Leading Small Groups

What is the point of small group meetings?  Why should I bother to go?

Look at this excellent overview of the benefits of Small Group Meetings by De Waal Esterhuyzen to give a contemporary context to today’s small group leaders study(found at https://youtu.be/avw0apqOP18).



Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

24  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  25  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.


Context: The letter to the Hebrews was probably written to a specific congregation in Rome early in Nero’s persecution of Christians (AD 62); these fearful believers apparently intended to revert to some form of Judaism (a legally recognized religion in Rome) in the hope of escaping the impending persecution.

  1. Consider the context given above. Why do you think did the author need to exhort the readers to attend regular fellowship meetings?  What could be the cost of associating with other Christians disciples in this context?
  2. According to the author (and its readers) is it possible to be a Christian disciple and not attend regular fellowship meetings? Why do you say so?
  3. Let’s study this powerful exhortation by putting each of the phrases in our own words:
    1. “Let us… stir up… [and] encourage one another…”
    2. “…to love”
    3. “…to …good works”
    4. “Let us consider how to stir up one another…”
  4. What is meant by the last phrase of this text: “25 not neglecting to meet together, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” What DAY is he referring to, and why is that inserted there?


The author writes to a fainthearted, unfaithful congregation fearing the wrath of Nero.  He instructs them to remain faithful in their assemblies – amidst the fear of suffering and even death – and in doing so, they must be intentionally creative as they encourage one another to grow in loving character and benevolent deeds that represent Jesus well.

  1. In the light of this text and its context, what would you say to a small group member who says “small group meetings are useless” or “dead religious works”? How would you motivate him/ her to “not neglect the assembly of the saints?” (v25)
  2. In your opinion, how does your small group members’ attitude towards your meetings correspond with our text of today (Hebrews 10:24-25)? How can you clarify or improve it?
  3. What is your motive and attitude when preparing for and leading your small group? How does it correspond our devotional text of today (Hebrews 10:24-25)?
  4. In your opinion, how encouraging are your small group meetings? Do members feel motivated to grow in Christ-like character and excel in good works? What can you do to make these meetings more encouraging?
  5. Think of one member of your small group, and do as the author instructs: “consider how you can encourage [him/her] to grow in love and good works” (v24). Pray and write down something specific that will help this person grow in Christlikeness, then send that person a message now, asking them when you can meet/talk to encourage them.


Thank God for the gift of Christian fellowship.  Pray about your thoughts and feelings in light of this text.  Then ask the Lord to help you become a faithful and creative disciple-maker growing every person in your small group to be more loving with more good deeds.

Prayer 3 – God’s purpose: Prayer’s desire

The aim of this devotional study is to discover and/remember God’s promise for your life.



1 Kings 18:1-2, 41-45


1 And it came to pass after many days that the Word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.”  2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria.

(For the purpose of this devotional we now skip to verse 41 BUT if time permits do read the verses in between too. Not only do the account of Elijah and the Baal prophets make for wonderful entertainment but it serves as another example of someone praying to have God’s purpose met.)

41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of mount Carmel; then he bowed on the ground and put his face between his knees, 43 and said to his servant, “Go up now and look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” 44 Then it came to pass the seventh time that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising from the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’”  45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.

 Observations & Context

 Ahab was the 7th and worst king Israel had. His marriage to Jezebel, a zealous Baal worshipper, led to the official endorsement of this immoral and idolatrous worship. Three years prior to this account Elijah told Ahab that there would be a drought until further notice. When the drought came Ahab blamed Elijah for the trouble and searched for him fervently.

This piece of scripture clearly shows us how God desires that His plans and purposes be prayed into being.


