | Exodus 20:7 (Blaze McEntee)
Sermon Title- His Holy Name 

Big Idea- Reverence for God’s name will lead us to represent Him well 

Ideas-
Mark 5- Demons flee at the name of Jesus 
The tribe of Korah didn’t understand the power of God’s holy name 
When Israel moved the ark from the Philistines the man who reached out his hand to stabilize the ark lost his life. 
Stories of taking God’s name in vain 
“The name Austin was being misrepresented.” 
We don’t understand how different God really is 
YWHW

Songs:
Break every chain
Your great name
No other name 

July 11 | Exodus 20:8-11
Sermon Title- Living Rested 

Big Idea- God knows I need rest to be my best 

Ideas-
Deuteronomy 5:15
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath Matthew 12:1–8, Mark 2:23–28 and Luke 6:1–5
When Israel were slaves they didn’t have days off, there was no rest for them 
Explain the Jewish perspective on time- a new day started when the sun set
We wear busy as a badge of honor in our culture 
Research on rest, naps, sleep, and neuroplasticity 
Animals at the zoo get days off where they are not on display 
CF takes Saturday off and still makes more than other restaurants 
The sabbath is a time for restoration and recreation
Michael Yankoski’s book on Sababth enjoyment 
Lance Witt’s story about waking up in the middle of the night 
God didn’t have to rest but modeled rest for us--we are not following Satan’s example 
We are creating a rhythm of rest as a church body (no events on Saturday) 
I take days off and am not available, I shut down email, I have a vacation coming up 
Pastor who received a call about a failing marriage on Saturday. He asked a few questions to learn that the marriage had been failing for five years. She waited to meet later that week 
We rest to follow God’s example of rest. God knew we needed to rest 

Songs:
Egypt 
Your great name 
The Blessing

July 18 | Exodus 20:12
Sermon Title- Powerful Parents 

Big Idea- When you rightly honor your parents, all your relationships get better 

Ideas-
Colossians 3:20 
Luke 15
Ruth 1
John 19:25
Malachai 1:6

Honor parents who aren’t honorable 
Is it only to a set geographical location? 
What does it mean to prosper? 
People who have trouble of thinking of God as a Father 

Songs:
The blessing 
Break Every Chain 
Make Room 

July 25 | Exodus 20:13
Mike Lovato

August 1 | Exodus 20:14
Bert Alcorn 

August 8 | Exodus 20:15
Sermon Title- Caught red handed 

Big Idea- Do not take what rightfully belongs to others 

Ideas-
Malachi 3:6-10 
Acts 5
1 Kings 21
Deuteronomy 24:7 
Micah 6:8 
Story of stealing when I was 5 years old 
Story on Twitter of woman who stole hand sanitizer from Bath and Body works 
$970 or more is stealing CA 
Moving boundary stones to gain more power 
Employer taking wages, an employee stealing hours 
Aladdin steals to eat 
Movie example- Liar Liar with Jim Carey 
We write it down because we need to remember it 

Songs:
Clean Hands 
Egypt 
Jirah 
No longer slaves 

August 15 | Exodus 20:16
Sermon Title- Truth Teller 

Big Idea- The Bible teaches us how to tell the truth 

Ideas-
Acts 5
Matthew 26:57
Mark 14:53
Luke 10:36
Colossians 3:9-10
1 Kings 21
John 8:44
Matthew 5:33
Can’t be killed on the testimony of one witness 
US Judicial System- tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth 
Examples of “white lies”- the check is in the mail 
Movies and TV shows that promote lying 
More than just morals 
We believe untruths and share them as truths 
Have so much integrity that people believe what you say 
Teach on how to apologize for lying 
Exaggeration- how to work on truth telling 
Making excuses
Using ‘Always’ and ‘Never’ statements  

Songs:
The blessing 
Break Every Chain 
Make Room 

August 22 | Exodus 20:17
Sermon Title- Facing Covetousness 

Big Idea- Coveting is an expression of our distrust of Jesus 

Ideas-
Romans 7 
Joshua 7 
2 Samuel 11
Psalm 51
James 1:13
Ephesians 5:5
Colossians 3:5
Proverbs 4:23
Philippians 4:11-12
Coveting starts with the physician 
Story of Christopher Duntsch (wanting to be a doctor and rich) 
This i the internal one
Covetousness is the motivation for many of sins 
Covetousness is hidden 
We covet thinking it will make us complete 
“Trust the Lord who is provider” -Ryan LaFata 
Why do I covet knowing the greatness of the Lord? 
“Coveting is a sinful belief that things will make me happy.” -Dave Roberts 
Gratitude and thanksgiving combat covetousness 
“This isn’t a uniquely American problem but we’ve perfected it.” Dave Roberts 

Songs:
Waymaker 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The impact of false testimony




The ninth commandment is more than simply lying. The commandment forbids us from giving false testimony against our neighbor. 

What we don’t know about the Hebrew language hinders our full understanding of this passage. In the Hebrew, the word neighbor means anyone you’re in close contact with. There is also a judicial understanding in the text. For the original audience it was not giving false testimony in the courtroom. In a time when forensic science was unavailable the courtroom could shift on the testimony of one person. If that testimony was false, it could lead to the loss of life. 

Let's look at the life of Joseph and how his brothers stole him and sold him into slavery. The slave traders took him to Egypt and sold him to a man named Potiphar. While living in Potiphar’s home, Jospeh excelled. He was basically put in charge of the entire home:
The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Genesis 39:2-6
But there was a problem. Potiphar’s wife had longing eyes for Jospeh. She wanted to have sexual relations with Joseph but he refused time and time again. One day the house was empty and tragedy struck:
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
Genesis 39:11-15
Potiphar’s wife lied about Joseph and it hurt him. Of course he would loose his status in the home. He might have to go to trail for attempted rape. She gave false testimony against him to her master and it landed Jospeh in Jail. Now Scripture teaches us that Joseph was innocent. We know this because in Genesis 39:1 we read that Potiphar was the captain of the guard. He was a military official. If he suspected that Joseph had tried anything funny with his wife, he would have had him killed. Potiphar knew his wife was was lying and spared Joseph’s life. 

