Dear Church| Deliver Us From Safe

What can we learn from a church that is nothing like us? A church that was small, poor, powerless, and persecuted? We can learn how to live bravely in a scary world.

This Week's Action Step: 

Pray for bravery instead of safety. 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Do you think the world is becoming a more dangerous place?

Why?

o Were/Are you surprised to learn the world is actually becoming a much safer place?

• Why do you think we think the world is becoming more dangerous although it’s actually becoming safer?

• If mass media makes us feel like the world is a scarier place than it really is, what are some practical ways we can stay aware of what’s going on in the world without taking in too much mass media?

• “As our world has become safer, we’ve become more accustomed to safety, and as we’ve become more accustomed to safety we’ve also started to feel more entitled to safety. We think Jesus is obligated to keep us safe.”

o Discuss. Do you agree or disagree?

• Do you think you’re too concerned with your or your family’s safety? Are there ways your hyper-concern for safety might be hindering your ability to be brave and faithful to Christ?

• In Revelation 2:10, Jesus tells the church at Smyrna to not be afraid, even though they were going to suffer. He didn’t tell them to not be afraid because he would deliver them from suffering, or because the world was such a safe place.

Is your courage rooted in Jesus’s victory over sin and death, or is your “courage” rooted in your ability to control your environment and stay safe?

Songs from Today

The Lion And The Lamb by Brenton Brown, Brian Johnson, and Leeland Mooring

Give Me Faith by Mack Brock, Chris Brown, London Gatch, and Wade Joye

All The Poor And Powerless by Leslie Jordan and David Leonard

I Will Exalt by Amanda Falk

Take Courage by Jeremy Riddle, Joel Taylor, and Kristene DiMarco

Dear Church| Week 2 Ephesus

The church in Ephesus was doing some really great things and they are commended by Jesus for what they are doing well. However, Jesus tells them that they have abandoned their love for Him. Ephesus shows us that it is possible to have a church that looks good on the outside, but has no real love and affection for Jesus.

This Week's Action Step: 

Think about what really grows/stirs your affection for Jesus and spend some extra time this week doing more of that.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

1.  Read Rev. 2:2-3.  Discuss the things that the church in Ephesus was doing well/right.  What’s good about this church?

2.  In verse 4 Jesus only has one thing against the Ephesian church, but it’s a big one… they have lost their love and affection for Him.  Why is it so important that our works/service/ministry be rooted in a love for Jesus?  What is the danger if it’s not?

3.  In verse 5 Jesus tells them what to do about it… specifically three things.  1. Remember from where you have fallen.  2. Repent.  3. Do the works you did at first.  In your spiritual journey have you ever felt God leading you through a similar pattern to draw you back to himself (remember a time or season where you felt really close to him, repent, and do something you’ve done before)?  

4.  What does Jesus mean at the end of verse 5 when he says, “If you don’t repent… I will come to you and remove your lampstand.”?

5.  The main goal of the Christian life is not to avoid sin, it is to love Jesus.  What disciplines do you practice that help you grow and maintain your love and affection for Jesus?  

Songs from Today

Only King Forever by Mack Brock, Chris Brown, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye

Death Arrested by Adam Kersh, Brandon Coker, Heath Balltzglier, and Paul Taylor

This I Believe by Ben Fielding and Matt Crocker

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David Helser and Melissa Helser

Rising Sun by Leslie Jordan, Kyle Lee, and David Leonard

Dear Church| Intro

Despite all her flaws, the church is still the Bride of Christ. Jesus loves the church, died for the church, protects the church, and purifies the church. To rightly love Jesus means to love what Jesus loves... that means we should love the church as well.

This Week's Action Step: 

Write down, or discuss with friends and family, what you love about your church and then spend time praying for your church this week.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

1.  The author of the book of Revelation is identified as the apostle John.  What all do we know about John’s life?

2.  Why do you think John chooses to introduce himself in verse 9 as “your brother and partner in tribulation…” rather than stating his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ (as was more common)?  Any significance to that?

3.  John sees Jesus in his glorified state rather than his incarnate state.  In other words, John sees Jesus not as a humble, marginalized, Galilean peasant, but as a glorious Sovereign King and ruler of all.  Why is that important?  Why might this view of Jesus be particularly encouraging to John and the church in the midst of trials and tribulations?  

4.  Have you ever heard someone say something like, “I love Jesus, I just don’t care for the church?” Why is that problematic?  What causes some people, including some people who claim to be Christians, to despise the church?  What can you say/do to help change their opinions of the church?

5.  It’s easy to be critical of the church.  There’s plenty to be critical about.  But part of the action step this week was to discuss what you love about your church with friends or family.  As you wrap up your time together as a small group, take some time and do that.   Discuss what you love about your church.  

