Winning, Week 3 - Winning Through Doubts & Difficulties

Ice Breaker

Pastor Rich asks us to celebrate some wins/victories. What have you been celebrating this week?


Dive-in

  1. Pastor Lorin spoke about the doubts and difficulties that come as the result of the devils strategies. Share a time when you experienced the devil at work.
  2. Which aspect of God, his’ perspective, passion or plan, is most helpful to you when you are going through hard time? Why?
  3. Of the truths that Pastor Lorin reminded you, there is a purpose in the pain, I can do all things through him, I can find rest, I don’t need to worry, is hardest to make real in your life? How can you and/or your group apply these truths in your life?
  4. What is one doubt/difficulty that you or someone close to you is dealing with? How could you/they approach it differently? How can you pray for each other?

Winning, Week 2 - Living as Winners

Ice Breaker

Take some time and share names of people you know personally that are living as winners.  Explain what you see in them that makes them a winner.

Diving In

  1. Pastor Rich talked about how we live as losers even though God has declared us to be winners in Christ.  He described how winning daily requires a game plan.  That game plan is outlined for us throughout the scriptures.   Discuss the quote he made “…Progress toward winning hinders unbelief.”  How did this relate to the Israelites in the wilderness?  To us as believers?
  2. Practice is often hard, painful, frustrating and exhausting.  Joshua had to practice engaging his faith even in the most foolish and trying situations with the children of God in the desert. Joshua 1:7-8 Practice can feel and look like defeat sometimes, but it is an opportunity to make adjustments, build stamina and hone our skills.  What are ways you are practicing to win in life?  Spiritually?  How often do you practice?  What are the difficulties or dislikes you face that make you want to just quit?
  3. Part of practicing well is using the right equipment.  Do we know how to use the equipment God has given us to win?  Name each of the garments represented in the Spiritual Armor of God - Ephesians 6:10-18.  Describe ways they were meant to be used in our daily lives.  What pieces do you need to practice more with to develop your faith?  Which pieces are you most efficient with and why?
  4. No matter how hard and long we practice, eventually we have to get in the game and play.  We have to take that first step just as the Israelites had to take the first step into the water to cross the Jordan River to enter the promise land - Joshua 3:14-17.  What is the first step you need to take to move from practicing to playing?  First steps require commitment.  What do you need to commit to?  What will others see in you as you play to win?   
  5. Every win deserves a celebration.  As the children of Israel walked in faith and in silence around the wall of Jericho there was a shout of victory brewing within them - Joshua 6:15-21.  When was the last time you celebrated a victory?  How did it feel to let out exaltation to God for what He had achieved in you?  What can you celebrate today?  Right now? 

Winning, Week 1 - We're Made To Win

Ice Breaker

This week as we start our new series Winning, share something with your group that you always seem to win at.

Diving In

  1. Pastor Josh walked us through the big story of winning and losing from Genesis with Adam and Eve prior to sin.  They were made to rule everything.  (Gen 1:26-28)…and God had given the keys to the earth to mankind, so to speak. (Ps 115:16)  When Adam and Eve sinned and lost the keys to Satan, how does mankind start losing?  In relationship to God, with one another, with the planet, etc?
  2. When Jesus comes to redeem mankind, Satan, in his 3rd temptation seems to try to offer Jesus a short cut to His plan?  (Matt. 4:1-11)  Why is getting back the keys to the earth a critical part to God’s plan?
  3. After Christ death and resurrection, He has won back the keys to the planet and sets up His followers to be winners.  At the Great Commission, Christ claims this authority and then sends his followers with this same authority (as we are in Christ…Col 1:27-29/Eph 2:13/ Eph 5:8/ 1 Cor. 6:11) to accomplish the commission.  Why is us having the keys to the planet so important for us to accomplish the commission?
  4. In Romans 8:31-37 Paul gives a description of the things we may face, yet Christ’s love will always find us and overwhelming victory is ours.  How do you struggle to live a winning life?  What holds you back?  How does Christ victory function as our victory even in the perceived losses of life?
  5. Discuss this statement Pastor Josh made.  You must beware of ever being over-impressed or overwhelmed by the power and work of the Devil, lest you lose sight of the power and promises of God.

