Choose His presence more than His direction.
John 1:14-16, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 7:18-19, Proverbs 26:12, Isaiah 5:21, Exodus 33:1-3, Exodus 33:12-15, Proverbs 3:5-6
- Love isn’t something God does because it’s what He likes to do; love is something God does because it’s His essence.
- God created us in His image. We begin to recognize what we were designed for when we understand His heart and character.
- We try to reduce understanding to its lowest common denominator and from our limited perspective.
- The law can either be kept or broken. A relationship is either accepted or rejected.
- God isn’t interested in your obedience out of obligation. He wants you to draw near to Him through a relationship built on trust.
- There’s a difference between grabbing the truth and receiving God’s grace.
- Obedience only comes when we realize that God is worthy of our worship.
- The posture of receiving grace is open hands. Grace is the way that love gets received.
- Truth is designed to be the foundation of trust and the hope of a relationship.
- What fuels true obedience? How does one know whether they are obeying out of obligation or trust?
- What’s the difference between grabbing the truth and receiving God’s grace?
- What does it mean that grace is the way that love gets received?
- What is more important to you: God’s presence or His direction?
- Read Hebrews 7:18-19. What provides us confidence in a better hope than the law could ever provide us?
- Read John 1:14-16. Why does our invitation to imagine God’s heart and character hinge on our perspective of Christ?
- Read Proverbs 26:12 and Isaiah 5:21. What’s the danger in being “wise in your own eyes”? What happens to our heart when we only view things from our limited perspective?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:7. What happens to our understanding and our quest to control when we walk by faith?
- Read Exodus 33:1-3 and Exodus 33:12-15. How does Moses’s story highlight the importance of choosing God’s presence more than His direction?
- Read Proverbs 3:5-6. Where are you leaning on your own understanding? Why are you responding to your circumstances in this way? How would seeking His presence rather than His direction influence your approach to this situation?
- The posture of receiving grace is open hands. Where do you have clenched fists? What would it look like to open your hands up and receive grace in this area?
Worship engages our heart, our mind and our body.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10, John 1:14-16, Hebrews 7:18-19, Isaiah 64:3-5, Isaiah 66:2-3
- We are looking to understand what God reveals, not merely what we observe.
- Truth without grace crushes.
- When truth is misused, relationships change.
- To offer grace under the law destroys truth.
- Worship is evidence of understanding.
- The mind is given to awaken the heart.
- We engage our hearts by using our minds.
- Worship creates space for perspective.
- When we understand what we’ve received the response is to worship.
- We have to position ourselves to see differently or we’re going to filter and edit and see what we have always believed.
- Truth is required for grace to exist.
- Describe your picture: what would a god who is worthy of your worship look like? What about their character would compel you to worship and praise them?
- Throughout the years, how have you experienced the tension between grace and the law? How has this tension influenced your perspective of God?
- What does it mean that grace and truth make up the fullness of God’s expression of love?
- How can thinking critically about God awaken our heart to worship? How does worship create space for perspective?
- Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-10. What is the difference between looking to understand what God reveals rather than what we merely observe?
- Read Isaiah 64:3-5 and Isaiah 66:2-3. In this passage a simple, yet profound question is asked: how then can we be saved? How have we attempted to answer this question by using our limited knowledge and understanding?
- Read John 1:14-16 and Hebrews 7:18-19. How did Jesus serve as a game changer when it came to understanding God’s heart as well as our relationship to the law and grace? How did He usher in a new way of connecting to God?
- What situations are you facing where you need to worship to gain perspective? What would you be declaring by pausing and deciding to worship as a response to these circumstances?
- In what ways do you find yourself interacting with God based on the old law and it’s “give and take,” performance mindset? On the other end of the spectrum, where have you become loose with the truth and cheapened grace?
- When we understand what we’ve received (in Christ) the response is to worship. If this is the case, articulate exactly what you’ve received through what Christ did on the cross. How does it serve as the greatest expression of God’s love?
If you make understanding and explaining matter too much, you’ll miss the thing your heart has been searching for.
1 Corinthians 2:6-10, John 1:14-16, Psalm 34:3
- Everyone has thoughts about God and what He should do.
- We imagine God in the image of what we worship.
- The ways of God run against the wisdom of the world in which we live.
- Grace always expands and makes us see more.
- We believe the best way to understand is to reduce. We love to break complex things down into their parts.
- We attempt to understand in order to explain. We like truth because we can break it down into parts and explain it.
- Jesus frames our thinking and serves as our beginning in understanding God’s character, nature, and heart.
- Jesus is full of grace and truth. From Christ’s fullness, we receive grace upon grace.
- We don’t understand God by breaking down principles and doctrines, but by looking up and having our eyes expanded.
