Category: Small Group Materials

Beyond borders

3-jesus-and-samaritan-woman-9003-_I4C8789

What Jesus did at the well when he spoke with a Samaritan woman was actually a brave act that challenged cultural and religious norms of their time.

When we read that story in John 4 today, perhaps all that we can read is a casual conversation between two people on a sunny afternoon. But that seemingly casual conversation is far from usual and it screams scandal for the Jews. More than that, this story teaches us a lot about how Jesus expects us to go beyond our borders — yes, even behind enemy lines — and share the good news to other people.

Let’s begin.

The ancient antagonism between the Jews and the Samaritans is rooted on racial discrimination and religious dispute. When the nation of Israel was conquered by the Gentile nations around them, the Samaritans intermarried with unclean races. The Jews found this disgraceful, and they considered them infidels, a sinful race, enemies of the faith. Any association with the Samaritans was unacceptable.

This is where Jesus stepped in and broke the walls of religious and moral prejudices of their time. By doing this, Jesus teaches us the following lessons about discipleship.

1. Be intentional.

In the story, Jesus left Judea and departed for Galilee, and “he had to pass through Samaria” because Samaria lies between Judea and Galilee.

During their time, the Jews normally took a longer route just to avoid setting their foot on Samaritan soil. Though passing through Samaria was the quickest route, the Jews chose to cross the Jordan River and avoid the Samaritans.
But Jesus had to pass through Samaria, not because he was tired or because he was in a hurry to reach Galilee. He had to pass through Samaria because he had a mission to complete. He knew that a woman at the well in Samaria will receive his message that day.

How about you? Do you intentionally reach out to people around you? Do you make a conscious effort to go out of your way, make time for others and listen to them in order to share the gospel?

2. Be bold.

Jesus leading his disciples through Samaritan territory was scandalous enough for a rabbi. But he did more than that: he spoke with an enemy of the Jews! And if it wasn’t scandalous enough, Jesus spoke with no other than a Samaritan woman. Proper Jewish men didn’t speak directly with women other than their wives.

When Jesus did that, he bridged the centuries-old wall of sexual, racial and religious barriers between the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus risked being questioned, misunderstood or even persecuted. For him, the woman was worth the trouble. She had a great need, and he had the only answer.

Who are the Samaritans in your life? The sinful, the immoral, the people whom the world (and even well-meaning Christians) have condemned and rejected? Will you reach out to them and give them hope? Will you boldly share the gospel even when it is not socially acceptable?

3. Be strategic.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, he grabbed the chance of using a present need in order to get his message across. Jesus began by asking for water from the well because he was thirsty. Then he pointed out the woman’s constant need for water. Seeing that he piqued the woman’s interest, he went on and told her about the Living Water that he offers.

If we want to reach out to others, we need to be armed with the best strategy to engage them and connect with them. We begin by listening to their needs, knowing their interests and genuinely caring for them.

Who are you trying to reach out today? What are his needs, interests and concerns? How can you connect with him more?

4. Be compassionate.

Towards the end of Jesus’ conversation with the woman, he exposed her sin and dealt with it, but he showed compassion by not condemning her. The most outrageous thing that Jesus did during that sunny afternoon was not talking to a Samaritan woman; it was offering hope and salvation to the Samaritans — the sinful, unfaithful, detestable Samaritans!

How many times have we judged, rejected and condemned others because of their sin? How many times have we felt morally superior to others just because we don’t commit the same sin that they do? How many times have we felt holier than thou, because read our Bibles and pray every day? How many times have we distanced ourselves from others just because they don’t go to the same church as ours?

How many times have we made fun of the cross-dressing homosexuals on the street? Or looked away from the stinky beggar on the road? When an ill-dressed man comes to church, do we welcome him warmly just as how we welcome the man in coat and tie?

I pray that we will see them through the eyes of Jesus; to see them with compassionate eyes and love them with the kind of love that goes beyond lip service. Jesus died for them, too. And we ought to help them follow Jesus as well.

5. Be Christ-centered.

As the afternoon chat between Jesus and the woman ended, Jesus pointed her to himself: the Messiah that they have been waiting for; the Savior of the world that will save us from hell; the Lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world.

Discipleship is not about promoting the church. It’s not about growing the church’s dwindling attendance, nor is it about building a club where we stand as the leader. Discipleship is about following Jesus and bringing people along with us. We make disciples of Jesus.