Refresh- Kindness

Ice Breaker

1.     What’s the greatest random act of kindness someone’s ever done for/shown to you?

Diving In

2.     This week Pastor Josh launched Lakeland into the Refresh county-wide movement.  The fall challenge is around Kindness.  We looked at ways in which God has shown his kindness to us.  Discuss each of the ways God shows his kindness.  How have you overlooked these in the past?  Why?  How is His kindness bigger than you thought?

a.     General Provision- Acts 14:17

b.     Patience in Judgment- Rom. 2:4

c.      Undeserving Grace- Eph 2:1-7

3.     It is in God’s kindness that He gives us everything necessary to be able to live like those mentioned in 2 Cor. 6:4-10.  How are these attitudes possible in Christ?

4.     This cooperative movement of area wide churches is taking its first steps by showing random acts of kindness.  In what way do you hope to show random acts of kindness?  Where/ who will you target in getting these refresh cards to?

#ICNU- Week 3- Let's Practice

Ice Breaker

1.     If you could speak ICNU into yourself and have any ability (you can be as silly as you want with this question) what would you speak into yourself?

Diving In

2.     The Apostle Paul practices 3 different types of ICNU over Timothy, discuss each of the following types and why they are important to speak into others.

a.     Who you are (these are personality traits at your core).   1 Tim 1:18-19/ 4:12-16.

b.     Where I can see it play out or bring impact (these are the places where your giftings can be used).  1 Tim. 2:1-2

c.      What you got (these are special abilities or opportunities that you have access to).   1 Tim. 4:6-7, 2 Tim. 1:5-7, 4:1-2.

3.     Take some time to go around the group and speak ICNU into others in your group.  Who are they at their core?  Where could they bring impact?  What do they have?

#ICNU- Week 2- Jesus' Model

Ice Breaker

1.     This week in ICNU Pastor Josh started by talking about the dream of every young Jewish boy to be a rabbi.  When you were young what was one of your dreams to someday become?

Diving In

2.     As Pastor Josh described the original calling of the disciples, those words “come follow me” were really words saying “I see in you the ability to someday  do what I do and replace me.”   How has the idea of being a Jesus follower shifted from his view of what that looked like to today?  How has it changed?  Why has it changed?

3.     At the feeding of the 5000 Jesus challenges the disciples to feed the people.  Check it out in Mark 6:36-37.  He believes they having everything necessary to accomplish the task.  What’s their response and why does that hinder them?  How do we sometimes respond in similarity to the disciples?

4.     Pastor Josh talked through a few ICNU moments between Jesus and Peter.  What sticks out to you in each of these occasions?  1.  Matt. 16:15-18- Jesus calls Peter a rock.   2.  John 21:15-19- Jesus calls Peter to care for his sheep and follow him once again.

5.     In the great commandment Matt 28:18-20, Jesus says go and make disciples…or Talmidin…people who do what Jesus did.  Also read John 14:12.  What’s your definition of a disciple?

6.     Living out and doing the things that Jesus did require time in the “quiet places”.  Mark 6:31, Luke 5:16, Mark 1:35.  Discuss the statement:  You win the battles in the quiet place in order to enforce the victories in the public place.    

#ICNU- Week 1- God's View of You

Ice Breaker

1.     During this week in ICNU Pastor Josh talked about a time when someone said “you are better than you think.”  Share something that you discovered you were better at it than you originally thought.

