The human heart is searching for something worthy of its attention, affection, and worship.
Matthew 2:1-12, Psalm 10:3-4, Psalm 46:10, Psalm 139:1-6, Psalm 9:1
- Gratitude arises from stillness.
- Our circumstances can make us desperate, but our hearts can make us curious.
- If productivity becomes the marker of success and success is the goal, then the quicker we produce, the more success we enjoy.
- Efficiency has become the highest value in our culture.
- The heart can’t help but express itself. What is formed on the inside gets expressed on the outside.
- Gratitude awakens wonder while entitlement drives us to prove our worth.
- Your sense of wonder is influenced by what you allow yourself to see.
- You never awaken wonder by looking inward.
- God is never in a hurry. Hurry is the enemy of spiritual formation.
- There is a big difference between what catches your attention and what captures the affection of your heart.
- Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God.
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” GK Chesterton
- How are productivity and efficiency viewed in our culture? How do these traits lead one to be “successful” in life?
- When was the last time you stopped and were in awe of something? How did this experience fill your heart?
- Read the quote by GK Chesterton. Why is wonder required in order to express gratitude?
- Why are many of us reluctant to be still and wonder? What makes hurry the enemy of our spiritual formation?
- Read Matthew 2:1-12. What led the wise men to start out on their search? Why was their reaction to bring gifts and worship when they encountered baby Jesus?
- Read Psalm 10:3-4. What causes us to leave no room for God inside of our schedule? How does this influence and impact our heart?
- Read Psalm 46:10, Psalm 139:1-6 and Psalm 9:1. How does our willingness to be still lead us towards gratitude? In what ways does worship awaken wonder?
- Where have you lost your sense of wonder? What have you replaced it with?
- What are some steps you can take to develop a curious heart? How can you be intentional about slowing down and being still during the holiday season?
- The heart can’t help but express itself. If this is true, how is your heart currently being expressed and how do you feel about this expression?
The family is the unifying system by which we live as His people under His authority for His purposes.
Ephesians 1:13-14, Ephesians 2:19-22, Hebrews 3:3-6, Hebrews 2:11
- Redemption is not our work, but God’s work as He fits us together for His purposes.
- The reason for God’s order isn’t to support our lifestyle. It is setup for His purposes and we are invited in and given authority.
- Idolatry is broken by embracing God’s authority over our lives and in our lives.
- What God is redeeming is the relationship between He and His people as we dwell together.
- The purposes of God in our lives aren’t isolated or independent. They are intended to impact and influence others.
- Your purpose is a small part of God’s larger purpose that continues toward completion in the generations that come.
- We each bring ourselves together to become the place where God dwells.
- He provides us with opportunities to influence, input and contribute to a family much bigger than ourselves.
- Your purpose is a small part of God’s larger purpose that continues toward completion in the generations that come. How should this statement reframe the way you approach your own family story?
- Read Hebrews 2:11. Do you believe what has unfolded in your life and family story inhibits you from making an impact and being part of the bigger story God is telling through His family (the church)? Why or why not? How do your actions and mindset line up with your answer?
- Idolatry is broken by embracing God’s authority over our lives and in our lives. How can one make an idol out of themselves or their family story? Where does idolatry exist in your heart?
- Read Ephesians 1:13-14. What does redemption look like? How are the concepts of identity, authority and legacy redeemed in the family?
- Read Ephesians 2:19-22. In what ways is our concept of a “family” smaller than what God intended? How should this passage influence the way we treat and care for others?
- Read Hebrews 3:3-6. How does this passage speak to you and your family being a brick in the house that God is building?
- Every individual and family is given a brick that is part of the house God is building. How would you describe your brick? How does your answer make you feel?
- How can your brick support the weight of another person or family? Who needs to know they are part of a larger family?
- What has been the greatest insight you’ve received during the “Picture Perfect” series? Why did this point stand out and how will it shape you moving forward?
While we wait for answers to prayer, are we waiting with our worries, doubts and fears, or are we waiting with Jesus?
