Shadow of a Doubt Week 4 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea: When we give like God gives, we become united in purpose, experience gladness, sincerity of heart, and find true community.

Discussion Starter: What is the most special gift you have ever been given?

Introduction: In the last week of Shadow of a Doubt, we discuss generosity.  As followers of Jesus, we are called to give generously because of God’s generosity.  However, many of us have doubts about giving our time, talents, and treasure.


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures: Acts 2:1-4, Acts 2:37, Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:41-47, Jeremiah 29:11

Discussion Questions:

  1. How has God been generous to you?
  2. What is the hardest area for you to be generous?  Time, talent, or treasure?
  3. What area do you think the enemy uses the most to keep you from being generous?
  4. How would it look to people outside the church if your group, your campus, and Faith Promise (as a whole) actually lived and acted like our brothers and sisters did in Acts 2?
  5. What is one area where you and your group can be generous this week?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Acts 2:44 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

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

What is one way God can use the shared interest of your small group to be generous to other believers and those outside the church?


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: Read Acts 2:44 How can you and your group work to have “everything in common”?

Engaging in Community: Read Acts 2:45 Does God really mean for us to give to “anyone who has need”?  Find people in your community who have needs and meet them.  If you don’t know of anyone, pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you and provide an opportunity.

Engaging the World: This week’s ministry partner is The Timothy Initiative.  Visit https://www.ttionline.org/give/ where just $300 can plant a church.  Make a plan to see if your group can combine resources to give to TTI and plant a church.


Expand God’s Kingdom

Being generous with your time and talents are two of the biggest components for expanding God’s kingdom.  God has gifted you with ability and availability to raise up other believers.  If you are not currently using your time and talents for this purpose, who can you be generous with to expand God’s kingdom?


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.

Shadow of a Doubt Week 3 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea:
A call to follow Christ is a call to suffer—a call to die to your old self and old life.

Discussion Starter:
We’ve all heard a variation of the story of how our parents had to walk to and from school. Uphill both ways. In the snow. Give an example of how the next generation has it much easier than you did.

Introduction:
We are all certainly creatures of comfort; we do not like to be inconvenienced. The idea of suffering is barely comprehensible, yet a call to follow Christ is a call to suffer. Beyond that, we are called to embrace our suffering—not enjoying it but rejoicing in it. This sounds a bit crazy, but Christ-followers are called to be different from the world. The shadow of the cross was upon Jesus throughout His life. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is also upon everyone who chooses to follow Him. Everyone suffers and experiences tragedy; how we respond to the suffering shows how real Jesus is to us.


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures: Mark 8:34-38 and Luke 14:25-35

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Mark 8:34. Everyone listening knew exactly what the cross meant: suffering and death. Why do you think Jesus put it this way? Did He really mean it?
  2. Continue reading Mark 8:35-38. Discuss what you feel Jesus means in verse 35. How have you experienced this “losing” and “saving” in your own life?
  3. In verse 36, Jesus warns that we can gain acceptance and praise from the world, yet lose our souls in the process. Give some examples of how you see this happening in our modern culture.
  4. Read Luke 14:25-35. Jesus gives two examples of counting the cost: before beginning a project and before going to war. The theme of both was to make sure you will be able to finish what you start. How do you count the cost of following Him?
  5. The hot, dry climate of the first century Middle East, coupled with no refrigeration, made salt a very important commodity. It was not only used for seasoning, but had the added importance of preserving meat, especially fish. Once salt lost its saltiness, it was no longer of any use and was discarded. It went from being important and of great value, to being unfit for any use. Jesus knew His audience would be very much aware of the role of salt in their daily lives. He was using this to illustrate His followers being the “salt of the earth,” and what would happen if they lost their saltiness. How do followers of Jesus lose their saltiness?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Luke 14:25-35 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

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

Are you or someone in your group suffering as a result of taking a stand for Christ? If so, then encourage them and guide them as they embrace the suffering. Remind them to count it worthwhile to suffer for Christ.


