Ask and Receive | John 16: 21-25

In the upper room discourse, Jesus invites his disciples to “ask anything in my name.” If Jesus is as truthful and powerful as he claims to be, then why do so many of us neglect to take Jesus up on this offer? Jesus wants us to pray, and gives us profound truth that helps us do so with confidence.

Discussion Questions

  1. Where do you experience a wrong mindset when it comes to prayer? How can others in your life help you remember the relational foundation of prayer?

  2. Have you experienced disappointments in prayer, or what has felt like unanswered prayer? How can others help you bring those disappointments to God?

  3. How can we lean into the tension between asking Jesus for “anything/whatever,” while understanding that Jesus wants our prayers to be shaped by his glory and character?

  4. How are our prayers connected to mission, evangelism, and service? How does Jesus want to use your prayers to see his kingdom come here on earth as it is in heaven?

Prayer Points

  1. As you pray this week, focus on the relational foundation of prayer. Rather than starting with a list of requests, begin with praises, with language of abiding, and thankfulness for the gospel.

  2. Pray missional prayers, and thank God that he is working and doing things even while we sit and pray.

My Father's House | John 14:1-4

Jesus spoke about being from heaven, about bringing heaven to earth, and about heaven and earth becoming one. But few subjects in the Christian faith are as often misunderstood as heaven. A right understanding of heaven enables us to experience Jesus, frees us from fear, and fuels us for mission.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think there are so many wrong ideas about heaven? How can we help one another to think biblically about this important subject.

  2. Why is it important that we understand the gospel in bigger terms of just “going to heaven when you die?” What did Jesus say about the relationship between heaven and earth?

  3. Where do you currently experience fear, worry, or anxiety? How does right thinking about heaven provide perspective and relief?

  4. How can mission and service go wrong in the life of a believer? How does thinking about heaven provide the fuel that we truly need?

Prayer Points

  1. Thank God that your citizenship is in heaven, and pray for those who have yet to receive Jesus, the one who came from heaven.

  2. Pray that God would remind us of our eternal hope, and that this hope would minister to our fears and anxieties.

Additional Resources

  • Heaven and Earth video from the Bible Project

  • Heaven and Hell book by Edward Donnelly

  • Surprised by Hope book by N.T. Wright

  • Heaven short tract by J.C. Ryle

The World | John 15:18-25

The word “world” (Greek: kosmos) is the second-most used word in the gospel of John. Needless to say, how followers of Jesus live and interact with the world is an extremely important topic, one that requires careful thought, intentional action, resilience, and Christ-like love.

Discussion Questions

  1. Of the negative ways for a Christian to interact with the world, which are you most prone toward and why: non-engagement, going along with culture, or hostility toward culture?

  2. How does God’s love for the entire world differ from his love for those who have trusted in Jesus? Why is this distinction important? Where do we need to be careful with this distinction?

  3. Have you experienced hatred, resistance, or pushback from “the world” in your Christian walk? Share your experience with your group. How does Jesus want to grow you in perseverance and deep love?

  4. What avenues has God “sent” you into the world? How do you need to grow as a faithful and loving witness to the gospel of Jesus?

Prayer Points

  1. Pray that we, as a church, would know how to wisely engage with the world, even when there is opposition or pushback.

  2. Pray for opportunities to love your enemies like Jesus has loved us.

Love and Obedience | John 14:15-24

Time and time again throughout the upper room discourse, Jesus makes it clear that there is a close connection between love and obedience. If this is true, why so often do we find it so difficult to obey him?

Discussion Questions

  1. In general, why do you struggle with obedience: ignorance, pride, or injury? Expound and explain with your group.

  2. Specifically, where is God prompting you to respond to his love with obedience? Is there any partial obedience happening currently? What joy are you missing out on because of this disobedience?

  3. How is Jesus’ perfect obedience our only hope? How does his love actually fuel our obedience?

  4. How can we help one another be the type of disciples who obey joyfully, while at the same time keeping the gospel at the forefront of our message?

Prayer Points

  1. Take time to repent of pride or ignorance that would lead you to disobey Jesus.

  2. Pray for yourself or others who have been wounded by bad authority. Pray that we would be able to obey Jesus because his authority is perfectly loving.

