Beloved - Discussion Group Questions

DEBRIEF & FOLLOW UP

• What is the Holy Spirit showing you from this last week?
• How does God desire for you to grow as a disciple or disciple maker?
• How can this group help you in your Christian journey?

discussion questions

• Where in your life are you walking in darkness rather than the light? How might this be affecting your relationship with Jesus or others?
• What would it look like for you to walk in the light and live for Jesus this week and how can we help you?

Beloved - Day 5 - The Role of a Husband

Listen:

Ephesians 5:25-30 - 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.

Learn:

A closer investigation of the unique roles God has lovingly given to men and women in marriage reveals what it means to be the “head” of the household: self-sacrificing love (v.25). Unfortunately, husbands are prone to misusing their positions as heads by being bossy, manipulative, or domineering. In stark contrast, two tender words stand out in this passage as descriptions of self-sacrificing love - nourish and cherish - as relating to our own bodies (v.28-30).

When we feed ourselves a good meal, we are nourishing our bodies. When we work out at the gym, we are nourishing our bodies. When we take a shower, shave, or put on lotion, we are nourishing our bodies. Why do we do this? Because it’s good for us. We directly reep the benefits of taking care of ourselves and therefore we cherish the body we’ve been given - it’s the only one we’ve got (v.29)!

Husbands, Paul is telling us we must see our wives as God does: as part of our own flesh. When we do, we will cherish her and do all we can to nourish her, even in times of conflict and struggle. This begins with learning to take better care of ourselves (i.e. nourishing our bodies and our souls) and sacrificing our own desires to serve our wife’s greatest good, fixing our minds and hearts on Christ’s self-giving love, not just as an example, but as our inspiration and object of worship.

Live:

• Men who are married, do you cherish your wife? Do you seek to give of yourself in order to nourish her? How are you feeling challenged to love her more fully?

• Men and women, married or unmarried, how are you doing at taking care of yourself? • Do you see things like your meals, exercise, and spiritual disciplines as acts of life-giving worship?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising Christ for perfectly, fully loving us, his body.

Beloved - Day 4 - Real Love

Listen:

Ephesians 5:25-30 - 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.

Learn:

We will continue with looking at God’s call on husbands and wives in the next devotional. For now, imagine you’re in a place like Yosemite National Park and you need to pull over to the side of the road just to stop and stare at the beautiful view. Here in Ephesians, amid commands and instructions for marriages, is some of the most colorful expression of Christ’s love and saving work in the whole Bible.

How do you know that someone loves you? They could obviously say the words, “I love you,” which is helpful and necessary, though on their own the words are meaningless. Yet if you were in a hopeless war and that same person swooped in, defeated your enemies, brought you to safety, and died in the process, there would be no words needed. You would know beyond a shadow of a doubt: they love me.

In a similar but greater way, Christ made his love known by giving himself up for us on the cross (v.25). And he didn’t stop there! This saving work was done that he might set us apart (“‘sanctify” v.26) for his purposes: cleansed, purified, and eventually, perfected (v.27). We know we are loved, and we know in a fuller way what real love is: self-sacrifice for the greatest good of another.

Live:

• What about Christ’s love stands out to you in these verses?

• Real love is self-sacrifice for the greatest good of another. Is there someone you’re having a hard time loving in this way?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for his love for us in Christ.

Beloved - Day 3 - The Role of a Wife

Listen:

Ephesians 5:22-24 - 21 ...submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Learn:

Here in his instructions for domestic relationships, Paul uses a picture from earlier - Christ and his body - only now, he’s comparing the two with husbands and wives, respectively. He begins by telling wives that they are to “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body...” Now, count the letters in s-u-b-m-i-t with me. See? It’s not a four-letter word! But ask anyone in the past 50 years and you’d be led to believe it was, largely due to husbands (and men in general) using this command to wives as an excuse to misuse their positions as heads - being bossy, manipulative, and domineering (we will address this sinful behavior in devotional #40). The negative view of the word submission goes all the way back to the fall of humankind and the curse it brought upon daughters of Eve: a misguided desire to rule over their husbands (Gen. 3:16).

Wives surrendering to God’s loving design for marriage begins with the understanding that submission is something all Christians are called to do in relation to each other (v.21) as a way of reflecting Christ’s submission to the Father (Phil. 2:1-11). In fact, the word “submit” doesn’t even appear in the original Greek in verse 22 but is put there in our translations because the idea is a continuation from the section beforehand: submitting to one another as the body. Christians are to humbly submit to each other, and the role of a wife is to submit to her husband in a special, greater way:

In everything (v.24)

Like a body submits to the head’s leadership

As she does, she shows her husband and the watching world a picture of what the bride of Christ is like.