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: Staff members (especially pastors) face opposition and spiritual warfare. This week, choose a staff member at your campus to pray for, and send an email or card of encouragement. Let them know you are lifting them up as they take up their cross to bring the gospel to East Tennessee and the world.

Engaging in Community: Seek out a neighbor that has been having a rough time, and share with them how your faith in Jesus helped you through a similar situation.

Engaging the World: Visit the Faith Promise website and choose a missionary from the list. This week, send them an email thanking them for their willingness to suffer for the gospel. Ask how you can lift them up in prayer.


Expand God’s Kingdom

This week, begin each morning asking God for boldness in choosing to do the right thing by making choices that honor Christ no matter the cost. Then ask Him to intersect your path with someone who needs to see your example—an unwillingness to compromise your faith and ethics for the sake of convenience or advancement.


Leader’s Notes

  1. Jesus knew many of His followers were only there to be entertained by miracles and healings. Some were just curious to see the man everyone was talking about. Jesus cuts straight to the chase. He declares that if anyone chooses to be His disciple it will come at a price. There will be suffering and maybe even death. There’s no better way to separate the serious followers from the thrill seekers than to remove the fluff and shoot straight about the cost of being a disciple.
  2. Answers will vary. One possible answer is that many times people lose sight of Jesus and their moral compass when focusing too much on gaining success using the world’s idea of success. Money, power, fame can all cloud vision and judgement and lead down a path of spiritual destruction when these things become their god. The converse of this is when a person ignores the opinion of the world and puts Christ first in their life no matter the cost. Putting Jesus first becomes more important than pleasing others or gaining riches.
  3. Professional athletes, entertainers, and politicians are a few examples. Things begin well, but eventually they find that a little felt good, but a lot was not enough, whether it is money, power, or fame. The more they acquire the more they crave. It becomes an addiction, and eventually they might be at the very pinnacle of success, yet they’ve lost themselves and maybe even their very soul along the way.
  4. Answers may vary.
  5. A Christ-follower will lose their “saltiness” by compromising values, standards, and ethics. A little cheating here or there will seem of little importance at first, but will eventually lead to compromise on a larger scale and corruption.

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.

Shadow of a Doubt Week 2 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea:
Faith Promise Value: We serve others. God showed us through His Son how our lives are to be.

Discussion Starter:
Can you think of some members of your campus whose hearts are set on serving Jesus? How do you see Jesus through their service?

Introduction:
God’s supernatural love for us should lead to a supernatural Spirit-filled love for others, but spiritual warfare can keep us stagnant in spirit. Becoming a servant runs counter to the world’s culture. However, a serving life unites the Church in common life, common cause, and common action. Love and service to others is what makes the church different and powerful. God’s desire is for us to serve!


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures: Matthew 20:25-28 and Philippians 2:1-8

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Matthew 20:25-28. Compare the description of the Gentiles’ behavior to Jesus’ instructions on the disciples’ behavior. We all sin and fall short. Are there circumstances and situations where you are tempted to “lord it over others”? Who in your life might soften to the message of the Gospel if they saw your real life example of Jesus’ servant heart toward them?
  2. Read Philippians 2:1-2. How do you experience the benefits of Christian community in verse 1: encouragement, love, fellowship, affection, and compassion? Reread verse 2. What does it mean to be “united in spirit” and “intent on one purpose”?
  3. Read Philippians 2:3-7. Can you share an example of how someone looked out for your interests rather than their own? How are you looking out for the interests of others?
  4. Read 1 Peter 4:10. What is your spiritual gift, and how can you use it to serve others?

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.

Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. How can your spiritual gift be used to unify and build up the Church?


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: On the third weekend each month, Faith Promise Next Steps focuses on spiritual gifts and serving. Attend a Next Steps class at your campus to find out more! Next Steps is available at every campus every weekend during the 11:30 AM Sunday experience.  It is also available during the 6:15 PM Saturday experience at the Pellissippi Campus.