  3. Pray for those who are not yet Christians and think that following Jesus is just about keeping all the rules. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with them.

Vine and Branches | John 15:1-11

Jesus uses many metaphors and images to describe his ministry, but perhaps no metaphor is so deeply woven into the biblical narrative as that of a garden. God is the gardener, and Jesus is the true vine, the one whom we must be connected to in order to have life.

Discussion Questions

1. Think through the storyline of the Bible through the lens of “garden.” Why is it significant that the story begins in a garden and ends in a garden city? How does God want us to think about our work in the world?

2. Where, apart from Jesus, are you prone to seek love and joy? How is he asking you to turn from those sources of life and remain connected to him?

3. How do those around you help you stay connected to the vine? How can you help and encourage others to remain connected to Jesus?

4. How might the use of imagery, story, and metaphor better help you to share the gospel with non-Christians in your life?

Prayer Points

1. Take time to pray individually this week, reminding yourself that this is one of the key ways that you abide in Jesus.

2. Pray for opportunities to invite others into relationship with Jesus. Remind yourself that what we see as dead branches can be brought to life by being connected to Jesus!

For Further Study: 

The Holy Spirit | John 16:6-15

Many people—even many Christians—feel uncertain, confused, or even downright afraid when it comes to the topic of the Holy Spirit. But Jesus wants us to know the joy that comes from walking a life that is filled with the Holy Spirit!

Discussion Questions

  1. When it comes to the Holy Spirit, where do you experience confusion or fear or other emotions like that? What experiences may have led to those emotions?

  2. Discuss the word paraclete. When you consider the various ways that it can be translated (helper, comforter, advocate), how does this help you understand the Spirit and his role in our lives?

  3. How is the ascension of Jesus very good news? How does it sometimes get diminished or ignored in our thinking about the gospel?

  4. How is Jesus inviting you into a deeper experience of himself through a closer relationship with the Holy Spirit? What steps of obedience do you need to take?

Prayer Points

  1. Pray that we would be a church that walks closely with the Holy Spirit for all that he is: comforter, advocate, the one who convicts us of sin, and the one who draws us closer to Jesus.

  2. Pray that the Spirit would lead us and help us to “glorify Jesus” to those in the world who don’t yet know him.

Additional Resources

  • Ten Things You Should Know About Being Filled With the Holy Spirit blog post by Sam Storms

  • Know the Creeds and Councils book by Dr. Justin Holcomb

Jesus and Glory | John 17: 1-10

In John 17, Jesus talks about glory: that he glorifies the Father, the Father is glorified in him, and Jesus is glorified in us. If we are invited into this amazing experience of God’s glory, why do we so often seek glory from other sources? Guest preacher Justin Anderson teaches on this profound truth.

Discussion Questions

  1. Does it feel wrong to ask to be glorified? What is the difference between seeking glory from God and seeking glory from another human?

  2. Jesus asks God to glorify him because he accomplished the mission he was given. What is the mission God has given you?

  3. If God was going to glorify you, what would he talk about?

  4. If your glory were tied only to how your neighbors have grown as image bearers, what glory would you receive?

  5. In your worst moments, who do you seek glory from and for what behavior?

  1. Prayer Points

  2. 1. Pray that our lives would bring glory to Jesus in all our thoughts, words, and deeds.

  3. 2. Pray that we would seek Jesus' glory by sharing the good news with those in our lives who don't know Jesus.

The Way, The Truth, The Life | John 14:1-11

In John 14, Jesus makes one of his most famous—and controversial—claims: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” If Jesus is the way, where are we trying to go? If he is the truth, what do we need to know? And if he is the life, why do we sometimes push back against this claim?

Discussion Questions

1. Heaven and earth will ultimately be joined together, and we will be with the Father forever. Why is this such good news? Why do we sometimes forget this amazing news?

2. Where are you prone to seek life from other sources besides Jesus? How do those sources ultimately leave us empty?

3. Read through Hebrews 9. How does the earthly temple show us a picture of heaven? How should we think of the final union of heaven and earth?