Diving In

2.     This week we are looking at what God sees in us as Christ followers.  Discuss why and how these elements that God sees in us matter.

a.     ICNUfamily- Eph. 2:13, 18, Rom. 8:15-16

b.     ICNUreconciled- Rom. 5:1-2, 10-11

c.      ICNUfreedomfromthepowerofsin- Rom. 8:1-2

d.     ICNUlight- Rom. 5:8-11

e.     ICNUareflectionofGod- 1 Pet. 2:9-12

3.     Rom. 12:2 talks about the renewing of the mind.  How do you practice renewing your mind in how God sees you? 

4.     What lies have you bought into in the past that created natural strongholds for the enemy in your life?  These lies were ultimately not in line with how God saw/sees you.

5.     What area in your life do you need to start actively practicing and believing how God sees you?

Significant Insignificants- Zerubbabel

Ice Breaker

1.     This week our Significant Insignificant leads us to talking about dreams for our lives.  When you were a kid…what did you dream about being?

Diving In

2.     Zerubbabel is our character of the week.  He’s basically the governor or prince over Judah.  He jumps at the opportunity to rebuild the temple of the Lord, but then faces some set backs.  Read Ezra 4:1-5.  In what forms do we face discouragement toward the God dream in our lives?  How does fear play into stalling these dreams?

3.     In Ezra 4:23-24 they hit a 10 year stand still.  Have you ever faced a stand still toward a God dream in your life?  Sometimes these are blatant attacks of the enemy and other times they are God ordained pauses.  How do you discern when the enemy is simply trying to rob us of the God dream or when God is growing us in patience in the God dream?

4.     Read Hag. 1:14.  God stirs the hearts of Zerubbabel and the people.  When it’s a God ordained dream often our hearts stir in such a way in which we can barely maintain ourselves.  What has God stirred in you?

5.     Are there dreams that God might be rekindling in you?

Significant Insignificants- Sinful Woman

Ice Breaker

1.     This week we’re talking about worry free worship.  Share an occasion when you let loose and lived free from anyone’s expectations.

Diving In

2.     In Luke 7:36-38 this woman anoints Jesus’ feet at a banquet.  What in her actions or worship stands out to you as most bold?  What drives her to such bold actions?  What do you admire about her?

3.     In verse 39- Simon clearly doesn’t approve of hers or Jesus’ actions.  How do we fall into those same judgmental attitudes of others in worship?

4.     In verses 40-43 Jesus tells a little story to help Simon understand her bold actions.  How is this true even for people today?  How does people’s perception of having little sins in their lives sometimes keep them from coming to Jesus and recognizing their need for a Savior?

5.     This woman worships the messiah in freedom, not caring what anyone thinks of her actions.  How do we continue to grow in our worship journey toward greater freedom?

Significant Insignificants- Josiah

Ice Breaker

1.     This weeks Significant Insignificant is Josiah.  A king who pursues God on his own.  Have you ever pursued someone without a response.  Perhaps you can share a funny (or tragic) story of a romantic pursuit that didn’t reciprocate. 

Diving In

2.     Reread 2 Kings 21:1-2, 6, 16, 19-20.  Josiah didn’t exactly come from a family that passed down a love for God.  What unique challenges do trail blazer of faith face?  What type of challenges do those who grew up in church face in learning to pursue God in greater ways?

3.     In 2 Chron. 34:1-3, 8, 14, 18, 19 you see a progression of activity in Josiah’s life with God.  It begins with him at age 16 seeking God/ age 20 starting to purge his nation of the idols/ age 26 finding the law and fully following the decrees.  Pastor Josh talked about how interesting it seems that Josiah is starting to act obediently to the law prior to having the law.  Discuss the following statement… The heart that seeks God finds obedience while the heart that seeks obedience doesn’t always find God.

4.     Reread  Heb. 11:6/ Jer. 29:12-14/ Prov 8:17.  These talk about the heart that seeks God.  What does this mean for you to seek after God with your whole heart?   What does pursuing him really look like?

5.     Josiah really goes on a full purge of all things associated with false worship in his land.  If your life activities were mapped out, would anything need to be purged from your land?