Listen to how the Lord feels about lying:
The Lord detests lying lips,
    but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
Proverbs 12:22
The Lord detests lying lips. The Lord knows that lying hurts others, lands people in jail, and has the potential for the loss of life. That is why we are commanded not to lie. 
If you have been lying will you submit yourself to the examination of the Holy Spirit to search you and find where those lies are hidden? 
Will you allow the Lord to examine you, as a judge examines a court case, and find where lying is hurting your walk with the Lord? 

Our neighbor is anyone we are in close proximity to. But it goes further! Listen to this: “In laws and formal rules, neighbor has nothing to do with proximity or familiarity; your “neighbor” connotes any other human being you may have dealings with, actually or potentially. -Douglas K Stuart.

The impact of false testimony
For the original audience there was a huge ramification for giving false testimony. That impact echos forward to today. If someone went on the stand to give false testimony against their neighbor it could lead to the loss of life. There is a captivating story in 1 Kings 3 about two prostitutes who stand before the young king Solomon. They are living in the same home when one woman rolls over on her son in the middle of the night. She proceeds to take her dead son to her roommate and steals her living son. She swaps the dead baby for the living baby. 

The mother wakes up in the morning and sees her son is dead… but it’s not really her son. The case is brought to the king. The evidence is there. One living baby and one dead baby. Two women. Two different stories. The king needs wisdom in making this decision because the stories don’t line up 

False testimony could have cost the life of another child in this story. Solomon uses the wisdom God gave him to judge the trail. But this didn’t have to get this way. If the one woman would have told the truth the whole situation could have been solved. 

The story doesn’t tell us the punishment of the lying woman. We could look at the Levitical Law and conclude that her punishment could have been death. This woman not only lied but she stole another person. She became a kidnapper because of the pain of her loss.

I wonder what would have happened if she decided to tell the truth. She might have woke up in the middle of the night and wailed. She could have cried with her roommate and grieved the loss of her son. Maybe she would have changed her ways and not stolen a child. Her pain became pain for another. Her lying hurt. 

This story reminds me about how important it is for us to have friends who we can be honest with. So often we ask each other: “How are you doing?” It’s a great question but in our culture it has become a greeting. We don’t tell people how we’re really doing. And there is another layer. Most people are so busy they don’t have time to listen to your answer. We need friends who listen to us. 

Listen to what Dr. John J. Ratey wrote, “In modern life, people tend to have fewer friends and less support, because there’s no tribe. Being alone is not good….” 

The importance of having friends helps us to keep accountable open telling the truth. When we tell the truth we live in the light. Listen to what the Apostle John taught us on telling the truth (read 1 John 1:6-7). If we claim to be Jesus followers we need to excel in telling the truth. If there is anyone in the world who tells the truth it needs to be those who call themselves Christians. We should excel at telling the truth because we are in relationship with the truth. That friendship encourages us to be relationship with others who keep us accountable to truth telling.  

I love what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 6:14). If you are having trouble with telling the truth. memorize this verse. Every morning you and physically put on the belt of truth as you commit to telling the truth. Don’t say: “I’m going to try to tell the truth.” Say: “I am a truth teller.” If we say we will try to tell the truth we will fail. Commit to truth telling. Clothe yourself in the truth and watch how your life changes. 

Monday, August 16, 2021

Being a Truth Teller




In 2016 I was sitting on the edge of my seat watching the summer Olympics. As the games progressed a frightening story was developing. American swimmer Ryan Lochte had been robbed at gun point. The story came out that Ryan and three other men had been robbed at gunpoint during a taxi ride. The kicker was that the men who robbed them flashed badges. Then it came out that Ryan had a gun placed on his forehead during the robbery. Olympic athletes feared for their safety. It looked like Brazil would receive a black eye for the Olympics but the truth came out. The whole story was a lie! It was fabricated after a night of partying. 

It seems like lying is all around us! Remember when Tiger Woods told the world that he was a faithful husband? The truth came out that he was having extra-marital affairs with over a dozen women. 

Remember the man who won seven consecutive Tour de France titles? Years later Armstrong confessed to taking performance enhancing drugs. 

We all know about Bill Clinton and his famous words: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Lie! 

Maybe the most heart-breaking for me was when Milli Vanilli were accused of lip syncing their song: “Girl you know it’s true.” It was a massive hit but the pop stars confessed to lip syncing. It seems that we are surrounded by lies in almost all areas of life. 

We all know this, but lying hurts all parties involved. The lies we just talked about hurt millions of people. Think about the last time you were lied to and how you felt. Think about the impact it had on your life, relationships, and integrity you thought someone had. When was the last time you told a lie? Maybe it was this week at work or to your children. It could have been a big lie or a white lie to just keep things quiet. No matter what, lying hurts. 

Being a Truth Teller 
Many of recall the ninth commandment in the most simplest terms of “do not lie” and that’s a good start. But the commandment is longer than that:
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." Exodus 20:16 

Let’s talk about lying. There are all kinds of lies that people tell: white lies, whoppers, fibs, gossip, half-truths, exaggerations, misleading silence, lying on paper, lying at work, lying at home. 

Sometimes we lie to make ourselves look better. An example of this might be: “The check is in the mail” when really you never sent the check. Sometimes we lie to make others look worse. At work a colleague might lie about an employee’s perform.

We’re all familiar with Pinocchio. Every time he lied his nose grew just a little bit. Sometimes it feels like life would be easier if that happened to everyone who told a lie. Instead of wondering who is, or isn’t, lying to us we could see that they are lying to us. 

The hard part about the day and age we live in is that we have to constantly decipher who is lying to us. We feel lied to by our boss at work when she tells us she tried to get us the raise we asked for. We feel liked to by the politicians we elected who promised to solve a certain problem. We feel lied to by our neighbor who swears his dog didn’t poop in our front yard. 