Matthew 11:19, Luke 15:20-24, Ephesians 3:20-21, 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
- Every family has its stories, no matter how hard they try to dress them up.
- We can run to Jesus in our mess, and He gets us. God is kind enough and strong enough to handle all of it.
- Prayerlessness is our declaration of independence from God.
- Prayer is keeping company with God. He infuses us with new strength as we are with Him.
- If we can’t bring our problems to church then where can we bring them?
- When our children bring us to our knees, we’re in the best position for God to help us.
- God has a way of bringing beauty out of brokenness.
- If redemption means God uses everything, then it is safe to assume God wastes nothing.
- As you face disappointment, don’t just wait for Jesus, wait WITH Him.
- Idolatry is when you look for life or sufficiency in something that isn’t God.
- What do you when things aren’t “picture perfect” in your family or world? How do you deal with disappointment? How do you typically respond to the mess that exists in your family?
- When it comes to the issues you or your family face, how quick are you to bring those concerns to God or share them with others? What causes you to hesitate to pour your heart out in prayer?
- We’re charged with praying for prodigals. How could praying for those who have gone their own way influence your response to them?
- As you face disappointment, don’t just wait for Jesus, wait WITH Him. What is the difference between these two approaches to our disappointment?
- Read Matthew 11:19. What does Jesus being referred to as a “friend of sinners” teach us about God’s heart for prodigals?
- Read Luke 15:20-24. What caused the son to come to his senses and make his way back home? What response was he expecting to receive upon returning? If God is represented as the father in this parable, what should we make of verse 20: “but while he was still a long way off, his father was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him?”
- Read Ephesians 3:20-21. How do we limit God when we say our family situation can’t be redeemed or that a loved one is too far gone to be saved?
- Read 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17. As it relates to your family situation, where does your heart need to be encouraged? Why have you lost faith and hope in these circumstances?
- Every family has its stories, no matter how hard they try to dress them up. What issues are you dealing with that you are afraid to share or let someone else walk alongside you in support?
- We’re charged with praying for prodigals. Who needs to be in your prayers? Why does this individual or family come to mind? What specifically will you be praying for?
Redemption is the reality that God uses everything. But, you have to let Him use it.
- Identity is who you are created to be.
- Authority is the power of God in and over your life.
- Legacy is the stewardship of God’s promised future.
- The family was established so that your children’s children know God as God.
- When you know what the family does, you’ll know what to do.
- Idolatry crushes the thing you worship while breaking your heart in the process.
- You can’t move into the future looking backwards.
- The context of a relationship built on trust allows our authority as parents to be imperfect.
- Without the family you have no basis for authority.
- We long to know who we are. The family establishes an identity before anything else.
- When you were born you were given a name. How does the family provide us with a sense of identity? What emotions and thoughts come to mind when you think about the name/family you were born into (ex. Smiths, Jones)? Why is this your initial reaction?
- What is the difference between authority and power? Which one is rooted in trust?
- How does one know when they’ve made an idol out of their family? What are some warning signs that should alert someone that this has taken place?
- Read Deuteronomy 6:1-2. According to this passage, why did God establish the family?
- Read Deuteronomy 6:3-6. How does our own walk influence what we pass down to our children, the next generation and those that come after us?
- Read Deuteronomy 6:7-9. How can this passage be misused in the way authority is stewarded from parents to children? What does it look like to “impress” God’s commands on your children? Where and when should this take place?
- How can you trust God’s promise to redeem your future without attempting to control it?
- In what ways have you made an idol out of family? What are you looking for it to fulfill or meet for you? How is this creating pressure for you and others that are involved?
- In regard to your family, where have you lost sight of a legacy mindset and instead focused on your individual wants, desires and demands?
You will not see a new story until you let go of the old one.
James 1:23-25, Revelation 21:1-4, Hebrews 2:11, Ephesians 1:13-14
- The cultural understanding of the family has changed more than we know.
- Redemption is the reality that God uses everything.
