The Tennessee God Sees – Week 1 – Discussion Questions

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MAIN POINT:

Making it to the mountaintop takes sacrifice and surrender, but it is the place that we will see God’s vast vision for Tennessee.


ICEBREAKER:

What is the highest point you have visited in this world? Do you know the altitude? What is the highest point in Tennessee?


INTRODUCTION:

This weekend, Pastor Chris began our Heart for the Harvest season by launching a new series called The Tennessee God Sees. Heart for the Harvest (H4H) is a special time each year when we prepare to give sacrificially to further the ministry of Faith Promise and ask God to use our church to make an eternal difference in the world. This offering is key in our effort to launch new campuses to see exponential growth and changed lives. We are asked to prayerfully consider giving above and beyond our regular tithes to the Harvest Offering weekend, Nov. 12-13, 2016.

Pastor discussed it being scary when we cannot see the top of the mountain to which God is calling us. We may stall out on the way up, but God has a vision, and it is vast and it is transformative. In the Bible, God used mountaintops or the highest point around (watchtowers) to reveal His vision to many- Moses, Elijah and Habakkuk. We can only see His vision from the top, but making it there takes full surrender and sacrifice. We are called to be a shining light to our community, and we cannot out-give God. He continues to deepen our faith by calling us to a new level of commitment. God will use the money from the H4H in a transformational ministry, one that reaches lost souls in this hurting and dying world. God can do the impossible (Ephesians 3:20), and He can open our eyes to see the TN He sees. We long for our hearts to be broken for what breaks His. We need to run to the top of the mountain to see His vision. But it doesn’t end there! We must run back down to the valley of the shadow of death and bring the hope to those who have no hope. The vision is already happening at FP, but there is so much more to do. In this time of fasting and prayer, may God draw you close as He makes clear to you your financial role in advancing His Kingdom.


ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Matthew 16:24-28.
1. What is meant by taking up your cross to follow Jesus?
2. Discuss what it means to lose your life to save it.
3. Is there an area in your life where you are devoting resources that God is showing you to give up so that He can be more greatly glorified? How will you ask Him in prayer to help simplify your life so that your focus and devotion can be more fully on Him?

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7.
4. In this passage, Paul discusses the sacrificial giving in the early church. These believers gave even though they themselves were poor. With what is God more concerned: the amount we give? Or how and why we give?
5. For what reasons do believers give to the church?

Read Habakkuk 1:1-4.
6. Do you ever feel like the prophet Habakkuk, crying out to the Lord in despair over the wickedness in society? Discuss some of the things that break your heart in this world today.
7. What can you take from Habakkuk and apply to your life?

Read Habakkuk 2:1.
8. Where did Habakkuk go to hear God’s response?
9. Where do you go first when you have questions? Do you go to a friend? Or do you go to God?
10. Discuss a time in your life where you were challenged as you waited for God’s response. What was accomplished during this time?


LEADER NOTES:

The highest point in TN is Clingman’s Dome- 6,643 ft.
1. Following Jesus requires a full commitment- even to the point of risking death and no turning back. It does not mean to carry a burden or problems. It means to identify with Christ in His rejection, shame, suffering.
2. As mentioned above, following Jesus requires a full commitment, meaning we pledge our whole existence to His service. When we concern ourselves with our own life/pain/suffering, we become inwardly focused and miss the full experience of serving Jesus. We miss the purpose of our life, which is to point others to Jesus! When we give our lives fully to Christ, we discover the real purpose of living.
3. Answers may vary.
4. How and why we give.
5. Dedication to Christ, compassion for people and the joy of giving.
6. Answers may vary.
7. Sometimes it seems like wickedness is prevailing in society. We must remember that that God is Sovereign. He is in control of the world despite the apparent triumph of evil. We know that He is at work in the world and in our lives, and one day evil will be completely destroyed. We as believers must realize that we can bring our questions to God. We can listen for answers and rejoice over His Sovereignty.
8. He expectantly went to the top of the city wall, the watchtower, to patiently wait and watch for God’s response.
9. Answers may vary.
10. Many struggle with patience as they wait on the Lord. But in this time where an answer does not seem clear, God is training us and transforming our hearts to trust him more fully. FAITH= Forsaking All I Trust Him. He is just and He knows all the details of our trials. He will work out His plans in His perfect timing.

Dropout – Discussion Questions

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MAIN POINT:

Endurance-the capacity of something to last or to withstand wear and tear. Those who endure till the end of life’s race will be saved.


ICEBREAKER:

When was a time in your life, or the life of someone whom you are close to, for which you had to build up endurance?


