A Storied Christmas Week 2 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

Herod tried to use power and control to manipulate people and information; he refused to surrender to Jesus.

ICEBREAKER:

Was it a struggle for you to give up control of your own life in order to accept Jesus?

INTRODUCTION:

We learn in Matthew 2:1-12 that the Magi from the East had seen the star that signaled Jesus’ birth. They asked Herod where they could find the king of the Jews. Herod asked his advisors where the Messiah was to be born. They told Herod to look in Bethlehem. Herod pretended to the Magi that he too wanted to worship this newborn king. After the Magi found Jesus, they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod.

God’s angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to command that Joseph take the child and his mother to Egypt where they would be safe. Once Herod realized he had been tricked by the Magi, he was furious. He commanded that all boys two and under in and around Bethlehem be killed.

Herod was focused on maintaining his power and control. He had an opportunity to surrender to Jesus, but pride stood in his way.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Matthew 2:13-16.

1. Why did it seem logical for the Magi to ask King Herod where the Messiah was to be born? Refer back to Matthew 2:4-6.

2. What did the Magi give to Jesus? Were the gifts valuable? What gifts do you have to give Jesus?

3. Why did the Magi change their route back home?

4. How did Joseph know to flee Bethlehem?

5. Why do you think God used dreams to warn both the Magi and Joseph?

6. To what extent did Herod want to harm Jesus?

7. What was Herod’s focus? Can you share a time when you were focused on your own power and control? What were the circumstances and how did your focus affect the situation?

8. A focus on our own power and control can lead to pride. Does pride prevent you from a total surrender to Jesus?

LEADER NOTES

1. Herod had the power to call together the chief priests and scribes to obtain information.
2. See Matthew 2:11. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were very valuable. Sometimes what we have to offer God is of monetary value, sometimes what we have to offer is our time or our talents.
3. See Matthew 2:12
4. See Matthew 2:13
5. This is a matter of opinion, but you might turn the discussion to ways in which we can hear God speak to us today. Sometimes other Christian counselors can help us understand what God is telling us, sometimes we might hear a voice inside of us, and some people today have dreams and visions.
6. See Matthew 2:16. Herod did not want just to harm Jesus, but to kill him, and he was willing to kill many others to make sure that Jesus died and did not usurp his power.
7. Herod made the mistake of focusing on himself and his own power. He went to great lengths to try to preserve that power.

A Storied Christmas Week 1 – Discussion Questions

A Storied Christmas3Crop

MAIN POINT:

There was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn. Do we have room for Jesus?

ICEBREAKER:

Have you ever been distracted and missed something important?

INTRODUCTION:

We live in a time with an incredible amount of information at our fingertips. While the printing press and books and the internet have made wonderful advances in human society, they have also allowed us to be more easily distracted. What do you do while waiting? Do you pull out your phone or book or tablet? Television, music and books encourage us to chase the American dream of money, a house, a car, a family and recognition. From an early age we are taught what society views as success. Entertainment and life goals are not wrong, but they can be a distraction from our primary purpose to glorify God by making Jesus Lord of every area of our lives. Let’s discuss ways to make room for the Christ child in our hearts.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-19.

There was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn. The innkeeper was distracted by the inn full of guests, and because of his distraction he failed to make room for the Christ. This week during the message we saw the video of Matt’s story. Matt was distracted by busyness and chasing the American dream.

1. What keeps you busy?

2. Have you ever considered that busyness and distraction can be a weapon of the Enemy?

3. What distracts you at Christmas?

Busyness and distraction can cause discontent. At Christmas we are surrounded by ads encouraging us to buy this thing or that thing so that we will be happy.

4. What does it mean to be content? Are you content? What do you need to be content?

5. How can the group pray against distraction in our lives? How can we hold each other accountable for maintaining our focus on Christ?

Watchmen – Discussion Questions

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MAIN POINT:

As Christians we are called to stand guard against evil in this world by being watchmen. This means that it is our responsibility to be good witnesses of God by evangelizing (spreading the word/ blowing the trumpet).

ICEBREAKER:

Do you remember what it felt like when you first realized the truth of God’s love? Take a moment and discuss how you felt. Do you still feel that way now? What’s changed?

INTRODUCTION:

Let’s look at a leader in the Bible who let his fire and passion for following God’s word wane, Elijah. Elijah was one of God’s most enthusiastic followers and prophets. He was so bold he challenged the prophets of Baal to prove that there is only one God and he is Yahweh. This angered Jezebel who ruled the land and worshiped Baal. She swore to have Elijah killed at which point Elijah flees toward the wilderness near Beersheba to hide. During this time way from his mission of evangelizing the word of God he became depressed, his fire went out. Let’s read together what happened to Elijah…

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read 1 Kings 19: 1-9a

1) The people in the land were not very open to hearing the truth about God, much like today. How has an effort to evangelize in that kind of environment had an effect on Elijah?

