Sacrifice Week 1 – Discussion Questions

H4H title 2015

MAIN POINT:

Throughout Christian history believers have sacrificed in serving Christ through giving.

ICEBREAKER:

Consider this hypothetical situation: A family includes Mom, Dad, son, and daughter. Dad needs shirts for work. Son and daughter are both growing fast and current shoes hurt their feet. The family is on limited budget. How do you think the parents handle the situation?

INTRODUCTION:

For ages Christians have sacrificed and given offerings to help further the gospel. Each person was encouraged to give what he or she could, according to what he/she had, a percentage rather than a set amount. Each fall Faith Promisers sacrificially give during a time we call Heart for the Harvest. This financial campaign serves to fund campus expansion, debt reduction, and compassion initiatives. This week we learned about a new ministry Faith Promise is launching. We are joining forces with Jake Bodine, who leads God Behind Bars. We have opportunity to give time as well as money. The prison ministry, a part of campus expansion, is one of the areas that will benefit from Heart for the Harvest.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

1. What is Heart for the Harvest?

2. On what 3 areas will the Heart for the Harvest offering focus?

Read Romans 12:1.
3. What else besides money does God want from believers?

4. Have you ever tried to tithe your time? (10% of 24 hours: 2.4 x 7=16.8 hours per week) Which is more precious to you-time or money?

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.
5. Have you ever begged anyone to take your money? Who set the example for giving?

Read 2 Corinthians 8:5-7.
6. What was the priority for the Macedonians’ giving?

7. Paul praised the Macedonians for excelling in what 5 areas? In which of these areas do you excel? In which do you need work?

Read 2 Corinthians 8:8-9.
8. How was Paul going to “test” their sincerity?

9. How are Christians rich? Have you seen examples of Christians’ richness?

LEADER NOTES

1. Faith Promise’s annual offering to further gospel
2. campus expansion, debt reduction, compassion initiatives
3. bodies (sweat) and time
5b. Jesus set the example by giving all
6. the Lord first, then ministers and/or evangelists, other churches
7. faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, love
8. by their eagerness in giving
9. rich in blessings from God

Bulletproof Week 3 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

Our faith grows and we gain eternal perspective when we lay our doubts before the Lord in His House.

ICEBREAKER:

What simple thing in life did you doubt you could do but ultimately were successful? (Making pie crust? Running a marathon? Changing your own oil?)

INTRODUCTION:

This weekend Pastor Chris continued in our series, Bullet Proof, with the sermon entitled “Deal with It”. He conceded that a 3 week sermon series will not remove all doubts, but at Faith Promise we know the best place to deal with doubts is in the church, a safe place to ask the hard questions. We know the Lord is not worried or threatened by our questions. We must ask them so that our spiritual growth is not impeded. For Christ followers, life is “heaven practice”. We must keep our eyes laser focused on Him and His Kingdom and not on the things of this world. A heavenly focus dispels doubt. When we do encounter someone who is doubting, we must extend mercy to them (Jude 22). Remember, before we were saved, we were safe from the enemies attack. We are not any longer. His focus is to kill, steal and destroy. We are on God’s Team; we should expect trials and attacks. The devil dispenses doubt. It is one of his best tools. But Christ followers must have an eternal focus. The best way to deal with doubt is to bring them to God, get planted in His House, be in His Word daily, and be in a small group. This is the formula for becoming bulletproof!

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Philippians 3:18-20.

1. On what did Paul tell us our mind needs to focused?

2. Share with your group what that means practically to you. How can you apply this to a  situation that you are currently experiencing?

Read Jude 22.

3. How is the believer supposed to react to a person who is doubting?

4. How can you help a person who has questions?

Read Psalm 73:1.

5. How does the psalmist begin?

Read Psalm 73:2-14.

6. In these verses, the psalmist admits his doubts and struggles with what he sees and feels. In what ways is doubting different from unbelief?

7. Share with your group if you have experienced the similar struggles to what the psalmist is describing.

8. Is the psalmist’s conclusion in verse 13 correct? Why or why not?

Read Psalm 73:15-28.

9. Asaph worried about how his conclusion would affect younger believers (aha!), and took some strategic steps to correct his thinking. What did he do?

10. What can you find in a the House of God that is not on offer elsewhere?

11. Has your perspective ever changed regarding a personal trial after you have been to a worship service at church? Please share with your group. 

Read Psalm 92:12-14.

