Opening Question: 

How did I get here?

Genesis 1:1 (ESV); John 21:25 (NIV); Genesis 1:2-5 (ESV); Genesis 1:26–27 (ESV)

זָכָר “zakar” = male 

נְקֵבָה “neqebah” = female

Creation Account Tells Us…

Who made us – Genesis 1:26 (ESV)
We were made with purpose – Genesis 1:28 (ESV)
What God thinks of us – Genesis 1:31 (ESV)

⇒ Your is based on who you are, not what you do.

Genesis 2:1-3 (ESV)

⇒ Our is tested in rest.

⇒ Our choice depends on our in God’s goodness.

Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV); 1 John 4:10 (NLT); Romans 5:8 (ESV)

Closing Question:

How did I get here?

This Week’s Spiritual Practice:

Stop, trust, and rest.

 


 

Theme: You Count in Creation

Reflect Together:

What impacted you the most from last week’s reading that you expressed in your Genesis Growth Guide also well as learned from last Sunday’s gathering?

Share Together:

What do you find as the most interesting animal God created and why?

Read Together:

Genesis 1:1-2:3 (divide reading within your group)

Discuss Together:
  • After reading afresh the creation account, what is one aspect that stood out for you? How is it written more like a poem than a lab report?
  • What two foundational truths does verse 1 announce?
  • What is it that makes humanity distinct from the rest of creation?
  • What does it mean for us as people to bear the image of God? What responsibilities come with being made in God’s image?
  • What does Genesis 1 teach us about God? About how we matter?
  • What is the goal of creation? How does the way Genesis 1 is written point to this goal?
  • How does the creation account empower you to be “fruitful and multiply” in your life this week? How can you use prayer to fulfill your calling in this?
Pray Together:

Share how any progress God has answered prayer as well as requests.

Next Week’s Reminder:

In preparation for next week’s gathering and Group, remember to read Genesis 3-4 and write your responses in your growth guide.

Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor • September 18, 2022

To the graduates of the wisdom of James…

1) Watch out for the of the slippery slope

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. – James 4:17

2) Hold your money with for the sake of

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. – James 5:1-6

3) Challenge your personal paradigm of and

10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. – James 5:10-11

4) Be

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. – James 5:12

5) Pray in with the right

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. – James 5:13-15

6) The most profound testimony to an unbelieving world is how you:

a) Deal with

b) through adversity

The final words from James:
My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
– James 5:19-20

Next Steps

James 5:16 says, “Pray for one another, that you may be healed.” But how? On Thursday, September 29 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, we will train and equip you to pray for others so that they may be healed in whatever way God chooses — spiritually, emotionally, or physically. At this training you’ll have an opportunity to learn how to listen and pray in a way that is comfortable and rooted in scripture.

We encourage you to attend this 90 minute workshop taught by Rick and Anne Campbell. The Campbells lead the After-Service Prayer Team and have 40 years of experience in prayer ministry. Sign up today in the Commons or at info.ctk.church.

 

Small Group Questions

  1. What’s your favorite aspect of September? Why?
  2. If you’ve been part of a graduation ceremony, can you remember what the guest speaker said to you? What do you wish they had said to you?
  3. There are many warnings and instructions in the final chapter of James. Read James 5 aloud. Which of the warnings/instructions do you personally need to take to heart right now?
  4. The prayer of faith seems to come with a promise of wellness. What do you do when the prayer of faith is answered with a no? How do you keep the faith in that moment?
  5. We are all prone to wander. What has brought you back from a time of spiritual wandering?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

 

Part 5: Telling It Like It Is  • Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

James 4:1–10
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
        
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
        “God opposes the proud
                but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James is confronting:

Me-centered

Verses: 1–2: What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

Me-centered

Verse 3: When you ask you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives…

Me-centered

Verse 4: You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

So, what do we do?

to God (verse 7a)

the devil (verse 7b)

(verse 8a)

Wash your (verse 8b)

Purify your (verse 8c)

and (verse 9)

yourself (verse 10)

 

When you live your life = Christo-centric

 

