Psalms 24:1 (NIV)

The Truth of a Chosen Life:
It’s not about what you don’t have but what you have been entrusted with.

Matthew 25:14–15a (ESV)

⇒ Beware of the curse of for it will kill progress.

Matthew 25:15 (ESV)

Question:
Do you live in the land of “lack” or in the Kingdom of abundance?

⇒ This is only a .

Matthew 25:16–25 (ESV)

⇒ Disobedience is directly connected to fear that is rooted in doubt of the of God.

Matthew 25:25 (NLT)
Matthew 25:24b (ESV)

⇒ Reward is based on , NOT success.

Matthew 25:23 (ESV)

Closing Question:
Beginning today, what is a small step of faithfulness you can take that will lead to greater impact and reward one day?

 


 

Theme: Talent Shows

Share Together:

If you received a million dollars, what would be the first thing you would do with it? Why?

Read & Discuss Together: Matthew 25:14-30
  • What do you think the purpose of the Master was to go away?
  • What happened to the two servants who doubled their investment? Why did they receive such a reward?
  • Why did the servant with one talent hide his talent? Why was Jesus so hard on him?
  • As we view “The Master” in the story as God, how is fear connected in doubting the goodness of God? Explain why?
  • How would you have felt to be one with 5 or 3 talents?
  • How would you have felt if you were one who received only one talent?
  • How is it difficult not to compare yourself with others who have more than you? How did you struggle with comparing yourself with others? In what ways?
  • Have you ever felt like the last servant in the story who didn’t use his talent because of fear? Give an example, and why did you think you were fearful?
  • If the Master returned today, what would he say about the way you’ve used what he gave you? How would you like to improve?
  • Lately, how have you been challenged to be faithful in the “small things?” What small steps do you need to take or keep taking? What do you need prayer for?
Pray Together:

Share the good things God has done in your/others life, and pray for one another of the needs that you have.

Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

To conquer a besetting or habitual sin, I must:

  1. Fearlessly it (Hebrews 12:1)
  2. Place over it (Hebrews 12:2)
  3. Acknowledge how I am to it (1 Corinthians 10:12)
  4. Recognize how my sin affects (1 Corinthians 5:6)
  5. Understand the that draws me in (James 1)
  6. , every day, to conquer temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13)

James 1:12-15
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
        When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
        Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Truth: does not tempt people to do wrong.

Truth: Temptation starts with evil desires.

The Descending Cycle of Sin

Evil personal

A Story of Temptation: Joshua 7:19-23
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”
        Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
        So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the LORD.

Achan’s descending cycle of sin:

I → I → I → I

We all face temptation, but there’s a promise of God.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Another promise in the face of temptation:
When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. – Isaiah 59:19

Now, read with the comma moved…
When the enemy comes in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.

Journal Work

One Question: How will I choose to handle inevitable temptation?

One Truth: Temptation is common, but God always gives a way out.

One Step: Make a plan before temptation is revealed.

Small Group Questions

  1. What did you think/say/do when you saw the snow this past week?
  2. What is the greatest temptation you face on a daily/weekly basis?
  3. How do you handle temptation when it comes against you?
  4. Read all the scriptures from this sermon outline out loud. What do you learn from James, Achan and Isaiah that you can use to battle temptation?
  5. If someone came to you and said they were look for a way out from their besetting sin. How would you respond? Where would you tell them to look as a way of escape?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

 

Philippians 4:4-5 (NIV)

Question: Do you ever feel “off?”

The Truth of a Chosen Life: Joy is not based on a single moment but rather a constant choice to trust in an optimistic future.

Habakkuk 3:17–18 (NLT)

Rejoice is a choice when we put:

⇒ Prayer over .

Question: Is your first reaction to bad news panic or prayer?

Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Matthew 6:27 (NIV)
Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

⇒ Mind over .

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

⇒ Practice over .

Philippians 4:9 (NIV)
James 1:2–4 (NIV)

⇒ Contentment over .

Philippians 4:10–12 (NIV)

⇒ Trust over .

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

Closing Question: Have you found what this world can never ever offer you?

 


 

Theme: The Secret of Contentment

Share Together:

What has been the happiest or most content season of your life? Why?

