Before the Christmas Story

Getting Started

Main Idea:
All of history leads up to the coming of our Savior. God has always had and still has a plan.

Discussion Starter:
How is your Bible reading going this year? It’s not too late to connect with God our Savior through His Word! Share what God has been teaching you during your time in His Word.

Introduction:
This week Pastor took us through a quick review of the Bible. No matter which book of the Bible is read, its focus is on the Savior. In 1 Samuel 17:46-47, David tells Goliath that God doesn’t save by spear or sword. In Psalm 43, the psalmist laments his situation, but in the last verse he says God is his Savior and his God. In 2 Peter 1:10, the Apostle encourages readers to confirm their response to God’s invitation. All those words, 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, point to the Savior.


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures: Genesis 18:17-18, Acts 3:25-26, Micah 5:2, Matthew 1:1-3, Matthew 2:1-6, Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:11, Isaiah 7:13-14, Matthew 1:18-23

Discussion Questions:
1. Spend some time reading the following passages aloud in your group, and meditate on how God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. For example, the prophet Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 9:6 of a “Prince of Peace”.  How do prophecies and their fulfillment increase your faith and trust in God?

Genesis 18:17-18, Acts 3:25-26

Micah 5:2, Matthew 1:1-3, Matthew 2:1-6

Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:11

Isaiah 7:13-14, Matthew 1:18-23

2. Between Malachi and Matthew there are 400 years of silence from God. Was there inactivity among God’s people? What did you learn this week about how God was preparing the world for the birth of His Son?  Consider that when the Romans ruled the world, including before and after Jesus’ lifetime, they built roads everywhere. These roads provided an easy way to travel. What missionaries took advantage of these roads (see Acts 15:40-41)?

3. What does the above teach us about moments in our lives when we feel God is silent?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Genesis 18:1-15 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage. You may want to compare and contrast this unexpected announcement (and response) to the announcement to Mary about Jesus’ birth in Luke 1:30-33.


Embrace Others

Suggestion: Consider breaking the group into dyads or triads for this section.

Make sure everyone in your group has a place to go at Christmas. If they do not have family or friends joining them, make plans to spend time with your group family this Christmas.


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: How are you serving for the Christmas Spectacular at your campus?

Engaging in Community: Do you have any neighbors who may be lonely this time of year? Invite them over for coffee or cocoa!

Engaging the World: Pray for Faith Promise missionaries this holiday season. Christmas can be a difficult time to be far from home.


Expand God’s Kingdom

Who are you inviting to the Christmas Spectacular?


Leader’s Notes

2. During the time between Malachi and the birth of Jesus, Alexander the Great conquered the known world. Greek became the common language. Then the Romans Empire arose, and the Romans built roads to connect their empire. These roads later allowed missionaries like Paul and Silas to travel and spread God’s good news.

ALL groups at Faith Promise should follow Jesus Christ and lead others to do the same. Below are the marks of a growing follower and disciple of Jesus.

– A follower of Jesus desires to encounter God through the deeper study and application of God’s Word.

– A follower of Jesus embraces people and values relationships on a deeper level so everyone can grow together.

– A follower of Jesus engages and serves the world around them and in their community, through local partners or God-directed opportunities.

– A follower of Jesus expands God’s Kingdom through development and multiplication of disciple-makers, possibly to lead more groups at Faith Promise.

 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor Week 3 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea:
Become a good neighbor who loves, knows, and includes your neighbors.

Discussion Starter:
Most of us have at least one neighbor that stands out from our childhood memories. Who is your memorable neighbor? What makes him or her so memorable?

Introduction:
This week we continue Won’t You Be My Neighbor, and learn to become comfortable in the uncomfortable act of including our neighbors.

Watch this brief intro together with your group (click picture below):


Encounter God

Primary Scripture: Luke 19:5-10

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Luke 19:5-10. Jesus spotted Zacchaeus in a tree and told him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, because today I must stay at your house.” Two words stand out: HURRY and MUST. Discuss the importance of Jesus calling Zacchaeus by name and showing a sense of urgency.
  2. Zacchaeus hurried down from the tree and was joyful. There were some that were not happy with Jesus spending time at the home of a “sinful man.” Why do you think this was the case? Why did Jesus choose to hang out with a man many saw as off limits to the religious crowd?
  3. Zacchaeus thought he was looking for Jesus, but it turns out Jesus was looking for him. Discuss how this transformed Zacchaeus. How have you experienced God seeking you when you were trying to find Him?
  4. Pastor named three “unasked” actions that Jesus took.
    First, unasked, Jesus stops to speak to Zacchaeus.
    Second, unasked, Jesus invites Himself to be a guest at Zac’s house.
    Third, unasked, Jesus offers forgiveness and grace to him.
    Discuss each one of these proactive approaches by Jesus and how they changed Zacchaeus’ life. How can we as Christ-followers follow this example with our next-door neighbors?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Luke 19:1-10 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

Suggestion: Consider breaking the group into dyads or triads for this section.