Small Group Questions

  1. What’s your favorite season? Why?
  2. Do you enjoy or hate being the center of attention? Why?
  3. Which of the 3 “Me-centered” aspects of life do you struggle with the most? How have you learned to change that dynamic? If you haven’t learned to change it, don’t be afraid to says so, but then listen to the wisdom in other people’s answers.
  4. Read James 4:1–10 out loud. What is God saying to you right now about connecting with him? What needs to happen right now for you to draw near?
  5. In what ways is your life “Christo-centric”? In what ways is it not? Take a few moments and pray for those areas where it is not in alignment with God and draw near to him.
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

 

Before the words of prayer come to the lips, the mind must believe in God’s willingness to draw near to us…”
– Abraham Joshua Heschel, Prayer

Main Idea: 

Our prayers are the grandest expression of our faith in Him who is on His way.

Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)

⇒ The story is less of a comparison between God and the unjust judge and more of a between them.

⇒ Prayer becomes less about a transaction and more about a .

⇒ The story is less about prayer and more about .

Main Idea:

Keep on praying and don’t give up, because our prayers are the grandest expression of our faith in Him who is on His way.

This Week’s Spiritual Practice:

Pray daily diligently and expectantly.

 


 

Theme: Prayer Matters

Reflect Together:

What impacted you the most from Sunday’s message?

Share Together:

When do you turn to prayer? What circumstances or instances compel you to pray? Talk about a recent instance when you were compelled to pray.

Read Together:

Luke 18:1-8

Discuss Together:
  • In what ways is the unjust judge contrasted or different from God, both in the story and in your experience?
  • Discuss the difference between prayer as a transaction between you and God, and prayer as a relationship between you and God.
  • How does Jesus connect prayer and faith in this passage?
  • What role does faith play in your prayer life?
  • What is something right now that you need to be praying about? How will your prayer life look/sound different from here?
Pray Together:

Share how God has been answering prayer and any needs to be prayed over.

Part 4: Watch Your Mouth!  • Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

James 3:1–12
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. 
      
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
        All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
        With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

The sin list attached to your mouth:

  • Gossip
  • Slander
  • Lying
  • Boasting
  • Cursing
  • Swearing
  • Angry words
  • Complaining
  • Innuendo
  • Self-pity

The truth about that weapon in your mouth:

  1. No one does this (verse 2)
  2. It’s small but controlling (verses 3–4)
  3. Acts like a spark that ignites a forest fire (verse 5)
  4. Can corrupt your (verse 6)
  5. Cannot be tamed (verses 7–8)
  6. Is full of poison (verse 8)
  7. Is undeniably (verses 9–12)

If you can’t tame it, how can you control it?

Understand the power of words:

The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing. – Proverbs 12:18

Changing your character starts with changing your words–practice the .

Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” – Proverbs 21:23

Controlling your tongue is a that you will be held accountable for.

“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:34–37

Make a conscious choice to speak .

For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” – 1 Peter 3:10-12

The potential goodness of a controlled tongue:

  • Blessing
  • Encouragement
  • Truth-telling
  • Expressed wisdom
  • Humility
  • Wholesome talk
  • Words of life

Next Steps

Scripture says we should consider what a great forest is set on fire by such a small spark, and we’ve all seen this play out countless times on social media. We’ve all seen the division and brokenness words can create in our lives. So, this week we want to intentionally use our words and platforms to show the world something different—to build people up instead of breaking them down.

Here’s how it works. Look back at the outcomes in the section above (The potential goodness of a controlled tongue). This week, our challenge for you is to pick ONE of these outcomes and share a picture on social media of someone who lives it out, and describe how in the caption. Tag your picture with the hashtag #ctkspeaklove so others can find it and be encouraged together.

Small Group Questions

  1. What is one part of the fall season that you are looking forward to?
  2. Has your mouth every gotten you in trouble? Share!
  3. Look back at the “sin list” that’s attached to your mouth. Which one has caused the most damage in or to your life?
  4. Look at the “virtue list” (the potential goodness of a controlled tongue) that is attached to your mouth. Which one has produced the most benefit in or to your life?
  5. Have you ever experienced any victory in taming your tongue? What did God help you to do?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

 

Expressions of Communion

The Lord’s Table

1 Corinthians 10:21 (NIV)

  • Our response to the Lord’s Table is .
The Last Supper    

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NIV)

  • Our response to the Last Supper is  .