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae and instructed them to give up lying:
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Colossians 3:9-10

We read this and think that the early church must have been full of liars. Maybe it was, or maybe there just a few. Paul wrote this because saw lying was an issue that was hurting the early church. Some people grew up lying. They learned that sin from their parents. I’ve seen first-hand how lying hurts the local church. A half-truth is shared as if it were the entire truth. Gossip learns to walk, is passed on as truth, shared on Facebook, and next thing we know another church split takes place. 

If you have placed your trust in Jesus, this passage is for you. It’s more than giving up lying, it’s surrendering your life to Christ and being transformed. There is progression that Paul teaches us about being sanctified as we keep following Jesus.

If you have yet to place your trust in Jesus, this transforming life is available to you today. Listen to what George Orwell once wrote: "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Lying has become more accepted and we need more truth-tellers in this world.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Theism vs. Deism










And God spoke all these words: 
    2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 
    3 “You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:1–3

What a powerful statement about God in verse 2. We read a statement about who God is: “I am the Lord.” 

If you turn back to Exodus 3 we read an account about God meeting with Moses in the desert. Moses is out tending some sheep in the desert. He sees a bush on fire but the fire doesn’t consume it. It proves to me that men of all ages love fire. Moses approaches the bush and out of the bush God speaks. He instructs Moses to free His people from captivity. He speaks about His power (Exodus 3:14). 

The words, ‘I am’ are packed with meaning. God is the creator, sustainer, provider, and director of life. God made the universe and is control of all things. This is a stark contrast to how life in Egypt was for God’s people. At that time Egypt was the world super-power. The Pharaoh was viewed as a god (think little g). He was seen as being the most powerful being. 

But then God comes along and says, “Let me show you power!” You don’t have to grow up in the church to know about the ten plagues in Egypt or the parting of the Red Sea. That is God displaying His power, the proof that He is the great I am! If you don’t have somewhere that you’re reading in your Bible right now, I invite you to read Exodus 1-15 this week. I think it will really help all of us understand the Ten Commandments more fully. 

God is not only powerful but He is personal. Listen to what he says again, “I am the Lord your God.” 

Underline that word ‘your.’ God is personal. He is for us. God loves us. He is my God. He is our God. 

Let’s have a quick theology lesson. There is a point in Theology we call: Theism. The short definition is that- God is a personal and loving God. It means that God is closer than we think. Psalm 34:18 teaches us that God is close to the broken-hearted. He is personal and loving. God knows our struggles and doesn’t leave us when times are tough. God is so personal and loving that He came to live among us (John 1:14). God is near to us today. God is in the place, anything can happen. 

On the other side. Some people think that God created the earth and walked away. They teach that God made mankind, gave us the breath of life, but has forgotten about us. It’s called Deism- God is impersonal creator God. The term was used chiefly in the intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries. This came about because people thought God created the universe but they wanted to reject that God would interact and engage with His people. People felt abandoned by God and used this as a way to justify their feelings. 

One of the core values of the church I lead is: We put God first. 

We put God first because we believe He is a personal and loving God. We believe that He intercedes on behalf of His people. We think He loves us, cares for us, and likes us. 

If God had a fridge, your picture would be on it. If you would be so willing to read the Ten Commandments, I want you to notice that the first four commandments focus on our vertical relationship with God. The next six primarily deal with our horizontal relationship with others. 

We live in a time when people want to remove the first four commandments and keep the last six. We want people to be punished for adultery and murder but want remove the author of the commands. We can’t cut the author out of the book and maintain the integrity of the message. We choose put God first because He is personal and powerful. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Focus | Small Group Questions




This last year served as a magnifying glass in so many areas. Think about your life and how it changed. Some people who’ve been thinking about moving to another state are gone! People started to think more about the time God had given them and how they were spending it. Marriages were either strengthened or broken. People with financial issues either rose to solve those or cracked under the pressure. Life changed happened for millions of people for the better. Let me share the thesis statement for this sermon: I’m convinced that if you show me your calendar, the apps on your phone, and your bank statement I can tell you what is important to you. It seemed like a waste to leave these small group questions in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | Stepping out of the blur | Matthew 6:19-24

Looking back, the last year helped many people to re-evaluate the focus of their life. This last year served as a magnifying glass in so many areas. In some areas it was also an accelerant for things already taking place in our lives. Think about your life and how it changed in certain areas. The last year helped many to really evaluate the focus of their lives. In some cases, relationships were restored, finances were taken under control and time management improved. In other cases it was just the opposite. Neal made this statement: I’m convinced that if you show me your calendar, the apps on your phone, and your bank statement I can tell you what is important to you. Let’s study these questions together and learn about our focus. 

1) This last year served as a magnifying glass in so many areas. Think about your life and how it changed. Share one area of your life that changed for the better because the pandemic required you to slow down and adjust your focus. 

2) Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. Solomon shares a variety of ways that we spend our time here on earth. Looking at this list, what is one area you need to focus your time on right now? Read Matthew 5:23-24 to talk about rebuilding relationships. 

3) Solomon teaches us about eternity and the beauty in life (read Ecclesiastes 3:9-14). How will you use your time to best honor God in this world? Think about how you can adjust your schedule to focus on spiritual growth. 

4) Read Leviticus 11:45 and 1 Peter 1:16. God instructs us to be holy because He is holy. What is a good definition of holiness? Think about how you can use the apps in your life to live a holy life.  

5) Read Joel 2:12, Proverbs 3:5-6, and Galatians 5:19-23. Open your phone and check your screen time. Go around the group and share how much you’ve been on your phone today and this week. Does your screen time honor the Lord?

6) In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us about our relationship to money (read Matthew 6:19-24). We have to ask ourselves this question: Do I value my bank account more than God? How are you doing at loving God more than money? 

7) Our relationship to money is an important relationship to keep an eye on. How has this sermon, and these questions, helped you to think about money in a new light? Take some time to review your spending and see where your money is going.  

