The disruption of our rhythms can serve as a great season of preparation.
Isaiah 43:18-22, Luke 5:36-39, Matthew 7:7-8
- Everything always changes.
- New things require new ways.
- In order to embrace the new, you have to let go of the old.
- Change breeds fear.
- The more anxious we feel about change, the more we fear the future. The more we fear the future, the harder we hold onto the past.
- We don’t tolerate disruptions to our comfort and routine.
- We aren’t asking to see what we’re already looking for. We’re asking Him to help us see something new.
- We end up holding onto things of the past without even realizing it.
- Our desire for the predictable past soon outweighs our hope for the potential of the future.
- God brings life to dead places.
- What happens to your spiritual life and pursuit of God during the summer months? Do you find it easier or harder to work on your walk with Christ when you encounter the summer disruption?
- Why does change breed fear? How do you tend to respond to disruptions to your comfort and routine?
- How does fear of the future influence what we do with our past?
- Read Isaiah 43:18-22. Why were the people unable to see the new things God was doing in their midst? What is required in order to embrace the new?
- Read Luke 5:36-39. Why are the new and old incompatible with each other? How are sin management and personal improvement old and ineffective ways of transforming the human heart?
- Read Matthew 7:7-8. What promises does this passage contain for those who relentlessly pursue God?
- What aspect of your heart, character, and faith have you procrastinated in addressing?
- What things of the past are you unwilling to let go of and release? Why do you cling to them? What would it look like for God bring life to this dead place?
- How can you utilize the summer disruption to prepare your heart for the fall?
Waiting as a declaration of trust serves as an act of worship.
Hebrews 2:14-18, Romans 5:3-5, Romans 8:24-25, Psalm 22:5, Psalm 119:116
- Temptation leverages fear. Hope leverages faith.
- Waiting isn’t wasting time, it is recovering hope.
- Christ enters into our struggle. He is working and fighting for us.
- The struggle we face always centers on dependence, trust and identity.
- The foundation of our hope comes from our identity and not our circumstances.
- The harder something is to endure, the more we will want it to be over.
- Our hope is not that things will be different, but that we will be different.
- Character produces a hope by which we become more of ourselves through whatever struggle we might be facing.
- The power of redemption is that He is redeeming, restoring, and awakening.
- Relief produces hope, but not one that sustains.
- Shame undermines our worth, attacks our identity, and disconnects us from His grace.
- Why are the disciplines of waiting and displaying patience in such short supply within our culture? How does a lack of endurance influence how we respond to finding ourselves in the wilderness?
- In what ways does every struggle we face center on dependence, trust and identity? How do you see this play out in the struggles you face?
- Why is looking solely for relief from our struggles and circumstances a short-sighted goal?
- Read Hebrews 2:14-18. What does it mean that Jesus “entered into our struggle”? How did His willingness to withstand the wilderness impact the hope we have in dealing with our own struggles?
- Read Romans 5:3-5, Psalm 22:5 and Psalm 119:116. In the midst of the struggle and temptation, what can we place our hope in that will disappoint? Why does relying on the hope found in our redemption in Christ never put us to shame?
- Read Romans 8:24-25. What is the connection between hope and waiting? How does God form and shape our heart in the midst of the waiting?
- Where do you need to display patience and allow waiting to serve as a declaration of your trust in Christ? How can worship serve as a weapon when facing this specific situation?
- Are there places in your heart where you feel shame due to giving into your struggles? How is shame undermining your worth, attacking your identity and disconnecting you from His grace? Why do you keep holding on to this shame? What would redemption look like for this struggle?
- During the “Wilderness” series, how has your view on the struggles you face changed or been confirmed? What is the greatest insight you have receive and how can you utilize it when you find yourself in the wilderness again?
You don’t have to understand HOW it matters in order to believe that IT matters.
Matthew 4:11, Luke 4:13, Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15-16, Romans 5:2-5, 1 Peter 4:1-3
- Experiencing temptation isn’t a reflection of a lack of maturity.
- What we fill ourselves with after facing temptation is critical to how we recover. We need to create space for recovery.
- The battle of belief centers on surrendering our power for His provision, our will for His ways and our lives for His purposes.
- Perseverance produces character.
- When we quit trusting we quit obeying and when we quit obeying we stop believing.
- Faith is an activator. It starts a process.
- We often forsake the very thing (FAITH) that can sustain us through our struggles.
- The validity of the struggle isn’t the main issue, but rather what our attitude is in the midst of the struggle.
- Over the years how have you internalized facing repeated temptation and continual struggles (I’m a bad Christian, I’m being punished, I give up, this is never going to end, I’ve been good…this shouldn’t be happening, etc.)?