1 Corinthians 11:24b (NIV)

The Breaking of the Bread    

1 Corinthians 10:16 (NIV)

Koinonia = fellowship; joint participation; the share which one has in anything; a gift jointly contributed; a collection; a contribution 

Matthew 5:23–24 (NIV)

  • Our response to Breaking of Bread is .
The Eucharist

Eucharistēsas = to thank; to give thanks; to render gratitude 

Luke 22:19 (NIV)

  • Our response to the Eucharist is thankfulness for Jesus’ proclamation of of His return. 

1 Corinthians 11:26 (NIV)

The Love Feast

John 13:34–35 (NIV); 1 Corinthians 11:17–22 (NIV); 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 (NIV); Psalms 139:23-24 (MSG) ; 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

  • Our response to the Love Feast is to one another.

This Week’s Spiritual Practice

Have Communion in community.

 


 

Theme: Communion as a Community

Preparation Prior to Gathering:

Have ready for all in the group, communion elements: bread/cracker and juice/wine.

Share Together:

What is a memorable or spiritually meaning experience you had with a group of people?

Reflect Together:

What impacted you the most from Sunday’s message and what did you learn of the deeper meaning of practicing communion. 

Read Together:

Acts 11: 17-29

Discuss Together:
  • What do you discern about The Apostle Paul’s strong concerns of unhealthy culture regarding early church gathering together, specifically around commemorating the Lord’s Table? What might you find relatable to the modern church today?
  • What do you make of the consequences for partaking in Communion in an unworthy manner? How does that apply to us today? 
  • How shall we approach remembering Jesus’ sacrifice in a worthy manner? 
Partake Together:

Re-read Paul’s Instructions: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The Bread:
Say, “This is Christ’s body that was broken for us.” Eat.

The Cup:
Say, “This is Christ’s blood shed for us.” Drink.

Share together about specific reasons you are grateful for Jesus and what He has done, and also your hope for His return one day.

Pray Together:

Share how God has been answering prayer and any needs to be prayed over.

Part 3: It’s The Least I Could DoBrian Behrends, Creative Pastor

James 2:14
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?
Your notes…

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Your notes…

James 2:2-4
2  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Your notes…

James 2:14-17
NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

THE MESSAGE (MSG)
Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
Your notes…

James 2:19
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
Your notes…

John 12:1-3
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
Your notes…

Next Steps

This week, your challenge is to show up and serve one of our community partners. We’ve carefully and prayerfully chosen these partners because they care about the things God cares about, and they care with an expertise and commitment that we value. Our partners believe they can make a difference for good, and they’ve done the hard work to put their belief into action. Now you an opportunity to come alongside them. 

Do you want your faith in Jesus to have an impact in our community? Will you do something—small or big—to help that happen? If your answer is “Yes, I will,” all you need to do is…

  • Go to ctkserves.org
  • Click on Serve Our Partners to check out upcoming tours and service projects
  • Choose one… and show up!
  • Need help figuring out a good fit? We have volunteers in the Commons today to help you. Stop by one of the pub tables and let them know you’re willing to serve.  

As well, you’re invited to donate to the Blue Skies for Children shoe drive. Look for details at the display in the Commons or at ctkserves.org/shoedrive. Our goal is 100 pairs of new shoes sizes 7-11 (50 pairs for girls, 50 pairs for boys).

Small Group Questions

  1. Is it your natural tendency to give God your best or just enough to get by? Why do you think that is?
  2. If it’s not the thought that counts, what’s one way you can begin to create the habit of follow-through in your life?
  3. What’s one thing in your life that you want to do but haven’t had the will to?
  4. How would you define the relationship between faith and works? Why does it matter so much in our lives?
  5. What’s one way you can put your faith into action this week?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

 

Today’s Truth: Celebrating the goodness of God fosters a culture of gratefulness.

Psalm 81:13-16 (NIV)

Luke 4:43 (NIV)

Luke 15:1-2 (NIV)

Luke 14:23-24 (NIV)

Philippians 4:4 (NIV)

Reasons to Rejoice

⇒ The are found.