Close your time in prayer

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Philippians Prayer Prompts




Last week our staff prayer was led by Becky Shipe. She brought this for our team to pray through as we just had finished preaching the book of Philippians so this was a creative idea. I'm grateful for Becky letting me post this on here because it was an engaging prayer time for our staff. 

STAFF PRAYER | PHILIPPIANS PRAYER PROMPTS

1. Philippians 3:1 – “Rejoice in the Lord!”
Tell God how good He is and how much you love Him. Take time to rejoice in who God is, what He’s done for us, and what He is presently doing in our life, our ministry, and at Coastline.

2. Philippians 1:4-5 – “I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel…”
Pray with joy for our partners in ministry: those on our ministry teams, our outreach partners, other churches in Ventura, Transformation Ministries. 

3. Philippians 1:9-11 – “And this is my prayer…”
Pray specifically for someone you know that
their love would abound more in the knowledge of Christ
they would be able to discern what’s best
they would be pure and blameless
they would be filled with the fruit of righteousness

4. Philippians 4:6 – “...in everything by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.” 
Surrender your anxieties to God and ask Him to intervene in whatever personal or ministry situation you are anxious about. 
Thank Him in advance (and in faith) for how He is going to answer your prayer.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Philippians | Week 8 | Small Group Questions




Coastline Bible Church is doing an eight-week sermon series called: "Defined by Joy." The Apostle Paul helped plant the church in Philippi (see Acts 16) but never forget about them. They played a key role in supporting him as God called him to plant other churches. From this series we want to learn how to have our lives defined by joy and not circumstances. Paul modeled this well to the early church. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | The Church God Uses | Philippians 4:10-23

The letter to the church in Philippi has strengthened believers for centuries. It has been a source of encouragement for Godly people living in crooked times. The letter has encouraged the church to find contentment in Christ in all areas of our lives. That means leaving jealousy, covetousness, and greed. It sets a model for us to be generous with our resources and focus on Kingdom advancement. The church in Philippi modeled being generous. As Paul concludes the letter we are drawn back to the introduction about being a people full of grace. Grace is a natural effect of the goodness God has shown to us and what we can show to others. 

1) Neal opened the sermon and talked about how the church has stepped up to help people out in difficult times. Share about how the church has helped you out or how God has used you to help others. 

2) Read Philippians 4:10-13. Paul has learned how to be content in all situations. Read Proverbs 19:23, Luke 3:14, and 1 Timothy 6:6. Are you content in your current life situation? Share the reasons for why or why not you feel how you currently do. 

3) Paul and Joseph learned to be content because their past experiences shaped them (read Genesis 37:26-27, 39:19-23, and 2 Corinthians 2:21-30). How has your past taught you to be content in your current situation? 

4) The church in Philippi shared in Paul’s troubles (read Philippians 4:14). What are practical ways we can share in the troubles with each other? What does it look like to support each other in trouble? (Psalm 68:19, Matthew 11:28-30, Galatians 6:2). 

5) Generosity was a primary characteristic of the church (read Philippians 4:15-20). Do you enjoying giving of your time, talent, and resources to the advancement of the Kingdom? (see Luke 6:38) 

6) Paul understood that God would meet all our needs when we give generously. How can we got about living a generous life while continuing to take care of our personal needs? (see Matthew 6:2-4, 19-24, 17:27, and Mark 12:41-44) 

7) Read Philippians 4:20-23. The last year has made some people hesitant to greet others. How can we excel at being a church body who knows each other while maintaining respect for everyone’s personal space needs? 

Close your time in prayer by praying for: The Martinez Family in San Francisco. 

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Philippians | Week 7 | Small Group Questions




Coastline Bible Church is doing an eight-week sermon series called: "Defined by Joy." The Apostle Paul helped plant the church in Philippi (see Acts 16) but never forget about them. They played a key role in supporting him as God called him to plant other churches. From this series we want to learn how to have our lives defined by joy and not circumstances. Paul modeled this well to the early church. For this sermon Joey Ross preached and wrote the questions below. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | Peace in an Age of Rage and Anxiety | Philippians 4:1-9

Paul begins to close his letter to the Philippians with some very practical exhortations. He encourages them those who are at odds to iron out their difference and make up and encourages those may be fretting and worried (anxious) to give up their anxiety. Both of these calls to live at peace with others and to have inner peace are rooted in one things. Taking an unchanging grip on the unchanging life of Jesus Christ within us. It is only in his presence that true peace is made possible. Discuss in your group the following questions, in order that we might encourage one another to be peacemakers and non anxious presence in culture defined by rage and anxiety.

1) Read Philippians 4:1, Paul says in light of everything that he has said in the book of Philippians that he wants the best for us and the best for us is to hold tight/ stand firm in the Lord.  When has it been difficult for you to hold on to Jesus? What circumstance tempt you most to let go?

2) Read Philippians 4:2-5 and John 13:35. How does Jesus say others will know we are his disciples?  Do you think Christians are good at loving each other and resolving conflict? Why/ Why not?

3) When talking with the women in conflict in Philippi, he tells them the key to resolving their conflict is to agree in the Lord and to rejoice in the Lord. What do you think it means to agree in the Lord?  Why is that so important to Paul?

4) Read Philippians 4:6-9. Have you ever experienced severe anxiety or sleepless night?  If you would be so vulnerable would you be willing to share what the source of it was.

5) Read James 1:2-4.  The peace of God is an inner calm found in the presence of God. Similar to joy, peace does not seem to be built on our circumstances. Why do you think that is? Why might it be more important that it is not?

6) Paul encourages us to think, pray w/thanksgiving, and love God as remedies for anxiety.  Giving thanks even when we don’t feel like it can be a powerful exercise in priming the pump and giving us a heart of gratitude. What are you thankful for today? And why is giving God thanks even before he answers our request so important.

