Date: January 14, 2024
The Point: Faith begins with the call to follow Jesus.
Get Into the Study
Before asking the opening icebreaker question, share the following:
“Having been on only four cruises before undertaking their dramatic decision, Mike and Barbara, at ages 80 & 75, decided to “buy a condo on a cruise ship and enjoy their final years sailing around the world.” Though there were plenty of practical decisions to consider, like how to visit grandkids, and how to get prescriptions, they took the leap to secure a $2.5 Million cabin aboard a world-traversing cruiseliner, which will be ready in 2026. Mike and Barbara are not alone.
Marty and Jen Ansen “crunched the numbers” and discovered it was less expensive for them to book more than 50 cruises back-to-back than to live in a retirement home for the same length of time; so that’s exactly what they did. On CNN Business, another couple, the Burks, say their decision to move onto a cruise ship is “saving them money.” With more than 18 months under their belts, so far, “they’ve hopped on and off various cruise ships around the world, including a 51-day trip from Seattle to Sydney.”
Say: As an option that takes care of food, entertainment, leisure, and even light housekeeping, this unconventional path seems to be gaining in popularity. While it might not be for everyone, it seems more people are turning toward this ‘road less traveled’ as a valid option for retirement.
Proceed with discussing Question #1.
Information for this post was gleaned from:
Study the Bible
Use the following information to introduce Question #2
Ukrainian believers, Oleh and Marianna, never imagined they could be in ministry. They are deaf, and in Ukraine, “deaf people have been made to believe all their lives that …they’re defective.” As the war made its way toward Oleh and Marianna, they fled as refugees to the Czech Republic, where they were connected with a deaf church that had been planted by International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries 25 years ago.
During this time, they have been trained and equipped with tools for discipleship and church planting among the deaf. By Oleh’s assessment, “We’re not displaced. We’ve been placed. God has taken us to a place where He wants us to serve.”
Sign languages differ from place to place and country to country, and Deaf people often wonder if God is able to “speak” their language. A tenet of IMB ministry has long been to take the Gospel of Jesus into the “heart language” of the peoples of the world, and in this way, the deaf comprise a people group with a unique language, who deserve to hear how God cares for them in their own language. Oleh and Marianna are delighted to take part, and the Baptist Press reports that they “are now working to translate Bible stories into Ukrainian Sign Language as well as plant churches” among the Ukrainian deaf. Several deaf Ukrainian refugees have believed and come to faith through their ministry.
Say: “It’s worthwhile to consider what it would be like to hear about God in a distant language, versus hearing about Him in the language you speak and fully understand.”
Proceed with discussing Question #2.
Information for this post was gleaned from:
- November 2023: https://www.imb.org/2023/11/13/war-changes-deaf-ministry/
- November 2023: https://www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/war-changes-face-of-ministry-to-deaf-ukrainians/
- November 2023: https://thebaptistpaper.org/deaf-church-planters-adapt-to-war-in-ukraine-with-revolutionary-results/
- A look at this issue from roughly a year ago: https://theworld.org/stories/2022-03-30/navigating-war-without-sound-ukraine-s-deaf-refugees
- Earlier in 2023: https://www.who.int/europe/news/item/12-04-2023-safeguarding-the-rights-of-deaf-people-in-ukraine
Jessica Connell wrote these Leader Extras. Jess is a homeschooling mom of 9 who has served around the world in ministry with her husband. She loves hiking, exploring, and being active in her local church in North Texas.
- When have circumstances required you to take a leap of faith?
- When have you sensed God’s call to do something unexpected?
- What job would you give up everything you own to have?
- What’s something you’ve bought that turned out to be life-changing?
- What’s a road less traveled that you’re glad you took?
- When has God’s Word taken the form of an invitation to you?
- What are some ways we (like the crowd in verse 1) can “press in” to hear God’s Word?
- How do you hear God best?
- When have you seen people excited to hear God’s Word?
- When do you remember hearing God’s Word in a way that was especially meaningful?
- When has a simple act of obedience on your part produced spiritual fruit?
- How have you seen fruit in your life that has come from trusting (and obeying) God’s words?
- How have you responded to God’s requests for you to take a faith walk?
- What is the most difficult faith walk the Lord has asked you to take?
- How does God’s Word prepare us for obedience?
- How would you describe the connection between hearing God and obeying God?
- When have you encountered a conflict between what God says and what you believe to be true?
- What fears might we need to overcome in order to live a life of trust in Christ?
- How might Jesus’ invitation to live a life of trust in Him cause us to re-evaluate our priorities?
- How has following Jesus necessitated that you leave something behind?
- How has trusting Jesus changed your life?
- What can hold us back from fully trusting Jesus?
- What can we learn from Simon’s attitude in this passage?
For Those in Your Group
Send the following link to your group members as either a teaser before the group meets or as a follow-up thought:
Click here for a 20-minute podcast for both the group member and the leader.