How are you doing this holiday season? Are you more stressed or excited about Christmas? How can you pray for one another and remain connected to Jesus during the busyness this time of year?

Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: As we add services for the Christmas Spectacular we need more Promisors to serve. There are opportunities ranging from FPkids, to parking lot duty, to catering. Sign up at your campus!

Engaging in Community: This week we will make it our goal to meet our neighbors. If you do not know your neighbors, introduce yourself. If you already know them, invite them over for dinner or to watch a Christmas movie.

Engaging the World: Just this week consider taking part in Family-to-Family or All is Bright and make a difference the world immediately around you. Each opportunity will make a Kingdom impact and world of difference.


Expand God’s Kingdom

The holidays can be hectic and frustrating. However, during the hustle and bustle you can bring cheer to another by offering a smile, friendly hello, or allowing someone to step ahead of you in a shopping line. This is a wonderful opportunity for Christ-followers (and that is exactly what Promisors are) to BE the Church in our community. If we show Jesus living through us everywhere we go, it will impact those we meet. It begins in our community and will spread throughout our state, then our country, and eventually throughout the world.


Leader’s Notes

ALL groups at Faith Promise should follow Jesus Christ and lead others to do the same. Below are the marks of a growing follower and disciple of Jesus.

– A follower of Jesus desires to encounter God through the deeper study and application of God’s Word.

– A follower of Jesus embraces people and values relationships on a deeper level so everyone can grow together.

– A follower of Jesus engages and serves the world around them and in their community, through local partners or God-directed opportunities.

– A follower of Jesus expands God’s Kingdom through development and multiplication of disciple-makers, possibly to lead more groups at Faith Promise.

 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor Week 2 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea:
Being a good neighbor means you love, know, and include your neighbors.

Discussion Starter:
If you could live next door to a fictional family (TV or literary), what family would you choose to be your neighbors? Why?

Introduction:
This week we continue Won’t You Be My Neighbor and think about the fences between us and our neighbors. One of the tallest and toughest fences we build between ourselves and our neighbors is TIME!


Encounter God

Primary Scripture: Luke 7:36-50

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Luke 7:36-39. What fences do you see between the people in these verses?
  2. Whom do you identify with in these verses? Why?
  3. Read Luke 7:40-47. How have you experienced the truth in verse 47? Discuss how our honesty and humility in confessing our sin draws us closer to Christ.
  4. Read Luke 7:48-50. Jesus last words to the woman are, “go in peace.” Is there a neighbor you need to make peace with? Are there some fences you need to tear down?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Luke 7:36-50 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

Suggestion: Consider breaking the group into dyads or triads for this section.

As we move into the Christmas season many people may be facing loneliness. There may be broken relationships, or you may have lost family or friends this year. Share any anxieties or pain you may be experiencing during this season. How can you pray for each other and encourage each other this week?


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: As we add services for the Christmas Spectacular we need more Promisors to serve. There are opportunities ranging from FPkids, to parking lot duty, to catering. Sign up at your campus!

Engaging in Community: Spend 1 hour this week in your yard or a common area of your neighborhood. Meet your neighbors or reconnect with them.

Engaging the World: Pray for our military, missionaries, and others whose jobs take them far from home. The holidays can be a hard time to be away from home!


Expand God’s Kingdom

Who are the people in your neighborhood? Can you share what you have learned this week with them?


Leader’s Notes

ALL groups at Faith Promise should follow Jesus Christ and lead others to do the same. Below are the marks of a growing follower and disciple of Jesus.

– A follower of Jesus desires to encounter God through the deeper study and application of God’s Word.

– A follower of Jesus embraces people and values relationships on a deeper level so everyone can grow together.

– A follower of Jesus engages and serves the world around them and in their community, through local partners or God-directed opportunities.

– A follower of Jesus expands God’s Kingdom through development and multiplication of disciple-makers, possibly to lead more groups at Faith Promise.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Week 1 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea:
We must have real love for our real neighbors, right now!