7) Close your time in prayer by praying for: Ukrainian Missionaries with International Partnerships

Monday, May 24, 2021

Philippians | Week 6 | Small Group Questions



Coastline Bible Church is doing an eight-week sermon series called: "Defined by Joy." The Apostle Paul helped plant the church in Philippi (see Acts 16) but never forget about them. They played a key role in supporting him as God called him to plant other churches. From this series we want to learn how to have our lives defined by joy and not circumstances. Paul modeled this well to the early church. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | New Citizenship | Philippians 3:15-21

As we read the book of Philippians we see that Paul hasn’t attained the highest spiritual position possible but continues to follow hard after Jesus. He reminds us that the Christian life requires the exertion of continually running hard after godliness. Paul continues to exhort believers to keep their focus heavenward. He understood that there were topics of confusion and encouraged the believers to seek the Lord for clarification in their spiritual walk. Paul was constantly pointing people to Jesus. More importantly, he knew how to live a  godly life on earth while focus on his citizenship in heaven. He encourages us to allow God to renew our thinking here on earth. 

1) We live in a time when citizenship is a topic of discussion. The Apostle Paul is a man who understood citizenship. He was born a Jew but held Roman citizenship. Talk about how to balance simultaneously being a citizen of earth and heaven. 

2) Read Philippians 3:13-14. Paul exhorts his friends to continue to press on to Jesus. Some scholars think that the church in Philippi might have become lax in their walk with Jesus. How do you maintain spiritual vigor? Have you become lax? 

3) Paul longs for the believers to hold a mature view on spiritual growth (read Philippians 3:15-16). How do you intentionally grow in your faith while not being legalistic? (see: Matthew 7:21-23, Mark 2:24, 3:2, and Colossians 2:20-23)

4) The life of a Christian involves learning from others. Jesus instructed us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul also told us to learn from others (Philippians 3:17). Who are you currently learning from and what are you learning? 

5) Paul wrote to, his son in the faith, Timothy about discipling others (read 2 Timothy 2:2). Are you at at place to start investing your life into someone else? If you are, what does that look like? If you’re not, how do you need to prepare? 

6) Read Philippians 3:20-21. Paul reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven. What happens when we begin to get too comfortable on earth and forget to focus on our eternal citizenship? 

7) Paul teaches us that when we enter heaven we will have glorified bodies. Read Luke 24:31, John 20:19, and Acts 1:9-11. What does these passages teach us about what our heavenly bodies will be like? 

Close your time in prayer by praying for: Camp Pondo. 


Monday, May 17, 2021

Philippians | Week 5 | Small Group Questions


Coastline Bible Church is doing an eight-week sermon series called: "Defined by Joy." The Apostle Paul helped plant the church in Philippi (see Acts 16) but never forget about them. They played a key role in supporting him as God called him to plant other churches. From this series we want to learn how to have our lives defined by joy and not circumstances. Paul modeled this well to the early church. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | One Thing | Philippians 3:1-14

Paul’s life is interesting because he chose to persecute, and even kill, Christians. Paul had a very religious past but met Jesus and his life was radically changed (see Acts 9). Paul starts chapter 3 with what seems like he might be ending the letter but he is continuing his thoughts on being joyful. Paul used this opportunity to teach the church about false teachers who were looming around. He longed for the church to know the truth of God. This meant being able to leave the good things of their life behind so they can grow in their faith. In these verses Paul teaches us the downfall of works-based righteousness, the benefits of faith-based righteousness and following Christ. 

1) Have your group look over Acts 9:1-17. Saul was on a  mission to persecute Christ followers but was intercepted by Jesus. The meeting with Jesus radically changed Saul’s life. What one thing happened in your life that radically changed you?  

2) Read Philippians 3:1-2. Paul warns the church about false teachers and the trouble they cause. Read Exodus 7:11-13, 2 Timothy 3:8-9, Matthew 23:13, and 2 Peter 2:1.  Identify a false teaching you’ve come across and how you knew it was false. 

3) Paul realized he had put his confidence in the wrong place (see Philippians 3:4-6). Read 2 Samuel 11:1-15 and Mark 10:17-23. When have you placed your confidence in the wrong place and how did it turn out? 

4) Read Philippians 3:7-9. Paul is able to explain his conversion and the life change of having righteousness in Jesus. Read Romans 3:23, 5:8, 6:23, and 10:9-10. Share with your group about the time you placed your trust in Jesus. 

5) There is something special about having long-term relationships. Read Philippians 3:10-11. Paul wanted to know Jesus. Read 1 Samuel 3:1-10 and Psalm 46:10. How are you growing in your relationship with Jesus and learning His voice? 

6) Read Philippians 3:12-14. The phrase “one thing” is used throughout the Scripture (see Psalm 27:4 and John 9:25). What is the one thing that is keeping you from following Jesus that you need to give up right now? 

7) Paul was devoted to Christ, growing in the right direction, and had a determination as a Christian. Thinking about these three words, what would your closest friends say you are devoted to, the direction of your life, and your determination? 

Close your time in prayer by praying for: The City Center. 

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Philippians | Week 4 | Small Group Questions




Coastline Bible Church is doing an eight-week sermon series called: "Defined by Joy." The Apostle Paul helped plant the church in Philippi (see Acts 16) but never forget about them. They played a key role in supporting him as God called him to plant other churches. From this series we want to learn how to have our lives defined by joy and not circumstances. Paul modeled this well to the early church. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | 1,000 Points of Light | Philippians 2:12-30

If we were to summarize Philippians 1 it would be: Christ first. The summary of Philippians 2 would be: Others next. Paul realized that the generation he was living in was a crooked and warped generation. He knew that if the local church obeyed the truth of God and lived that out in their community that the natural conclusion would be an opportunity to serve others. Paul longed for the early church to be a light to a dark world. Knowing this he encouraged them to have a relentless commitment to become like Christ, to have a joy that reflects Christ, and to live out a sacrificial love for others. He gave them examples of selfless love to help them be a light to others.  