INTRODUCTION:

In this series we have been discussing drop outs: those who accept Jesus into their hearts and somewhere along the long the way become doubtful or decide altogether that they don’t want to have anything to do with God. We know that following God is not an easy race. If it were, Knoxville would not be at an 81% dropout rate. In Matthew 10:22, Jesus tells us that the world will hate us because we follow him. He also states that those who will endure to the end will be saved. In Matthew 13, we also find the story of the sower. Jesus describes four different settings into which the sower’s seeds can fall and the outcome. Some of the seeds don’t even enter the race, others are give-up too soon, some get injured and never return, and others not only finish, but produce followers. What is the difference between those who drop out and those who endure to the end of the race?


ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Our theme verse this year at Faith Promise is Hebrews 11:6- Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

1. What does God want his followers to do? What do we know God does for those who trust in Him?

Read Matthew 13:19-22.

2. This verse describes three different types of people, or “seeds,” who hear God’s message and Satan manages to separate them from God. Have you ever experienced a time in your life where your worries outweighed your faith, even for a moment?

3. How about a time when you did not understand the word or something that God was directing you to do?

Read Proverbs 21:16.

4. What does this passage say about those of us who wander from His understanding?

5. Can you think of ways to safe guard and strengthen your faith?

Read Hebrews 10:25 and James 2:14-24.

6. From Hebrews we see that God wants his people to be an assembly or a family, doing what for one another? How have you seen this demonstrated in your life?

7. In James we see that faith is perfected through works. Think about the current works in your life that demonstrate your faith. In what ways could your group demonstrate or perfect their faith this time of year?

8. How can you work on building faith within your family and the next generation?

Dropping out is easy. We must make sure we have faith to endure the race. Read Romans 1:17.

9. Everyday faith is constant, continuous, and enduring. It is not forced or coerced. How frequently do you think we must exercise your faith to endure to the end?

10. What are ways that you can work on building our faith throughout the year? How can you demonstrate your faith on a daily basis?


Jamaica Day Four – Concrete!

JDV3Today’s project was to pour concrete for the roof of the guard shack.  This was a multi-step process that involved the entire team.  The first part consisted of shoveling sand and stone into approximately 9 wooden boxes, which were then lifted and pour into the concrete mixer.  Water and cement were then added and mixed in.  The cement was then poured into a wheelbarrow, shoveled into buckets and handed from person to person up to the roof where it was poured and smoothed out.  It rained off and on throughout the morning, which we were very grateful for, as it kept us cool.  For lunch the lovely ladies in the kitchen made a “Jamaican pizza”, which was a cornmeal crust topped with bacon, hotdogs, and peppers.

After lunch we did a little more work for about an hour, some of us digging trenches and others priming walls on the second floor of the conference center.

We then cleaned ourselves up and headed to the infirmary.  This is a government supported facility where those who are unable to care for themselves live, primarily consisting the disabled and elderly.  The living quarters are very cramped with beds in rows lining every wall, some buildings with a row of beds down the middle as well.

The rain was heavy this afternoon, which confined us to inside the buildings or sitting on the porch.  We visited with the residents for about an hour, mostly talking and listening to their stories, some of us singing and dancing with them.  It was a very humbling experience, to say the least.

We headed back to JDV, where dinner was waiting for us.  We enjoyed fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and tomato cucumber salad.  We ended the night relaxing by playing some intense card games with one of the residents and the night watchman.

Ali Mickle

 

The Goods Week 1 – Discussion Questions

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MAIN POINT:

Satan tempts us to destroy us; God tests us to develop us.

ICEBREAKER:

What tempts you more- sweet treats or salty snacks?

INTRODUCTION:

This weekend, Pastor Josh kicked off our new series, The Goods, by addressing the impact temptation has on our lives. He clarified that Satan tempts us to destroy us, but God tests us to develop us. Temptations lead us away from God, but times of testing draw us closer to God. Satan is essentially a “Sleazy Salesman”, who is selling us “the goods”. We must remember that these goods are overpriced and of poor quality. Although they may let us experience temporary gain, they eventually lead us to pain. Satan is crafty and a liar. When he tempts us, he reveals future potential, but he NEVER reveals the future pain. His goal is to lure us away from God and from God’s plan for our lives. He knows our weaknesses and what tempts us or lures us away, and he tries to convince us that God is really limiting our potential. Pastor Josh offered some practical advice for when we face temptation. First, we should consider asking God to clarify the outcome for us, and second, we should ask Him to show us a way out. In summary, God tests us to produce obedience that leads to greater trust in the future. When Satan tempts us, the focus is on an object that leads to temporary fulfillment today but a greater regret tomorrow. We as Believers must commit to finding a way out of temptation and having the right perspective when God tests us.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read James 1:13-15.
1. According to this passage, where does temptation come from?
2. What happens when one gives in to an evil desire?
3. Why do God’s people still have temptations?
4. Why do you think God allows Satan to tempt us?
5. What kind of excuses do people make for evil thoughts and wrong actions?
6. As Christ followers, what are we expected to do when we fall into temptation and sin?

