Use the following questions for your personal or group study on Fasting from Matthew 6:16-18.  Renew_Groups_Graphic-01

MEMORIZE:  Psalm 73:25-26 

Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

1)     Have you ever been an actor/actress in a play?  What part did you do?  Was it easy or difficult for you to pretend to be someone that you were not?  Why?

2)     What is a “hypocrite?”  What kinds of thoughts and emotions do you have toward people model hypocrisy?

3)     How could a person use fasting as some sort of spiritual hunger strike?  What would this motive reveal about a person’s heart?

4)     What was the BIG IDEA of today’s message?  You can listen online at:

What LIE might the Enemy use to try to refute the truth of this BIG IDEA?

5)     A couple of weeks ago, we noted that both crudity and piety were forms of complex language.  We discussed the question:  “how could religious language be used to cover up what we don’t want others to know about us?”  How could fasting be used as a form of piety that creates a diversion to hide one’s faults?

6)     Look back over Matthew 5 and the Big Ideas we have covered:

☐  The resurrection is the Father’s validation that the door to the Kingdom is open to ALL.

☐  Kingdom people already ARE salt and light in the world.

☐  Kingdom people love the scripture and live to keep it.

☐  Kingdom people sustain marriage through the practice of love, not always the feelings of love.

☐  Kingdom people can be trusted in the simplicity of their language.

☐  Kingdom people do not retaliate and use imagination to confront injustice.

☐  Kingdom people focus upon the future so they can thrive in the present.

Which Big Idea was the easiest for you to embrace?  Which was the hardest?  Why?

7)     What might you infer about the heart of a person who gave to the needy, prayed and fasted PUBLICLY?  Why would this be dangerous?  Are you ever around someone who is very self-promoting?  Is the same or different?

8)     How does doing these things (Matthew 6) in secret become “basic training” for the heart of the disciple?

9)     “Our human cravings and desires are like rivers that tend to overflow their banks; fasting helps keep them in their proper channels.” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline, p. 56)  How can food “overflow its channels”?  What other things in life are good in moderation but can be destructive if there is too much or too little of it?

10)  Last week’s Big Idea was:  Kingdom people focus on the future so they can thrive in the present.  Look ahead at the topic of the next few verses (Matthew 6:19-34).  How is Jesus preparing his disciples to hear the 2nd half of the chapter?


Miss a meal this week on purpose not on accident. We all miss a meal in a hurry or being busy, but miss one on purpose.  And that purpose is to be reminded of our dependence on God.




Renew_Groups_Graphic-01In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “be perfect as your Father is perfect.”  Peter, who was certainly present, later repeats/quotes something very similar:  “Be holy, as I am holy.”  How is that possible? How do we grow toward something seemingly impossible?  Use the following Renew Questions for your own personal “soul work” or group study based upon today’s sermon from 1 Peter 1:13-16. 


1)     Have you ever signed up for something (a class, a club, a team,  a project, etc.) and it wasn’t what you thought it was going to be or a lot harder than you anticipated? Did you drop out or quit because of it?  If you stuck with it, how were you able to see your commitment through to the end?

2)     Name something you are looking forward to in your future that gives you the incentive to keep pressing on.

3)     What is the BIG IDEA of today’s message entitled “Perfection?”  Listen here at

What LIE might the Enemy try to get you to believe that goes against the Big Idea?

4)     Do you ever remember a time when you obeyed an instruction, even if you didn’t understand why or didn’t want to? Why did you obey? Who was instructing you?

5)     How does your mind and body challenge your obedience to Christ?

6)     Can you think of something at which you think you are perfect (or near perfect)?

7)     My piano teacher once stopped my hands in a lesson and said this (in response to me performing something incorrectly over and over):  “Practice does NOT make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.”  When is a time that you simply had to go back to basics and slow WAY down in deliberate rehearsal in order to get something right?

8)     Name something difficult (a race, an exam, a presentation) for which you had to prepare? How did you prepare for it? Did focusing on the end result help make the preparation easier to undergo?

9)     In your spiritual life, have you ever reached a point of exhaustion because you were expending all your energy from your own resources rather than Christ’s?  How does Galatians 2:20 speak to this?

How do we practically live out Galatians 2:20 everyday?

10)  Do you ever get discouraged that maybe you aren’t making progress on your spiritual journey like you should?  Is today’s text 1 Peter 1:13-16 encouraging or discouraging?  Why?

11)  Famous preacher Fred Craddock once defined holiness as: “How has God behaved toward us? That is what it means to be holy in all our relationships.”  What’s the hardest relationship for you to practice holiness in right now?

Scripture Memory:  Galatians 2:20


Privately name 1 mental & 1 physical hurdle in your current spiritual journey.  Schedule 1 hour to go on a walk and specifically talk with Jesus about these.  Place your hope in your future with Him as you allow Him to deal with your current circumstance.





Use these questions for your personal or group spiritual formation based on Matthew 5:38-42 Renew_Groups_Graphic-01

1)   When we were kids, a cardboard box was NEVER just a box.  It was a playhouse, a rocket, a pirate ship, a race car, any number of things that we could imagine. What do you think happens to many of us in adulthood that we lose our creativity and tend to just see the box again?

2)    Have you ever been in Wal-Mart or the Grocery Store & saw a person with whom you have had a conflict.  Did you avoid them and go the other way or decide to have an interaction with him/her?

3)   What was the BIG IDEA of today’s message entitled “Retaliation” based upon Matthew 5:38-42? You can listen online at

What LIE might the Enemy try to plant in your mind to refute the truth of this BIG IDEA?

4)   Can you think of any ways in our world where people (or a country) have responded to injury/attack with grace instead of retaliation?  Share it with your group.

5)   Have you ever seen the movie or read the book by Dr. Seuss called “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?”  If the village of Who-ville was your house, how would you/your family have responded to the Grinch?  If it was America, how would we have responded to the Grinch?

6)   When you experience some sort of attack, how do you most often respond?  Step away/avoid, attack back, or be the one to initiate peace?

7)   How do YOU deal with feelings of wanting to get even?

8)   Watch the “Forgiveness Wins” video:  If you could ask any questions of the men and women in the video, what would you ask them?

How was “coffee” an imaginative/creative way of bringing about reconciliation?

9)   “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called” what?  (cf. Matthew 5:9 from the Beatitudes)  Why do you think God would value people who desire peace so much as to call them this?

10)    What kind of advice do you give to your children when they report to you that someone has been unjust toward them or “tried to start something?”  How does this line up with today’s text?


Do you remember playing the game “Red Light/Green Light” as a kid where you attempted to be the first person to make it to the line and tag whoever was “it?”  

*Use your imagination.

What is a practical way that I can take a relational step forward toward a person who has hurt me or with whom I am currently in a conflict?

For powerful examples of forgiveness and reconciliation, watch a movie like “End of the Spear.”  You might also watch “Hotel Rwanda” for more context on this week’s video “Forgiveness Wins.”  Both are on Netflix.