1) Doug taught us that the Luxor light in Las Vegas is the brightest light in the entire world. The light can be seen from 300 miles away. How can we be a brighter light in our homes, neighborhood, community, and workplace for Christ? 

2) Read Philippians 2:12-13. Paul encouraged the church to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. None of us can work FOR our salvation, but how do we play an active role in growing in our faith? (see Psalm 5:3, Mark 1:35, Acts 2:42-47)

3) Paul taught the church that it was God working in them. As you think about maturing in your faith, share about how you’ve seen God in your life to fulfill His good purpose. It might be something that happened years ago or recently. 

4) We are called to do everything without complaining or arguing (Philippians 2:14-18). What is something that you have been complaining about lately and you need to stop complaining about it because it’s not solving the problem? 

5) Scripture calls us to be holy because God is holy (read 1 Peter 1:15-16). What does it look like to be blameless and pure in a crooked generation? How can you lean into God when you’re struggling being holy? (see Romans 8:26). 

6) Read Philippians 2:19-30. We read about early church leaders who put the needs of others before their personal needs. They modeled a sacrificial love to those around them. How can we live that same lifestyle? (see 1 John 4:16-21, 5:3). 

7) The church in Philippi was marked by a deep concern for the needs of others. Compare their attitude with the parable in Luke 12:16-21. As you think about your life, who do you want to be more like?   

Close your time in prayer by praying for: Young Life. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Philippians | Week 3 | Small Group Questions

Coastline Bible Church is doing an eight-week sermon series called: "Defined by Joy." The Apostle Paul helped plant the church in Philippi (see Acts 16) but never forget about them. They played a key role in supporting him as God called him to plant other churches. From this series we want to learn how to have our lives defined by joy and not circumstances. Paul modeled this well to the early church. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | The Great Example | Philippians 2:1-11

Serving others does not come natural to everyone. Paul wrote the letter to the church in Philippi from a Roman jail about putting Christ first and others next. Instead of talking of being released, Paul focused more on uniting the church. It is truly better to have a united church ministering in the community. Paul longed to see the local church taking up the example of Jesus and chose to serve one another. Paul wants the church to find the joy of serving Jesus that he has found. In Philippians 2:1-11 he writes a poetic masterpiece that shows the chiastic structure that details Jesus coming to earth, serving people, and ascending back into heaven.  

1) Neal shared about the mass shooting in Las Vegas almost four years ago. Many people fled for their lives but some heroes went back to help save others. What motivates a person to put their life on the line to save strangers? 

2) Read Philippians 2:1-4. Draw out the different ways he wanted the church to be united. Talk about the difference between unity and uniformity. How can we be united with Christ for the advancement of the Gospel? 

3) Look again at Philippians 2:3-4. As a group take a couple mins to read Mark 5. Look at how Jesus selflessly served the different people He ministered to in this chapter. What stands out to you about looking to the interests of others? 

4) Paul encouraged us to have the same mindset as that of Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Read John 4:31-34, Luke 7:11-17, Mark 2:1-11, and Matthew 5:1-2. What does these passages teach us about the mindset of Jesus? 

5) Read Philippians 2:6-8. Jesus was obedient to death on the cross. Some believers hear about the cross so often that they forget what really happened (read Luke 23:26-47). What do you need to remember about what happened on the cross? 

6) Jesus ascended into heaven and sat at the right hand of God (read Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus allowed God to exalt Him. Read Mark 10:35-45. Why did the disciples want to exalt themselves? Why do we try to do the same? 

7) One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. Share about a time where you saw someone confess salvation in the name of Jesus. Who are you praying for to find hope in the name of Jesus?   

Close your time in prayer by praying for: Child Evangelism Fellowship. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Philippians | Week 2 | Small Group Questions





Coastline Bible Church is doing an eight-week sermon series called: "Defined by Joy." The Apostle Paul helped plant the church in Philippi (see Acts 16) but never forget about them. They played a key role in supporting him as God called him to plant other churches. From this series we want to learn how to have our lives defined by joy and not circumstances. Paul modeled this well to the early church. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | Joy in hardship | Philippians 1:12-30

As we study the book of Philippians we must remember that Paul is writing this letter from a Roman jail cell. Paul was wrongly arrested in the Temple in Jerusalem. Some Jews thought that Paul had brought a Gentile into the Temple Court and this caused  a commotion. Paul was arrested and beaten. He was kept in chains because the Jews were looking for a way to kill him. Paul was ultimately taken to Rome where he wrote this letter to the church in Philippi. All day long He was chained to a Roman guard. Paul learned that his suffering gave him an opportunity to glorify God. Through all of this, Paul found joy in his hardship. 

1) Neal shared a story about David McIntyre and his time on a show called Alone. On the show David spoke about how suffering shapes us in to the people we are today. Share a time when you suffered and how it shaped your life. 

2) Read Philippians 1:12-14. Paul found a boldness to share his faith while being locked up in Rome. What motivates you to share your faith? On the other side, what keeps you from sharing your faith? (see 2 Timothy 4:5 about sharing your faith). 

3) Paul was jailed in a private house while being chained to a Roman guard all day long. His chains gave him a boldness to proclaim the Gospel message. What do you feel chained to right now and how can you find boldness to share the gospel? 

4) Paul encourages the church to keep Christ first and to keep proclaiming the Gospel  no matter the situation (read Philippians 1:15-18). Why is Satan happy when he sees conflict arise in the church? 

5) Paul had sufficient courage to face the task at hand (read Philippians 1:18b-21). Courage is a quality we see in many of our heroes of the faith. Read Daniel 1 and talk about how both these men had courage in their unique setting. 

6) Read Philippians 1:22-26. Paul longed to be with the church and to be with the Lord. He knew it was better for him to stay. Who has God placed in your circle of influence that you can encourage with the love of God this week? 

7) At the end of chapter one we learn about conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel (read Philippians 1:27-30). Share one area that you think you excel in conducting yourself in a worthy manner and one area you’d like help to grow in. 