4. What are the factors that make many in our culture bristle against the idea of salvation in Jesus exclusively? How can we show people that this is actually good news?

Prayer Points

1. Pray that Jesus would return soon so that we can experience the final union of heaven and earth. Pray that we would remain faithful to Jesus until that day.

2. Pray for opportunities to share the hope of Jesus with those who don’t know him, even those who are opposed to the idea of “exclusivity.”

The Upper Room | John 15:12-17

Sermon Description

“People should be more loving.” It would be hard to to find anyone who disagrees with that statement. But the problem is that we don’t do it, we don’t love others well. In the upper room, Jesus lets us know that the only way we can love others is if we first experience his love. Loved people will love people.

Discussion Questions

  1. Generally speaking, how does our culture define love? How does Jesus define love? Why do you think we use the word “love” in such divergent ways? 

  2. Who are the people in your life who have shown you the most Christlike love? What is it about the way they loved you that reminds you of Jesus?

  3. When you are acting unloving towards people in your life, how can you be reminded of Jesus love toward you?

  4. How has God specifically gifted you to be able to show Jesus’ love to a world that desperately needs it? How do you need to obey Jesus’ command to love?

Prayer Points

  1. Pray that we would know more deeply than ever that we are loved people.

  2. Pray for courage and grace to obey Jesus and share his love with the world.

People of Prayer | Matthew 6:9-13

God graciously invites us to regularly experience his presence and grace through prayer, but far too often we don’t take advantage of this incredible benefit of belonging to Jesus. In 2019, the elders of Sound City believe that God is calling us to grow as people of prayer.

Discussion Questions

  1. How is the gospel the foundation for all our prayers? How does Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection make prayer possible at all?

  2. If prayer is so vitally important in the life of a Christian, why don’t we do it more? For you personally, what hinders you?

  3. In the tension between humility and confidence in prayer, which direction to you tend to go? How can you lean into the other side of the tension?

  4. When it comes to the contents of your prayer, where do you need to grow: praising God, confession of sin, prayer for others, requests for self, something else?

Prayer Points

  1. Pray that Sound City would truly be the type of church that is deeply committed to both Scripture and prayer.

  2. Pray for God’s kingdom to come and his will to be done in the north Seattle suburbs. Pray that he would use us to share his kingdom.

Magi | Matthew 2:1-12

The Magi are some of the most unlikely people to find bowing down at the feet of the Jewish Messiah. But God is always surprising us by bringing people into his family who don’t fit the part according to human standards.

Discussion Questions

  1. Reflect on your own salvation: how is it surprising that you are part of God’s family? Without God’s grace, where would you be today? Share your reflections with your group.

  2. When have you felt like an outsider? How does Jesus invite all types of people into his kingdom? How is this both encouraging and challenging?

  3. Read Isaiah 59:20—60:6. How do these promises come true in the story of the Magi? How do promises like this encourage our faith? 

  4. If God surprises us and brings unlikely people into his kingdom, how might this give us confidence in sharing the gospel?

Prayer Points

  1. Pray and repent of prejudice. Thank God that he is gathering together a family from all types of people from around the world.

  2. Pray that God would increase our faith to share the gospel with all people, even those who seem “unlikely” to respond to the message.

Advent | Shepherds (Luke 2:8-20)

Because of the brokenness of the world, people often feel stepped on, pushed down, and low. By announcing the birth of Jesus to a lowly group of shepherds, God makes the good news of the gospel clear: the Savior has come to lift us up to be with him.

Discussion Questions

  1. Describe a time when you were looked down upon by others. How did that make you feel? How did you respond?

  2. What sinful ways are you tempted to respond when you feel low? How does the gospel free us and lift us up?

  3. What does the story of the lowly shepherds teach us about the dignity of our work?

  4. Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. How can we help each other to follow the pattern of humility that marks the life of a Christian? 

Prayer Points

  1. Pray that we would pursue humility in all of life, knowing that our worth and value come from Jesus and not ourselves.

  2. Pray that we would share the gospel in a way that models humility, not the wrong perception that Christians are somehow better than other people.