- The danger of disappointment is we long to go back.
- The danger of fulfillment is that we long for things to stay the same.
- The way of redemption requires us to let go of demanding things work out.
- Stop looking in the past. There is only one direction and that is forward.
- The restoration and reclamation of the family isn’t the only thing that matters. Redemption does.
- The family is one of the most central concepts of humanity, but it’s also one of the greatest sources of frustration, disappointment and shame.
- We all believe the family is important, but we all know that the family is imperfect.
- The worst possible way to struggle is alone.
- Complete the sentence: My family is ___________________. How does your answer influence your perspective of the purpose of the family?
- What do you believe God’s intention is for the family? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- How has the cultural understanding of the family changed over the years?
- How do you wrestle with the tension that believing the family is important, but knowing that the family is imperfect?
- Read James 1:23-25. Why is it important that we take a step back from our limited perspective and take a larger look at God’s purpose for the family?
- Read Revelation 21:1-4. What is the significance of marriage being the book end stories of the Bible (establishment of marriage in Genesis and the celebration of marriage in redemption seen in Revelation)? Why did God use this imagery to describe our relationship with Him?
- Read Hebrews 2:11 and Ephesians 1:13-14. What does it mean that God has a “view of redemption”? Why does the redemption of the family matter just as much as the restoration and reclamation of it?
- The worst possible way to struggle is alone. What struggles are you dealing with when it comes to your family?
- The danger of disappointment is we long to go back. The danger of fulfillment is that we long for things to stay the same. Of the two (disappointment or fulfillment), which one are you viewing your family story through?
- What would redemption look like for your family? What part of your old story are you holding on to that is preventing you from experiencing a new story?
In light of my past experience, present circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?
Proverbs 19:20, Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 15:31-33, Ephesians 5:15-17, Genesis 25:29-34, James 1:5
- We’ve given advice to others that we don’t even apply to ourselves.
- Not every decision is a moral decision.
- We’re experts at rationalizing decisions that we know are wrong.
- Asking, “Is it wise?” takes your issue out of the arena of right and wrong by entering into the world of wisdom.
- There are seasons where something that once was wise is no longer the wise thing to do.
- Small decisions we make NOW can train wreck our future LATER.
- Your greatest regret could’ve been avoided had you asked “Is this wise?” and acted on your conclusion.
- We never have to rationalize a good decision.
- Every kind of addiction begins with self-deception.
- What is the piece of advice you catch yourself giving to others that you struggle to take to heart and live out yourself?
- How do the small decisions we make now influence the person we become in the future?
- What’s the difference in our mindset when we stop asking if something is right or wrong, but whether it is wise for us? How do you determine what to do when you are faced with a decision that is not black or white, but rather resides in the grey area?
- What alarms should go off in our heart and mind when we find ourselves rationalizing our choices?
- Read Proverbs 19:20, Proverbs 12:15 and Proverbs 15:31-33. What danger exists when we attempt to make important decisions in isolation and not surrounded by a supportive community?
- Read Ephesians 5:15-17. What challenges do we face if we want to live a wise life in today’s culture? What does it look like to “make the most of every opportunity” in our pursuit of wisdom?
- Read Genesis 25:29-34. What lead Esau to make an unwise decision? How did his immediate needs trump his future legacy?
- Read James 1:5. Where do you need to ask God for wisdom? From your perspective, what is the wise thing to do in response to the circumstances you face?
- When making a wise decision we need to consider our past experiences, present circumstances and future hopes and dreams. Of the three, which one do you tend to lose sight of when making decisions?
- Where do you find yourself rationalizing your behavior, attitude or actions? In what ways are you playing games to justify your response?
Your friends will determine the direction and quality of your life.
Proverbs 13:20, Ephesians 1:3-6, Proverbs 27:17, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
“The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose your friends wisely.” -David Buettner
“The more we study engagement, we see time and time again that just being next to certain people actually aligns your brain with them. This means the people you hang out with actually have an impact on your engagement with reality beyond what you can explain. And one of the effects is you become alike.” –Moran Cerf
“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” –Booker T. Washington
- We are acceptance magnets.