Close your time in prayer by praying for: Family to Family ministry.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Philippians | Week 1 | Small Group Questions




Coastline Bible Church is doing an eight-week sermon series called: "Defined by Joy." The Apostle Paul helped plant the church in Philippi (see Acts 16) but never forget about them. They played a key role in supporting him as God called him to plant other churches. From this series we want to learn how to have our lives defined by joy and not circumstances. Paul modeled this well to the early church. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions | A Joyful Perspective | Philippians 1:1-11

The church in Philippi is the first recorded church started on a different continent! You can read about the roots of the church in Philippi in Acts 16. Paul help found the church and kept in close contact with them throughout his missionary journey. About a decade later he is writing them a letter of encouragement from a prison cell. Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and is awaiting trial in Rome. He is living in his own rented house while chained to Roman guards. This is important to keep in mind because the words Paul writes don’t sound like the sentences of a dejected prisoner, they are quite the opposite. Paul writes as a joyful man sharing joy with others! 

1) The church in Philippi was started by Paul and his traveling companions. If you read Acts 16 you will see that the church was comprised of a variety of a people. What do you love about the diversity of the local church and why? 

2) Paul was a well known leader in the church but introduced himself as a bondservant (read Philippians 1:1-2). While on earth, Jesus taught the disciples about serving others (see Mark 10:44-45). What is one way you can serve others this week? 

3) Read Philippians 1:3-6. Paul modeled an attitude of thankfulness, joy, and gospel partnership. Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to complain than to be joyful? Go around the group and share about what you’re thankful for.  

4) Paul had a great love for the church in Philippi (read Philippians 1:7-8). Jesus taught that love would be a defining characteristic of Jesus followers (read John 13:34-35). How are you doing at loving others? Where do you struggle with loving others?  

5) Read John 3:16-17. God sent His one and only Son because He loved the world. in Matthew 9:35-38 we read that Jesus had compassion people. How can you grow in your capacity to love others as the Bible teaches? 

6) Paul prayed for the church on a regular basis (read Philippians 1:9-11). Jesus taught people how to pray in the Sermon on the Mount (read Matthew 6:5-14) David encouraged us to pray early in the morning (Psalm 5:3). How is your prayer life helping your love to abound more and more?  

7) Paul longs for the church to be filled with the fruit of righteousness. Read Galatians 5:22-23 and talk about the fruit of the Spirit. Where would you like to grow as you wait for the day of Christ to return?  

Close your time in prayer by praying for: My Babies First Teacher. 

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Flawed but Faithful | Week 5 | Small Group Questions



Coastline Bible Church is doing a five-week sermon series called: "Flawed but Faithful." This is going to be a unique sermon series because typically when we read the Bible we are looking for the text to be God-centric; meaning we put God at the center of our focus. But for five weeks we’re going to focus on the life of Peter. We’re going to see that Peter is a human just like us. We’re going to learn that Peter followed Jesus, stepped out in faith, tried to justify himself, and had wild ideas. We’re going to see that Peter is a flawed man who was faithful to God. Peter played a key role in building the local church and because of his faithfulness to Jesus we have the local church. For this series I volunteered to write the small group questions that go along with each sermon. It seemed like a waste to leave them in a file on my computer and not share them with everyone.

Small Group Questions ::: A  New Job Title ::: John 21

We started this series looking at Peter leaving his occupation as a fisherman to follow Jesus. For three years Peter followed Jesus, sat under His teaching, walked on water with Him, and knew the power that He had. Near the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter denied knowing Jesus in an attempt to protect himself. As Jesus hung on the cross Peter was no where to be found. In the throws of discouragement, Peter goes back to fishing. Things didn’t turn out how he had planned. In John 21 we read about Peter’s restoration as a disciple. Take note that this story takes place on the same shoreline that Jesus called Peter to leave everything and follow Him. 

1) In 2016 a group of university students put up a chalkboard on the sidewalk of a busy New York intersection. At the top of the board was written: “Write your biggest regret.” Share your biggest regret in life. 

2) Read John 21:1-3. Things didn’t turn out the way Peter and the other disciples planned so they returned to fishing. Their hope was for Jesus to be a conquering king not a humble servant (Mark 10:44-45). What do you do when your plans fail? 

3) Read John 21:4-9. A potential reason the disciples returned to fishing was to meet their physical needs. Share about a time when the Lord provided what your needed despite of your fears. (see Psalm 22:26, Matthew 6:31-32, & Philippians 4:19) 

4) For some reason the disciples seemed to not recognize Jesus (read John 21:4, Luke 24:13-32, and John 20:11-18. Share about a time that Jesus was working in your life but for some reason you didn’t recognize it was Him at work. 

5) The night that Jesus was betrayed Peter denied knowing Him three times. Read Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, and John 18:25-27. What do you think Peter was experiencing in the days after denying Jesus? How did he fell?   

6) Read John 21:15-19. Jesus takes Peter for a short walk and invites him back into the original plan of ministry. Where is Jesus inviting you to care for others? (see Romans 12:17, Philippians 2:3, Colossians 3:23, & 1 Peter 5:2). 

7) Although Peter had failures in his life, he didn’t allow the failures to define him. This account in John 21 would have been helpful for the early church. Share about a time you made a mistake and how the Lord used that mistake to encourage others.  

8) Close your time in prayer. Talk about who you will invite to Coastline Online? 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Response of Forgiveness



We all know that we can’t live in this world without being hurt by someone else. We have all been hurt. It might have been by a longtime friend, a family member, or someone we just met. As a pastor I’ve heard countless stories from people who’ve been wounded, mistreated, or taken advantage of. I’ve sat in my office, my house, and coffee shops hearing painful stories that have broke my heart listening to. Some people have chosen to forgive and others haven’t. 