12. If you have been at Faith Promise for more than 6 months, does this verse look familiar to you?

LEADER NOTES

1. On heaven
2. Answers may vary. 
3. With mercy
4. Gently and lovingly point them to CHRIST! Show them His love for them, talk to them about salvation and how exciting it is to study God’s Word. Bottom line- make sure they understand that you genuinely care for them. Consider getting them plugged into a small group if they are not in one, especially with mature believers who can serve to mentor them.
5. With a statement of fact of God’s attribute- God is good.
6. An unbeliever stubbornly refuses to surrender to God while a doubting person is struggling to believe.
8. Incorrect- We do not serve God for what we can get out of it; we serve Him because He is worthy of our worship and service! 
9. He took his troubles to the House of God! 
10.  In the House of God, one can be surrounded by and worship with other believers and be filled with His life-giving Word. 
11. Our perspectives can transition from a worldly view to a heavenly view. We are able to shift our focus from the circumstances around us and started pondering our destiny before us- Glory! 
12. It is our theme verse for 2015, and it proclaims the truth about how God’s people can live a spiritually vivacious life when we are planted in the House of the Lord.

Bulletproof Week 2 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

Jesus meets us in our brokenness and shows us His scars letting us know He loves us and will be there for us.

ICEBREAKER:

We’ve all faced disappointments. Tell about a time you were let down. Looking back on that event who stepped in to help you through this dark time?

INTRODUCTION:

Life is full of joy and pain. Just because we are believers doesn’t make us immune to the hurt and discouragement of life. Even in our darkest time of fear, doubt, and frustration God is standing right beside us. Though we might not feel it or believe it, He loves us and is there! Sometimes we just need to lift our heads and open our eyes to see.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read John 20:24-29.

1) The disciples had witnessed Jesus arrested and executed. Hopelessness, fear, and despair were setting in. He then appears to them, but Thomas is not there. He doesn’t believe their report. Would you have believed their story or thought they were grief stricken and hallucinating?

2) The disciples had locked the door to the upper room. John makes mention that when Jesus enters the room the door remained locked! Jesus literally walked through the wall and appeared inside the room among them. Why is it significant for John to note this detail?

3) Thomas is awe struck to say the least. Jesus shows him the nail prints and allows him to touch His wounds. Thomas is so flooded with a mix of emotions that all he can do is repeat “my Lord, my God!” What is the importance of this phrase?

4) Jesus tells Thomas he believes because he has seen and touched Him, but blessed are those that believe without seeing. What do you think He meant?

5) When Jesus appears to the disciples the second time, when Thomas is there, He says “peace be with you”. Then He speaks to Thomas directly. Discuss why He would greet them with “peace” and why he would single out Thomas for His next words.

6) Life can bring tragic events and great despair. The disciples were fearing for their lives and were frustrated as well as fearing all was lost. Why do you think Jesus appearing to them as a group at their lowest point made more of an impact?

7) Thomas was DONE! It was over for him. He was angry, frustrated, felt betrayed and lied to. Jesus appears to the group a second time just for the benefit of Thomas. This is important because it shows Jesus cares about each individual and meets you right where you are. How do you think this event changed Thomas and his future ministry?

8) If we are honest we can admit we sometimes think God has moved on and tuned us out. We get caught up in our self-pity party and only see and feel our self-imposed exile. When God decides to reveal Himself to us we have usually hit our lowest point. Why do you think He allows this brokenness to reach a low point?

9) People self-medicate and try to close the gap in their faith in many ways on their own. We decide God isn’t real because He has not met our idea of what God should be like or perform. He didn’t do what we told Him or how we told Him. Basically we think we are in control instead of Him. When Jesus appears to us, He steps in as a brother and friend, instead of accuser and condemner. Why in your opinion is this a better approach? Do you believe churches and Christians would have more influence if this approach was used in engaging others?

10) Each of us is human. We get depressed, hurt, angered, discouraged, and just plain fed up. At times we feel God has abandoned us or just doesn’t care. He has never left and is there waiting for you. If you are struggling with something remember your small group is family. We are not perfect and shouldn’t act as if we are. Let’s be real for a change, drop the masks, and honestly discuss if we are more like Thomas before he saw the resurrected Christ or after. If you or anyone in the group says the before Thomas then spend some time in honest dialogue about why his is. Pray through these issues as you conclude your meeting.

LEADER NOTES

2) This demonstrates Jesus’ power and that He is everywhere all the time and that nothing can keep Him away from you.
3) This is the first time Jesus is called my Lord, showing He has come into His full power.
5) This lets them know everything is going to work out. He came the second time to show Thomas the truth and prepare him for his ministry. He needed all the disciples on board to continue the mission.

Bulletproof Week 1 – Discussion Questions

Bulletproof_1080

MAIN POINT:

In order to have bulletproof faith, we must first allow the Holy Spirit to enter us by accepting salvation. The next step is believer’s baptism.

ICEBREAKER:

Do you think of doubt as a positive or a negative thing? Can you give examples of times when doubt has either helped or hindered you?

