What if the happiness we are running ourselves into physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion for is inferior to the happiness we’ve been made to experience?
WHAT IF THE HAPPINESS WE ARE HUSTLING AFTER CAN NEVER BE CAUGHT?
What if created things were never meant to make us happy in the way we desire to experience happiness?
I believe the ancient Jewish people knew the secret to happiness. Marinate on the words to these two songs they would sing to God and to each other as a reminder of where happiness is found:
Happy are the people who know the joyful shout; LORD, they walk in the light from your face. They rejoice in your name all day long, and they are exalted by your righteousness. (Ps. 89:15–16)
You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures. (Ps. 16:11)
What if happiness is found by gazing into the face of God in Jesus Christ, and walking in his path of light, life, and righteousness?
The Happiest Man That Ever Lived
Jesus of Nazareth was the happiest person who ever lived. He is the ultimate portrait of the good life. He is the prototype of what humanity was meant to be. The first Adam cursed humanity by his disobedience in the garden of Eden; Jesus, the last Adam, reversed the curse through his obedience. The first Adam brought us death; the last Adam brought us back to life.
No matter the situation, whether feeding five thousand men or driving corrupt people out of the temple or hanging in agony on a Roman cross, Jesus had transcendent happiness that gave him confidence and purpose. His happiness rooted him in something deeper, better, and more beautiful than his circumstances. Jesus’ circumstances were not the cause of his happiness, nor did they add or subtract from his happiness; they were the window through which he expressed his happiness. His happiness was a different kind of joy that seemed to come from a realm beyond ours. Here’s how the author of Hebrews described it:
For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)
The word translated joy is the Greek word chará, and it means a state of gladness or happiness. How can a person be happy after being stripped naked in public, tied over a wooden beam, and flogged with a flagrum? The flagrum was comprised of leather straps with sharp pieces of bone and metal embedded at the end of the leather straps. It would grip into the victim’s body and rip the flesh. How could Jesus be in a state of gladness as a hurricane of torture engulfed him at every level of his being?
Jesus is able to have this happiness because he is the true version of humanity. Salvation is the restoration of our humanity, and along with our humanness being reestablished in Christ, we gain the capacity to experience real happiness, the God-kind-of-happiness that is reserved for citizens of his kingdom.
The happiness of Jesus is available to us.
Gray, Derwin. 2020. The Good Life: What Jesus Teaches about Finding True Happiness. Nashville, TN: B&H Books.
There are few things in life more frustrating than knowing you need to change, wanting to change, and trying to change, but not actually changing.
How do I know?
Because I have tried so hard so many times to change, only to hit the same brick wall of failure time and time again.
Before I started learning to master the habits I’m sharing with you in this book, that was my life.
One example: Knowing my eating patterns weren’t healthy and wanting to do better, I repeatedly tried to change my diet. I made commitments to eat only healthy food. I would succeed all day, but by evening my motivation withered and my willpower weakened.
I would end my successful day of eating right with a little bedtime reward snack of brownies. And something salty. Maybe chips and salsa. And a little ice cream.
The next morning, I’d wake up feeling guilty and do the walk of shame to the kitchen to see the evidence in the sink and in the trash.
Determined to do better, I would eat a healthy breakfast, followed by a nutritious lunch and dinner. But then a bedtime snack of cookies. And chips. And cheesecake.
Finally, I would feel defeated and quit trying. It seemed I had the desire to change, but not the power to change.
You’ve been there, right?
You’ve tried to change too. It hasn’t worked for you either.
Groeschel, Craig. 2023. The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
People say it a thousand different ways, but it can be summarized in just a few words. For some, it’s spiritual fatigue. Their faith has stalled. They’re stuck, not growing, and out of energy. For others, it’s spiritual frustration. They are frustrated with their inability to overcome some private sin or maintain some spiritual discipline. They feel like a failure with no hope in sight. Still others are spiritually and emotionally exhausted from trying to measure up by praying more, reading the Bible more, giving more, serving more, and being at church more.
All these people have tried or are still trying to be really good Christians. They are sincere and are genuinely born again. But they are tired, frustrated, and wondering where the joy of their salvation is, where that promised “abundant life” is hiding. The pattern that follows is very predictable:
Try hard, do good, … fail.
Try harder, do good, … fail.
Try even harder, do good, … fail.
And finally, try hard, do good, … fake it.
These sincere followers of Jesus do not necessarily doubt their salvation or want to abandon their faith, but it’s clearly not working. After some initial transformation and the cleaning up of some external, visible sins, they find themselves in bondage to private thoughts that human willpower can’t change.