Discussion Starter:
Often we refer to our fellow Christians and those who are less fortunate than us as our “neighbor.” We sometimes forget the people who are placed in our lives and who live in our actual neighborhood. When is the last time you just stopped by to say “hi” to the person living on your street, baked them a cake, or sent them a note?

Introduction:
God calls us to be stewards of those He places in our lives. Have you ever thought about this when your co-worker in the cubical next to you drives you crazy? You are where you are for a purpose. How bright is your light to the family living across from you? How are you demonstrating God’s love to rambunctious teenagers in your community? When we limit who our neighbor is, we limit God’s love.


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures: Luke 10:25-37, Philippians 2:1-8

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Luke 10:25-37. From this passage what can we determine are God’s greatest commandments?
  2. Who does Jesus say our neighbor is?
  3. How does Jesus say we are to act as Christians? Can you think of situations today where you are tempted to pass by on the other side of the road?
  4. Read Philippians 2:1-8. Jesus was a good neighbor, and in this passage Paul encourages the Philippians to be like Christ. Who in your life have you seen demonstrate these behaviors?
  5. Have you ever seen someone who is far from God respond to this type of love from a Christian? How did God use someone else as His vessel?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Philippians 2:1-8 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

Suggestion: Consider breaking the group into dyads or triads for this section.

In Exodus 12:4 Moses gives instructions for the Israelites to prepare the passover. If any family is too small for a whole lamb they are to share with their nearest neighbor. Make sure everyone in your group has a place to celebrate Thanksgiving this week. If any family is too small for a whole turkey, invite them to share some of yours!


Engage the World Around Us

This coming week is Thanksgiving. What can your small group do for your communities that demonstrate God’s love?


Expand God’s Kingdom

As we move forth in the community this week, let’s not limit who our neighbor is. Instead, with intentionality, let’s start reaching out to those God has put around us in our neighborhood, at work, at church, etc. Who will you reach out to first?


Leader’s Notes

ALL groups at Faith Promise should follow Jesus Christ and lead others to do the same. Below are the marks of a growing follower and disciple of Jesus.

– A follower of Jesus desires to encounter God through the deeper study and application of God’s Word.

– A follower of Jesus embraces people and values relationships on a deeper level so everyone can grow together.

– A follower of Jesus engages and serves the world around them and in their community, through local partners or God-directed opportunities.

– A follower of Jesus expands God’s Kingdom through development and multiplication of disciple-makers, possibly to lead more groups at Faith Promise.

 

Heart for the Harvest Week 4 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea: How long do we pray for a miracle?  This week, we see in God’s Word where Jesus encourages us to be persistent in asking God for miracles.

Discussion Starter: When you were a kid, did you ask your parents for something over and over?  Did you ever get it?

Introduction: A consistent theme throughout God’s Word is the long suffering and persistent pleading from God’s people (Exodus, Psalms, Job, Habakkuk, and many more) for God to meet them and do something only He can do.  In every case God shows His people that he IS just, kind, merciful, loving, and generous.

Watch this brief intro together with your group (click picture below):


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures: Luke 18:1-8

Discussion Questions:

1. Consistent and persistent prayer can be hard, especially when we have been praying for something over months, days, and years.  What are the biggest obstacles for you to be consistent and persistent in prayer?

2. How can you lean on each other in your group to encourage one another in your prayer life?

3. Read James 5:16 Confession is aligning who we are with who God has designed and called us to be.  How can your confession be more than just a laundry list of what you did wrong?

4. What is something in your life that you need to “wear God out” with?

5. Read Isaiah 40:31 In our culture, we are not used to having to wait on much of anything.  However, this “waiting” is not passive.  Consider a farmer who waits for God to bring a good harvest.  The farmer still has to plow, sow, and tend.  What would God have you DO while you wait for him to answer your prayers?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Philippians 4:6 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

What is a common prayer that your group can relentlessly ask God for?

How can you encourage each other along the way to keep praying for God to do what only He can do?


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: Read Galatians 6:9-10 One way to avoid being discouraged is remaining steadfast in prayer.  How can you pray for the work you and others do at Faith Promise?

Engaging in Community and the World: The prophet Habakkuk is a great example of someone interceding for his community and the world.  Read the book of Habakkuk (don’t worry it’s only three chapters) and consider how you can cry out to God on behalf of your community and this world.  Discuss how God has met your hopes in the past and what you hope from Him in the future.