Engaging in Community: Visit the Faith Promise Love Local page to find ministry opportunities in your backyard!

Engaging the World: How can we demonstrate unity to the world as a group and as a church?


Expand God’s Kingdom

Serving is a great way to expand God’s Kingdom! Who can you serve this week?


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.

Shadow of a Doubt Week 1 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea:
Did God really mean to love others, to serve others, to suffer like Him, and be as generous as Him? This week begins a new series on spiritual warfare, Shadow of Doubt, where Pastor Chris invites us to engage in the battle.

Discussion Starter:

What does God really mean when He calls us to LOVE those around us?  Does He really mean everyoneWHO is everyone?  Bring specific people to mind that God is calling you to love as you read through the rest of the guide.

Introduction:

Jesus is love. When He came to this world, He embodied everything that love is. We mocked Him, betrayed Him, turned away from Him, but even so, He gave His life for us. That is love.  Jesus gives us a “new command” to love others as He has loved us.  We are called show love to everyone because we are fully loved and everyone is created in God’s image.  Through that calling, others will see Jesus in us and know we are a disciple of His.

But this is the last thing that the enemy wants from us. His goal is to turn our hearts cold towards God and each other. He knows that if we choose not to walk in Christ’s love then we will not follow God and obey His command to love and serve others.  Satan knows that if we do not understand what God means when He tells us to love others, that our trust and love for others withers and dies.  This is why he works diligently and subtly to incite and encourage the erosion of our trust and love in one another.

Christian love is the force most threatening to Satan’s kingdom and therefore what he seeks most to disarm and destroy.  One of the greatest acts of spiritual warfare in which we can engage, one of the greatest blows we can deal Satan, is pursuing love of others around us, regardless of their actions or words.


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures: John 13:34-35, Ephesians 6:10-12

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read John 13:34-35. God is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt in His command to us.  Love others as He has loved us.  Then others know we are a disciple (follower) of Jesus Christ.  How do we love others?  As we approach Valentine’s Day, how does the world’s definition of love differ from God’s definition? What does loving those around you look like daily? Weekly?
  2. Read Ephesians 6:10-13. As Christians, we are in a spiritual battle of some sort on a daily basis. Our spiritual battles and warfare are real, even though we cannot physically see the attacker. But we can learn how the battles are fought and how they impact our lives on a daily basis.  What are spiritual battles that we face? Who are we in a spiritual battle with – those around us or Satan?  What does is look like if you accept you are not battling someone or something but Satan?  Can you think of past situations where you now realize you were not battling a specific person, but that Satan was using that person to engage in spiritual warfare?  If you look at difficult situations you might be facing right now, how does praying for the people involved change how you relate to them?
  3. Read Ephesians 6:14-18 What is the armor of God? How can each piece of armor help us battle the different types of spiritual warfare we face? How does the armor of God equate to showing love to others? How do we battle evil forces around us while showing love to the people in our lives?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read Ephesians 6:10-18 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

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

Getting to know you: Do you have a spiritual battle going on right now? Has Satan attacked you using those you love, so that he can steal your joy and trust? Pray for eyes to see others as God sees them and to love others as God loves them.  Let the Holy Spirit fill you so that you may love as God loves.

Getting to know them: Think about your coworkers, your family, and your friends. Is there anyone you can love more? Who is the Holy Spirit directing you to show love to? What does this love look like in action?

Getting to know Him: Ephesians 6:14-18 lists our armor with which God supplies us for spiritual battle.  Do you use these every day?  Which ones do you need to learn to utilize a little more?  How can we be better about Ephesians 6:18?  Who can we be praying for (and not battling)?


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: Have you invited anyone new to your group? Personal invitation is a wonderful way to love those around you and make someone feel welcome to join a group.  Invite someone today!