Ingram, Chip. 2021. Yes! You Really Can Change: What to Do When You’re Spiritually Stuck. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
OUR LIVES ARE ALWAYS MOVING IN THE DIRECTION OF OUR strongest thoughts. What we think shapes who we are.
So you might read that and think I’m being an overly dramatic preacher using hyperbole to get your attention. But this is no exaggeration. Our lives do follow the direction of our thoughts. The better we grasp that truth, the better equipped we’ll be to change the trajectory of our lives. But don’t take my word for it. Both the Bible and modern science provide evidence that this is true. So throughout this book, we’ll unpack both Scripture and what we’ve learned from scientific research. Here’s a brief example of both:
In Philippians 4:8–9, the apostle Paul writes, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
This Bible Study will help you and your group to change your thinking and thus change your life.
Somewhere along the way, amid varying cultural tides and popular church trends, it seems that we have minimized Jesus’ summons to total abandonment. Churches are filled with supposed Christians who seem content to have casual association with Christ while giving nominal adherence to Christianity. Scores of men, women, and children have been told that becoming a follower of Jesus simply involves acknowledging certain facts or saying certain words. But this is not true. Disciples like Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Ayan show us that the call to follow Jesus is not simply an invitation to pray a prayer; it’s a summons to lose our lives.
Why, then, would we think that becoming a Christian means anything less for us? And why would we not want to die to ourselves in order to live in Christ? Yes, there is a cost that accompanies stepping out of casual, comfortable, cultural Christianity, but it is worth it. More aptly put, he is worth it. Jesus is worthy of far more than intellectual belief, and there is so much more to following him than monotonous spirituality. There is indescribable joy to be found, deep satisfaction to be felt, and an eternal purpose to be fulfilled in dying to ourselves and living for him.
That’s why I’ve written this book. In a previous book, Radical, I sought to expose values and ideas that are common in our culture (and in the church) yet antithetical to the gospel. My aim was to consider the thoughts and things of this world that we must let go of in order to follow Jesus. The purpose of this book, then, is to take the next step. I want to move from what we let go of to whom we hold on to. I want to explore not only the gravity of what we must forsake in this world, but also the greatness of the one we follow in this world. I want to expose what it means to die to ourselves and to live in Christ.
Platt, David, and Francis Chan. 2013. Follow Me: A Call to Die. a Call to Live. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale.
I want to pray bigger, and better. I want you to, too.
Our prayers tell us a great deal about ourselves, and about our faith. The great nineteenth-century Scottish preacher Robert Murray M’Cheyne put it memorably:
Our conversation with others declares what is on our minds. But our conversation with God in private reveals what is in our hearts. Listen to someone pray—or listen to yourself pray—and you gain a window into the very center of the being.
To put it another way: the way we use our money and spend our time reveals a great deal about what are our real priorities and what are our real beliefs. And so do our prayers—whether we pray, for whom we pray, and what we pray.
So how about you, as you read this introduction and decide whether to read on (or whether to buy the book in the first place)? How big are your prayers? Do you ask God for anything? And when you do, are you asking him for big things?
So many of us struggle with prayer. Many books have been written on the subject (and now we can add this one to that long list)—and the a reason for that is that prayer doesn’t come easy to most of us, in most seasons. And when we do pray, our prayers often seek to do a deal with God; or they are tentative in their requests because we’re not sure God will come through; or they are, frankly, so self-centered that they bring little pleasure to the Creator and Savior of the world, as he listens to us present our shopping list of worldly requests to him. I want to pray bigger, and better.
I want you to enjoy praying like that too.
--Alistair Begg, Pray Big
God’s Devil: The Incredible Story of How Satan's Rebellion Serves God's Purposes
It has been said that those who are “born again” take the devil seriously.2 We who believe in the trustworthiness of the Bible are not guilty of disbelieving in his objective existence. We, above all, should take the devil seriously. Very seriously.
But our sincerity does not guarantee that our conception of the devil is accurate, even with the aid of evangelical books and messages that explore the reality of spiritual warfare. Yes, I believe that we are much better equipped to stand against our enemy because of the writings of those who have warned us of his schemes and reminded us of our resources to fight against him. As a young pastor, I was introduced to spiritual warfare by those who knew more about our enemy than I.
However, along with much helpful advice, some distortions have crept into our thinking that could play into the devil’s hands. Though they do not expressly state it, some writers imply that Satan can act independently of God; they speak as if God becomes involved in what the devil does only when we ask Him to. Because Satan is the “god of this world,” they think this means that he can be free to make his own decisions, inflicting havoc wherever and whenever he wishes.
I respectfully disagree. Continued...