- We don’t think our way away, we behave our way away. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? How does a lack of trust influence our obedience and later on our belief?
- In what ways do we either overestimate temptation or underestimate our struggles?
- What’s the difference between sustaining hope and relieving hope?
- Read Hebrews 2:18 and Hebrews 4:15-16. How does understanding that Jesus empathizes with our weakness impact the way we approach Him in prayer when enduring struggles?
- Read Romans 5:2-5 and 1 Peter 4:1-3. Do you believe God has a grander purpose for the struggles you encounter? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Read Matthew 4:11 and Luke 4:13. Why are recover, rest and refueling necessary after facing a season of temptation? What is the danger in believing that if we more spiritual we wouldn’t face temptation continually?
- What is at the heart of the temptations you continue to face? How are you attempting to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way or putting your needs above His own?
- Think of the issue you struggle with the most. What lies are you believing when you give in to this temptation? How does Scripture demolish those lies?
- Where do you need to recover, rest and refuel from a season of temptation? How can you tend to your heart this week?
Don’t stop short and give in. Draw a line and declare it over.
Luke 4:1-12, 1 Peter 4:1-3, Romans 5:2-5, 1 Corinthians 10:13
- Temptation ends either by indulgence or resistance.
- Drift is the natural direction of your thoughts, attitudes, choices and actions.
- Our greatest vulnerability resides in the place between our desires and His provision.
- When our faith wanes, we depend on our strength.
- Focus is required in order to deal with the drift.
- We tend to define God’s faithfulness by how He gets us OUT. But, His faithfulness is found when we depend on Him to get us THROUGH.
- Instead of looking for Him to prove His faithfulness, we need to learn to depend on it.
- God’s faithfulness is not determined by the level of temptation you face.
- We resist being dependent upon anything other than ourselves.
- We cannot live under chronic, continual temptation.
- To obsess about clarity will paralyze you.
- What does it look like to display enduring dependence when faced with temptation?
- What make us most vulnerable to temptation in the place between our desires and God’s provision?
- What are some warning signs that you are trusting in your own strength to conquer and deal with temptation?
- Read Luke 4:1-12. How did the enemy try to tempt Jesus to rely on His own strength and desires?
- Read 1 Peter 4:1-3 and Romans 5:2-5. What connection does perseverance and faith have to one another?
- Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. When faced with temptation, where is God’s faithfulness found: how He gets us out or depending on Him to get us through it?
- What direction do your thoughts, attitudes, choices and actions head toward when left on their own? How would you describe your “drift”?
- Where is focus required to deal with the drift?
- What situations are you facing where you are tempted to stop short and give in to temptation? How can you draw a line and declare it over?
The heart of temptation is trust.
- Every temptation questions our identity as well as His goodness.
- The wilderness feels God forsaken, but the wilderness is God ordained.
- If you are different around different people, there’s a temptation problem in your life going unadressed.
- Temptation always works to disintegrate.
- Resistance builds strength.
- Sin breaks trust.
- Self-control is a lost art in our culture.
- Temptation is a byproduct of love because love requires the option for it to be rejected.
- With every temptation, there is always more at stake than we think.
- Temptation has us questioning God’s goodness by putting us in the center.
- Obedience comes through testing.
- What emotions and thoughts are you bringing with you as we begin a 4-week journey exploring how to deal with temptation?
- What does it mean that temptation is a byproduct of love? How does testing reveal what we value and whom we trust?
- In what ways does temptation work to disintegrate? How does it tear our heart apart?
- God is a God who tests. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
- Read Luke 4:1-4. What did the devil want Jesus to focus on during this first temptation? What happens to our legacy when our cares are focused solely on our immediate needs?
- Read Luke 4:5-8. What is at the heart of this second temptation? How dangerous is it to live a life of shortcuts?
- Read Luke 4: 9-12. How did the enemy utilize Scripture to attempt to confuse and entice Jesus? How did Jesus respond to every temptation He faced? What insight should that provide us in a tool we can use to resist the enemy?
- While in the wilderness, Jesus faced three temptations: (1) Seeking God’s provision in His strength (2) Placing His image above God’s image (3) Using God for personal gain. Of these three temptations, which one do you struggle with the most and why?
- Think of where you are facing temptation. How is this struggle causing you to question your identity and God’s goodness?
- Where do you feel like wandering? How did you arrive in this place of wilderness? What is the thing you want or need the most?
- What are some tangible ways you can trust God’s purpose and provision?
My demand to make you like me becomes my prayer to make me like you.
1 John 4:11-12, 1 Peter 4:8, James 5:20
- When love is misused and misunderstood, love becomes conditional and concessionary.