We preach Jesus to the lost. We share the gospel to the harassed, helpless and needy.

As Jesus revealed himself to the woman, her eyes were opened and she did the most amazing thing in her life: She believed the message and shared it with her neighbors. Soon enough, many other Samaritans heard Jesus’ message and believed.

I hope that through our boldness and compassion, we would be able to disciple even the people beyond our borders. As we do so, we know that our courage and obedience will result in a bountiful harvest for God’s kingdom.

Honor God. Make disciples.

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The Bleeding Woman

Us in the Eyes of Jesus

Heat It Up!

  • Recall a time when you were feeling sad, discouraged, or nervous and a good friend or a close relative hugged you. What did you feel afterward?
  • If someone tells you that he’ll give you whatever you need right now, what would you ask him for?

Look It Up!

Each of us has different concerns and needs that must be met in order for us to live a good and happy life. As followers of Christ, the most important need that we have is the need to be acknowledged by Jesus, for this brings us security and joy far more than merely having a stable and well-provided life.

The healing of the bleeding woman who touched Jesus’ robe in Mark 5:24-34 speaks of how Jesus casts His eyes upon us. In this lesson, we will realize that despite the multitude of people coming to him, we will never go unnoticed. He recognizes us individually, including every aspect of our lives.

1. Jesus sees us as INDIVIDUALS.

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

Mark 5:31

The bleeding woman touched Jesus’ robe because she wanted to be healed. During their time, when a woman has a discharge of blood for many days other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her monthly period, that woman (and everything she lies on and sits on) will be unclean as long as she has the discharge (Leviticus 15:25).

Jesus was able to immediately notice the presence of the woman among the large crowd gathered around Him. Although this story happened some two thousand years ago, the way Jesus recognizes us remains the same up to this very day. He sees us individually and He makes it known to us. He lets us feel His presence in our everyday lives.

Just as Jesus was able to pinpoint the woman, He is also able to identify us among the crowd. He loves us individually and He knows each of us very well.

The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…”I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

John 10:3, 14

2. Jesus sees our NEEDS.

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse … He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Mark 5:25-26, 34

All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; My sighing is not hidden from you.

Psalms 38:9

Because Jesus knows us very well, He sees our desires even before we utter it out loud. In fact, in the story, the woman need not explain why she touched Jesus’ robe; she just did so in fear.

The woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet, and trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.

Mark 5:33

Jesus already knew that the woman needs to be healed. And He gave it to the woman.

Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from suffering.

Mark 5:29

Indeed, Jesus knows our longings and desires. He is always here, ready to help us with whatever

problem or circumstance we have if we just approach Him like the woman did. All we have to do is establish contact with Him and He will do the rest.

Was there ever a moment when you felt alone and no one seems to be there to listen, accompany, comfort, help, or encourage you—not even Jesus? How did you deal with this moment of loneliness?

How will you show Jesus that you appreciate His presence in your life the way He takes notice of yours?

3. Jesus sees our FAITH.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed…”

Mark 5:27-28

The woman was empty-handed when she touched Jesus. She has nothing to offer but her faith. But Jesus honored her faith. And that is why though it was Jesus’ power that healed her, Jesus told her that it’s her faith that made it possible.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Matthew 21:21-22

Like the woman, we have nothing to offer to Jesus but our faith. And when we put our faith in Him, it means trusting God, not just with our needs, but with our lives as well.

If we believe in Jesus, it will be easier for Him to recognize us and fulfill our needs. As long as Jesus is with us and as long as we keep a close personal relationship with Him, we will remain in His eyes.

How does the knowledge that Jesus sees everything you do and that He understands your every need change the way you think you should be living your life now?

Send It Up!

Share your prayer concerns with the members of your CARE group. Write down the prayer concerns of your group members on the blank spaces below. Make sure to find time to personally pray for these concerns during the week.

As the CARE group session ends in prayer, pray for the listed concerns and the following:

That each will develop a sensitivity to know that Jesus sees everything that happens in our lives and that He understands everything that we are going through. Pray that may this knowledge make us feel secure that God will never leave us in times of trouble.

The Blind Beggar

Casting Our Cares on Jesus

Heat It Up!

