Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Happily Ever After - Choose to Trust

We all need relationships. But it seems harder than ever to build a relationship that lasts. Whether married, single, divorced or widowed, God’s Word has powerful, timely advice for building the lasting relationships we long for. But some of God’s relationship advice is so counter-cultural that following requires a radical act of trust. Will you trust God to help you build your closest relationships?

Conversation Starter:
How many common phrases can you think of that use the word “love"?
Based on these phrases, what does “love” mean?

Read 1 Corinthians 13.
What do you notice about this definition of love? 
How is this definition different from how our culture seems to define love today?

Read again 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. (Ideally in several translations.)
How would you put this definition in your own words?

Read 1 Corinthians 13:7.
Can you think of a time someone believed in or trusted you? 
Did that make a difference in your life? 
When is a time someone did not trust your actions and assumed that your intentions were bad?
 How did that experience affect you and your relationship?

Pastor Andrew talked about “believing the best” vs. “assuming the worst” in others. Which response are you more prone to in your relationships? 
If you tend to assume the worst in others, are you aware of it and how it affects your relationships?

Applying God’s Word:
How might you build a habit of trusting others? Are there steps to forgiveness and/or healing that you need God’s help with in order to grow in this area?
If you believe the best in others and have healthy relationships in your life, are there ways you can reach out to others and help them find ways to build trusting relationships?

Monday, November 6, 2017

Happily Ever After - Fish in the Right Pond (And Use the Right Bait)

We all need relationships. But it seems harder than ever to build a relationship that lasts. Whether married, single, divorced or widowed, God’s Word has powerful, timely advice for building the lasting relationships we long for. But some of God’s relationship advice is so counter-cultural that following requires a radical act of trust. Will you trust God to help you build your closest relationships?

Conversation Starter:
What's one of the strangest ways you've ever heard of people meeting?

Read Proverbs 13:20
What's something "brave" you've done because of the positive or negative influence of friends?

Read Psalm 1:1‭-‬2
How have friendships either helped you or hindered you in your walk with the Lord?

Read 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
How would you put this teaching in your own words?
Where might this warning against "yoking" or partnership apply beyond marriage?
What is the difference between the church being "in the world" and "the world" being in the church? Which one do you think Paul is addressing in this passage?

Questions for Personal Reflection:
Who are the people in the "Keep" of your life?
Who are people in the "Courtyard?"
Is there anyone currently in your "Keep" who shouldn't be? If so, will you ask God to show you what emotional boundaries to put in place - and possibly what difficult conversations to have?

If your Keep is empty, will you ask God to help you discern what emotional and spiritual health looks like and grow in your ability to trust?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Facing the Lions - Facing Your Fears (Daniel 6)

God calls us to face our fears - and promises to meet us there. (Pastor Meghan Rush speaking)

What are some characteristics you have recognized in the book of Daniel over the past six weeks? Which ones do you most value?

Read Daniel 6:1-5. What characters are represented in the situation? What are their roles? What word would you use to describe how the administrators and satraps found Daniel in looking to bring charges against him? Have you ever felt persecuted or singled out because of your faith?

Read Daniel 6:10-16. Did Daniel do anything different than normal for his prayer life? Was the King aware he had been set up by the administrators and satraps? Why couldn’t he change the decree? Did the King seem to care about the situation Daniel was being put in?

Read Daniel 6:17-24. Why was Daniel rescued by God from the den?

Read Daniel 6:25-28. Would King Darius have believed in Daniel’s God without witnessing this event? By Daniel taking a stand to radically obey God, Darius and his kingdom gave reverence to God.

Applying the Word
Have you experienced having to live through a difficult situation?
Did it move you closer to God or move you further away from him?
If you have experienced a ‘Lions Den’ situation, can you see the ways you have been strengthened through it? What about the people around you who watched you go through it?
Are there Lions or Fears that you are facing right now? Can you surrender your fears to God?
Pick your biggest fear and ask God daily for His help. Then, trust Him to be bigger than your fears.

This week begin or continue to live by Daniel’s example:
Pray daily, Obey radically and Stand on God’s Truth

Monday, October 23, 2017

Facing the Lions - Writing on the Wall (Daniel 5)

We are His holy vessels.

Ice Breaker:
What is a life event or cultural trend that you “saw coming?” (I.e. The return of bell bottoms, disco, the end of landlines etc.)