Read James 1:2-4.
7. In this passage, does James say “if you face trials” or “whenever” you face them? What does this mean to you?
8. Why does God test us?
9. Discuss ways a believer can turn a trial into a triumph. How is a mature Christ follower protected from Satan’s schemes?
10. Share with one another a significant test you endured and the outcome that came from it.

Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.
11. What is the take-home message from this verse?
12. How can God help you when you are being tempted?
13. What are some practical steps you can take to avoid temptation?

Read Genesis 22:2.
14. When we are tested like Abraham, what are the possible reponses?
15. What was God testing when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?
16. As you have been tested throughout your life, do you find your perspective changing? How so?

Read Genesis 22:5.
17. Knowing some of Abram’s/Abraham’s past, how had his response evolved over the years?
18. Discuss a situation in which God is testing or has recently tested you. What do you think God is trying to show you or teach you?
19. Contemplate an area in your life where it is difficult to fully obey God. What do you think is holding you back from surrendering all to Him? How can your group pray for you as you take steps to completely obey God?

LEADER NOTES:

1. It is sent from Satan and encouraged by our own evil desire. It is not from God.
2. It gives birth to sin and ultimately to death. It is a snowball effect- it grows more destructive the more we allow it to have its way.
3. Because we are still sinners and fall short of God’s glory.
4. Situations that tempt us allows us to refine our faith and grow in our dependence on Jesus. We can resist temptation to sin by turning to God for strength and choosing to obey His Word.
5. Answers may vary, but possibilities include it’s the other person’s fault, I couldn’t help it, everyone’s doing it, it was just a mistake, nobody’s perfect, the devil made me do it, I was pressured into it, I didn’t know it was wrong, God is tempting me.
6. Accept responsibility, confess the sin, repent and ask God for forgiveness.
7. James knows that we will have trials and that it is possible to benefit from them. We can be victors instead of victims!
8. He wants to mature us in our faith.
9. Start with an attitude of joy and evaluate the trial in light of what God is doing for us NOT against us. When we persevere in a trial, this shows courage and patience in the face of suffering and difficulty – not passive acceptance. As we mature in Christ and see how we can overcome trials with God’s help, these victories give us confidence as we face new trials.
11. Wrong desires and temptations happen to everyone, so don’t feel like you’ve been singled out. Also, others have resisted temptation, and so can you. Finally, any temptation can be resisted because God will help you resist it and show you the way out.
12. God can help you recognize those people and situations that give you trouble. He can help you run from anything you know is wrong and help you choose to do what is right. He is faithful and He answers prayer!
13. Know what your “lure” is. Recognize it and turn away – a full 180°! Pray. Stay in God’s Word. Surround yourself with other believers who can help you and hold you accountable.
14. We can either choose to complain, or we can try to see things from God’s perspective – see how He is stretching us to develop our character.
15. God was testing Abraham’s obedience.
16. Answers may vary.
17. Over the years, Abraham had learned many tough lessons about the importance of obeying God. This time, his obedience was prompt and complete. He did not take matters into his own hands; he followed God’s command and fully trusted that He would keep His promise of making a nation out of his descendants.

Without Group Curriculum – Personal Growth

MAIN POINT:

Our focus determines our destination. In order to become everything Christ has for us, we have to shift our focus from this world to Christ.

ICEBREAKER:

What was the best thing that happened to you in 2015?

INTRODUCTION:

We all want to please God. So, we do what we believe will please Him. We head to church on Sunday mornings. We do our best to be polite and kind to others. We read the Bible and pray. We try our best to be a good person. Still, despite all our best efforts, we feel as disconnected from God as ever. The problem is that we are missing the active ingredient. Hebrews 11:6 explains, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Without faith all things, even “good” things, fall short. If we want to please God we have to stop focusing on trying to be good. We need to shift our focus to Christ.

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/150494857[/vimeo]

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Philippians 1:6

  1. What is the good work that Jesus began in every believer?
  2. How does it make you feel that God has a plan for your personal growth? Does it change the way you look at or understand different situations in your life?

