Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones

Reflection & Discussion Questions
  • What does ‘failure’ mean to you?

  • How do you come back from moments of failure? Is it something you find easy to do?

  • How could these words from academic Judith Halberstam apply to your life: “Under certain circumstances failing, losing, forgetting, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing may in fact offer more creative, more cooperative, more surprising ways of being in the world.” How might they relate to our following of Jesus?

  • Discuss this from philosopher Dallas Willard: “Yet, without this realisation of our utter ruin, and without the genuine redirecting of our lives which that bitter realisation gives rise to, no clear path to inner transformation can be found. It is psychologically and spiritually impossible. We will steadfastly remain on the throne of our universe, so far as we are concerned, perhaps trying to ‘use a little God’ here and there. The failure of the church to grasp this reality is all too evident today. And this has to be faced before we can seriously consider the process of spiritual reformation in Christlikeness.” What role might failure play in our lives?

  • Read John 21. What do we learn about Jesus and how he treats our failures?
Reflection & Discussion Questions
  • Which Biblical figure do you most identify with at the moment? Why?

  • When’s a time in your life that you experienced doubt? Have you come out the other side of it? What enabled you to persevere in faith?

  • What does the idea of lament mean to you? What things would cause you to lament to God at the moment?

  • In what ways have you felt sustained by God this week?

  • How do you/could you begin to create space for God to speak to you this week?
Reflection & Discussion Questions

Bible reading: Mark 16:1-7 

  • In what ways, like the women were that first Easter Sunday, are you anxious, apprehensive, alarmed, disorientated or overwhelmed by the magnitude of what seems impossible to see beyond when it comes to the present crisis in our lives and world?
  • How does knowing that God is ‘going ahead’ to do what only God can do make a difference to our situation?
  • What are some new, different or unexpected ways you might honour Jesus this Easter and beyond in the midst of the circumstances we find ourselves in?
  • Why is the resurrection of Jesus such a ‘foundation stone’ to our faith? (also refer to 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 14)
  • When are some times in your life, past or present, when you have particularly experienced Jesus as your foundation even when other things may have crumbled away?
Reflection & Discussion Questions

Bible readings: Mark 15:33-41, Ephesians 2:13-17 

  • What is the greatest challenge you’re finding when it comes to ‘social distancing’ or being separated from others?
  • What are some of the ways sin has affected different areas of life, creating distance between people as well as between people and God?
  • Jesus’ first followers were described as being ‘at a distance’ from Him as He went to the cross (Mark 14:54, 15:40; Luke 22:54, 23:49).

    an you recall times in your life or faith when you have been ‘at a distance’ from Jesus?

    Can you recall times in your life or faith when you have ‘drawn near’ to Jesus?
  • When you reflect on Jesus being forsaken by God the Father as He took your sin upon Himself (verses 33-34 from Mark 15), what does that ‘stir’ in you?

    hen you reflect on Jesus removing your sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), what does that ‘stir’ in you?

    When you reflect on the barrier separating us from the presence of God being torn down (verses 37-39 from Mark 15), what does that ‘stir’ in you? 
  • Take time to ‘draw near to God’ in prayer (Hebrews 10:19-22), thanking Him for all that Jesus’ death on the cross made possible.
  • Take up on the challenge this Good Friday to read through the Easter story yourself, by reading the last few chapters of either Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
WEEK 3 // The Shadow of an Unexpected Pathway
Reflection & Discussion Questions

Read through Mark chapter 10 verses 32 to 34, then verses 42-52, focusing on the unexpected pathway that Jesus’ followers found themselves on

  • In what ways can you identify with the followers of Jesus in this passage?
  • What have you lost in this present season of life that is significant to you?
  • What are some areas of life and faith that this season we’re in allows us to be more attentive to? What‘s a ‘next step’ you could take in that?
  • How might God be calling you to ‘wait on Him’ (refer to Isaiah 40:29-31) through this season? What is God wanting to remind you of in the process of ‘waiting on Him’?
  • What are some ways that you can ‘go the extra mile’ for others in this season? What’s a ‘next step’ you could take in that?
Reflection & Discussion Questions

Read through Psalm 46 slowly, stopping and pausing to take in what God is wanting to remind and reassure you of

  • What ways can you use this season to anchor in God as your sure and steadfast foundation in life, and the one in whom you place your hope and security?
  • What are some ways that you are feeling fragile or fearful?
  • What are some ways that you can ask the ‘Who is our God that we can have confidence in’ question more than you ask the ‘What if this or that happens?
  • What might it look like in this season for you to ‘Be still and know that I am God’?
  • What are some ways that you could shine the light of God’s love and care into the lives of others through this season?
  • Pray for God’s peace that passes all understanding to flood or saturate your heart and mind
  • Pray for God to be at work shining His light across the shadows of darkness in the lives of those you may become aware of who need it through this week.
Reflection & Discussion Questions
Read through Mark chapter 14 verses 32 to 42, focusing on Jesus’ words ‘keep watch’

  • In what ways can you identify with the followers of Jesus in this passage?
  • What are some things you aren’t as attentive to as you could be, either in life or faith?
  • Thinking about being attentive to the presence of God, how have you seen God at work lately? How have you experienced God’s presence?
  • Thinking about being attentive to prayerful dependence on God, what do you think can get in the way of us being as prayerfully dependent on God as we could be?
  • Thinking about being prepared for Jesus’ coming, in what kind of ways can we be prepared for Jesus’ second coming?(refer back also to Mark 13:32-37)
  • Thinking about being attentive to persevering in faith, when and how have you have had to persevere in your faith?>
  • If you are doing these reflection and discussion questions with others, take some time to pray for one another in these areas, giving thanks for God’s grace that is able to turn even stumbling blocks into stepping stones. If you are doing them on your own, also pause and give thanks for God’s ongoing grace in your life that is able to turn a stumbling block into a stepping stone.