Hi! I am Josh Hunt. Pastor. Author. Dad. Granddad. Hiker. Photographer.
I love small groups.
When I lead a small group Bible Study, I like to walk in the door with about 20 ready-to-use questions. My preferred style of teaching is the Socratic, discussion-oriented approach. I believe people are changed more by what they say then what the hear.
What you will find on this site are the same Bible Study Lessons I use when I teach a Small Group Bible Study or Adult Sunday School class. Each Bible Study Lesson consists of about 20 ready-to-use questions. (Probably more than you need.) I also provide answers in the form of quotes from some of my favorite authors and commentators. (I have a growing library of nearly 16,000 books in my Logos Bible Software Library to facilitate this.)
In order for you to evaluate whether these lessons are a fit for you, I have provided several sample series for you to use and evaluate.
This site is subscription-based. For $5.99 a month you get access to all the lessons. (Quarterly, Annual and church plans make it even more affordable.) No long-term commitment. Sign up here.
You will also find some training videos on this site. These are free.
Feel free to reach out to me if have any questions.
(Keep in mind this is my personal email and phone. I am a one-man office. I live in Mountain Time zone.)
How Good Question Bible Studies are different
Good Questions Bible Studies that have groups talking are different from most lessons you have seen. Here are a few reasons why.
Lessons approximate three of Lifeway's® series, plus the International Standard Series. (Copyright issues prevent me from following Lifeway's series exactly.) In addition, I write lessons that correspond with books by best-selling authors like David Jeremiah and Francis Chan. For one affordable price, you get access to all lessons. I have been doing this for years and 3000+ lessons available. Four new lessons added each week.
Question-based rather than lecture-based
Our tag line is, “Good questions have groups talking” and that is the goal of every lesson. Look at one of the sample lessons and you can see this difference right away. Put these lessons into the hands of all your teachers and watch your classes transform from lecture-based groups to discussion-based groups. Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking.
Why is this important? Jesus taught that we are changed by what comes out of us. Until we confess the truth–not just hear it–we are not changed by it. What we say is like the bit in the mouth of a horse; what we say steers our whole life. See this article for more details.
Application is not tagged onto the end. We don’t spend an hour talking about the passage in a rather abstract way then tag on a question on the end about application. Application is woven all through the lessons. Application is the point.
Howard Hendricks used to say that the goal is not to make smarter sinners. Jesus taught us to “teach them to obey” not just teach them.
Make it easy to find teachers
These lessons are so easy to use, they make it easier–a lot easier--to find teachers. In fact, when I was a Minister of Ed, I never struggled to find teaches again after I started writing these lessons. Click here to read that story.
If Max Lucado ever mentioned this week's text, I will find it and provide it to the teachers I serve.
I want to make you sound brilliant. I want to provide you with the best insights from the best minds and warmest hearts in Christendom. Toward that end, I have a massive Logos library that I use to provide material for teachers.
Each lesson in Good Questions Have Groups Talking consists of about 20 ready-to-use-questions with answers from world-class writers such as:
Most curriculum has an inherent flaw. They can often get past it, but it cripples nearly every series made. Here is how it works. A committee gets together and decides on a text and topic. Then, someone is assigned to find someone who can write something brilliant about it. Turns out, this is a very difficult assignment and does not always meet with success. One of the reasons I have been a fan of Lifeway’s ; Masterwork® series is that that series goes at it in the opposite way. They find someone who has already written something brilliant–books by people like Beth Moore, Billy Graham and John Piper–and turns it into a curriculum.
I try to do a similar thing with my lessons. Each question is footnoted with answers taken from some of the best commentaries ever written. John MacArthur, Warren Wiersbe, Holman, Life Application Commentary, and many others. I also include great illustrations and stories from illustration books, trade books and devotional books. Quotes from world-class sources make these lessons different.
What others have said:
By the way using the strategy of fellowship and a decent lesson we have grown from 12 to 40 in 2 and a half years. By using Good Questions Have Groups Talking there is always something that penetrates my spirit and sets my mind to work. Josh Hunt's Good Questions, try it. Your teaching will be anointed!
God has utilized the Lesson's from Good Questions to minister to us. The questions are really good for facilitating meaningful conversation. Our class grew from 10 people to more than 40 in one year!!! We don't have a room big enough for us now. The format saves us time in preparation in order that we might be able to work on the ministry needs of our class.
I love using your lessons. I use them almost every Sunday. They really do get the conversation going. I usually learn more from my class input in 45 minutes than I do studying the background info, for hours, on each lesson. These lessons nearly always provide insight I would never have seen. Thank you for taking the time to write these lesson questions. I believe my presentation would be a lot less interesting without your help.