- Every deficiency we have will be demanded from others, unless we know God.
- Only love can bear the weight of confession and forgiveness.
- Love breathes life into the very thing that brings death.
- Love connects and restores things that are pulled apart and decaying under the power of separation.
- Detachment is more than being disconnected. It causes us to be demanding.
- Validation makes my worth dependent on my performance. My demand becomes affirmation.
- Isolation makes my worth dependent on my self-worth. My demand becomes punishment.
- Being co-dependent makes my worth dependent on other’s opinions. My demand becomes the need to be needed.
- How does one know whether they’ve placed demands on their relationships? What are some warning signs that should alert someone that this has taken place?
- What fears do people have in extending love and grace to others (get taken advantage of, love not returned, excuse people’s behavior, etc.)?
- How are our relationships influenced when we feel deficient?
- What happens to love when it is misused and misunderstood? In what ways does it become conditional and concessionary?
- Read 1 John 4:11-12. What do people see when they witness redemptive love taking place in human relationships?
- Read 1 Peter 4:8 and James 5:20. How does love cover a multitude of sins? How does one love another person without condoning or excusing bad behavior?
- What demands do you have to let go of in your relationships?
- How can love breathe life into a relationship of yours that’s been dead for awhile? What would it look like for love to reconnect and restore this connection?
- Over the course of this series, how has your perspective on your connections with others been influenced? What was the greatest insight you had and how are you going to put this truth into practice?
Love perseveres by being stronger than our emotions and our circumstances.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Philippians 1:3-6
- Love can’t protect what isn’t available for protection.
- We are made to receive love which means we are always looking for it.
- Four Relationship Quadrants: (1) Validation (2) Isolation (3) Co-Dependency (4) True Connection
- We often settle for attention as a cheap substitute for worth.
- We are a chronic culture of takers.
- You can’t wait until you feel completely worthy to ever avail yourself.
- We are loved by God and free to love other people.
- Our ability to receive God’s love always manifests itself in extending ourselves to others.
- Love trusts the process of transformation and growth.
- Vulnerability is not just for you. Your vulnerability contributes to other people.
- Over the years what are some places that you’ve looked to in order to find your worth and value? What made these things appealing to you?
- How does seeking our value and worth in our relationships often influence the way we approach our connections with others?
- In what ways do you attempt to manipulate, demand or take love from others in order to feel valued, worthy and secure?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. What aspect of God’s love do you need to experience in deeper ways? How could looking to Him to fulfill this need influence your relationships with others?
- Read Philippians 1:3-6. What does it mean that love trusts the process of transformation and growth?
- Which of the four corners (validation, isolation, co-dependence or connection) do your relationships tend to reside in? Why do you often take up residency in this spot?
- Think about the people you care about the most. Which relationship quadrant do they reside in? How can you begin to have conversations with them about your self-assessment as well as where you see them?
- What keeps you from true connection with others? What are you afraid of?
- Love can’t protect what isn’t available for protection. What part of your heart do you keep off guard from God and others? Why do you keep this off-limits? What would it look for God to protect your heart in this are?
Our capacity to give love to others hinges on our capacity to receive God’s love for ourselves.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, John 17:20-21, 1 John 4:7-11
- The foundation of a relational framework is trust. Unfortunately, due to sin, our capacity to trust without hesitation is broken.
- We must feel safe enough to allow ourselves to be seen, known and still loved.
- We don’t become ourselves by advancing ourselves at the expense of others. We become ourselves by denying ourselves and embracing a different way.
- We don’t listen, we filter.
- In any given relationship, there are competing agendas.
- Our relationships will only grow as deep as we are willing to avail ourselves.
- Concealment chokes out a relationship. Withholding and avoidance undermines intimacy.
- Intimacy isn’t the absence of conflict, but rather provides a safe place to resolve it.
- You have to risk the fear of being rejected in order to be loved.
“We trust no one, and our deepest inclination is to seize from life what we need while protecting ourselves from its disappointments and threats.” –Larry Crabb
- Read the quote from Larry Crabb. How have you witnessed the truth from this quote play out in your own life as well as those around you?
- Why do you believe trust is in short-supply in our culture? What connection does safety play in our ability to trust others?
- In any given relationship, there are competing agendas. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What types of agendas can people bring into their relationships with others?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. How do the qualities of love described in this passage counteract the notion that love should be easy? Of the characteristics listed, which one is hardest for you to display and why?
- Read John 17:20-21. How is becoming our true self tied to the way we approach our relationships and connections with others?
- Read 1 John 4:7-11. What serves as our source to give and receive love from others?