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important about us.” –A.W. Tozer
- Read the quote from A.W. Tozer. Do you agree with this quote? Why or why not? How does our picture of God influence our actions, words, emotions, and sense of identity?
- Fill in the blank: God is __________. What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Over the years how has your view of God developed and changed?
- Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-10. What does God reveal to us about Himself over time? What are “the things” that the author is talking about in verse 10? How do the ways of God and His wisdom run against the wisdom of the world we live in?
- Read John 1:14-16. How does the life of Jesus serve as our best way to understand God’s character, nature, and heart? What do we receive by comprehending and trusting in Christ’s fullness?
- Read Psalm 34:3. How does the verse serve as an invitation to imagine and see God in a different light and from a different perspective?
- When you think of God, what is the default emotion (shame, guilt, hope, love, fear, etc.) you experience? Why do you feel this way towards God? How do you think He feels about the way you feel about Him?
- How willing are you to take a step back and examine your picture of God?
- What would it look like for God to reintroduce Himself to you? Where do you need to see Him with fresh eyes?
Because we belong to God, we belong to each other.
Ephesians 1:5, 1 John 3:1, Romans 12:4-5, Hebrews 10:24-25
- We’re all crazy. We all have some crazy in our family.
- There is something about family that unites people like no other organization, association or relationship ever could.
- We were orphans in need of adoption. God adopted us into His own family.
- If you like adoption, you’ve got to love the Gospel. Why? Because the Gospel message is an adoption story.
- Because you were adopted by God, you belong to God.
- Being adopted into the family of God means your family is slightly larger, messier, and crazier than you thought.
- The only thing perfect about the family of God is God. Even though we may not be perfect, we have a purpose.
- Each one of us has a part to play.
- We need to (1) think of each other as family (2) look out for each other as family (3) show up for each other as family.
- What is the one thing you love and appreciate most about your family? Why does this stick out to you?
- What is one aspect of your family’s craziness that you’ve struggled to deal with over the years?
- How does the family unite people in a way that no other relationship or thing can?
- Read Ephesians 1:5. What caused us to be orphans in need of adoption?
- Read 1 John 3:1. How is the Gospel message primarily an adoption story?
- Read Romans 12:4-5. What implications does belonging to God have on how we belong to each other?
- Read Hebrews 10:24-25. What would it look like for you to show up for your family here at Port City Community Church?
- Do you believe your part matters in the family of God? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do? How can you begin to own your part in God’s family?
- Who around you needs to feel encouraged and know that they belong to something bigger than themselves?
You can’t offer everything if you’re clinging to anything.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8, Matthew 6:24, Acts 20:35
- Stewardship is informed by purpose.
- Choose to give. Choose to be cheerful.
- Track every penny. Spend less than you earn. Make it a point to give.
- The discipline of receiving frees us from the pressure of providing.
- The discipline of giving frees us from the pressure of defending.
- Giving without generosity is torture. Giving from generosity is freeing.
- Money is tangible trust. Giving is a tangible way of letting go.
- The source of letting go is trust.
- Giving takes trusting God out of the realm of theory and into practice.
- If you give out of guilt you will always be haunted by fear.
- When you see yourself as the provider, you become the defender of your “stuff.”
- How is the act of giving an invitation to trust? How does money serve as tangible trust and a way to declare that God can be trusted?
- In what ways does giving test our motives? What dangers arise when we don’t test our motives before we give?
- How does seeing yourself as the sole provider influence the way you handle “your stuff”? How does this mindset lead us to defend our resources and become stingy?
- Read 2 Corinthians 9:7-8. How has this passage been misused to justify a lack of generosity? What level of reflection is needed to develop the habit of being a generous giver? What is it about a cheerful giver that God loves?
- Read Matthew 6:24. How have you experienced the tension mentioned in this passage? How does one serve money?
- Read Acts 20:35. It is better to give than receive. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not? What blessings come as a result of our giving to others?
- You can’t offer everything if you’re clinging to anything. If this is true, what are you clinging on to and unwilling to give away? What keeps your grip tight? How can you begin to loosen it?
- When it comes to your spending and giving, where do you find yourself stuck in an unhealthy cycle? Why do you remain in this place? What might God be trying to teach you by leaving you in these patterns?
- What is the greatest insight you’ve gained from the Still God’s series? What would it look like to put that insight into practice?
We have to be aware of what money does to us and how it influences our hearts and eyes.
1 Timothy 6:6-10, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Hebrews 13:5
- Stewardship is being trusted with what you do not own.
- We need reminders that everything belongs to God and is given to us as provision for His purposes.
- Stewardship governs generosity and contentment.
- There is always a war taking place for your heart’s allegiance.
- Placing your hope in riches fuels arrogance and breeds independence.