Engaging in Community: Many schools around us closed this week due to illness.  Faith Promise has partner schools for every campus that needs your help.  Their supplies of tissues, Clorox wipes, and hand sanitizer have depleted.  Consider purchasing some supplies and taking it to a school.  For a list of Faith Promise partner schools, email lisac@faithpromise.org.

Engaging the World: Do you know that each Faith Promise campus sponsors a missionary? Find out who your Faith Promise missionary is, and commit to pray for that family.  Send them notes of prayer and encouragement through our missions office.


Expand God’s Kingdom

Showing love to others may lead people to ask, “Why are you so nice to me?”  Take this opportunity to explain that God calls Christ-followers to love everyone, not judge or condemn.


Leader’s Notes

  1. See John 13:34-35. We are known to be disciples of Jesus Christ through our love for others.  What else are marks of a disciple? Below are the marks of a growing follower and disciple of Jesus.  Are you focusing on these as a group or individual?
    – 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.
  2. See Ephesians 6:10-18 Spiritual warfare is frightening for some people to accept. How can we help them understand what spiritual warfare is and how to battle it? Once we accept that we are engaged in battle with Satan and not those around us, it is easier to love “difficult” people.  And once we accept that God is always fighting with us and for us (and, spoiler alert, has already WON the battle), we can strap on our armor of God and stand firm.

Sunday Showdown III – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea:
The church should be known by supernatural love.

Discussion Starter:
When you hear the words “natural” and “supernatural,” what are your first thoughts?

Introduction:
Cue the Jeopardy music…the answer is supernatural love. So, what is the question? Is it this year’s theme to Hallmark’s Valentine’s Day campaign? How about the amount of love for your team in the Super Bowl or for the UT Vols? Maybe to you, it’s the amount of love for your spouse after they have just informed you they invited your in-laws over to watch the game. Beep, beep, beep…the question is, “What is God’s love for us and the church’s love for people?”  No marketing strategy, no sporting team, and no human relationship can conjure the kind of love we get from God.  How are you experiencing and showing others God’s supernatural love?


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures: John 13:34-35, 1 John 4:7-14, 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Discussion Questions:

  1. Read John 13:34-35. Before Jesus was crucified, what was His commandment to His disciples? Glance over the next couple of chapters (through John 15). Do you see any repetition of this idea? Have group members read the verses aloud as they find them.
  2. The apostle John also wrote about love in 1 John 4:7-14. Focus on verse 12. How have you seen this in your life? How does our demonstration of love to others show that God abides in us? Think about how showing love affects both the receiver and the giver.
  3. We have been focusing on following the filling of the Holy Spirit for 2019. In Part 3 of our January devotional “Follow the Filling,” we learned that when we are guided by the Holy Spirit, it is evidenced by the fruits in our lives. After reading 1 Corinthians 13:1-8, what can we say about how the fruit of love should look in our lives?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read 1 John 4:7-14 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

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

Getting to know you: Do you see yourself as a beloved child of God? Do you keep a mental scorecard of when you mess up? Do you let insecurity or fear block you from following Jesus’ command to love others as He loves you? Are there areas in your life where you need give yourself more grace? Pray for eyes to see yourself as God sees you.  Let the Holy Spirit fortify you to do more for God.

Getting to know them: Think about your coworkers, your family, and your friends. Is there anyone you can show more grace? Maybe they don’t need grace—maybe they just need to know that you see them. Who is the Holy Spirit directing you to get to know better?

Getting to know Him: Paul lists attributes of love in his letter to the Corinthians. Pray for each other in your dyads and triads. Ask God to help you demonstrate these attributes of supernatural love to those around you.


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise: Is your group growing? Faith Promise always needs more leaders to provide more groups where people can experience God’s supernatural love. Ask your group leader about becoming an apprentice today!
Engaging in Community: Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) is currently in need of volunteers to sort donations at their warehouse. Get more information and sign up to volunteer: https://karm.org/get-involved/volunteer/.
Engaging the World: Do you know that each Faith Promise campus sponsors a missionary? Find out who your Faith Promise missionary is and commit to pray for that person or family.