 

Your spiritual growth is rooted in _______________________.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17

  1. Do you wake up everyday with the knowledge that you are brand new in Christ? Or does something else dominate your thoughts?
  2. What portions of your old reality are you holding onto? What lies about yourself do you continue to believe?
  3. Pastor Chris said, “Regardless of how you feel you are generous, you are brand new, you have value, you are growing, you are created in his image, you have an amazing future, you are valuable, and you are positive.” What truth about your new reality do you need to put on in 2016?

 

Your spiritual growth is grounded in ________________________.

Read Galatians 3:3-5

  1. In the past, what did you primarily rely on for spiritual growth?
  2. What is the difference between relying on the Holy Spirit for spiritual growth and relying on the flesh?
  3. Why does relying on the flesh for personal growth only lead to self-righteousness?

 

Your spiritual growth is rooted in _________________________.

  1. What is the ultimate future of all those who believe in Christ?
  2. How can knowing Christ will make us perfect change how we live our lives today?
  3. When you rely on the Holy Spirit for personal growth, by faith you are conformed to the image of Christ. Recognizing that truth, what should Christ-like personal growth look like? How is the success defined by conformity to Christ differ from the way the world defines success?
  4. Have you created a personal growth plan for 2016? If not, take some time this week to create one. Share your plan with the group next week.

 

You can find a copy of the personal growth plan in Pastor’s book Without. A digital copy of the appendix of Without can be downloaded here: Faith Book-APPENDIX

LEADER NOTES

1. The good work God has begun in every believer is salvation. We often think of salvation as only the act of committing to follow Jesus with our lives that first time and receiving the Holy Spirit. While this is the beginning of salvation, our salvation continues through our daily sanctification (being conformed to the image of Christ) until our ultimate glorification with Christ (Romans 8:17). This means that God will continue His work of sanctification in your life until it is completed.
4. For some examples of the old self vs. new self, see Ephesians 3:1-17.
7. When we rely on the Holy Spirit for growth, we agree with God through faith that we can’t grow in our own ability. That is, we can’t be conformed to the image of Christ without the help of the Holy Spirit. Through the flesh we can become a “better person” and grow in a lot of ways, but we can’t become more like Christ, because we aren’t growing by faith. Personal growth that relies on the Holy Spirit leads to increased faith, relying less and less on our own ability and leaning more on God for everything we do.
8. When we rely on the flesh for our growth, we replace one sin with another. If we overcome the desire to gossip through our own ability, we replace that sin with pride and self-righteousness. “Look at what a good Christian I am becoming, I no longer struggle with gossip!” Instead, when we rely on the Holy Spirit, we recognize it isn’t our ability that allowed us to stop gossiping, but God’s grace working in us. In the first scenario we glorify ourselves, in the second God is glorified.
9. See Romans 8:18-30. All who believe in Christ will be glorified with Christ. We will be made perfect just as Christ is perfect.
11. The fruit of the Spirit is a good place to start, Galatians 5:22-23. The world defines success as getting more for yourself – more money, a better job, a bigger house, etc. On the other hand, Jesus’ life was defined by giving more. Jesus gave his time, resources, and ultimately his life for others. This selflessness is what conformity to Christ is all about. The mind of Christ considered others more important than himself. As we are conformed to his image, our self important will fade as we consider others above ourselves. For more, see Philippians 2:3-11.

Bulletproof Series Begins This Weekend!

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Dear Faith Promise Family,

Praise God for all He did during the last four weeks of our series on miracles! Stories continue to come in, sharing how He provided, healed, moved, and changed lives forever. Thank you, Lord!

I am also so excited to share with you that we feel God has led us to study the perfect follow-up topic – one which will greatly help us all as we continue on our journey of faith together. On October 3-4, we will begin our new sermon series on doubt called, Bulletproof. Some of you may be thinking, “Why didn’t I get my miracle? I prayed daily, and God didn’t come through.” Every Christ follower has fallen into the pit of doubt at one time or another in our lives. Following a God we can’t see and believing a Bible written so long ago is not easy. Our hope with this series is that God will remove the shackles of doubt and allow each of us to firmly grasp the only true remedy for this issue – an unwavering faith in our almighty God! Remember what God told us in Hebrews 11: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” As we look forward to the next three weeks, let’s claim this verse and be doubt-overcomers, IN JESUS’ NAME!

As you know, we have weekend worship services at all of our campuses with a special emphasis on baptism periodically scheduled throughout the year. This weekend will be one of those times! Please pray and bring the lost and unchurched who need to take the next step of faith and “put on the team colors of the Lord” by following Him in believer’s baptism. Join with me in praying for the Holy Spirit to move mightily in the hearts of many at all locations.

I love you and pray for you daily,

Pastor Chris