Luke 15:9-10 (NIV)

Your has ultimate purpose.

James 1:2-4 (NIV)

⇒ You’re not .

Romans 12:15 (NIV)

Romans 12:15-16 (MSG)

This Week’s Spiritual Practice: Throw a party!

⇒ Your is on the invitation list.

Luke 10:20 (NIV)

Question: Do you have a reason to celebrate this morning?

 


 

Theme: Party Like Jesus!

Share Together:

What is your favorite party theme or your favorite party experience?

Reflect Together:

What impacted you the most from Sunday’s message?

Do Together:

Party or Party Plan

Write some ideas below:

Pray Together:

What are some burdens you are carrying that you can give over to Jesus to help bring rest to your soul? Pray for these burdens and other needs in the group.

Part 2: There’s No ShortcutBrian Behrends, Creative Pastor

Sanctification: The process of learning to love loved and live lived.

James 1:2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Your notes:

Proverbs 24:16
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

Your notes:

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Your notes:

James 1:19 NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…

James 1:19 ENGLISH STANDARD VERSION (ESV)
Know this, my beloved brothers…

Your notes:

James 1:22–25
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 

23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, 24 after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

Your notes:

Zechariah 4:10
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…

Next Steps

If you want to express your faith in action, the only way to start is to start. The only way to do is to do. The only way to serve is to serve. And Zechariah reminds us that there is nothing wrong with a small beginning.

This week, we’re challenging you to find a place to serve in your church—no matter how small the commitment might be. To get started, go to serve.ctk.church. There you’ll find more than a dozen areas where your skills, interests, and willingness could benefit your church and people who are finding their way to Jesus through our ministries. You can explore options there on your own and respond, or you we can help you get started after the service today. Look for our volunteers in the Commons.

If you prefer a paper response form, those are also available in the Commons today. You can fill one out and drop it off at the reception desk any time the church is open.

Small Group Questions

  1. What area of your life do you most want to change right now?
  2. When’s the last time you asked God for wisdom? How did God answer that prayer?
  3. Does knowing that you’re loved change the way you receive the very direct challenges in the book of James? How?
  4. What do you think is the main reason you don’t take action in your life?
  5. Do you sense God inviting you to do something this week? What is it?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

 

Genesis 2:2-3, 4:10-12 (NIV)

Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. Hurry can destroy our souls. Hurry can keep us from living well.” – John Ortberg

Luke 12:25-26 (NIV); Psalm 62:1 (NIV)

Today’s Truth: You are at your best when your soul finds rest.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Our significance is found outside our .

Matthew 11:27 (NIV)

Solitude and silence are before we start another noisy day.

Mark 1:35-37 (MSG)

Sabbath is the and the freedom to find true rest.

This Week’s Spiritual Practice: Set aside space for sabbath rest.

Sabbath Practice:
Relinquish · Reflect · Recreate · Restore

Question: Have you found rest for your soul?

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)


 

Theme: Rest in God’s Best

Share Together:

What’s the most relaxing vacation you’ve ever had? What made your vacation so relaxing?

Reflect Together:

What impacted you the most from Sunday’s message, and how were you able to apply this week’s Spiritual Practice and be a part of the Season of Prayer?

Read Together:

Genesis 4:11-12

  • How is the curse of Cain reflected in our world today?
  • What do you think causes people to be restless?
  • From Sunday’s message, what are the warning signs of having a restless soul, and which one can you personally relate to or would you add to the list?

Read Together:

Isaiah 40:28–31

  • What encourages you about what God provides in this promise? How does hope help us not to become weary?

Read Together:

Matthew 11:28-30

  • What do you think Jesus meant when he said that we should take on his yoke when we are weary? How can we learn from him in carrying our load when we do?
  • What do you think Jesus meant when he referred to himself as “gentle and humble in heart”? 

Re-Read together:

Matthew 11:28-30 (from The Message translation)

  • What is a best practice for you, from Jesus’ “unforced rhythms of grace,” that will allow you to find true soul rest on a regular basis and that you can commit to this week? 

Pray Together:

What are some burdens you are carrying that you can give over to Jesus to help bring rest to your soul? Pray for these burdens and other needs in the group.