Jim Class: No Pain, No Gain
January 10, 2018
Rev. Dr. Mark P. Zehnder, Lead Pastor
God transforms our lives through connection with each other as we gather around God’s word. In this Jim Class we see how Christ can use our pain to better shape us into his likeness. The leader shares a personal story illustrating 2 Cor. 4:16.
Share a situation in your life which, at the time, felt impossible to get through and what you did in response.
Read James 1:1-4
-What situation are followers of Jesus in when James writes his letter?
-What response to difficulties and adversity does James encourage?
-What is the result of facing trials in this manner, and how is that important?
Read Hebrews 12:1-2
-How did Jesus face His greatest challenge?
-How are followers of Jesus encouraged to face our own challenges?
-What is a difficulty that you are facing right now and where do you sense God’s presence in the midst of that?
-Consider this observation: “Your pain is not where God is absent but where He is most present.” How can you be a reminder of God’s presence for someone you know who is facing a great difficulty right now?
-What have you learned from this study that can be of help to you the next time you face adversity and want to give up?
Each person share what or who they would like to pray for tonight. Then take turns going around the group praying for what was on your heart. If you would prefer not praying out loud, when it is your turn to pray, simple say, “Alleluia.”
Note to Leaders: Every small group is different, so we are providing a summary study with additional discussion questions in the Going Deeper section. Please choose the questions that relate best to your particular group.
- What challenged your thinking during the worship service this week?
- When have you felt that God was not present for you, and how did you respond?
- How do you normally react when everything in you wants to give up?
Read James 1:1-4
- What is the joy that we can discover through trials?
- “Perseverance” comes from the words “remain” and “under.” How can perseverance bring about character that is perfect and complete?
- What does it mean to be perfect and complete?
- Philosopher Paul Tillich said, “Suffering takes people beneath the busyness of life and reminds them they are not who they thought they were.” What is something that you learned about yourself during your last difficult circumstance, and how did your difficulty provide a unique opportunity for that insight?
- Most of us believe that life is supposed to go our way and that our wants and needs should be met. How does our view of difficulties change if it is true that God cares more about our character than our circumstances?
Learning Opportunity: Starting this week, commit to carefully reading through one chapter every week from the Book of James in the Bible.
Serving Opportunity: Is there something individually or as a group you can think of that would serve people for the sake of the love we have in Christ?
Personal Spiritual Practice Idea/Experiment: The next time you face a difficult circumstance, read the first part of James, Chapter 1, and consider the three ways to understand trials:
- Trials can make you stronger
- Trials can draw you closer to Jesus
- Trials don’t have to have the last word