Reflect Together:

What impacted you the most from Sunday’s message, and what next step do you think you are to take from what you experienced?

Read & Discuss Together: Philippians 4:4-13
  • How does rejoicing in the Lord and knowing God is near help towards our attitude in being content in all circumstances of our lives?
  • How is worry and discontentment related, and how is prayer an answer to help our anxiousness assist us to transcend our understanding and provide for us?
  • How does Paul encourage us to be proactive in our “thinking of such things” to help find true peace and contentment when we put them into practice? What would be an example of this in your personal experiences?
  • Many people believe they can only be content once they have reached a certain level of economic or social prosperity. How does their view differ from Paul’s example of secret contentment v.11-13, even from a prison?
  • What outside force is most likely to upset your contentment? Since God doesn’t always change our negative circumstances, what can he change in you so contentment is still possible?
  • Re-read v.13. How do you need the strength and provision of Jesus in your life today so that we can pray as a group?
Pray Together:

Share the good things God has done in your/others life, and pray for one another of the needs that you have.

Dr. Lem Usita, Guest Pastor

Romans 7:15–25
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Wanting and desiring to do good is .

Question: Can you your habitual sin cycle?

1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Next Question:
When you’re in your habitual sin cycle, do you take the sin that you confessed ?

Hebrews 12:2
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

Hebb’s Law
Cells that together together.

Quantum Zeno Effect
The brain becomes whatever you regularly .

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

We can create new neural pathways that lead us to the

Centering Prayer:
The simple practice of holding on to a word and sitting in the presence of Jesus.

  • Choose a word or phrase as the symbol of your willingness to consent to God’s presence and actions within.
  • Sit comfortably, and repeat your prayer, and breathe deeply.
  • When thoughts come, let them go and return to the word or phrase and practice the 10k ways to return to God.
  • At the end, thank God for His presence.

Journal Work

One Question:  Can you name your habitual sin cycle? Is it different than the one you came up with week 1?

One Truth:  Fix your eyes on Jesus, in order to “throw off the sin that easily entangles you.” 

One Step: Practice the presence of God. One way is to practice centering prayer.

Small Group Questions

  1. What’s something God brought you through that you could’ve never gotten through on your own?
  2. Why do you think we’re so prone to repeating sin as humans?
  3. What’s your first response when you find yourself stuck in a pattern of sin? Do you move toward God or away from him? Why?
  4. How do you go about boasting in your weakness while still moving toward the wholeness and freedom Jesus invites us into?
  5. If you’re brutally honest, how hungry are you for God’s presence in this season? What would it look like for you to take a step toward God?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

 

Psalm 139:13–16 (NIV)

Question: Do you ever feel “off?”

The Truth of a Chosen Life: Forgiveness is the circuit in which the grace of God flows.

Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)

Job 5:2 (GNB)

From bitter existence to reconnecting with God’s Grace:

 it.

Hebrew 12:15a (NIV)

Psalms 139:23-24 (NIV)

 it.

Ephesians 4:31 (NIV)

Question: Why is it so difficult for us to forgive?
  • We fear that if we forgive, we will lose our sense of control.
  • We fear that if we forgive, we are excusing the hurt that it has caused.
  • We fear that if we forgive, we will experience more pain in the process.

 it.

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

Closing Question: Does your heart have faulty wiring?

 


 

Theme: Bitter to Better

Share Together:

Share a time when you accidentally offended somebody, or you were offended, and ended up in a misunderstanding. What was the result?

Reflect Together:

What impacted you the most from Sunday’s message?

Read & Discuss Together: Hebrews 12:15
  • Why is bitterness described as root?
  • What does bitterness do to a person and those around them?
  • How can we miss the grace of God due to harboring bitterness?
  • How can we “see to it” to remove bitterness from our lives?
Read & Discuss Together: Ephesians 4:31-32
  • What does the Bible say we should do with bitterness and the other issues listed? How do we do this?
  • Verse 32 lists some positive attributes that we are to be. Talk as a group over the meaning of each and how it relates to overcoming bitterness.
  • How does overcoming bitterness free us to experience the flow of God’s grace in our lives?
  • How is knowing the depth and extent of what Christ did to forgive us help you forgive others?
  • How have you struggled to overcome bitterness, and where are you in the process of forgiving someone who has hurt you?
  • How can we pray for you?
Pray Together:

Share the needs you or others have, and how God has answered prayer.