  • What gift would you want to receive on your next birthday?
  • Give an instance when you’ve done a favor for a friend. How did he/she react?

Look It Up!

This story of “blindness” has nothing to do with being “spiritually deficient” or being a “lost soul.” The “blindness” in this story proves that one’s inability can make one more than able. It’s the kind that displays how strong our faith in Jesus must be. This story of blindness made people see more clearly that Jesus is not just able to cure us from our pains. He so loves us that He longs to heal our wounds and to put a smile on our lips.

As the blind beggar receives his sight, he was not only amazed by the new sights that he was seeing for the very first time. What amazed him even more was the love of Jesus being clearly revealed to him after he was healed. This encounter with Jesus will open our (sometimes blind) eyes to the reality that Jesus cares for us even when we least feel it.

1. SEIZE every opportunity.

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Luke 18:35-38

How did this guy even learn of the healing power of Jesus? Through hearsay, we suppose. Doesn’t he resemble most of us? For though “we have not seen, we believed (John 20:29).” But very much unlike this man, we oftentimes do not fully believe what we’ve already learned about God. “God is powerful…” “God is merciful…” “God loves us…” we say. The Bible and His works, through various experiences, help us figure that out. Yet at times, we take these truths too grand for such petty problems and too ideal for such heavily-laden soul. When you seem to have reached the end of your rope – no more resources to tap; no more friends to call; no more activities to keep you preoccupied to get over the pain – remember that you have an unlimited access to Jesus’ love.

You can have it any time you want, so seize every opportunity to experience it. Believe that Jesus cares. This blind man believed blindly and completely. How much do we?

What small worries are you now willing to surrender to God?

2. PERSEVERE no matter what.

Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Luke 18:39

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

He could have yelled just once, and Jesus would have noticed him. He could have not yelled at all, and Jesus would still notice him; Jesus is God and he is omniscient anyway. But why didn’t He come at once during the first cry of the blind man? Perhaps his voice wasn’t so loud enough at first to dominate the noise of the crowd. Or perhaps Jesus wants to hear his voice again and again so that in a way He could measure how much this fellow wants Him around. Or maybe Jesus didn’t respond at once to add some dramatic superhero effect to the story. Then again, we could only speculate as much.

After the first time of being unnoticed, he did it much louder. But the blind beggar, without any trace of hesitation, ignored those who rebuked him and showed more persistence until he finally got Jesus’ attention. He just kept yelling; besides, yelling is all that a blind person could do to get someone’s attention, more so in the midst of a noisy and unruly crowd.

He didn’t even have any idea where Jesus exactly was or if Jesus was at a shouting distance. He wasn’t even sure whether Jesus was there or had already left. Yet he kept on yelling.

Case in point: we must persevere in asking God for our needs because He hears us. He hears us even if the tears seem to drown our words in prayer. No matter what obstacles come our way, just trust and persevere for God hears us. His ears are always listening 24/7.

Do you persevere in asking God for your needs? Or do you give up too soon when His answer is no avail?

3. FOLLOW-UP with obedience and praise.

Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

Luke 18:42,43

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:2-4

He was healed. Immediately after, he didn’t become so excited to see the scenery that he was seeing for the very first time. He didn’t run and head his way to see more of the world. What he did is what most of us forgets. He thanked Jesus and praised Him for the sight that has been given him. He thanked Him for the answer to his request that he so longed to be answered. In turn, the people who saw the miracle started praising God as well.

For the times you asked God for something, how many times have you thanked Him when He finally answered? No matter what happens, we should always follow-up with obedience and praise regardless of God’s answer to our prayers.

For everything that God does in your life, do you always follow-up with obedience and praise?

Send It Up!

Share your prayer concerns with the members of your CARE group. Write down the prayer concerns of your group members on the blank spaces below. Make sure to find time to personally pray for these concerns during the week.

As the CARE group session ends in prayer, pray for the listed concerns and the following:

That each one will learn to seize every opportunity to call to God and surrender to Him every problem and concern that he/she experiences; and that each will persevere with faith in praying for these concerns no matter how big and small they may be. Pray that each one will learn to follow-up with thanksgiving and praise regardless of God’s answer to his/her prayer concerns.