Songs from Today

Unstoppable God by Chris Brown, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye

Jesus We Love You by Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, and Paul McClure

God I Look To You by Jenn Johnson

Ever Be by Bobby Strand, Chris Greely, Gabriel Wilson, and Kalley Heiligenthal

Come To The River

Better Together

Following Jesus isn’t about access to secret knowledge, rigid rule keeping or white-knuckling your way through spiritual disciplines;  it’s about a deep communion with Christ and His people

This Week's Action Step: 

Have a good meal and good conversation with someone.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big ideas

We are a lonely generation. We tend to keep to ourselves instead of allowing our faith community to push us into deeper levels of faith. 

Paul states the way we can grow deepest is to be joined together in love-immersed in the community. 

When we do we will build a good life, because the good life is built on good relationships.

Questions

  •We live in a world that is more connected than ever, but also more lonely/isolated. 

Why do you think that is? 

Do you feel more lonely now or more connected?

•At its core, the Gospel is about relationships. Paul’s encouragement for us to grow in our faith is to have our “hearts joined together in love”- to be deeply connected to community.  

What does this mean to you? 

Do you see community as a primary way to grow in your faith?

•Many American Christians place a high value on individualism/independence rather than being a community. 

Why do you think that is? 

What can we do to combat that?

•Read Ecclesiates 4:9-10— 

Talk about a time you’ve been able to share a great moment with someone. 

Talk about a time you’ve helped/been helped by someone.

•Action

How can you as a group practice being more devoted to each other?— don’t theorize or be ambiguous, be specific, make a plan.

Songs from Today

The Lion And The Lamb - by Brenton Brown, Brian Johnson, and Leeland Mooring

Death Arrested - by Adam Kersh, Brandon Coker, Heath Balltzglier, and Paul Taylor

Reckless Love - by Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, and Ran Jackson

Hosanna - by Brooke Fraser

God With Us - by Jason Ingram and Leslie Jordan

Politics of Jesus| Preemptive Love

Jesus tells us to take a posture of anticipatory empathy instead of retaliatory violence. Jesus ends his Sermon on the Mount by telling us to take what he's say and do it.

This Week's Action Step: 

What’s something Jesus said to do that you’re not doing?

Do it.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

  • Jesus teaches the Golden Rule, meaning he teaches us to take a posture of anticipatory empathy instead of retaliatory violence.
  • What the world really needs Christians to do is take what Jesus said and do it.

Questions

  • We mentioned that Jesus didn’t make up the Golden Rule; it’s found in various ancient religions.
    • Does it bother you that Jesus uses ideas that are not original to him? Ideas that are found in other religions before Jesus said them?
  • I said that if we believe all humans are created in the image of God, and that God has always tried to make his truth known to all people, we should expect other religions to have some truth, and should celebrate it instead of feeling threatened by it.
    • Do you agree or disagree?
  • In teaching the Golden Rule, Jesus replaces a posture of retaliatory violence with a posture of anticipatory empathy.
    • Do you think that you tend to walk the world conditioned to retaliating defensively, or that you walk the world conditioned to anticipate with empathy?
    • What are some ways you like to be treated, and what are some ways you can treat SPECIFIC people in your life that way?
  • Jesus said the Golden Rule was the summation of all of Scripture.
    • How does it change the way you relate to the Bible to know that the goal of all Scripture is to turn you into somebody who treats others the way you would want others to treat you?
  • I said our biggest problem is not that we need more information; our biggest problem is that we don’t do what Jesus said.
    • Why do we think more information will solve our problems?
    • What is something that you know Jesus has told you to do that you’re not doing? Be specific.
    • Why aren’t you doing it? How can you do it?

Songs from Today

Spirit Move by Amanda Cook and Kalley Heiligenthal

Faithful To The End by Brian Johnson, Hannah McClure, Joel Taylor, and Paul McClure

Never Stop by Chris Franz and Mariah McManus

O Praise The Name (Anástasis) by Benjamin Hastings, Dean Ussher, and Marty Sampson

Yes And Amen by Anthony Brown, Chris McClarney, and Nate Moore

Politics of Jesus| Gotta Serve Somebody

Jesus seeks to dispossess us of our status and stuff so that we can be people who are free from anxiety. Because if we want to be free of anxiety, we must become people who have nothing to lose.

This Week's Action Step: 

Let the birds and flowers teach you to trust.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

·      Jesus tells us that we cannot serve God and wealth.

·      Jesus ties wealth and anxiety together by suggesting that our desire for status and stuff often creates our anxiety.