  1. God sends Elijah to Ahab, a potentially dangerous mission. Why was Elijah not afraid to go?
  2. Elijah had a promise of rain from God, yet he prayed for its fulfillment. What does that teach us about God’s promises for us?
  3. What posture of prayer did Elijah take up throughout his intercession? What prayer posture do you take up when you pray?
  4. Elijah prayed for rain because of God’s promise and yet six times the report from his servant was negative. What does that teach us about praying?
  5. Elijah announces the answer to his prayer even before he started praying.  What did it take from him to do that?  (Hint: James 5: 15-18)

Personal Application

  1. The promises of God come to us through His written word or through personal revelation through the Holy Spirit, such as prophesy or dreams.  Take some time to think back upon promises you have received from God.  Write these promises down again.
  2. Which of these have come into fulfillment? Praise God for His faithfulness to perform His purpose in your life.
  3. Which of these promises are you still waiting to see fulfilled. Have you lost faith in them ever being realized? How often do you pray about these promises?
  4. Repent of not believing God’s word for you and ask Him to restore your faith. Then start to pray fervently for God’s purpose in your life to be fulfilled. [Commit to do this for a season, as Elijah prayed seven times until the rains came].

[Thanks to Ester Venter for this devotional study, part of her series on Prayer].

Stewardship 12 – purpose

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the stewardship of your purpose.


1 Corinthians 9:1-23

1  Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2  If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 3  This is my defense to those who would examine me.

4  Do we not have the right to eat and drink? … 13  Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14  In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 15  But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting.

16  For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  17  For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.

18  What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. 19  For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.

20  To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21  To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22  To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23  I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Observations and reflections

Note 1:In this chapter defends apostleship, and his right of authority over the churches in Corinth.

  1. Summarize these segments of the Text in your own words to make the argument(s) plain:
    1. Verses 1-3
    2. Verses 4-15
    3. Verses 16-17
    4. Verses 18-19
    5. Verses 20-23
  2. In the center of his argument Paul writes that the preaching of the Gospel “is laid upon me… I am still entrusted with a stewardship.” [v16-17]
    1. When was it “laid up him” or “entrusted to him”? [hint: Acts 9, esp verses 16-17]
    2. Why would he say “woe is me if I preach not the gospel”? Who does he fear, and why? And what “reward’ does he look forward to? [hint: what Day does he refer to…? And why?]
    3. So from these verses, what do we learn about Paul’s view of his Apostleship – in relation to the church and in relation to the Lord?
    4. How did this view of Paul’s Apostleship influence his relationship to the churches? [hint: this chapter reveals a lot of his character and approach to ministry]


Paul was called to be an apostle (“messenger”) to the non-Jews (“Gentiles”) – he was sent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1, 15:9).  He viewed this mandate and grace as an entrustment to him – to steward and to be found faithful when the Lord called him to account on the Day of Judgment. This gave him tremendous confidence in his task, knowing the Lord commanded him to do this.

  1. The following might help you discover your life purpose:
    1. What has the Lord said to you regarding your life and purpose?
    2. What has people (church, family, close friends, mentors) said to you, what you should do? [Consider phrases similar to “you are good in this” / “I can see you doing this” / “you should do this”]
    3. What upsets or excites you most in life?
    4. What do you dream about [that does not lead to your fame]?
    5. What legacy would you love to leave behind one day when you die?
  2. If the Lord were to return now – how would you feel to answer Him regarding the stewardship of your life purpose?


Regarding the stewardship of your life purpose, pray in line with these two Text of and by the Shepherd King:  Thank the Lord that He is your Shepherd who leads you in his paths of righteousness, for His Name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3).  And ask him that you may fulfill your purpose in the way David did who only passed away “after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation” (Acts 13:36).  Affirm again to God that your life is his, to serve his purpose – whatever He wants.

Stewardship 10 – ownership and responsibility

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on stewardship – particularly regarding ownership and responsibility.


Note: Today we consider the life example of Joseph – a faithful steward to three masters.

Genesis 39:1-6

1  Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2  The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master.

3  His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4  So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5  From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field. 6  So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate…

Genesis 39:20-23

20  And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21  But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22  And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23  The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.

Genesis 41:40-44

40  You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.”  41  And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”  42  Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck.  43  And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44  Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”

Observations and reflections

These few verses from the account of Joseph’s enslavement, imprisonment and promotion teach us much about Biblical stewardship.