6.     Another statement Pastor Josh made was…Obedience without intimacy is empty religiosity.  How have you seen that or experienced it?

Significant Insignificants- Benaiah

Ice Breaker

1.     This week we’re talking about risk taking.  What’s one of the greatest risks you feel you’ve ever taken?

Diving In

2.     Do you agree or disagree with the idea that even those who may naturally take more risks in life don’t seem to have an advantage to being risk takers when it comes to their faith?

3.     Reread 1 Chron. 11:22-24.  What’s the biggest thing that impresses you about Benaiah in these verses?

4.     Chasing the lion into a pit on a snowy day doesn’t seem to fit with the other exploits of him mentioned.  It seems like God just wants us to know how brave he was and willing to take big risks.  Why could this be critical for each of our lives?

5.     Discuss some of the quotes mentioned from the book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. 

a.    “The genealogy of blessing always traces back to God-ordained risk.”

b.    “What sets lion chasers apart isn’t the outcome. It’s the courage to chase God-sized dreams.”

c.     “Society's goal is to make us less foolish. From the cradle to grave the pressure is on: "Be normal!" Our inner fool may be shackled and caged by a world made to suppress it, but Jesus came to free the fool.”

6.     Fear is often the thing that holds us and our faith back.  Yet read 2 Tim. 1:7 and talk about what elements of fear in your faith walk you could take on this week.

Significant Insignificants- Rahab

Ice Breaker

1.     Share an experience when nobody wanted to go first and you decided to go first and be the trailblazer.

Diving In

2.     This week we looked at Rahab and how she trail blazes a way for her and her family to be a part of the people of Israel.  In Joshua 2:1 we discover either her current lifestyle or past was that of a prostitute.  Discuss a statement Pastor Josh made:  She did not allow her past activity to define her future identity. 

3.     There are couple reason’s Pastor Josh highlighted as to why she boldly hid the spies. (verse 8-12)  What stuck out to you in these reasons?  1. She was awe stuck by God’s reputation.  2.  She’s setting herself up to make her plea.

4.     Discuss this statement surrounding faith.  Reputation Proceeds Response.  Meaning the reputation of God always proceeds the response of the individual to God.  How have you seen that as true?

5.     How does your lifestyle, relationship, and your interaction with God support His reputation?

6.     Share who the trailblazer was in your family to faith in Jesus.  Are there ways you are trailblazing a new depth of faith for family?

Significant Insignificants- Ruth

Ice Breaker

1.     This week as we launch into Significant Insignificants we are talking about how God uses people who seem small in the whole scheme of things to do big things.  Share a time when you lost something small that had huge implications.

Diving In

2.     This week we looked at Ruth.  In chapter 1 Ruth sets herself apart as a woman of high integrity and noble character.  (verses 14-17)  Why would this have been such a difficult decision for her?  What difficult decisions do you face in life where doing what is right is much easier said than done?

3.     Chapter 2 Ruth experiences a glimmer of hope.  What stands out to you in how Boaz treats Ruth?  Verses 5-17.  How have you experienced hope from God right when you desperately needed it?

4.     Chapter 3 Ruth makes a bold ask.  Boaz once again points out her noble character (verse 11).  How does living righteously impact the “bold asks” we can make of God?

5.     Chapter 4 is the redemption of Ruth/ Naomi/ and their family property.  What stands out to you in this redemption story?  (verses 5-10)  What questions do you have?  Discuss the statement:  The other family member desired the land but not Ruth…Boaz desired Ruth but could care less for the land.

6.     What righteous or noble action might God be calling you to do this week?

Houston- Part 3-Busyness

Ice Breaker

How many hours of rest do you get each week? How many hours would you like to rest each week?  Share some reasons why you think those answers might be different.  Take a moment and describe what you and/or your family do for rest. 