Brian Behrends, Creative Pastor

Genesis 20:1–6
1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
        3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”

NOTES

Romans 7:15
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

NOTES

2 Corinthians 12:9–10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

NOTES

Psalm 63:1–4
1 You, God, are my God, 
        earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
        my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
        where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary
        and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
        my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
       and in your name I will lift up my hands.

NOTES

Romans 4:18–21
18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

NOTES

Journal Work

One Question: If God says I’m qualified, why do I keep disqualifying myself?
One Truth: It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance.
One Step: 
One promise: God will never leave you or forsake you.

Small Group Questions

  1. What’s something God brought you through that you could’ve never gotten through on your own?
  2. Why do you think we’re so prone to repeating sin as humans?
  3. What’s your first response when you find yourself stuck in a pattern of sin? Do you move toward God or away from him? Why?
  4. How do you go about boasting in your weakness while still moving toward the wholeness and freedom Jesus invites us into?
  5. If you’re brutally honest, how hungry are you for God’s presence in this season? What would it look like for you to take a step toward God?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

 

1 Samuel 18:9 (NIV)

Truth of a Chosen Life: A true friendship is not formed by the click of a request but through a covenant relationship.

1 Samuel 18:1, 3-4 (NIV)

Question: What are you looking for in a close friend?

Some characteristics of a covenant friendship:

⇒ True friendship is to another person regardless of their response back.

1 Samuel 18:3 (NIV)

Covenant (בְּרִית) “Berith”
determination, stipulation, a pledge, an obligation between nations, individuals, families.

Deuteronomy 7:8 (NIV)

1 John 4:10 (NIV)

Colossians 3:12 (NIV)

⇒ True friendship is  through the sacrifice of ourselves for the sake of it.

1 Samuel 18:4 (NIV)

1 Samuel 23:17-18 (NIV)

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.
Just walk beside me; and be my friend.
– Albert Camus, writer & philosopher

⇒ True friendship is only when tested through trials.

1 Samuel 20:41b-42a (NIV)

Today’s Challenge: Choose friends that are life giving, not life draining.

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)

John 15:13-15 (NIV)

 


 

Theme: A Friendly Business

Share Together:

Who was your best friend growing up? Are you still in contact with them today?

Reflect Together:

What impacted you the most from Sunday’s message regarding the unique covenant friendship that Jonathan and David had? How did it encourage and challenge you in your personal relationships?

Read & Discuss Together: John 15:1-16
  • What is the significance of the vine imagery that Jesus chooses to describe our relationship with him in these verses and why?
  • What does Jesus mean when He says “remain or abide?” What does it mean to personally have a friendship with Jesus?
  • What does Jesus mean that “apart from me you can do nothing” in v. 5? Do you have an example in your life that you tried to do this?
  • What are “fruits” or results of being connected? What is the key to avoid being disconnected?
  • What is the “greater love” that Jesus is talking about?
  • How do we remain in his love?
  • In what ways do you try to stay connected with Christ? When have you felt disconnected? Why?
  • How is our friendship with Jesus helpful in knowing the Father’s will?
  • How do you learn from your friendship with Jesus to help you have life giving friendships and also help you with boundaries of life draining relationships?
Pray Together:

Take time to share the good things God is doing in your life and to pray for “life giving” friendships you are needing help with as well as other prayer needs in your group/family.

Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

Question:
What is your besetting sin?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2a

The Promise of God to Abram GENESIS 12:2–3
“I will make you into a great nation,
       and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
       and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
       and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
       will be blessed through you.

With this promise in hand, Abram journeys to Egypt and in a moment of hardship does this:

10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. 11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” – Genesis 12:10–13

 

The Besetting Sins of Abram

(which leads to )

Sin may appear to bring short term gain, but the long-term consequences will always affect , your , and your relationship with .

14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. 16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels. 17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household… – Genesis 12:14-17

The root causes of these besetting sins:

Lack of

Lack of faith in God’s

Question:
In the face of your own besetting sin, where do you lack faith and trust in God?