Read Daniel 5:1-4
Did Belshazzar know that the goblets were sacred?
What do his actions tell us about his lack of respect for the God of the Israelites?

Read 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 & Ephesians 1:1
The temple goblets had been anointed and set apart for holy purposes at the dedication of the temple.Who does the New Testament passage say has now been set apart for holy purposes? Who has set them apart? How?

Read Daniel 5:5-9
What is Belshazzar’s reaction to the hand?

Read Daniel 5:10-16
After Nebuchadnezzar's death, Daniel has probably lived in relative obscurity. Who reminds Belshazzar about Daniel, and his abilities?

Read Daniel 5:17-28
What do you notice about Daniel’s response?
What does Daniel say is Belshazzar’s core problem? (see vs. 22-23)
What is going to happen as a result?

Read Daniel 5:29-30
What happens to Daniel?
What happens to Belshazzar?

Applying God’s Word to Our Lives:
Do you think of yourself as “holy?” Why or why not?
What are ways that the Devil tries to desecrate (treat as unholy) what God has consecrated (made holy) in today’s world?
Where do you most feel the temptation to compromise your holiness in Christ?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Facing the Lions - Crazy Without You (Daniel 4)

Insanity is knowing something is true - and living as though it wasn't.

Icebreaker:
What is something that you used to believe that you now look back on as a “crazy idea?”

Read Daniel 4:1-18
What does this passage reveal about Nebuchadnezzar's situation and mindset?
What happens in the dream?

Read Daniel 4:19-27
By Daniel Chapter 4, Daniel has been in Babylon approximately 23 years using his obedience to God and integrity to build his relationship with King Nebuchadnezzar.
What do you notice about Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar relationship?
What acknowledgment does Nebuchadnezzar need to make if he is to be restored? (vs. 26)
How is that acknowledgment made evident in action? (vs. 27)

Read Daniel 4:28-32
What attitude and statement triggers God’s disciplinary action?
What acknowledgment does Nebuchadnezzar need to make for his sanity to be restored? (vs. 32)

Read Daniel 4:33-37
How is Nebuchadnezzar restored?

Applying God’s Word to Our Lives
Where do you see Nebuchadnezzar’s attitude of verse 30 in culture today?
Pastor Andrew talked about how “insanity is knowing that something is true - but living as though it wasn’t.” How do Christians today sometimes live as “functional atheists?” (Knowing something is true, but living as if it wasn’t?)

How are you going to apply the life lessons of this story? (I.e. truth-telling in a relationship, listening to God, care for the poor, living the way God has called you to, etc.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Facing The Lions - "Facing the Flames" (Daniel Chapter 3)

The real question is not what you will die from, but what you will live for.

Read Daniel 3:1-7
What is the test? What will happen to those who don't conform?
Read Daniel 3:8-12
Who is accused of not conforming to the worship test?
Who is accusing them?
What might be the accusers' motivation to point them out?
Read Daniel 3:13-18
As Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced the flames, what were the possible outcomes?
Did they know what was going to happen?
What did they do anyway?
Read Daniel 3:19-30
What happened?
Who do you think was with them in the fire?

Applying God’s Word to Our Lives:
What do people worship today?
Where do you sometimes feel the pressure to compromise your faith?
What is at stake for you if you refuse to bow to the pressure?
How might Jesus be joining you in the “fire?”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Facing the Lions - The God Who Shapes History (Daniel 2)

Human kingdoms fall. God's kingdom is forever.

Icebreaker - What is one of the strangest or weirdest dreams you have ever had?

Read Daniel 2:1-11
What challenge does Nebuchadnezzar give his “advisers?” What is at stake for them? Why can’t they give an answer?
Read Daniel 2:12-18
What does the other “advisers” failure mean for Daniel and his friends? How does Daniel inquire into the problem? What does his inquiry reveal about his character? When have you been in a humanly impossible situation?
Read Daniel 2:19-28
What happens? Who is Daniel quick to credit for the answer?
Read Daniel 2:29-45
What is the vision and what does it mean? What is the main point of the vision? (see vs. 44)
Read Daniel 2:46-49
How do things turn out for Daniel?

Applying God’s Word:
Our deepest character and beliefs are revealed by pressure. How have you been shaped by times of pressure?

How does knowing that "human kingdoms will fall but God’s kingdom is forever" change how you live today? Your worries? Your allegiances? Your priorities?