I have started an outreach Bible study in our gym during the Sunday School hour. I am training our Bible study leaders to use your Good Questions that go with the LifeWay’s Life Truths series. I have trained 10 people to be table leaders for three weeks and we are now ready for outreach. Our goal is to have 100 new Bible study members by starting new classes around “round tables”. So far we can report enrolling 3 new members and the discussions that have ensued have been “stimulating” and “discipling” (if you allow me to coin a new word). Your Good Questions save me a great deal of time and have been utilized to train new leaders to teach through directed discussion of God’s Word. Thank you very much for your ministry.
Dr. Robert Dickerson
Latest Bible Study Lessons
Latest Bible Study Lessons
I try to make teachers sound brilliant by providing great quotes from your favorite authors in every lesson. If Max Lucado ever wrote anything about this week's passage, I will likely find it.
If you are not crazy happy with Good Questions, we will gladly refund your money. Here is my personal email: firstname.lastname@example.org and personal cell phone: 575.650.4564.
Lesson series only found on Good Questions Site
How to Live the Christian Life
What My Grandbabies Taught Me About Theology
Weary of struggling to recruit teachers?
I used to be–before I started writing Good Questions that Have Groups Talking.
I served for 11 years as a Minister of Education. In this role, I lead a group. Each week I wrote up a lesson that consisted of 20 or so questions that I would use in class to teach my group. The group grew and we needed to divide.
Big surprise–I really struggled to find teachers.
One of the guys I talked to about teaching made a suggestion. He said if I would continue to prepare my lesson as I was doing, he would take a class. He took the class, I continued writing lessons and all was well.
Now, this wouldn’t work for just anybody. For it to work, the teacher needs to have reasonable biblical background, spiritual maturity, and good people skills.
Before long other teachers heard about the lessons, and I started distributing them to the whole church.
People liked the lessons. Teachers like them because they saved them time. Students liked them because the classes were not boring lectures any more.
Everyone didn’t like them. The classic teacher-types were only mildly interested. They liked to study and read and dig it all out for themselves. My ready-to-use lessons saved them work that they didn’t want to be saved from. But a lot of others really liked them. And, here is the most important thing. A whole lot of people agreed to teach who would have NEVER taught without the lessons. I never struggled again to get adult teachers.
Teachers watched me teach using Good Questions and something inside them said, “I can do that. I can read 20 questions. I can lead a Bible Discussion Group.”
The church did well. In the 11 years I served as Minister of Education, it nearly tripled in size, going from one service and one Sunday School to four services and four Sunday Schools. Of course, the lessons were not the only reason. I served under three good pastors.
The party strategy helped. There were other contributing factors. Church Growth is nearly always holistic and complex. But every growing church needs to create new groups and the key to creating new groups is to get more leaders. Good questions made it easy for me to get new leaders. I can honestly say that from the time I started writing Good Questions I never struggled to recruit adult teachers. Never. Now, you don’t have to struggle either.
Here is one key to making it work: don’t just pass out the username and password you will receive with your order; print up and pass out the actual lessons. Lessons correspond with three of Lifeway’s® outlines, as well as the International Standard Series, and can be used along with curriculum or as stand alone lessons.
Others heard about the lessons and I started mailing them out. But, with the cost and trouble of printing the lessons, putting them in an envelope, and putting a first class stamp on each one. . . it just didn’t work very well.
Then came the Internet.
I will never forget my brother telling me about the Internet. I knew immediately I had a distribution system for these lessons. Only one problem. The computer I had didn’t have enough hardware to get on the Internet. I remember asking my brother what I needed. “Just make sure you get a 28.8 baud modem (in contrast to 14.4). That is the speed of choice.” I bought an Acer desktop with 4 meg (that’s meg, not gig) of RAM. At $100 per meg of additional RAM, I maxed it out at 8 meg.
Within a few days, I had my first web page up and running with four lessons on the book of James. The rest, as they say, is history. I have been posting these lessons online since the days of 28.8 modems and they are all available to you. Four new lessons are added each week–corresponding with Lifeway’s® outlines, plus the International Standard Series. The lessons can be used to supplement these other outlines, or as stand-alone lessons. There are lessons on every book of the Bible and a wide variety of topical studies.
It gets even better. About a year ago, I bought about $3000 worth of electronic commentaries, Bible dictionaries, illustration books, and trade publications. Now, instead of just providing questions, I also provide answers in the form of quotes from some of the best theological writings ever produced. In addition, I provide great stories and illustrations to make the lessons really come alive.
There is a sliding scale that makes these lesson affordable for any church.