- Your relationship with the owner (God) will determine how you see everything you own.
- Our possessions aren’t bad; we just need to possess a proper perspective on them.
- You keep from falling in love with lesser things by having an absolute commitment to the thing that is worthy of your affection.
- The more we depend on something, the more focused and obsessed we become about it.
“In the absence of a vividly superior life in God’s Kingdom, wealth creates in most of us an illusion of security and well-being that causes us to trust it rather than God.” -Dallas Willard
- Read the quote from Dallas Willard. In what ways does money possess the power to lure and direct our heart’s affections?
- How has “the love of money” influenced your life, as well as those around you?
- Would you say you spend your money on purpose? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- How does stewardship govern our pursuit of generosity and contentment?
- Read 1 Timothy 6:6-8. What makes godliness with contentment “a great gain” for us as believers? How does having this mindset influence our perspective on our possessions?
- Read 1 Timothy 6:9-10. What warnings does the author give to those who desire to be rich?
- Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. By the world’s standards, most of us are considered rich. Since this is the case, what wisdom should we glean from this passage? What does it mean to be “rich in good works”?
- Read Hebrews 13:5. How does one keep their life free from the “love of money”?
- The more we depend on something, the more focused and obsessed we become about it. If this is true, where have you become dependent on money for a sense of security, control, and purpose?
- What does your money do to you? Why do you react to money in this way?
- What is one thing you can do this week to take a step towards being “rich in good works”? Why was this step placed on your heart?
Radical generosity must be rooted in deep contentment.
Deuteronomy 8:16-18, Matthew 13:22, Matthew 6:19-24, 1 Timothy 6:6-10
- God’s intention is to be our provision.
- We receive His provision in accordance with His vision.
- Money can be either good or bad depending on our dependence on it.
- Wealth can be a blessing or a curse. It can serve as a distraction or utilized to build and contribute.
- Financial stewardship is a spiritual discipline.
- Your treasure will determine your allegiance.
- We have the power to tell our hearts where to go. We incline our hearts in the direction of the Kingdom by giving something.
- Money provides the illusion of power and freedom independent from God.
- We have a relationship with money that influences and affects our relationship with God.
- Generosity is a way of seeing.
“I feel pulled in opposite directions over the money issue. Sometimes I want to sell all that I own, join a Christian commune, and live out my days in intentional poverty. At other times, I want to rid myself of guilt and enjoy the fruit of our nation’s prosperity. Mostly, I wish I did not have to think about money at all.” –Philip Yancey
- Read the quote from Philip Yancey. Over the years, what has been your relationship with money (guilt, fear, shame, discontentment, a tool for generosity, etc.)?
- Would you say you have convictions when it comes to your view on finances? If so, what are they and how did you develop them? If not, how does the lack of convictions influence the way you approach your finances?
- If you don’t pay attention to your finances, it will cost you your heart. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
- Read Deuteronomy 6:16-18. What did God want the Israelites (and us) to understand about the source of their provision?
- Read Matthew 13:22. What makes wealth deceptive? In what ways do riches have the power to choke out God’s Word and the work He is doing in our hearts?
- Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10. What connection does learning to live contently have on our desire to display generous hearts?
“The idealization of poverty is one of the most dangerous illusions of Christians. Stewardship, which requires possessions and includes giving, is the true spiritual discipline in relation to wealth.” -Dallas Willard
- Read the quote from Dallas Willard. What are some steps you can take to being a good steward with the resources you’ve been entrusted with?
- Read Matthew 6:19-24. What would you say is the desire of your heart when it comes to money? What does this say about where your treasure is going?
- Money can cause us to commit idolatry (seeing $ as a source) or covetousness (see $ as a scorecard for comparison). Of the two, which one do you struggle with the most and why?
- If our approach to money serves as a revealer of the heart, how would you describe the current state of your heart?
We don’t experience God’s faithfulness if we allow our faith to remain a system of belief rather than a call to action.
Genesis 22:13-14, Romans 4:18-21, Hebrews 11
- A decision provides a step. The step you take is called faith.
- Our faith is where we experience God’s faithfulness.
- Faith is always seen in the future.
- There is a big difference between thinking things over and overthinking things.
- Growth comes through intentional encounters.
- Our values and faith can’t simply be lip service. They are meant to be lived out.
- Christ has invited us into an extraordinary journey, but it can only experienced through faith.
- A simple step of faith can unlock something you’ve never seen or experienced before.
- Many of us approach our faith with an “all or nothing” type mindset.
- Baby steps, no matter how small, create movement and get stuff done.
- How does one know when they are thinking things over verses overthinking things? What are some differences between these two ways of reflection?
- What happens to our heart and the way we approach the world when our faith remains a system of belief rather than something that is lived out?