Live:

• For unmarried women: you are not commanded to specially submit to men in general, but how does this call for wives humble you?

• For married women: is there an area of your marriage or heart you would never say is off limits for submission to Jesus, but you have kept off limits from submission to your husband?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for blessing us with different roles in marriage and, through them, allowing us to see Christ’s love more clearly.

Beloved - Day 2 - Worshipping Together

Listen:

Ephesians 5:18-21 - 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Learn:

I grew up playing in bands, and I remember playing in local clubs as early as age 14. Over the years I’ve observed something: if you’re not a Christian and you’re going to a show, there is a certain ritual associated. It goes something like this: arrive, get some beer, watch a band, get some beer, watch another band, get some beer, watch another band, etc (you get the idea). I have a feeling that back in Paul’s day, things weren’t all that different. What usually goes with drunkenness? Music! What usually goes with music? Drunkenness! Whether in the 1st century or the 21st century a show is basically a pagan worship service, designed to make attendees a living sacrifice to the god of pleasure and sensuality: ultimately, one’s own selfish desires. (*Just to be clear, I think concerts have many redeeming qualities, including human creativity and beauty - we just have to be careful as Christians not to simply participate in the same manner as the world would).

In these verses Paul contrasts a pagan worship gathering with a Christian one. Though many places in the Bible encourage the drinking of wine, we’re commanded to never get drunk. Instead of being drunk with wine, be “drunk” on the Holy Spirit or “new wine” as the New Testament calls it. When we’re filled with the Spirit, we have a different aim and we have different songs. Our aim is to sing to one another and to the Lord from deep in our hearts (v.19), and the types of songs we sing are psalms (perhaps taken from the book of the same name in the Bible), hymns (Christian songs), and spiritual songs (this may be the same as hymns or perhaps more personal expressions of worship that edify the church).

In the end, all of this is put to the heart test of whether or not we are worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ together in a way that considers the needs of the whole church (“one another”) over our own selfish desires (v.21).

Live:

• How is your alcohol (or fill in the blank: drugs, food, etc) consumption going? Do you need to repent of sinful self-indulgence?

• When we sing, are you engaging with the Lord and the church or is your attention on yourself? How can you invite the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh as we worship together?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for filling us with his Spirit and accepting our worshipful songs.

Beloved - Day 1 - Understanding God’s Will

Listen:

Ephesians 5:15-17 - 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Learn:

When I was a kid, I made many bad decisions. One instance began when I went into the kitchen and gathered up some plastic grocery bags. I put my canvas belt on and found some thin rope. Then, through the grocery bag handles, I carefully attached the grocery bags around my waist and arms, legs, and even my shoes - anywhere I could manage. I limped my way to the backyard and climbed up onto our picnic table. This seemed like the best way to do it - I was going to fly. I jumped off the table as high as I could. About a half-second before I hit the ground I realized: this was a bad plan.

Now, as an 8 year old boy, you would expect me to have these sorts of errors in judgement, but we as adults can often have our own plastic-bag-style colossal fails. Sometimes these decisions are instinctive and driven by foolish desires, but sometimes it’s really a matter of just not knowing what to do. Through Ephesians we’ve learned a lot about who God is, who we are, and how we are called to live; all of which can be summed up in one word: wisdom. The problem is that knowing what is wise (aka: God’s will, v.17) seems fuzzy at times. That’s because there isn’t necessarily a verse for every single situation we encounter, and we don’t communicate with God in the same way as we communicate in our human relationships. Sometimes it feels like we’re using smoke signals or morse code. We all wish we had a Bat-Phone direct to heaven, but we don’t.

Instead, he has graciously given us something more sure: his word and the ‘Spirit of wisdom’ (Eph. 1:17) whom we dialog with in our hearts. The key to not being foolish (Proverbs describes foolishness as being “wise in our own eyes” or “leaning on our own understanding”) is: trusting and depending on the Lord in all circumstances, submitting our hearts to his will (v.17), and seeking to make the best use of the time that we are given (v.16).

Live:

• Are there some areas of your life where you are tempted towards folly? Are you currently facing some circumstances that are difficult to navigate?

• How can you more fully understand “what the will of the Lord is” in those situations?

• Action - Spend some time in prayer praising God for the Spirit of Wisdom whom he has given us through Christ.