HomeWork:

Get the sheet of paper that you used for your first HomeWork. On the third column, write the heading “God’s Answers” and write down answers and/or progress regarding your prayers opposite each concern. Thank God and praise Him for answered prayers. For concerns that are yet to be answered, persevere in praying for each of these concerns and believe that God will answer them in time. Share your HomeWork to the rest of the group on your next meeting.

The Healing at the Pool

Waiting on Jesus

Heat It Up!

  • Tell of an instance when you had to wait for a long time to receive something.
  •  Have you seen a person healed even after having been sick for a long period?

Look It Up!

Have you ever been in a crowded bus? Or a jam-packed train perhaps?

You are standing stiffly one sultry morning, waiting for a passenger to get off so you could finally take a seat. While waiting, the air-conditioning unit broke down, someone stepped on your foot and your bag fell to the floor. You are already five minutes late for your appointment. Nothing right seems to be happening and you cannot do anything to change the situation. All you can do is just to wait until you finally reach your destination.

John tells us of a more difficult situation. A man was invalid for 38 years. He had pinned his hope on the supposedly healing waters of the pool of Bethesda, but no one was there to help him intothe water. The long years of waiting must have drained his hope. But then Jesus came into the picture and He came with what the man needed. Jesus brought hope. And more than that, Jesus brought resolution.

1. Waiting for God’s perfect time can be a LONG WAIT.

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

John 5:5

We all know that it’s not easy to wait but sometimes we have to. Waiting can be a long and painful process. The invalid man was made to wait for a grueling 38 years, a very lengthy span of time in anyone’s standard. But God had His reason for making the man wait. God, in His perfect time, used the man’s predicament to reveal His glory. And now the man’s story was written down for all generations to learn from.

No matter how long the wait is, we can always count on the fact that our God is a faithful God who has no record of unbroken promises. He will complete what He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6); we just need to hold on and continue trusting him. The wait will all be worth it.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Romans 4:18

Abraham’s life is another proof that God fulfills what He has promised. When Abraham was 75 years old, he was yet to have a child. But God promised to make him the Father of All Nations. Abraham waited for 25 years before God faithfully fulfilled His promise by giving him Isaac.

Are you presently in a situation where you feel like giving up? A situation where you think the battle is over?

We might be waiting and praying for so long for God to finally work for the revival of the church. We might be waiting for God’s work to restore our family relationships. We might be waiting for God’s mighty work in our lives. Don’t fret. God will always provide for us in His perfect time. God’s timetable is never too late.

2. When the time comes, God is MORE THAN ENOUGH.

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked…

John 5:7-9

The invalid man was waiting for someone to help him get into the water so he may be healed. But when Jesus walked in, His command was straightforward: get up at once and walk! No need for the miraculous water; no need for any healing salve or anointing oil. Jesus chose to heal the man. And by His words ALONE the man was healed.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:26

God is the creator of all things, tangible or not. The One who holds the stars in their place. The Master of the mountains and the waves. The Lord of the created order. And when you think no

one can help you, just think of these truths. We need to be reminded that God is always available (just a prayer away) and nothing is impossible through Him.

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13

 Imagine how awkward it might have been for Abraham to believe in God’s promise of having descendants as countless as the stars in the heavens and as numerous as the sands in the shore when he didsn’t even have a single offspring at the age of 75. Think athow difficult it might have been for Noah to create an ark andprepare for the great flood when he didn’t even know what the oceans look like. Or do you think it was just easy for Moses to believe that God will part the Red Sea to finally deliver them from Egypt? These men lived a life of faith and died as great men of faith. They believed. They had faith. They waited. And they received what God has promised at the right time.

When was the last time you doubted that God will answer your prayer and will give you what you asked for?

When you feel like you’re losing strength, ask God. He takes delight when we ask Him because it is His way of showing us how much He loves us. His strength is more than enough.

Send It Up!

Share your prayer concerns with the members of your CARE group. Write down the prayer concerns of your group members on the blank spaces below. Make sure to find time to personally pray for these concerns during the week.

As the CARE group session ends in prayer, pray for the listed concerns and the following:

That each one will have faith that God will answer their prayers in His own time, for His own glory. And when that time comes, God will be more than enough.

The Demon-Possessed Boy

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

Heat It Up!

  • What is your idea of the proverb, “Have faith in God alone”?
  • Share a problem that you experienced where the solution seems to be highly impossible.

Look It Up!