Expand God’s Kingdom

Showing undeserved love to others may lead them to ask “Why?”.  When you are asked, take the opportunity to share God’s supernatural love in sending Jesus!


Leader’s Notes

  1. See John 14:15, John 15:9-10, John 15:12, and John 15:17.

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.

Follow the Filling Week 4 – Discussion Guide

Getting Started

Main Idea:
A surrendered life is a supernatural life. We follow the filling because of who we will become and what we will experience when filled with the Holy Spirit.

Discussion Starter:
It’s the end of January, and maybe many of your New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Who do you know that keeps their resolutions? If you have kept a resolution in the past, or know someone who has, share how it  improved your/their life.

Introduction:
Although this week finishes up Follow the Filling, we must continue to ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit as we continue through 2019 and beyond. Pastor Chris taught this week on the seven-fold Spirit of God, listing each of the seven characteristics of the Spirit from Isaiah 11:1-2, and lighting each of the seven candles on a menorah. When we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, let’s ask for these seven different facets of the Spirit of God!


Encounter God

Primary Scriptures: Isaiah 11:1-2, Luke 4:18-19

Discussion Questions:
A note to groups: There is a LOT of scripture to unpack here. You may want to camp out on only 2-3 of the seven aspects of God. This will allow the group to dig a bit deeper into the scriptures for that facet of God.

  1. Pastor Chris lit the first (center) candle of the menorah to represent the Holy Spirit. Read our theme passage for the year again: Luke 4:18-19. Each day in our Faith Promise January devotional, the first task is: “Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit.” How has God responded when you have asked?
  2. The second candle represents wisdom. Read Proverbs 2:1-12 and James 1:5. Where do we find wisdom according to these verses? How are you seeking wisdom?
  3. The third candle represents understanding. Read James 3:13-18. According to these verses, our understanding is proved by our behavior and actions. Who do you know who proves their understanding in this way? How does it feel to be around that person? How can you learn from him or her?
  4. The fourth candle represents counsel. Read Proverbs 15:22. Discuss the importance of choosing those who disciple and advise us wisely.
  5. The fifth candle represents strength. Read Nehemiah 8:10. How has joy in the Lord been your strength through difficult times? How can you experience more joy in the Lord and grow closer to Him?
  6. The sixth candle represents knowledge. Read Psalm 119:65-68. If we are to obey God’s word, we must read and learn God’s word. How is your Bible reading going? Make a plan as a group to regularly check in with each other on Bible reading.
  7. The seventh and final candle represents the fear of the Lord. Read Proverbs 1:7. How are we led to greater wisdom by fearing God, knowing who He is, and knowing who we are?

Discovery Bible Method:
For deeper study, as an alternative to the questions above, read James 3:13-18 and use the Discovery Bible Method to explore the passage.


Embrace Others

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

Getting to know you:  Choose one facet of the seven-fold Spirit of God and share it with another member or two of the group.

Getting to know them:  Invite the other members of group to share their own and plan a time to connect with each other this week to meet, call, or text and pray together to share how this aspect is revealed this week in following the filling.

Getting to know Him:  Commit together to do additional reading and research on this particular aspect of the Spirit of God and share your findings with each other.


Engage the World Around Us

Engaging at Faith Promise:  Next Steps  is your next step! If you are not serving at Faith Promise or you don’t know where to plug in, attend a Next Steps class at your campus at 11:30am (also 6:15pm at Pellissippi Campus).

Engaging in Community/World:  The Super Bowl is next weekend. Can your group host a party and invite friends who do not know Jesus?


Expand God’s Kingdom

Invite your friends to be a part of your entire Super Bowl  Weekend plans. Maybe start by inviting them to breakfast, a Sunday Showdown weekend experience at your campus, lunch, and then watch the game together at your house, their house, or somewhere even better!


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 study and application of God’s Word.

– A follower of Jesus embraces people and values relationships on a 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.