When we refuse to forgive someone we give that person power in our life. Think about this with me. We have been wronged in a situation. For the next day, week, month, or maybe longer we think about the injustice that took place. We might perseverate on the actions of the other person. We play the scenario over and over again in our mind. It distracts us from living our life. We rehearse the conversation thousands of times. We think about what we will say to the person next time we see them. 

This is the hard part to grasp here. Most of the time the other person isn’t even thinking about the situation. They have forgotten it while we have let it dominate our life. We hang on to the past while the other person is happily living his/her life.  

You might have walked in this post today carrying the weight of that wrong that was done to you this week, this month, this year, or many years ago. If that is your situation I’ve been praying for God to speak to you today. 
If you have ever been wronged and struggled with forgiveness this message is for you. 
If you have been hurt in life by the actions of someone else, this message is for you. 
If you have hurt someone with your words or your actions, this message is for you. 

A Gracious King
To help Peter understand the extravagance of forgiveness Jesus tells us a story about a gracious king (read Matthew 18:23-27). True to His teaching nature, Jesus gives you and I an example of forgiveness that we will never forget. In this story the king represents God and the servant represents mankind. The servant represents you and me. The servant owed the master 10,000 bags of gold. This was an incomprehensible amount of money. Historians think that the entire wealth of the Roman Empire was around four to five thousand bags of gold in this time period. For Jesus to use that amount of money would have been incomprehensible. 

The man is unable to pay his debt so the order is given to sell his family and put him in jail until he can repay the master. In the ancient world selling people into slavery to pay off a debt was a common practice. The king knew he wouldn’t get all of his money back but at least he was able to recoup some of his costs by doing that. Look at verse 26 with me. At this… It’s almost as if the words barely left the kings mouth when the servant falls on his knees and begs for mercy. He makes  a promise that he will surely not be able to keep. There is no way he can pay back that debt. 

To the astonishment of Jesus’ original audience, the master had pity on him. The king had compassion on the plight of his servant. No stopping the conversation for deliberation. No consulting with the finance department. The king has the authority and cancels the debt right there. The audience would have been awestruck. They would have never forgotten the story. We’re talking about Peter. He was in the front row when Jesus said this. I imagine Peter sinking his head down a little when he realized how gracious this king is in comparison to what he thought was being generous with forgiveness. We learn a lesson from Peter and Jesus here: Forgiveness requires more than I think is reasonable. 

You might have heard the story about Amber Guyger, the former Dallas police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man in his apartment. On September 6, 2018, she returned home from work and went to what she thought was her apartment. She was off duty but still in her police uniform. The apartment door was ajar, she said, and when she entered she found a man inside. She fired her service weapon, killing him. It was a tragic loss of life. But let me show what is so unreasonable about forgiveness. This is the kind of forgiveness Jesus calls us to. This is the kind of forgiveness we’re invited to participate in. 


An Ungrateful Servant
Act two of our story begins now. The camera fades from the palace to the streets of the city (read Matthew 18:28-31). This is basically the same scenario re-enacted here. Only that this scene takes place between two servants. The amount of money is significantly reduced. The amount of money is possibly equal to 100 days of work. What is so starkly different is the response of the man who was forgiven such a huge debt. He uses violence in an attempt to get what is owed him. He starts out with choking this man for a third of the guys annual salary. 

The fellow servant responds with the exact same words that the first servant said to the king. Both men asked for patience and committed to pay back the entire sum of money. Just as the sum of money is sharply contrasted so is the response of the first servant. The first servant didn’t take pity on his fellow servant. He was bent on destruction. Look at verse 30. When Scripture says: “He refused” it means that he was unwilling. The man who had been shown mercy was unwilling to show mercy. He was unwilling, it was his decision not to forgive. Someone once said: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Here is an aspect of the Biblical story we can miss. There was a group of people who saw all that transpired. Someone is always watching how we act. They saw the malicious behavior of the servant and told the master. One of the core values at Coastline is: Grace happens here. What we are seeing from this servant is not grace. The king offered grace but not the fellow servant. Which is so difficult to understand because of what he was forgiven. We too need to offer forgiveness because we know the debt we’ve been forgiven. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.” Martin Luther King Jr. Jesus is making sure we know that forgiveness isn’t natural and we must allow God to rule our hearts.

The Response of the King
We now move to act three of the story; the two original characters are back (read Matthew 18:32-35). To say the king is furious at the actions of this servant would be an understatement. The king wants us to treat others with love, respect, and compassion. He asks about showing mercy. Mercy is giving someone what they don’t deserve. It’s withholding power and showing compassion. This servant was shown compassion but couldn’t extend that same mercy to another servant for a far lesser debt. Jesus is teaching Peter that we need to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. Listen to this: “Here's the problem: We have a strong tendency to think we can receive forgiveness from God but not give it to others.” -Scott Wenig.  

I bet Peter never thought that Jesus would give him the lesson that He did to his question. Peter’s question about forgiveness needs to change the way we view forgiveness. If we are honest, we can all grow in this area. We can be more like the King. Let’s think about this story from a Heavenly perspective. Jesus, the only Son of God, came to earth. He lived a sinless life. He was betrayed by one of his closest friends. Jesus is the King. He is the King who went to the cross to cancel our debt that we couldn’t pay. Jesus chose death so we could have life. It seems to be a reckless decision but He did it on purpose. For us. 

This passage requires action on our part. I have one application for us today: offer forgiveness to someone who you’ve withheld forgiveness from. Who is holding your thought life captive because you keep thinking about how to get revenge on them? It won’t help. Studies show that whatever you’re willing to pay to get revenge on them won’t help. There is someone that you haven’t forgiven. They did something minor or horrible to you. You might need to call them today. This is the eight step in AA. It is to make amends for our short-comings. I’m not asking you to make excuses for a person, or to forget what they did, or to reconcile with the person. I’m asking you to sit with the Lord. Ask God for the power to make the decision to forgive that person. You might want to write the person a letter and let him/her know that you’re forgiving them. Make a choice to grow in emotional, spiritual, and relational maturity. Make the decision to forgive and let God rule your heart today.