  1. In each of the three texts identify:
    1. Who was the owner of the property?
    2. Who was responsible for the property?
    3. What was entrusted to Joseph?
    4. Why was Joseph successful? [note God’s part and Joseph’s part in his success]
  2. Reading the stories, there is incredible similarity and deliberate progression. Consider the progress through the three accounts and indicate how [if at all] these factors changed:
    1. Joseph’s environment
    2. Joseph’s role and responsibility
    3. Joseph’s authority
    4. Joseph character.
  3. Looking at these accounts, what are your conclusions on:
    1. stewardship and ownership
    2. stewardship and responsibility
    3. stewardship and authority
    4. stewardship and faithfulness
    5. stewardship and life purpose.


It is clear that the enslavement and imprisonment of Joseph was part of God’s plan for his life, although it was really tough.  But his faithful stewardship and integrity of what was entrusted to him proved his character and paved the way to his ultimate life purpose.

  1. Consider your own life situation and your degree of faithfulness to what is entrusted to you.
    1. Do you see God’s hand in steering of your life? Why / why not?
    2. Do you consider yourself as faithful to steward – to your earthly masters and to God? Why / why not?


Pray about your answers and thoughts on this account.  Pray for the grace and favour Joseph had in his stewardship of earthly matters, and ultimately his life purpose.

Knowing Jesus 7

The Aim of this devotional study is to evaluate your own personal belief of Jesus Christ’s identity and life, as we look at Peter’s confession of him.


Matthew 16:13-21

13  Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16  Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17  And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  18  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  19  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

20  Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

21  From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.


Note: Caesarea Philippi was located at the base of Mt Hermon, next to a natural spring that gushed from the mountain (which used to be the source of the Jordan river) – a place of pagan worship and rituals.  Next to the fountain was a temple of the Greek god Pan (see images below).  The city was rebuilt and renamed in 3BC by Philip II, son of Herod the Great, renamed the city Caesarea Philippi in honour of Caesar Augustus (14AD) and later he pressed his own coins with his face on in 30AD – considered an act of idolatry by the Jews.

Thus, in Jesus’ day this city was renown for animistic pagan worship at the natural spring, Greek worship of Pan, Roman emperor worship of Caesar and even veneration of Philip himself.  And here Jesus chose to ask his disciples: “Who do you say I am?”

Current excavation site of Philippi Caesarea with artist rendition of how it probably looked in the days of Jesus.  Note the various pagan temples - especially the temple of Pan at the mouth of the cave - the source of ancient the Jordan River.
Current excavation site of Philippi Caesarea with artist rendition of how it probably looked in the days of Jesus. Note the various pagan temples – especially the temple of Pan at the mouth of the cave – the source of ancient the Jordan River.
The Greek god Pan - half-man, half-goat, playing the flute.  Several images and inscriptions of this god was found in Philippi Caesarea.
The Greek god Pan – half-man, half-goat, playing the flute. Several images and inscriptions of this god was found in Philippi Caesarea.
  1. Considering the background knowledge of the city mentioned above, what depth does it add to Jesus posing the question of his identity in this city?
  2. Unpack Peter’s confession of Jesus (verse 16) – what do the parts of the confession mean?
  3. Directly after Peter’s of Jesus, Jesus said things to Peter (verse 18-19). What did Jesus do with these sayings? What can we learn from that? [hint: identity]
  4. It appears as though Jesus’ relationship with his disciples changed from that moment onward (verse 21). What changed, and what can you learn from this?


  1. Like in Jesus’ day, there are many religions, philosophies, opinions and feelings about life. Jesus poses this same question to you who have walked a while with him: who do YOU say he is?  What do you believe about the identity of Jesus?  Who is he to you?  Why do you say so?
  2. After Peter confessed Jesus’ identity, Jesus affirmed Peter’s identity and purpose. What does Jesus say about you?  Who are you?  Has he said something about your future to you yet?  Ask the Lord, and write down what you believe to be true about yourself.


Spend some time to tell the Lord Jesus who you believe him to be. (take your time).

Then ask him to tell you who you are in him. (write this down).