- Does your faith suffer from an “all or nothing” type of mindset? Why or why not? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- Read Genesis 22:13-14. Why is it important for us to create altars or mark moments to remember God’s faithfulness in our lives?
- Read Romans 4:18-21. How did standing on God’s promises influence Abraham’s action? What propelled him to take a step of faith?
- Read Hebrews 11. How did the people in this passage experience God’s faithfulness through their actions? Which person’s faith journey speaks to you the most and why?
- Over the years how has God displayed His faithfulness to you? In what ways has God shown up? How do you keep these moments in front of you so they are not forgotten?
- How are you structuring your life to have intentional encounters with God? In what ways are you placing yourself in environments where your faith will be stretched and experienced?
- What is a baby step of faith that you can take in order to stop hitting the snooze button and begin responding to where You feel God is leading you to act?
To watch and pray is designed to empower action.
Matthew 26:39-46, Isaiah 60:1-3, Ephesians 5:14
- A decision provides action for your belief.
- A decision is a conclusion to act after consideration.
- Christ’s call to “sleep later” isn’t a call to hustle, but rather wake up.
- Be decisive: (1) Decide to decide (2) Define the decision (3) Do what you decide.
- We love the safety of “what has been.”
- Many of us know what God is asking us to do or where He is leading us, but we refuse to take that first step.
- We’d rather avoid reality than coming face-to-face with our circumstances.
- God’s direction requires our action.
- A crossroad can serve as a catalyst for change.
- Our new identity in Christ is perfectly willing to do God’s will.
- Don’t worry about the fifth step, just pinpoint your next one and take it.
- Attempting to maintain the way things are is an exercise in futility.
- If you had the opportunity to hit pause and freeze frame a time in your life, what one would you choose and why? What’s the danger in trying to maintain the way things were?
- Would you describe yourself as a decisive person? Why or why not? What leads you to take action or what fuels your indecisiveness and hesitation?
- Can you think of a time where one of life’s crossroads served as a catalyst for change and transformation?
- What are some warning signs that alert you to the fact that you are avoiding reality or coming face-to-face with your circumstances?
- Read Matthew 26:39-44. How does our willingness to “watch and pray” open our eyes to fully see what is at stake in our lives?
- Read Matthew 26:45-46. What did Jesus want His disciples to understand when He said, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand”?
- Read Isaiah 60:1-3 and Ephesians 5:14. What does it look like to awake from our slumber and become spiritually aware?
- On a scale of 1-7, how spiritually awake are you right now: (1) completely asleep to (7) fully awake? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
- What important decision are you facing or possibly avoiding? How can you begin to define the decision and act?
- His direction requires our action. Where do you need to respond to the direction you have received? What is your next step of faith?
- Where does a shift need to occur from “not my will, but Your will be done”? What causes you to fight for your way and your will?
Don’t promise to commit, commit to depend.
Romans 8:1-6, Matthew 26:41-42
- What we want can be different from what God wants.
- Before you can submit your will to His, you need to believe what you’ve received.
- To watch is to fix your eyes on what is true.
- Our flesh is brought into submission to the truth of our willing spirit.
- Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak. We need to train our flesh to trust.
- The flesh can’t be trusted. It must be trained for submission.
- No matter how strong you make it, your flesh is still weak.
- Your spirit (in Christ) is actually willing, ready and prepared for God’s will and God’s ways.
- We buffet our bodies and make them our slaves so that our bodies are servants instead of masters.
- The body must be trained to do what the mind says.
- Think process rather than perfection and promises.
- What tends to be your reaction when you encounter adversity in your quest for growth and change or notice old habits making a reappearance?
- What is the danger in relying solely on self-willpower to transform your heart, mind, and attitude?
- What we want can be different from what God wants. How does one know if their wants line up with what God desires for them? What are some warning signs that our wants lie in opposition to what God wants?
- How does one take responsibility and ownership for change while at the same time relying on the Holy Spirit to guide them?
- Read Romans 8:1-4. Why was our flesh (effort, rule following, etc.) incapable of fulfilling the law and producing change in our heart? What makes our flesh weak?
- Read Romans 8:5-6. What are the two mindsets described in this passage? What makes each one distinct? What are the ramifications of having a mind set on the flesh versus a mind set on the spirit?
- Read Matthew 26:41-42. Why is it important to set our focus on what is true when we are in search of change and transformation?
- Where are you relying solely on your own willpower and strength to bring about change in your life? What is fueling this approach?
- Is there something you want that you know is at odds with what God wants for your life? Where does your flesh need to be brought into submission?
- In what circumstances have you encountered a setback, disappointment or frustration? How can you focus your eyes on what is true about yourself as well as God? What truths do you need to remind yourself of?