Sunday, January 14, 2018

167: Go Big or Go Home

Read the story of Deborah's faith and leadership in Judges 4:4–22.
You may want to read it in The Message (MSG) version for easier reading and storytelling.


Discussion Questions:

What happens when we only have a "surface-level" perspective like Barak? Why is it easy to do this?

Why do we need a "faith-based" perspective like Deborah?

How can we actually go about having this in our lives? What are steps can you take to build faith?

In our own lives, when is it easiest to have faith? When is it hardest?

What do you do differently than others in your life because you have faith? How have you seen God care for you during these times?

How does Deborah's leadership in a physical battle point people to Jesus?

What areas in your life can your leadership point people to Jesus?

Eventually (if not already) your plans for your life will collide with the faith that God has called you to place in Him, and one will have to give. Is this going on in your life? What are you doing? What should you do? Explain.

This rGroup should be a "Deborah" (something that will challenge and encourage you to live a life of faith in God) for each of us. How can we become better at this?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

167: Beza-Who?

Exodus 31:1–11


Read verse 2.

Now read this phrases in verse 2, but insert your name where Bezalel's is:

"I have chosen [your name]"

How does that make you feel? What do you think about that? (This is not about predestination, so don't go there with conversation.)

Read verse 3–4.

Now read verse 3–4, but insert your skills where Bezalel's are:

"I have filled him/her with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills– [your skills]."

(Ask people to share a few skills they inserted into the blank.)


Talk About It:

Do you think God has chosen you for a purpose? What do you think it is?

Do you ever feel like God can't use what you're good at in a great way?

What are one or two basic things you are good at?

What's an example of when someone else used their basic talent in a way that's impacted your life for God's purpose?

How could other people benefit from you doing what you're good at?

What's one skill that you often find yourself using in your free time?

What's one thing people always ask you to do for them because you're good at it?

Read verse 11b. ("make everything as I have commanded you.")

Why are God's plans necessary for your skills?

What are some ways God can use your talents to further His purpose?

Why would God want to involve His people in His plans, instead of doing it all Himself?


Next Steps:

What are some steps you can take to start moving into what God may have in mind for you in this area?

What's the worst that could happen if you stepped forward in what you feel called to do?

What's the worst that could happen if you DON'T step forward in what you feel called to do?

How might God bless you, and those around you, if you do step forward in what you feel called to do?

Monday, January 1, 2018

What if? - Spiritual Goals

Colossians 4:2–6


- How would you describe your prayer life? (e.g., intense, lukewarm, sporadic, frustrating...)

- How would you like your prayer life to be better?

Paul's encouragement is for the Colossian believers to 'devote themselves' to prayer. Prayer won't always come easily or naturally, but is a practice that we commit ourselves to.

- What are some practical ways you can devote yourself to prayer?

- How can our group devote itself to prayer?


(Read v 2)

"Being watchful" is also part of prayer.

- How have you seen God at work in your prayer life?

- What are some open doors that perhaps you've overlooked in your life? Where are opportunities that God wants you to invest yourself in?


(Read v 3–4)

Paul is in prison, and yet his request for the Colossian believers is to pray that he has more opportunities to share the Gospel and for God's help that he would make the most of those opportunities by speaking the message clearly! Wow!

- How does Paul's example inspire you to be more content in your current circumstances and more committed to Christ's mission?

- Who are the specific people or situations that you a praying for at the moment for opportunities to share the Gospel with?


(Read v 5–6)

- Why do we need to be wise in the way we act towards outsiders (unbelievers, unchurched)? What is the wise way to act towards outsiders?

- What are the 'opportunities' that Paul is referring to?

- How is the gospel overwhelmingly obvious in your life as it is seen through the eyes of your non-Christian friends, family and co-workers?

- What areas or ways might you need to be more bold?

'Grace' in verse 6 has the double meaning of God's grace and human graciousness.

- What would it look like for our conversations with each other to be always full of grace?

'Seasoned with salt' in verse 6 represents making things better or steering it in the right direction (towards Jesus).

- How have you seen 'salty' comments used well to steer a conversation to Christ? How can we practice this without it being pushy or making others feel as if we are forcing the conversation to faith?


Next Steps:

- What new year's commitment can/will you make based on these verses in scripture?

- What is 1 phrase from these verses you will immediately focus on implementing this week?

- How do you need help from others in our group to follow through with what God is calling you to be?


Sunday, December 17, 2017

From God To Us: Joy Robbers

"Joy to the world!"... right? But it SO hard to have joy sometimes.

What is one of your greatest challenges for living a daily joyous life?


Read Luke 1:26-38.
(Mary had a LOT to fear! She could've let fear rob her joy.)

Worry and fear are the rivals of joy in our heart. When worry wins, joy loses. Do you ever say you trust the Lord, but then think of a second option just in case the Lord does not come through?

What fear is stopping you from experiencing joy?

Worry causes us to waste the blessings of today by keeping us focused on the possible problems of tomorrow. How do your worries hinder you spiritually in your Christian walk?


Read Mathew 1:18-21
(Joseph could've let disappointment and resentment rob his joy.)

Disappointments often steal our joy because they shift our focus from the Lord to ourselves. How can maintaining an eternal perspective help us to deal with our disappointments?

We will never experience true abundant joy if we have seeds of bitterness, unforgiveness, or resentment in our hearts. How does it encourage you to know that the Lord has seen every hurt and offense ever committed against you?


Read Matthew 2:7-10
(The wisemen could've let confusion rob their joy.)

Share an example of when you had great joy even in the midst of uncertainty.

One of the main reasons we lose our joy is because we lose our focus, taking our eyes off the prize of Christ and losing ourselves in the problems of the world. If you were one of the wisemen, would you have stayed focused on pursuing the newborn King for as long as they did (2 years)? Why or why not?