- Acceptance paves the way to influence.
- Determine the direction of the influence.
- It is better to be alone that surrounded by those of negative influence.
- Godly wisdom loses its potency and power when it’s not put into practice.
- What pieces of wisdom did your parents give you that went “in one ear and out the other”? Why did you ignore their words? How did failing to listen to their advice lead to regret?
- Fill in the blank: ____________________ will determine the direction and quality of your life. What makes you answer in the way that you do? Over time how has your answer changed or stayed the same?
- We are acceptance magnets. How did this truth play out in your life growing up? Why do we naturally gravitate towards those that accept us? Do you believe the pull of the acceptance magnets lessens, grows stronger or stays the same as we get older?
- Read Proverbs 13:20. On Sunday, Brett Eddy made the case that our friends determine the direction and quality of our life. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? Why is it easy for this wisdom found in Proverbs to go “in one ear and out the other”?
- Read Ephesians 1:3-6. How does knowing we are fully accepted and loved by Christ impact the drive to seek acceptance in our relationships with others?
- Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Proverbs 27:17. Why is a supportive community needed if we want to reflect Christ’s heart in our lives?
- Read the quotes from David Buettner, Booker T. Washington, and Moran Cerf. How are your relationships and friendships shaping the person you are becoming?
- Determine the direction of the influence. Are there relationships that are having a negative impact on your life, your integrity, and your pursuit of Christ? What needs to change with these relationships?
- Determine the direction of the influence. Are there relationships that are having a positive impact on your life, your integrity, and your pursuit of Christ? How can you further develop these connection points?
- If acceptance paves the way to influence, who needs to know that you accept them and are rooting for them? How can taking this posture deepen the influence you have with this individual?
If the truth doesn’t compel you to love, you haven’t driven it far enough down to be free.
1 Corinthians 8:1-3, Mark 12:29-31, 2 Timothy 2:15
- Everything finds its meaning and purpose within the context of its relationship to God.
- God’s truth provides a foundation that is strong enough to support the weight of our desires.
- Freeing truth compels us to love.
- Jesus defined truth in the context of a relationship and as an expression of love.
- Knowledge might mess up what we think about what we are thinking.
- Truth isn’t given to make us correct, but rather to make us free.
- Whoever loves is known by God and it is this knowing that serves as the source for which we love others.
- Our hearts must be awaken to love. Our minds are useful to that end.
- Truth is always found in the context of a relationship instead of a principle or an issue.
- We can use freedom up and end up enslaved.
“Our ceaseless craving for more, though it can kill us when unredeemed, may be a hint of the joy we are made for when the soul finds its center in God.” –John Ortberg
- Read the quote from John Ortberg. How do we twist truth to fit our agenda, feed our cravings and fulfill our selfish desires?
- What are some truths you’ve attempted to establish that you hoped would bring you closer towards freedom (ex. If I get married, I’ll be happy. If I’d had more money, I’d feel more secure. If we can all agree on this issue, we will find peace)? How did these “truths” fall shot of your desires?
- God’s truth provides a foundation that is strong enough to support the weight of your desires. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-3. What is the difference between a knowledge that puffs up and a knowledge that compels one to love others?
- Read Mark 12:29-31. What implications are there to Jesus framing the greatest commandment question in a relational way? What connection does a relationship have with truth? How does loving God impact our ability to love others?
- Read 2 Timothy 2:15. How does one know if they are “correctly handling the word of truth”?
- As you look back on these past four weeks, how has your approach to truth changed? What was the greatest insight you gained from this series? Why did this insight stick out to you?
- Lust, envy, anger, comparison, jealousy, indifference, complacency, etc. Where do you need to dig deeper into the truth to expose the state of your heart?
- How can you utilize your mind to awaken your heart to love when it comes to this issue?
A world without truth isn’t wrong; it’s insane.