Going Beyond Sunday

1.  Jesus helps us prioritize our lives when we learn and trust in him. In Hebrews 12:1 we read, "Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up." What are some things in our lives that slow us down? Are there some things in your life that you need to hit the delete key on? Most of us have a to do list, take a moment and create a stop doing or to-don't list.

2.  Think about this statement, "The most important work has already been done by Jesus." Is this a true statement? Why or why not? If we truly believe this statement, then what is driving us to be so busy? Why do I need to feel so important and wear the busyness badge of honor? Where is your busyness coming from? We must truly lean in and rest in the finished work of Jesus.

3.  What is your motivation for your busyness?

4.  Read Luke 10:38-42. Jesus doesn’t condemn Martha. Instead, He gently encourages her to reassess her priorities. What were Martha’s priorities? What were Mary’s? Which is better? Why? What does your appointment book say about your priorities? Are they closer to Martha’s or to Mary’s? Are you "worried and upset about many things?" Or have you "chosen what is better"?

5.  Read Exodus 20:8-9. Do you think having a regular day off would do some good for your family? For you? God says, "keep it holy". What does it mean to be holy? Holy means "set apart", different. God says, I want you to set one day a week apart to do something different than you do the other six days of the week. On the seventh day, you're to have a change of pace. That's what it means -- unique, reserved, special. How do I keep the day holy?  

            6.  Read Psalms 127:2. What does proper rest look like?

 

Houston- Part 2- Materialism (Contentment)

Ice Breaker

1.     This week we’re talking about contentment.  We all have had times when we have not been content with the situation presented to us.  Share one of your worst…ie. a meal you had to eat even though you hated it, a living situation you had to put up with even though you couldn’t stand it, clothes you had to wear although you could stand them, etc…

Diving In

2.     In the book of Philippians Paul writes some pretty strong words in chapter 4:10-13.  He says he’s found the secret of contentment…then in verse 13 says he can do all things through Christ who gives him strength.  Why does finding strength in Christ seem so counter intuitive to finding contentment?

3.     Pastor Josh emphasized 3 ways in finding contentment in Christ.  The first was trust.  Check out Phil. 4:6-7/ Hebrews 13:5-6.  How have you struggled to trust God with your finances, or simply trust God with your situation?

4.     The second was through correct thinking.  Check out Phil. 4:8-9.  What most dictates how you think about stuff?  Music, magazines, news, friends, social media?  What steps do you need to take only allow the things listed in verse 8 to rule in your mind?

5.     The third was realigning our expectations.  Check our Phil 4:12, and 1 Tim. 6:6-11.  We have the tendency to expect a lot more than food and clothing, yet how can we try to take steps toward making sure we own our stuff and that our stuff does not own us?

6.     What steps are you taking to apply the Houston homework this week?

Houston- Part 1- Materialism (Coveting)

Ice Breaker

1.     This week as we launch into Houston…we will be considering some subjects that we all seem to struggle with at some time or another.  This week we discuss materialism.  For a good laugh (unless it happened this week), share the dumbest purchase you ever made?

Diving In- passages to consider today in your discussion:  Matt. 6:19-24/ Mark 7:20-23/ 1 Tim. 6:6-10

2.     This week while considering materialism we’re talking about coveting.  Check out Deut. 5:21.  Why is coveting so easy to fall into?  For you personally, do you feel like you are self aware when you covet or not?

3.     What is the way coveting enters into your life most often?  Ie. Facebook, advertisements, tv shows, etc… 

4.     Pastor Josh talked about some of the results of coveting.  Have you experienced any of these?

a.     Creates discontentment

b.     Hinders generosity

c.      Leads to idolatry

d.     Things of greater value will be sacrificed for that which you covet

5.     How will you apply the Houston homework?

Coming Alive- Part 6- Obedience

Ice Breaker

1.     Share a time as a kid when you purposely disobeyed and it bit you in the butt.

Diving In

2.     This week as we finish up Coming Alive we focused on Coming Alive in Obedience.  Review Deut. 30:15-19.  What are the conditions of experiencing life for the people of Israel?  How are these transferable to our lives?  Are there some elements of these promises that for Israel but not necessarily for us?