Expand God’s Kingdom

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12 Expanding God’s Kingdom is hard.  Who are you working with to expand God’s Kingdom?  And how are you praying together?


Leader’s Notes

ALL groups at Faith Promise should follow Jesus Christ and lead others to do the same. Below are the marks of a growing follower and disciple of Jesus.

– A follower of Jesus desires to encounter God through the deeper study and application of God’s Word.

– A follower of Jesus embraces people and values relationships on a deeper level so everyone can grow together.

– A follower of Jesus engages and serves the world around them and in their community, through local partners or God-directed opportunities.

– A follower of Jesus expands God’s Kingdom through development and multiplication of disciple-makers, possibly to lead more groups at Faith Promise.

 

Heart for the Harvest Week 3 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea:
The living God desires a living faith from us—a faith that bounces back.

Discussion Starter:
What is your favorite part you play in the Thanksgiving and Christmas season with your friends and family?

Introduction:
This week continues our annual Heart for the Harvest Series. We are collectively preparing to see God move this week with miracles of healing in anticipation of the Real Love offering next weekend. We are challenged to prayerfully ask God to reveal our part in the miracle. Christ Followers are to crave a living and loud faith, a faith that brings hope in the silence and darkness, a faith that allows us to bounce back no matter what happens in the world around us. This is the living faith that God desires from us.

Watch this brief intro together with your group (click picture below):


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures:  Luke 7:6-10, Hebrews 11:1-6

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Luke 7:6-10. What stands out to you in the story of the Roman centurion?
  2. What does this reveal about God?
  3. How does your life reveal a strong faith in the living God—one that is made of rubber not glass? How has this kind of faith sustained you through difficult times?
  4. Read Hebrews 11:1. What does this verse mean to you?
  5. Read Hebrews 11:3. Faith is a very practical thing, in spite of what unbelievers say! It allows us to do things other people would never do—to step out in faith. God created the universe by His Word. How do you relate to and respond to His Word? How has God called you through His Word to step out in faith? What fears do you allow to hold you back?
  6. Read Hebrews 11:6. Believing that God is real and truly exists is just the beginning. God wants much more for us and from us; He wants intimate communion with His people through faith in Jesus Christ. This meaningful relationship will lead to heart transformation our lives. How has your life changed since becoming a Christian? How is God continuing to transform you today?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Hebrews 11:1-11 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

Suggestion: Consider breaking the group into dyads or triads for this section.

This week, our focus was on strong, rubber-like, sustaining faith. In small groups of 2 or 3, discuss and encourage one another by sharing how faith in Jesus Christ has carried you through or is carrying you through the darkest times.


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: Pray as a group to explore ways you can step out in faith as God calls you to serve our church family. Did you pray with someone during the worship experience for their healing? Continue to lift them up in prayer this week.

Engaging in Community and the World: We learned this week about having a living and active faith that can stand the test of time and withstand the schemes of the devil. How will you share the Good News of Jesus Christ to a hurting a dying world? Step out in faith and share the only way lives can be transformed and made new again.


Expand God’s Kingdom

Faith comes to God with the confidence that He is, and faith comes with the confidence that God will be a generous giver. What pleases God is that our hearts and minds display God’s being and God’s beauty and that we display God’s existence and His excellence, how real He is and how rewarding He is. This is what pleases God, and this is faith. How will you step out in faith and share the good news found only in Jesus Christ?


Leader’s Notes

  1. Answers may vary. May include the centurion’s great love for his soldier, his humility towards Jesus, and his faith that even impressed Jesus!
  2. God can heal regardless of the circumstances. He is not limited by time, space or our preconceived notions of Him. Simple but profound faith can yield amazing answers to prayer. If the centurion had this amazing faith, how much more should ours be, given we have access to the full revelation of God in His Word.
  3. Answers may vary.
  4. Answers may vary. May include that Christ Followers can know, based on the past, that God’s promises will be ours.
  5. Answers may vary.
  6. Answers may vary.

ALL groups at Faith Promise should follow Jesus Christ and lead others to do the same. Below are the marks of a growing follower and disciple of Jesus.

– A follower of Jesus desires to encounter God through the deeper study and application of God’s Word.

– A follower of Jesus embraces people and values relationships on a deeper level so everyone can grow together.

– A follower of Jesus engages and serves the world around them and in their community, through local partners or God-directed opportunities.

– A follower of Jesus expands God’s Kingdom through development and multiplication of disciple-makers, possibly to lead more groups at Faith Promise.