Questions

·      I suggested that we have really softened the NT teaching on wealth.

o   The NT, taken as a whole, has a very negative attitude toward wealth, seeing wealth in and of itself as a problem, whereas we like to think that wealth is OK so long as we have the proper attitude toward it.

o   Do you think that we’ve softened the NT teaching on wealth so that we, as relatively speaking, mostly very wealthy people, can justify our wealth?

·      Read Proverbs 30:8-9.

o   What do you think of this prayer? That God neither make us poor nor rich?

·      How many of you struggle with anxiety? What, specifically?

·      In what ways has technology made us more anxious?

·      Jesus connects status and stuff with anxiety, suggesting that it’s only once we’re freed from status and stuff that we’re also freed from our anxiety.

o   If you want to be free from anxiety, you must become somebody who has nothing to lose.

o   What is Jesus asking you to give up, to give away, to do, or to stop doing that might free you from your anxiety?

Songs from Today

This Is Amazing Grace by Josh Farro, Jeremy Riddle, and Phil Wickham

I Will Exalt by Amanda Falk

Blessed Assurance by Mack Brock and Chris Brown

What A Beautiful Name by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood

Your Love Is Strong by Jon Foreman

Politics of Jesus| Eliminating Our Enemies

Jesus overturns the OT law of mandatory retribution and replaces it with a teaching of non-violent resistance. Jesus teaches us how to live gently in a violent world, embracing a peaceable posture, not because it "works" but because it is faithful.

This Week's Action Step: 

Pray for an enemy every day this week. 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

·      Jesus overturns the OT teaching of mandatory retribution.

·      Jesus teaches that we aren’t to respond to violence with violence.

·      Jesus tells us to love even our enemies.

Questions:

·      In overturning the OT teaching of lex talionis, Jesus teaches us something important about reading the Bible.

o   Jesus is free to overturn OT teachings because Scripture is an unfolding story wherein the true will of God is being progressively revealed, and Jesus perfectly reveals the will of God.

o   To say that another way, the Bible is not a flat book, and what that means is that while all Scripture is authoritative, all Scripture is not equally authoritative.

o   How does that effect the way you read the Bible? What questions do you have about it?

·      When it comes to interpreting Jesus’s radical condemnation of violence, we said there are two ways to interpret it: non-violent resistance (resist to the point of killing) and just war (violence is almost always wrong).

o   I’m gonna make a case for both, and then I want you to argue with me…

§  Non-violence: It’s the clear biblical teaching, regardless of how hard it is for us to accept. Jesus and Paul clearly teach it. The early church knew that and embraced it. Is it realistic? Does it work? Well that’s not really our call. We’re not non-violent because it works; we’re non-violent because Jesus told us to be. That aside, yea it does work just as well if not better than violence because where has all the violence gotten us?

§  Just war: We can’t be so literal. Sure, we should do everything we can to avoid violence, but sometimes we have no choice. We have a right to self-defense and a responsibility to defend others.

·      Regardless where you land, there’s a remarkable middle ground: all Christians should agree that violence is never ideal and almost always wrong.

o   Do you think Christians have been far too quick to use violence? Why?

o   How would the teachings of Jesus and Paul affect the way Christians think about war and law enforcement?

o   What does a consistent pro-life stance look like? Does it make sense to be against abortion and for capital punishment?

·      Matthew 5:44 tells us that we have to love our enemies.

o   Who are our enemies?

§  Name some personal ones and then some general ones.

o   What would it look like for us to love them?

Songs from Today

The Lion And The Lamb by Brenton Brown, Brian Johnson, and Leeland Moorin

King Of My Heart by John Mark McMillan and Sarah McMillan

Starlight by Amanda Cook, Bobby Strand, Brian Johnson, and Lindsey Strand

Great Are You Lord by Steve Cook and Vikki Cook

Brother by David Gungor, Ian Cron, and John Arndt

 

Politics of Jesus| Ecosystem of Peace

We live in an angry world. We think we need our anger. But Jesus calls the church to be a space of radical reconciliation where former enemies become friends.

This Week's Action Step: 

Settle Matters Quickly

 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

·      Jesus has asked us to be a community of peace in an angry world.

·      Peace is not just avoiding anger, but it is pursuing reconciliation.

Questions

 When is the last time you were really angry?

 A recent study shows that half of Americans are angrier today than they were a year ago.

 Why do you think that is? Why are we getting angrier?

I said anger is a substitute emotion, meaning when something happens that causes us pain, we’ll substitute the pain we feel for anger because we would rather feel angry than sad.

Have you experienced that to be true in your life? Name an instance.

