This week we continued our series Open Handed learning about the seeds we plant – whether we plant seeds for our self or seeds of faith and love. When the seeds we plant are for our self, we will reap a harvest of ruin. However, when the seeds we plant are pleasing to God (seeds of loving others and giving back to His kingdom) then we will reap a great harvest of blessing. “The hand of God is closed when we focus on self…but the hand of God is open when we focus on God and people.”
As you reflect on Sunday’s message, What impacted you the most? What stood out the most?
Read Galatians 6:7-10, Galatians 5:19-25, Philippians 2:3-11, Mark 10:17-22
1. God has a plan and purpose for the things He has given us. Our talents, our money, our time, our giftings – all of what we have and who we are God wants to use to bless others. The tragedy is that so many people don’t and then, when it comes time for God to bless them, they’ve already earned their “reward”. The hand of God is closed when we focus on self.
- What are the specific ways mentioned in these passages that we tend to focus on ourselves?
- From these passages, what are the ways we can combat focusing on ourselves?
Read Galatians 6:8-9, 1 John 4:7-12, Job 42:10-11, Matthew 6:19-21, 28-33
2. The best way to stop focusing on ourselves and receive greater blessing from the open hand of God is to make God our primary focus and put more focus on other people than ourselves. The hand of God is open when we focus on God and people.
- After all Job went through, we could probably say he “deserved” a break from “being good”. How did he demonstrate not giving up on doing good but instead focusing on people rather than himself?
- What kinds of “treasures” await us in heaven? How do we make sure we stock up on those instead of temporary treasures that will be gone when we die?
Read Gal 3:29, 6:9, Ephesians 3:14-21, Matthew 14:13-21, John 11:17-44
3. The open hand of God came first. Before we ever made a request, before we even knew we needed to ask, God set the example of being open handed with us. He gave His Son for our greatest need. The seed of destiny had been planted centuries before we were born.
- In what way(s) has God focused on you?
- How do these passages demonstrate the open hand of God coming first?
Life Application: Everyone
- What are some practical ways we shift our focus from self to God? Are these things hard/easy for you? Why?
- What are some things we can do to open our hands toward other people? Are these ideas challenging for you? Why/not?
- If you have ever participated in giving through the church (time, money, talents, etc) how does it make you feel? How has your giving had an impact on someone else?
- Take a moment to reflect on your need for God’s grace and love. How does it impact you to know what He opened His hand to give you? How does it affect your view of God?
Life Application: Married Couples
- Selfishness can ruin a marriage. In what ways can you focus on your spouse this week instead of yourself?
- What are some practical ways that you and your spouse can shift the focus of you marriage off of yourselves and over to God? Do you think that these things will improve your marriage? Why/not?
- What are some ways that you and your spouse can participate together in giving as part of a church family (time, money, talents, etc)? How do you think this might impact other people?
- In what ways has God been open handed with you and your spouse in your marriage? How does seeing this impact you?
Life Application: Parents
- Because we are born into sin, from a very early age we are self-focused. As parents we try to help our children to move their focus off of themselves as they grow. Give one example of an area your kid(s) struggle with being self-focused and one example of an area they have been able to focus on others instead.
- In our own lives, we need to shift our focus from self to God. It is just as important for our children to do the same. What is one way you can encourage your kid(s) to focus on God this week instead of themselves or things they want or worry about?
- Giving to the church (participating as part of a team) is a great way for kids to experience being focused on God and people. What is one way that you can encourage and participate with your kid(s) over the next few weeks in giving?
- Take a few minutes this week to talk to your kid(s) one on one about what God has done for them. Ask them if they know what He did and why. Ask them what they think of that and what they think about God because of it. Then briefly tell them how God’s open hand towards you has affected you. If you are comfortable doing so, share your conversation with your group next week.