2) How did God respond to Elijah’s needs? What does this tell us about God’s character?

3) Notice in verse seven what the angel says, “for the journey is too much for you.” Did God’s messenger just task Elijah with something he knew Elijah couldn’t handle? If so, how did God enable him to make it?

Dejected and ready to give up, Elijah does what the angel says. He finds himself in a cave within Mount Horeb where God himself speaks to Elijah. 

Read 1 Kings 19:9b -18

4)In verse 10, what does Elijah tell God? Isn’t that just like the world we live in today?

5) How does God reply to Elijah?

6) As Elijah is waiting for the LORD to pass by what does he notice? When does Elijah finally find God? What does this tell us about God’s character?

7) Even after all God has done to show his love and authority how does Elijah respond in verse 14? Have you ever reacted like Elijah does here when God proves in your life His authority?

When God knows we are down and out he often times will speak to us in a gentle whisper to remind us that our efforts are not in vain and that his provision and gentle guidance will always lead us to where we need to be.

The Grenade of Gratitude – Discussion Questions

thanksgiving

MAIN POINT:

In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB)

ICEBREAKER:

What was your most memorable Thanksgiving?

INTRODUCTION:

Pastor Chris began our message by reminding us that the government named this holiday, Thanksgiving. It’s a great time of the year that many of us look forward to, especially the delicious food and time together. It is EASY for us to stay home from work, but it is not nearly as easy for us to be grateful. Gratitude is against our human nature. But as Christ followers, we are a new creation, one that houses the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Our Salvation alone should cause an outpouring of gratitude. Pastor challenged us to “throw a grenade” of gratitude. Doing so defeats the devil and pushes out darkness, depression, and discouragement. Be thankful IN everything not FOR everything. Four thankful thoughts to consider this week:
1-Express your gratitude by faith- “faith it” even when you don’t feel grateful, and the feeling of gratitude will follow. Don’t be led by your feelings, follow your faith- as Christ followers, we know we are to be grateful.
2- Express thanks for the small stuff. Don’t take everything for granted, and don’t complain! The more you complain, the less you obtain.
3- Express thanks during tribulation. This shows faith in our Heavenly Father.
4- Express thanks tangibly. Show it to God in worship, show it to family and to friends. Be thankful for more than stuff. Thank Him for people, relationships, even for our difficulties- with faith knowing He is at work sanctifying us.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Luke 17: 11-14.

1) What did leprosy represent in the Bible?
2) What did a leper have to do once they were healed from the disease? (See Leviticus 14)
3) Recall the significance of the mixed company- 9 Jews and 1 Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans were not often in the same company, but leprosy gave them common ground. Have you ever made new friend through sharing a common trial?
4) Jesus sent the 10 away before they were healed, and they responded in faith. Do you trust God in your life to follow Him even without knowing the outcome? Can you share a time you stepped out in faith?

Read Luke 17:15-17.

5) How many thanked Jesus for the miraculous healing? Describe how Jesus was thanked.
6) How might the Samaritan’s faith be affected?
7) What do you think the significance was that the grateful person was a Samaritan?

Read Ephesians 5:18-20

8) In this passage, what are the effects of being filled with the Holy Spirit?
9) As Christ followers, we are not to be whiners, but winners in the faith, grateful for the goodness of God and His mercies towards us. Consider how others see you, your words and your attitudes. Is there something you can improve?
10) Pastor reminded us that gratitude is the “gate” you take to God. Share with your group how you can be grateful for things you might normally overlook this week.

LEADER NOTES

1) Leprosy is a real disease, but is also represents the way sin invades our lives and can eat us alive.
2) A leper was required to visit the priest so that the priest could confirm the healing and also make a sacrifice.

The Crossing Week 4 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

God’s ultimate purpose for a Red Sea moment in our lives is to bring Him glory.

ICEBREAKER:

At the beginning of Heart for the Harvest, Pastor Chris called our church to a time of prayer and fasting. How does a set time of prayer and fasting help us to renew our minds and our focus? Can you share how prayer and fasting has made a difference in your life?

INTRODUCTION:

Each year for the past few years Faith Promise has conducted what we call a Heart for the Harvest freewill offering. This year’s offering goes towards expanding our current campuses, opening new campuses, missions, and paying off debt. You can read more about this year’s specific projects here.

After passing through the Red Sea, the Lord gave Moses instructions for the tabernacle in which the Israelites would worship him. In order to build the tabernacle, a freewill offering was taken from the people (see Exodus 25:2). A freewill offering was not a required contribution like a tithe, but every man was to give as his heart moved him. The freewill offerings brought glory to God physically through the construction of a beautiful tabernacle in which to worship God, and their sacrificial giving brought glory to God by putting God in the right place in their hearts.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Exodus 14:4

1. Who orchestrated the moment when the Israelites were trapped at the Red Sea? How do you feel about that?

2. What if during a Red Sea moment you asked “How can God be glorified most in this?” How would that change your perspective or response?

