Study Questions (Suggested time: 40 min)
1) What example or idea has really stuck with you from the sermon this week?
2) Paul repeats the phrase “excel even more” twice in this short passage (vs 1 & 10). How does this phrase show that our earthly journey is not a place of arrival but a process of growth?
Where do you see that kind of growth happening in your life?
3) Pastor Jeff encouraged us that turning away from sin is more than a matter of simply stopping a behavior, but requires we supplant it. Describe in your own words what it means to supplant a sinful behavior.
Recall what was said in the sermon about simple prayers as a first step in supplanting a sinful behavior.
Is there a particular one of those prayers that relates well to your struggles? Or might you have a prayer of your own? Write it down, and if you are willing, share it with your group. (It might even be a good idea to write it on a notecard to carry with you this week.)
4) A repeated theme in 1 Thessalonians (3:13, 4:3, 4:4, 4:7) is the translation of various forms of the word hagios (holiness / sanctification). Over and over Paul emphasizes this idea of being “other than” of being “set apart” for God. How would you describe the idea of holiness/sanctification or being “set apart”?
Pastor Jeff quoted C. S. Lewis, “…We are far too easily pleased” indicating that we often seem to think of holiness as a restricting or negative command to limit our freedom and rob our life of fun. But in reality, our view reflects how little we understand the goodness of God and what He has won for us on the cross. (Google the entire C. S. Lewis quote if you are interested in discussing it.) What would it look like for you to cultivate a greater vision of what God offers you in Himself?
1 Thessalonians 4:8 mentions that God has given his Holy Spirit to followers of Jesus. How can the Holy Spirit help us to be set free from sin and experience more of the wonderful walk God has called us to? (Check out Galatians 5:16-25, also The Message paraphrase of this passage is beautiful!)
5) Notice in verse 11 what Paul says our ambitions in life should be pointed toward. What does he say is the purpose and end result of living this way?
What changes or adjustment would you need to make in order to be ambitious about the things Paul promotes?