Matthew 21:23-27, Psalm 51:6, John 17:17, Psalm 119:160, Proverbs 18:21
- Knowledge is designed to connect our souls to the truth.
- Language is designed to express our souls desire for freedom.
- Language is given as a way to understand and articulate truth.
- Information connects knowledge to truth.
- In the absence of truth, we create a reality that is governed by our will.
- The truth establishes the essence of reality and provides a foundation that will support the weight of our desires.
- The truth is that we were made for life with God and life for God.
- We were created in the image of God’s compelling beauty and greatness and were made to display that beauty and greatness in everything we do.
- If we can want wrong things and think wrong things, then we can’t depend on our wants and beliefs to lead us to freedom.
- Your words have the power to create realities.
- We often use information to buttress our beliefs – not to discern truth.
“Seek not to understand that you may believe, but seek to believe that you may understand.” -St. Augustine
- Read the quote from St. Augustine. What are the differences between the two mindsets spoken about in this quote?
- What happens to our culture when truth is absent?
- What is the danger in using our wants and beliefs to be the sole guide in determining truth and pursuing freedom?
- Read Matthew 21:23-27. What was the religious leader’s motivation for this encounter with Jesus? How concerned were they about genuinely understanding truth? Why were they careful with their words?
- Read Psalm 51:6, John 17:17, Psalm 119:160. How does the truth of our identity in Christ provide a firm foundation for us to walk on? Why did Jesus pray that we would be sanctified in His truth?
- Read Proverbs 18:21. In what ways do our words hold power in shaping our reality, perspective and understanding of truth?
- What false realities are you speaking into existence through your words? Why are you given these words power to shape your perspective?
- What issues are you gathering information about to buttress your own beliefs rather than seeking understanding and encountering truth? What does the Gospel do to this issue?
- Where are you attempting to conceal or avoid the truth? Why are you reacting to your situation in this way? What would it look like to mine for truth regarding these circumstances?
Truth is discovered by faith.
1 Corinthians 8:1-3, John 8:31-32, Psalm 119:18, Ephesians 1:18, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 86:11
- Knowing truth is only developed by experiencing truth.
- Living wisely requires clean sight.
- We typically search for information to free us from faith and create a certainty we can control, navigate and solve.
- The Scriptures are not given as evidence of faith, but rather serve as a calling to faith.
- Our trustful obedience avails us to being known by God.
- We think we find freedom by holding on. Yet, freedom is only found when we let go and trust.
- The first step in finding the truth is coming to the truth.
- The opposite of faith isn’t doubt, but certainty.
- You can have all the answers yet still not be free.
- You love God by making Him the first person you come to when you can’t figure things out on your own.
- How can our heart’s posture affect our understanding? How does the attitude we hold influence what we see and trust?
- What is the opposite of faith: doubt or certainty? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- You can have all the answers yet still not be free. How have you seen this statement lived out in your own life as well as those around you? If our freedom isn’t found in having all the answers, where is it located?
- What is a truth you doubted at first, but eventually learned it was true through having faith and experiencing it?
- Read 1 Corinthians 8:1-3. Is it possible to know things, but not understand them fully? What does the author mean when he says, “Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know?”
- Read John 8:31-32. How does our obedience avail or open us to being known by God? In what ways does obedience speak to our trust in Him?
- Read Psalm 119:18 and Ephesians 1:18. What does it mean for the “eyes of our heart to be opened”? How does our sight, and what we see, influence our heart and understanding of truth?
- Read Psalm 25:5 and Psalm 86:11. How do these Scriptures speak to truth being something revealed to us when we’re willing to obey and take steps of faith?
- We think we find freedom by holding on. Yet, freedom is only found when we let go and trust. What do you find yourself holding on to hoping you’ll find freedom? Why are you hesitant to loosen your grip? What would it look like to let go and trust?
- Living wisely requires clean sight. Where is your perspective and vision currently cloudy or distorted?
- Truth is revealed one step of faith at a time. What has God been revealing to you about His character and your heart lately? What are you learning through your steps of obedience?