“Our determination to fully trust no one must die and an eager willingness to receive what is best from others and to give what is best from within ourselves must take its place.” -Larry Crabb
- Read the quote from Larry Crabb. In what relationship(s), does your determination to fully trust no one have to die? What makes you hesitant to receive and give love to this individual?
- Would you say you are more a people presser (marked by tension and pressure) or a people pleaser (marked by shared misery and avoidance of discomfort)?
- What agenda do you tend to bring towards your connections with others? Why do you approach your relationships in this way?
- Concealment chokes out a relationship. What situations are you allowing to remain hidden and off-limits to others? What would it look like to avail yourself to others and bring these areas to light?
Relationships are the FRAMEWORK through which LOVE gets EXPRESSED and EXPERIENCED.
Ephesians 4:13, John 17:20-23, John 13:34-35, 1 John 4:8
- We want people to BE LIKE US and we want people to LIKE US.
- When I can’t MAKE YOU LIKE ME, I will DIMINISH you and work to DISMISS you.
- Intimacy requires AWARENESS. You can’t SHARE if you’re not AWARE.
- Intimacy is simply a SHARED EXPERIENCE.
- Intimacy needs the SAFETY of LOVE. LOVE makes INTIMACY possible.
- We are built to RECEIVE love as well as created to GIVE it away.
- Love is exchanged through a RELATIONSHIP.
- Love is a force that breathes VALUE and WORTH into another.
- Deeper CONNECTIONS create deeper INTIMACY.
- We love when we GIVE ourselves away for the GOOD of another.
- To be LOVED is RECEIVING good for ourselves without TRYING to EARN it.
- What is the purpose of a relationship? Why did God create and design relationships?
- As a society, do you believe we are becoming more or less connected to each other? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- MAKE YOU LIKE ME. How do you hear this statement? When it comes to your connections with others, which one do you struggle with the most: wanting people to be like you or wanting people to like you?
- What drives our desire to make people like us (seeking approval and fighting for conformity)?
- Read Ephesians 4:13. What insight does this passage provide in regard to the purpose of our relationships? How does our willingness to pursue connections with others influence our faith and overall impact as a church?
- Read John 17:20-23. Of all the issues Jesus could’ve prayed for, why do you believe He centered His prayer for the church on oneness and unity?
- Read John 13:34-35 and 1 John 4:8. How should the way we treat our relationships cause the world to take notice?
- What is the greatest tension you tend to experience in your relationships with others? Why do you believe this tension continues to pop up?
- Intimacy requires awareness. You can’t share if you’re not aware. How would you describe your level of awareness when it comes to yourself as well as your connections with others?
- How well are you known? Who knows the real you?
- How well do you allow yourself to be known? What encourages you to be seen and what causes you to be guarded and hide?
Obedience becomes worship when we see His will is worthy of mine.
John 14:15, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, Romans 6:16-18, Romans 12:1-2
- The TRUTH is the foundation for all TRUST and therefore the HOPE of all RELATIONSHIPS.
- When we obey the TRUTH because we TRUST His HEART, obedience becomes a RESPONSE to WORTH.
- Worship is simply our RESPONSE to something as WORTHY.
- OBEDIENCE is about something more than COMPLIANCE. It’s centered on a RELATIONSHIP built on TRUST.
- God’s will isn’t about what we ACCOMPLISH, but rather how we LIVE.
- God’s will is about entering into a way of life that HONORS Him.
- Truth is RELATIONAL.
- If we remove TRUTH from TRUST, we REDUCE it.
- God’s Word is the EMBODIMENT of GOD’S FULLNESS and the FORCE behind CREATION.
- We work to understand not the RULES, but the RELATIONSHIP.
- Read John 14:15. What are different ways people can view Jesus in response to His “if…then” words in this passage?
- What’s the difference in mindset and attitude between obeying out of compliance and obligation versus obedience fueled by trust?
- How does understanding the relationship we have with Christ influence the way we approach the commands/rules He’s put into place?
- Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-10. What does it mean that truth is relational? What happens to the truth when we remove our trust from it?
- Read Romans 6:16-18. What are the two ways of living described in this passage?
- Read Romans 12:1-2. In what ways does our obedience to something display our allegiance to that person or thing? What does it mean to offer our bodies as a “living sacrifice”? How is obedience worship?
- Where are you obeying out of compliance and obligation rather than trust? What is causing this reaction?
- Keep thinking about the situation above. If truth is relational, how has your struggle influenced your perspective and approach to God? How do you think He feels about you viewing Him in this way?
- How can you begin to see your obedience as an act of worship in this area?
- What is the greatest insight you’ve received from the past four weeks of the “Invitation To Imagine” series? How can you apply this truth to further your walk with Christ and pursuit of Him?