 

The Promise of God to You
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:34-36

 

Journal Work:

One question: 

One truth: 

One step:

Small Group Questions

  1. What’s the biggest lie you remember telling as a child? How did it work out for you?
  2. How does it feel to you when you find out you’ve been lied to?
  3. Read Genesis 12 out loud. What do you believe prompted Abram to take this course of action. In what ways can you empathize with his decision? What can you learn about his actions that can help you in your own life?
  4. In your own besetting sin, where are you experiencing a lack of trust and a lack of faith?
  5. Read John 8 (the whole chapter). What does the whole context teach you about the heart of God in the face of habitual sin?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

 

2 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

Question: Have you ever had to make a life-or-death decision?

In Living the Chosen Life: Life is not up to chance but of choice, and you must choose it!

Deuteronomy 30:11-31:1 (NIV)
1 Peter 2:9-10a (NIV)

⇒ We choose life or death by the we dwell on.

Job 31:1a (NIV)
Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

⇒ We choose life or death by the we speak.

James 3:9 (NIV)

⇒ We choose life or death by the we take.

Romans 6:23a (NIV)

Question: Is the choice I am about to make going to be life-giving or life-draining?

Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right. Romans 5:18-19 (MSG)

 


 

Theme: Set Before You

Share Together:

What is something you desire to experience in 2023?

Reflect Together:

What impacted you the most from Sunday’s message, and how were you able to apply your life this week?

Read & Discuss Together:

Deuteronomy 30:11-20

  • What do you understand is happening at this point of the Exodus journey with Moses and the people?
  • What seems to be the anticipated objections Moses is trying to call out according to what he says in verses 11-13?
  • What do you think Moses means by what he says in verse 14, about how people can find God’s word? How does that relate to growing in knowledge and truth?
  • What choices is Moses setting before the people in verse 15? How will the people show the choice they have made? How do these choices relate with your life?
  • Based on verse 16 and what Jesus says in John 14:15, how is the loving God related to obeying his commandments? What are the consequences of obeying or not obeying that you can relate to in your walk with God?
  • According to verse 19, who are the witnesses and what does that mean?
  • What is it about what Moses says that implies the people are about to make a life-or-death decision?
  • What does Moses mean by “choose life?” What does that mean to you personally?
  • In practical terms, how are the daily decisions we make not just about right or wrong, but a choice between life and death?
  • What example do you have in your life that relates to what you think, say, and do in the context of the environment you are in and people you are with?
  • How can we be “life giving” and not “life draining” people as individuals and as a community?
Pray Together:

Take time to share the good things God is doing in your life and to pray for “life giving” decisions you are needing to make, as well as other prayer needs in your group/family.

Grant Fishbook, Lead Teaching Pastor

Habitual sin confirms that you have forgotten…

When dealing with habitual sin…

You don’t start with the ;
you start with the !

Isaiah 61:1–3
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
          because the LORD has anointed me
          to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
        to proclaim freedom for the captives
        and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor
        and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
        3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
        instead of ashes,
the oil of joy 
        instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
        instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
        a planting of the LORD
        for the display of his splendor.

From Isaiah 61, Jesus is…
God, Hope, Healer, Liberator, Deliverer,
Messenger, Comforter, Transformer

When dealing with habitual sin…

You don’t start with who you are;
you start with who you are.

A moment of truth and transparency:
My besetting sin is.

In the face of my besetting sin, God says:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be
burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
– Galatians 5:1

Small Group Questions

  1. Summarize your Christmas season in one word. Were you satisfied with your celebration of Jesus’ birth and if not, what would you change?
  2. Have you ever been trapped or felt trapped at any moment of your life? How did you manage to find freedom?
  3. Read Isaiah 61. Which of the declarations has God accomplished in your life? Share as many details as you are comfortable with regarding the work God has done and is doing in your life.
  4. Take some time and read Romans 6 and Romans 8. In these passages, who does Jesus say that you are? Write out the list. It’s worth it!
  5. This is your moment. What is your besetting sin? (If this is a group setting, only share what you feel God wants you to share.)
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?