INTRODUCTION:

This week Pastor Chris encouraged us all to “nail it down,” that is, nail down our trust in God to save us. He reviewed the gospel, the good news, and he asked that we trust God and surrender our lives to Him. Even if you have been saved for many years, try walking this path again. Remember what Christ has done for you. Sometimes when we go down the road for a while, we can forget where we have been and how far we have come.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

As we begin this series on doubt, you may take a few moments of your group time to discuss privacy and trust within your group. What are your rules for sharing? Does information shared in the group stay in the group, or are members allowed to share with other friends? Be clear about your rules and boundaries so that people feel safe.

1. Has anything ever caused you to doubt your faith? Personal tragedies? Unbelieving friends? The news? Natural disasters? Science?

The first step of faith is nailing down salvation. A common way to condense the gospel message is called the Roman Road. We begin in Romans 3. Read Romans 3:23.

2. One of the lies Satan whispers to us is that no one could love us if they knew what we thought, what we did, or where we’ve been. How does the truth of this scripture make you feel? How does social media feed the idea that others are perfect and our lives are the only ones messed up?

Read Romans 5:8.

3. What is your response when others make mistakes? Does it depend on who makes the mistake (your boss, your co-worker, your spouse, your kids)? Have you ever taken the fall for some else’s mistake?

Read Romans 10:9-10, 13.

4. Why do you think it is necessary that we vocally express our belief in Christ?

5. Have you confessed Christ as your Lord? Give everyone in the group a chance to share their salvation story.

6. Have you been baptized? Does anyone want to share their story of baptism? Why is baptism an important step in a believer’s life?

7. Does being saved mean that we will never have doubts?

8. Where can we turn when we have doubts? What builds up your faith?

LEADER NOTES

4. Saying something out loud can make it seem more real. It is part of going public with our faith. During baptism at Faith Promise, those being baptized are asked if they have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. This is their confession of faith.

7. Being saved means that we accept that Christ has paid for our sin by his death on the cross. It does not mean that we will not have doubts.

8. We can turn to God’s word, the Bible, and to our friends in the faith. Faith Promise, and by extension your small group, should be a safe place where people can bring their doubts. As Jude 22 says, we should have mercy on those who are doubting. We all have doubts at some time. Groups should be a place where we build each other up and strengthen each other’s faith.

Unstoppable Week 4 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

When we join together to celebrate communion we are celebrating the work of the cross.

ICEBREAKER:

Tell about your ideal meal. If you were celebrating something extraordinary, what would you eat, where, and with whom?

INTRODUCTION:

Celebrating communion with fellow believers is a celebration and remembrance of a special bond we share. It is a bond forged by the unselfish and loving sacrifice of our creator offering His son in order to restore fellowship with a wayward creation. We honor the result of Jesus’ death on the cross: a perfect, holy and pure blood sacrifice required to reconnect us with God. It is a time to confess, examine, and proclaim.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Luke 22:19.

1. Jesus said “as often as you do this remember me”. We have been remembering His death for 21 centuries. Our celebration of communion is a proclamation of His death. What does this mean to you?

2. Because of His death (and resurrection) the door to heaven and fellowship with God has been opened. Jesus is that door and He gave the key to the kingdom to us. What is the key?

3. The gospel has been called scandalous. What could be scandalous about the gospel? It is not the fact that we try to become like a holy and perfect God; all religions offer this. It is the fact that this perfect and holy God chose to seek us and to become one of us, a lowly human! This message that Jesus taught rocked the entire world in the 1st century. How does it impact you and everyone else in the 21st century?

4. The gospel can be difficult to accept. We might feel unworthy (we are). We might doubt that God could love us (He does). How does participating in communion as a church body and standing with other believers strengthen your faith and calm your doubts?

5. Pastor Chris stated Jesus was crushed for us. There is no wine without crushing grapes and no bread without crushing grain. Our sin is why He had to be “crushed”, yet He did this willingly. How does the truth that the creator of everything loved you enough to do this make you feel?

Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

6. What did Jesus do first, before breaking bread? Why is this important?

Read 1 Corinthians 11:27-30.

7. What does it mean to take the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner? How can we be worthy?

8. Imagine you are in the room as an apostle and are reclining at the table with Jesus. He explains about the bread being His body broken for you and the wine His blood shed for you. What would be going through your mind?

Read Luke 22:21-23.

9. Jesus reveals that the one which is to betray Him and initiate His suffering is reclining at the table with them. They begin to question which one it is. A few even ask in another gospel account if it is them. This leads us to our own examination of our hearts. How do we examine our hearts and souls before God?

10. After this examination we ask for forgiveness. When we receive forgiveness we will realize just how true the statement “he that has been forgiven much loves much” really is. How does realizing how much you have been forgiven impact how much you love others? Discuss this now, then thank God for all He has done for you.