3. Asking “How can God be glorified most in this?” is not our typical response when faced with a tough situation. How can we make this response more automatic?

Read Exodus 35:20-29
Notice the repetition of phrases regarding the hearts of the people who gave.

4. Did the people give willingly?

5. Do you think it was hard for them to give? Why or why not?

6. This week we conclude our Heart for the Harvest month of miracles. Do you have any stories to share of answered prayer from this past month?

LEADER NOTES

Icebreaker:
Everyone in your group may or may not have participated in the call to prayer and fasting during the month of miracles. This question is not to make people feel guilty, but to draw attention to how this spiritual discipline can benefit our walk with God. You might discuss how people can fast in different ways (fast meals, fast from certain foods like a Daniel fast, fast from social media etc.). If group members are interested in fasting you might initiate a regular fast to be observed by all in the group. If your group has a specific prayer need, you might all fast and pray specifically for that need.

1. God orchestrated the Red Sea moment. It has purpose in bringing glory to God. Please note that sometimes we get in tough situations through our own sin. God may not have intended for us to be in that situation, but through our response we can still bring glory to Him in that situation. Thinking about how God orchestrated this scary moment for the Israelites can be scary! It can help to remember that He brought them to the Red Sea so that He could bring them through the Red Sea.

3. Practice! The way we improve at most things is by repeating them and learning from mistakes. It may help for group members to support one another in this. For example, if a member has a crisis or a decision to make, pray for them (be sensitive) asking God how he can be glorified through this.

6. If your group has stories they would not mind sharing with the church at large, encourage them to submit those to stories@faithpromise.org!

The Crossing Week 3 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

By placing us in situations where there is absolutely no way out, God teaches us to depend on Him.

ICEBREAKER:

What is your most cherished possession (not person)? How hard would it be to give up that possession?

INTRODUCTION:

The Red Sea is a large, deep body of water between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Shortly after the Israelites had fled Egypt, they came to the Red Sea. They looked around and saw the desert, the sea, mountains on either side, and the Egyptians chasing them. They had nowhere to go; they were trapped. Only Moses remained calm. Exodus 3:1 – 4:17 describes the Burning Bush experience between Moses and God. Because of the encounter with Jehovah and the miracles that happened there, he had complete faith in what God instructed the Israelites to do. But the Israelites were terrified. They finally did as Moses told them and followed God’s plan. After all the Israelites were safely across the sea, they watched as Moses held out his arm and the water refilled the sea, drowning the Egyptians.

The Red Sea experience was a lesson for the Israelites to teach them to depend on God; God could be trusted absolutely. The Israelites did not know about crossing the Red Sea until they were there. God also does this progressive revelation with us today, giving us direction for only one step at a time. He wants us to learn to trust Him at every point. Sometimes there may be a pause in our progression. When we pray, God gives one of 3 answers: yes, no, or wait. Pausing to wait usually means there is something we need to learn. What God wants most is for us to completely depend on Him for everything, every time. This is how He grows us.

How did the Israelites respond to the Red Sea miracle? They praised and worshiped God. They gave offerings and sacrifices as part of their worship. We, too, praise and worship God, out of obedience, but also out of gratitude. Sacrificial offerings are a sweet aroma to God. The offerings lead to blessings in our lives here and now, not just in the distant future.

God still parts the Red Sea. What will be your offering? If God gives you a clear amount to give that you don’t have, exercise your faith. Will it demand a sacrifice? God honors sacrificial giving and will always provide your needs, whenever you give with a clean heart.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

1. Read Ex 1:6-14, 3:7-10, 12:31-32, 13:17-18, 14:10. Describe the circumstances that put the Israelites at the Red Sea.

2. Read Ex 3:1-10, 4:14-17. How could Moses remain calm when the Israelites were trapped?

3. What happened to the Egyptians at the Red Sea?

4. What is progressive revelation? Can you give an example of this from your life?

5. Why does God give only one step at a time?

6. What are God’s answers to prayer? Can you share a time in your life when God answered your prayer in one of these three ways?

7. Why does He sometimes say “wait”? Can you share a time when God’s “wait” or “not yet” was a blessing in the long run?

8. How are offerings an important part of praise and worship?

9. Have you ever made a sacrificial offering?

10. Read Rom 8:8. What does it mean to live with a clean heart?

LEADER NOTES

4. God’s revealing one step then waiting for our response before giving the next step is progressive revelation.
5. He wants us to completely depend on Him.
6. Yes No Wait
7. God leaves us at in certain situations to learn dependence on Him.
10. With God’s strength, withstand temptation to appetites and impulses of the flesh. When you do sin, confess to God (and to anyone you have hurt) and accept His forgiveness.