Have you ever thought about… (small group Bible study)

Here are 5 videos you can use to guide a small group discussion, or for individual reflection. These videos were developed by the Swedenborg Foundation.

Click on a week, below, to watch each video, and see an outline for weekly study.

Week 1: how do I choose the right thoughts?

Video

"Your Brain is Spamming You".

Readings

“If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.” (Luke 12:26-27)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
(Romans 12:2)

“If everything we think is flowing in from others, it does seem as though the blame rests on those others as the source. However, the real blame rests on us who accept what is flowing in, since we accept it as our own. That is all we know and all we want to know. We all want to be our own people and find our own way. Particularly, we want to think our own thoughts and make our own decisions. This is the essence of that freedom we enjoy that seems to be our very own.” (Divine Providence 294)

Discussion questions

  • Where do our thoughts come from?
  • How can we choose to honor the useful thoughts and reject the harmful ones?
  • Describe a time you had a thought "pop" into your head that really helped you through a situation.

Task

What is a recurring negative thought you often have about yourself or another person? Each time you have that thought, recite the Lord's Prayer, a quote from scripture, or this phrase, "I choose not to listen to this thought.

Week 2: how can I help make a better world?

Video

"What if life is actually…"

Readings

“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:5-7)

"Charity consists essentially in desiring the welfare of one’s neighbor, in having an affection for what is good, and in acknowledging that since what is good is one’s neighbor, those who are governed by good are consequently one’s neighbor, but varyingly so, depending on the amount of good that governs the individual person." (Secrets of Heaven 5132[2])

“After death a person is immediately in the other life, and his life in this world is continued there, and is of the same quality as it had been in this world.” (Secrets of Heaven 5006[4])

Discussion questions

  • What if love were the constant focus of everyone in the world?
  • What if there's no such thing as death?
  • What are ideas you feel trapped by?
  • Where does true happiness come from?

Task

Think of a virtue you'd like to have or work on. When you're frustrated or find yourself in a difficult situation, ask yourself "What if I were more ________ right now?"

Week 3: what is true happiness?

Video

"The Wrong Question to Ask"

Readings

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

“When the Lord is with someone, He leads him and makes provision so that all that happens, whether sad or joyful, may bring him what is good. This is Divine Providence.” (Secrets of Heaven 6303)

“Those with whom self-love and love of the world reign have no knowledge of what heaven is or of what the happiness of heaven is. It seems incredible to them that happiness can exist in any kinds of love other than these. But the reality is that so far as those loves are removed from reigning as ends in view, the happiness of heaven enters in; the happiness taking their place after they have been removed is so great that it surpasses all human understanding.”(Secrets of Heaven 10724)

Discussion questions

  • If God loves us and wants us each to be happy, then why aren't we all automatically happy?
  • What is a talent you have that brings you joy?
  • What is a relationship in your life you don't always appreciate?

Task

Often when we pray, we are asking God for something. Instead of asking, take time to thank Him for things in your life.

Week 4: is there really a God?

Video

"Evidence of God? What's that on your head?"

Readings

“The notion that there is one God flows into our souls from God because everything that is divine, as a whole and in every detail, is God. And because everything that is divine is integrated into a unity, it cannot help but inspire in us the idea of one God. This idea grows ever stronger as God lifts us into the light of heaven. In angelic light, the angels cannot force themselves to say "gods." In fact, every phrase of their speech ends rhythmically on a single beat, a phenomenon that arises from no other cause than the notion inflowing into their souls that there is one God.” (True Christianity 8[2])

“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”(Romans 1:20)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.“ (Jeremiah 29:13)

Discussion questions

  • When was a time you felt the presence of the Lord evident in your life?
  • What are some ideas of God you struggle with?
  • Are there emotions that you experience that feel like evidence for God?
  • Is the fact that the world exists evidence in itself of God?
  • Is it enough to believe in God just for the sake of belief?

Task

During the week take notice of moments when you really feel God, or times when you feel the lack of Him. How do these moments strengthen or weaken your belief in God?

Week 5: what can I contribute to humanity?

Video

"Evidence of God? What's that on your head?"

Readings

“The notion that there is one God flows into our souls from God because everything that is divine, as a whole and in every detail, is God. And because everything that is divine is integrated into a unity, it cannot help but inspire in us the idea of one God. This idea grows ever stronger as God lifts us into the light of heaven. In angelic light, the angels cannot force themselves to say "gods." In fact, every phrase of their speech ends rhythmically on a single beat, a phenomenon that arises from no other cause than the notion inflowing into their souls that there is one God.” (True Christianity 8[2])

“For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”(Romans 1:20)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)

“You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.“ (Jeremiah 29:13)

Discussion questions

  • When was a time you felt the presence of the Lord evident in your life?
  • What are some ideas of God you struggle with?
  • Are there emotions that you experience that feel like evidence for God?
  • Is the fact that the world exists evidence in itself of God?
  • Is it enough to believe in God just for the sake of belief?

Task

During the week take notice of moments when you really feel God, or times when you feel the lack of Him. How do these moments strengthen or weaken your belief in God?

Full issue

Daily Inspiration

"There is no adequate way to describe God except in terms of pure love and pure mercy towards the whole human race. That mercy is God's desire to save everyone, to make everyone happy forever, and to give us everything He has."

Arcana Coelestia 1735