3.     The New Testament has lots of scripture on God’s expectation of obedience as well.  Matt 28:19-20, John 14:23, 1 John 5:3 to name a few. Why is it such a focus?  Why is obedience life giving?

4.     Take discipline into consideration.  Hebrews 12: 5-11 describes God’s discipline of His children.  How have you experienced discipline in the past?  How did you know it was discipline from God versus attack from the enemy?

5.     Are there specific steps you know you need to take to walk in obedience today?

Coming Alive- Part 5- His Voice

Ice Breaker

1.     Have you ever been listening to someone, but your mind wanders elsewhere and it’s gotten you in trouble?  Share what happened.

Diving In

2.     This week as we talk about a key to coming alive being hearing God speak, we dive into John 6.  In this passage Jesus’ conversation turns toward what sounds like cannibalism.   (John 6:53-54)  How do you think the disciples felt when they heard Jesus saying these things?  How would you have felt if you were in the crowd listening to Jesus?

3.     When everyone else is leaving, Jesus asks his disciples if they are planning on leaving him too.  Read verse 63 and Peter’s response in 68.  How are His words life?

4.     Learning to listen to God speak to us is life giving.  Pastor Josh shared some thoughts on this.  Discuss how you’ve experienced God speak through 1. His Word, 2. His people, and 3. His Spirit.

5.     Discuss some of the common elements Pastor Josh covered that usually accompany His voice.

a.     The stirring of the heart

b.     His gentle whisper

c.      Supernatural insight

d.     Peace

6.     Are there specific steps you hope to take this week to pursue hearing from God? 

Coming Alive- Part 4- Believe and Trust

Ice Breaker

1.     This week we’re talking about trust…have you ever had to trust someone or something which was overly difficult to do?

Diving In

2.     Our focus word of the week is Pisteuo.  A Greek word that is found in John 3:16 and many other verses in scripture.  While our English language has both believe and trust, the Greek word is one in the same.  How does this change the way you looked at believe in the bible? 

3.     A question some face is, “is He trustworthy?”   Hearing Pastor Josh talk through John 14:1-4, how does that impact your view of His trustworthiness? 

4.     The following are some reasons people struggle to trust Him.  Have you related to any of the following statements, or are there others statements that you’ve put in the way of trusting Him.

a.     I’ve sinned too much

b.     My burdens are too big

c.      Everyone else has always let me down

d.     Not everything works out perfectly for Christians who have trusted Him

5.     What are you going to trust Him with more in your life this week?

Coming Alive- Part 3- Free From Religion

Ice Breaker

1.     This week we talked about religion.  What was one of your most interesting/ shocking/ or funny religious experiences you’ve had?

For the following questions keep the definition of religion in mind:

Religion: any belief, behavior, or belonging that we put between us and God.

Diving In

2.     In John 2 Jesus enters into an encounter with those buying and selling animals in the temple and the money changers.  Pastor Josh explained how corruption had entered into that process.  What response do you think the disciples would have had to Jesus’ actions?  How does Jesus’ boldness impact your view of Him?

3.     Pastor Josh talked about 2 ways we can fall into religion.  1. We allow the signs to slowly point toward us.  He used the example of something simple like being overly proud of your church. Thus the church becomes the focus.  Are there other ways the focus turns inward?

4.     Second, we allow the signs to become the destination.  This could be similar to becoming a checklist Christian…one who simply wants to check the things off their list which they believe are necessary to keep God happy.   Thus the practices of our faith become the destination versus signs that keep pointing us to Jesus.  How else does this happen?  How have you ever fallen into this?

5.     Are there others ways you’ve seen yourself fall to religiosity versus relationship with God?