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire and into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

Matthew 17: 14-18

His son was demon-possessed. What could be more terrifying than being in the place of a father whose hope of having his son healed seems to be far-fetched? What could be more hopeless than when Jesus’ disciples themselves failed to bring healing?

The story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed boy teaches us a lot about having faith in him. Having faith in Jesus means entrusting everything to him and his power. Having faith is believing that when all else fails, Jesus won’t.

Pause for a while and think of a time when things seemed so hopeless and you couldn’t do anything to change the situation. When the worst is far from over, we tend to doubt Jesus’ power to overturn the situation.

Having faith means fixing our eyes on Jesus alone. And fixing our eyes on Jesus requires a three-fold action.

1. Fixing our eyes on Jesus means ACKNOWLEDGING that only He has the answer to our problems.

I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”“…Bring the boy to me.” 18Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.”

Matthew 17: 16-18

Picture this: Another violent attack and the boy went into total frenzy. Eyes frantically rolling; body severely shaking; mouth babbling garbled words. The panic-stricken father rushed to the disciples. He heard a lot about them. They can never fail.

The disciples came, looked at the trembling victim, and with a loud voice, rebuked the demon. And in one astounding moment… nothing happened. “Oh no!” the father might have uttered in despair. “What happened?” the disciples might have asked, puzzled. Hopes gone. Hello despair.

But the man was not giving up. If the disciples can’t do it, maybe the Master can. And oh yes, he really can. Immediately Jesus commanded the demon to be gone, and the demon went away. In times of hopelessness, Jesus ALONE can deliver us. His power never runs down. His love never runs dry.

Do you always show that you trust God’s faithfulness even in seemingly hopeless situations? If not, what adjustments in your life do you need to do to be able to do so?

2. Fixing our eyes on Jesus means DISREGARDING our human limitations.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked,Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

Matthew 17: 19

 When we look at ourselves, we see our weaknesses. But these weaknesses are a chance for God to reveal His power. When the disciples failed, Jesus displayed His power. Relying on ourselves often leads to failure. All our efforts to change the situation will be in vain unless we realize that only God can help us.

In him and through faith in him we may approach Godwith freedom and confidence.

Ephesians 3: 12

 Was there an instance in your life that you did things on your own and failed? What did you realize?

We are not alone in our struggles. We have Jesus to get us through every situation. When our strength is insufficient, which is almost always the case, we only need to have faith that “we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13). Fixing our eyes on Jesus means having faith in what He can do through us – the kind of faith that goes beyond our human limitations.

3. Fixing our eyes on Jesus means KNOWING that nothing is impossible with Him.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing is impossible for you.”

Matthew 17: 20

You don’t need to wear a red cape over a royal blue tight overalls and put an “S” on your chest before you can do the impossible. Save yourself from the hassle and the humiliation. Jesus’ requirement is so simple: if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible.

Can you tell of a time when God moved because you believed that He will do something out of a hopeless situation?

Our God is a faithful God who keeps His covenant of love to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9). And His faithfulness must compel us to have faith in Him no matter what. What is required of us is simply to have faith, just like what Jesus told his disciples. And living in faith means believing that we can do great things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Send It Up!

Share your prayer concerns with the members of your CARE group. Write down the prayer concerns of your group members on the blank spaces below. Make sure to find time to personally pray for these concerns during the week.

As the CARE group session ends in prayer, pray for the listed concerns and the following:

  •  Pray that each member of your group will have faith in Jesus and in what He can do, and not rely on we can do, during tough times.
  • Pray that the group will acknowledge Jesus’ power and learn to trust Him even in little concerns that we face in our daily routines.

HomeWork:

Each day this week, find time to be alone to meditate and pray. Think of a concern that you are presently going through. Grab a pen and a clean sheet of paper. Fold it into three (3) columns. Label the first column, “Faith Goals” and list down your concerns under the heading. On the second column opposite each concern, write down the heading “God’s Promises” and list down Scripture verses that will strengthen your faith in praying for these concerns. Leave the third column blank for the meantime. Pray for these concerns regularly and be sensitive about God’s answers to each of them. Keep the sheet of paper in a place where you will see it often.

For the leader:

Regularly remind and follow-up your members to do the HomeWork. On your next CARE group meeting, ask each of your members to share an item on their list to the group during the Send It Up segment.