Sunday Morning Small Groups 1.17.15: Distance & Approval

This week we closed out our series on getting closer to God in small groups. Check out what we talked about this week and how you can continue the conversation at home. 

Middle School Small Groups

Small Group Summary

Messy. That word alone can describe most of our lives—especially our rooms. But it can describe other things, too. The things in our lives that we don’t like to talk about. The kind of messiness that we hope no one ever finds out about. Just like we may not let our friend into our room if we haven’t cleaned it, sometimes we’re afraid to let people get close to us when we haven’t dealt with the junk in our lives. We don’t want anyone to notice our mess. And sometimes we do the same thing with God. We keep God at a distance because, if we get too close, we’re worried He would reject us because of the messiness of our lives and hearts. But what if we’ve got it wrong? What if there’s no need for us to keep God at a distance? What if He already sees all of the messiness of our lives but still hasn’t rejected us? Maybe, just maybe, we can have the courage to get close to God because He’s been approving us, not rejecting us, all along.

The Bottom Line

To get close to God, know you’re approved.

Scripture

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
HEBREWS 4:16 (NIV)

What it means

This week, the verse we focus on is Hebrews 4:16, but we’ll also touch on the story of Abraham. Although Abraham’s full story won’t be unpacked in this session (because it would take a pretty long time to tell that whole story), you’ll give a brief summary of His life and history with following and trusting God to see that God approved Abraham, even though he made mistakes.

Continue the Conversation at Home

  • Talk about a time when you didn’t do something because you were embarrassed or afraid of what people would think.
  • What are some reasons someone might fear that God doesn't like or approve of them?
  • Has there ever been something you kept secret because, if word got out, you were sure people wouldn't like or approve of you anymore?
  • Now that we've talked for the last three weeks about getting closer to God, what can you do this week to put it all into practice?

High School Small Groups

Small Group Summary

Have you ever tried to hang out with someone who is easily distracted? Anytime someone takes off in a different direction, it creates distance. Whatever thing you’re chasing or pursuing, causes distance between you and God. All of those “things” boil down to a single word: Sin. Sin is anything that creates a distance between God and us.

Some of the members of the Roman church began to chase after things other than God, but when they realized it, they deflected it instead of owning it. And then right in the middle of a conversation about sin, Paul says something unexpected; he throws out words like “kind” and “tolerant” and “patient”—words that describe the opposite of how we think God feels towards us.If you feel like God’s mad at you right now, remember He wants to be close to you. He loves you. God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience is for the purpose of getting us to turn from sin.

What would it look like for you to turn away from the things you’re chasing after and walk back toward Him? To pick what you pursue? For some of us, the first step in closing the gap between God and us is to simply start talking to Him again. For others of you, you know that God is kind to you, but you haven’t let that kindness lead to change in your life.

We have all walked away from God in an effort to chase something else, but walking away doesn’t have to mean you keep your distance. He’s inviting you to pursue Him.

The Bottom Line

You have to pick what you pursue.

Scripture

Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a NLT)

Continue the Conversation at Home

  • What are some things that create distance in your relationship with God?
  • Why do you think God wants us to turn from our sin?
  • What's one step you can take to pursue God over the distractions around you?