Confusion and lack of clarity are joy stealers. Do you think you need to move forward out of your sense of unclarity? If so, what changes do you need to make in order to just start taking things one step at a time?


Next Steps:

Write down a major fear, resentment, or thing that is confusing you. What is the next step you can take to begin to find joy in the midst of it?

Ask your rGroup friends to pray and help you find joy where you need it most. Ask others how you can pray and help them, too.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

From God To Us: Fake News

Luke 2:10-18

Read Luke 2:10.

Santa determines who gets gifts by whether someone's been naughty or nice. But the gift of Jesus is for everyone. How does this shape how you view everyone else?

How does this shape how you view yourself?

How do grace (the free and underserved favor of God) and the gospel (good news of Jesus) connect?

Explain why that is "great joy" to you, personally.

Read verses 11-12.

The Savior, the Messiah, the Lord has come! We know that Jesus is the only source of true, great joy. What kind of scenarios in your life make you start looking for joy in other people, places or things?

Read verses 13-16.

Imagine what that group of angels sounded like when they were praising God. What's your favorite way to praise God?

Notice how the angel's praise of God inspired the shepherds to pursue Jesus. What's one way you can praise God around others that would cause them to be curious, think about, or pursue Jesus?

Read verse 17.

The shepherds response to meeting Jesus was to tell others about him. They immediately spread the word. How well do you tell others about what God has done for you?

The shepherds all experienced the same event, but I'm sure they all told the story in their own way because of what it meant to them personally. What's one story about Jesus that you like to tell to others?

Read verse 18.

Are you amazed? What mindset or habits needs to change in order for you to see God for who he is, and truly be amazed?

--

Next Steps:

Who is one person you will commit to sharing the good news of Jesus with?

What is one step you could take in order to grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus and experience His great joy?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Messed Up Church: Temptation

What does the phrase "spiritual warfare" mean to you?
(the fight against spiritual evil forces)


Read Matthew 4:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 10:11-13


How does Jesus' temptation in the wilderness clearly reveal the nature and reality of spiritual warfare?

Why is it so important to stay connected to God, spiritual accountability, the church, and Christian friends during your lowest and weakest points in life?
(Satan knows when we're at our weakest, lowest point, when we're most likely to fail, and that is when he will attack you the hardest.)

How can we become more aware and alert of the spiritual attacks on us and our families?

How are temptation and being tested related to one another?
(God never tempts a person to evil, but He can use that temptation to build faith. See James 1:13)

How can we respond to temptation in a way that increases our faith in God and gives Him glory?

How does chasing our own desires (or following your heart) apart from God's will lead us to distrust God and His goodness and providence?

Knowing that God will never tempt us to evil, why do we often blame Him for sinful desires, which are outside of His will?

During what kinds of events or circumstances in your life do you most often question God's presence, care, love, or competence in your life?

There will certainly be times in our lives when we are facing struggle and are tempted to wonder if God cares about us. How can we combat those thoughts?

How does knowing the outcome of this war encourage us to resist Satan through the power of the Holy Spirit?


Move Forward / Next Steps:

What is the biggest truth that God wants you, personally, to know and apply from this study?

How will you move forward and apply that truth?

What is an action that you can start to implement today or tomorrow?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Messed Up Church: Things That Make You Want to Quit

Why do you think God does not allow people to know the future like he does? How could that be for your own good?


Read 1 Corinthians 16:5-7.

Paul is fully devoted to God's mission, but it's obvious he doesn't even know how tomorrow will go. Do you ever find yourself living the "Perhaps" in verse 6, and "if the Lord permits" in verse 7, like Paul? What's that like for you?

Why is Paul ok with this uncertainty? What can you learn from him?

Notes:
- Uncertainty (not reliant on self) becomes the norm when you follow God.
- Even Jesus submitted to the Father's will above his own.
- Don't trust the future, trust God.


Read 1 Corinthians 16:8-9.

Paul sees a great opportunity to be effective, and also sees many people oppose him. What does this tell you about opportunities and opposition?

Why is opposition (discouragement, burdens, setbacks, etc.) not a good reason to quit on opportunities God's placed before you?

So, what can you do in the midst of opposition? How can you handle it?

Notes:
Opportunities and opposition usually coexist. Nothing worth doing is easy.
Work hard, but trust (rely on) God.
Don't miss what God is trying to teach you through opposition.


Read 1 Corinthians 16:10-12.

Anything that involves people is difficult. Why is this?

Timothy is doing God's will, yet Paul knows that Timothy may run into difficult relationships or people that disagree with him on his journey. What would you do if you were Timothy?

Why should difficult relationships and disagreements not stop you from what God has called you to do?

We're often tempted to quit on ministry and people that God actually intends us to be involved with. How do you discern whether God wants you to quit or continue?

Notes:
We're all sinners, and we all need grace.
When we pursue God's plan, well-meaning people will not always understand our specific calling, and that may cause some people (even friends) to turn away.


Read 1 Corinthians 16:13-14.

What exactly are you watching out for? What are the benefits of being on guard?

Standing firm, and being courageous and strong are required for our faith. What does that look like in your life?

Do EVERYTHING in love. Jesus is the ultimate example of not quitting, and doing all that he did in love. Why is the "love" part so important to God?


Next Steps

If there are moments on your journey that you feel isolated while fulfilling God's calling, remember you have the power of the Holy Spirit in you and with you. You are not alone.

If you find yourself reluctant to continue to move forward with God's calling on your life, remember to look to Jesus.

If you're in a place of pursuing God's plan for your life and in the midst of uncertainty or lacking resources, remember that opposition and opportunity can coexist. God has already set provision in place for you to accomplish everything He's called you to do.