LEADER NOTES

2. The gospel (good news that Christ died for us and rose again) is the key.
6. He gave thanks. Even facing torture and death, He still took time to thank God for blessing Him with food for the meal. Also He was asking God to use and bless the breaking of His body to be used to accomplish His plan of redemption.
7. We take communion in an unworthy manner when we do not first examine ourselves and confess our sins. This does not mean we have to be perfect to take communion (we cannot be perfect!), but we should turn our hearts back toward God if they are turned away and we should confess our sins. We cannot make ourselves worthy-only God’s sacrifice makes us worthy.
9. The best, and usually most painful, way is to pray that God will reveal any and all sin in our life. If we are sincere He will show it to us. Allow your group time to pray and reflect upon where they are spiritually.

Unstoppable Week 3 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

Sometimes a miraculous touch from heaven requires us to boldly come out of the crowd in faith.

ICEBREAKER:

Does being singled out in a crowd thrill or terrify you? Do you like to be the one called up on stage or not?

INTRODUCTION:

This weekend Pastor Chris continued in our series, Unstoppable, by addressing the faith it takes to boldly step out of the crowd and ask God for miraculous healing. He taught on the passage in Mark that includes Jairus, who wanted Christ to heal his dying daughter and the miraculous healing of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. Pastor Chris introduced us to their family’s new little mustard seed, Isabella Grace Pezzulo, who was born a week ago. Her birth was against all odds according to the medical experts. Faith and Frankie were told they could never conceive a child and were advised to start the adoption process. They boldly asked God for a miracle, and when they were not granted a child, they boldly asked again during the month of miracles a year ago. They chose not to trust the doctors’ reports based on physical findings, but they chose to trust God, who specializes in the impossible! They did not lose faith! Right after the birth of Bella, the family’s faith was challenged again when Bella faced serious breathing issues that required her to be whisked away to the NICU at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital for a five-day stay. What a pleasure it was to see the proud parents and their healthy, beautiful baby girl this weekend! Each of us may be facing a similar obstacle, and Pastor boldly challenged us to pray in faith for Jehovah Rapha to provide a miracle. The church should never doubt. He also advised us to surround ourselves with faithful followers and not naysayers. Finally, when the Lord does give us a miracle, we need to GO PUBLIC! The world wants us silenced, but we must give Him all the glory and honor. Who needs a touch from heaven?

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Mark 5:25-42

1. Jairus was named in the story because he was an important synagogue officer. The woman is anonymous because she was a “nobody”. How does knowing that Jesus saved Jairus’s daughter as well as healed the woman affect you?

2. According to the Levitical law, the woman was ritually unclean and should not have been in the crowd, because if she had touched anyone, it would have made them unclean. What caused her to step out into the crowd and fight her way towards Jesus?

3. Discuss why people hesitate from taking their needs to the Lord.

4. Is anything impossible for God?

5. Why did Jesus ask who touched him?

6. What did Jesus call the woman? How does it make you feel that he sees us in the same way?

7. Do you think the people from Jairus’s house, who came to tell him that his daughter died, were faithful followers or naysayers?

8. What was Jesus’ response to the news?

9. How can these words encourage you when you are in the midst of a crisis?

10. Who did Jesus allow in the room with the daughter? Why do you think he limited the crowd in the room?

11. What did Jesus say about the commotion, and what was the crowds response? Do Christians face similar responses today? Share with your group a similar situation that you have experienced recently.

12. Jesus use the image of sleep to indicate that her condition was temporary and that she would be restored. How can we apply this to our life?

LEADER NOTES

1. The story reveals the depth of Jesus Christ’s love and mercy. Jesus reaches out and helps anyone in need.

2. Faith

3. Fear- They may feel that their problems will keep them from God. Or lack of faith.

4. No. With God, all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)

5. He knew who touched Him, but He asked who did it in order to teach her something about faith. Jesus said her faith caused the cure. Her faith was timid and possibly even superstitious, because she thought that touching his garment would heal her. She boldly stepped out to get to the Savior. Jesus did not disappoint her. He honored her faith and healed her body, but eliciting her testimony caused her to look Jesus in the face, where she could see Him as her Savior and Friend. He healed her both physically and spiritually. Her testimony also gave Him the glory.

6. Daughter.

7. Naysayers.

8. He said to Jairus,”Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”

9. They can provide hope and promise. Next time you are in the middle of a crisis, look at your problem from Jesus’ point of view. Remember, God’s delays are not always his denials.

10. Jesus limited the crowd to Peter, James, John, Jairus and the girl’s mother probably because he did not want to make a spectacle of His miracle.

11. “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” The crowd laughed at Him. The majority of the world thinks the truth about Jesus is ridiculous.

12. For the believer, the body rests in sleep until the moment of resurrection. The spirit does not sleep but leaves the body and goes to be with Christ. The body awaits the return of the Lord in the resurrection. Death is not the end- What an encouragement to all of us!