We noted that the goal of Jesus’s teaching here is not about avoiding anger but about aggressively pursuing reconciliation.

Why is it important to keep this big picture in mind? To keep in mind that the goal is a community of radical reconciliation and not just a community that avoids anger?

Name a person you are angry with and a person who is angry with you.

How can you take steps toward reconciliation with those people?

Songs from Today

Faithful To The End by Brian Johnson, Hannah McClure, Joel Taylor, and Paul McClure

Mercy by Amanda Cook and Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger

Jesus We Love You by Hannah McClure, Kalley Heiligenthal, and Paul McClure

Miracles by Chris Quilala, Dustin Smith, Joshua Silverberg, and Stuart Garrard

O Come To The Altar by Christopher Brown, Mack Brock, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye

Politics of Jesus| Beauty Will Save the World

As the salt of the earth and light of the world, the church cannot be bland or hidden. Our strategy to transform the world isn't the power of our arguments or condemnation, but the power of our love.

This Week's Action Step: 

Do something kind for someone you know doesn't know Jesus.

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

 

Overview

·      Third week of our series, The Politics of Jesus…walking through the Sermon on the Mount.

·      This week we discussed Matthew 5:13-20, though really just verses 13-16.

 

Big Ideas

·      Jesus tells us his expectations for us by using a couple of metaphors: you are the salt of the earth; you are the light of the world.

·      Jesus tells us we cannot be bland and we cannot blend in.

·      The power of Christian faith is not found in the strength of our arguments or condemnations, but in the beauty of our lives.

 

Small Group Questions

  • I said the goal of Christianity is becoming fully alive, not not sinning.
    • Do you agree with that, and if so, why might that be an important distinction to make?
       
  • We talked about the temptation to blend in and be like everybody else—to be nice and love Jesus, but still pursue the American Dream and spend our time and money however we want, and not take Christianity too seriously because it might ruin our good time.
    • In what ways do you, as a Christian, feel the temptation to blend in and be like everybody else?
       
  • Have you ever thought about how much human conscience has changed because of Jesus? That things like exposing infants and killing inconvenient people used to be normal and now, because of Jesus they’re not normal?
     
  • The power of Christianity is not the power of exclusion, violence, or shame. Our power is not the force of our arguments or condemnations, but the beauty of our love.
    • What are some things we could do to make the beauty of Christian faith more apparent to the world?
    • How does understanding that the power of the church is found in love instead of exclusion or shame affect the way we practice

Songs from Today

Glory To Glory - Lauren Evans, Rick Seibold, and William Matthews

Ever Be - Bobby Strand, Chris Greely, Gabriel Wilson, and Kalley Heiligenthal

Reckless Love - by Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, and Ran Jackson

How Beautiful - Andres Figueroa, Jonathan Smith, and Mariah McManus

Beautiful - Philip Wickham

Politics of Jesus| Blessed

God's plan to heal the world is not a Christian nation but a Christian church. Jesus's church embodies a new world order where even the "un-blessable" are blessed.

This Week's Action Step: 

Spend more time praying than you do watching the news

 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

Big Ideas

·      Our belief that America is a Christian nation has made it easy for us to confuse being an American with being a Christian.

·      As Christians, our primary sphere of political activism and allegiance is the church and not the government.

·      The Beatitudes speak to the surprising kinds of people who are blessed in God’s kingdom.

Questions

·      So in Matthew 5:1-2, we read that the disciples leave the crowd to go and join Jesus on the mountain, and I suggested that we have a hard time understanding how severe this call to leave the crowd and join the community that is following Jesus is, because we’ve assumed that America is a Christian nation, and so we’ve also assumed that to be American is to be Christian.

o   So what do you think? Is America a Christian nation? And does the belief that America is a Christian nation make it easy to confuse being an American with being a Christian.

·      Along those lines, I suggested that thinking of America as a Christian nation cn make it easy to us to treat governmental politics as the center of Christian activity and allegiance, when the church should actually be the center of our political activity and allegiance.

o   What do you think about that? Do you agree? What are the implications?

·      Also along those lines, what do you think it would look like for us to transform our passion for a particular political party into a passion for the church?

·      During the sermon I suggested that many of us have far too vested an interest in being conservative or progressive and it has hindered our ability to be faithful

o    Do you agree?

·      Transitioning to the Beatitudes, how does it change the way you read them to realize they are not suggestions, but are rather proclamations of blessing upon people the world says are not blessed?

·      What can you/we do to help Vista become a place where we bless the kinds of people the world forgets and insults?

Songs from Today

Love Goes On by Joel Davies, Hannah Hobbs, and Laura Toggs

Only King Forever by Mack Brock, Chris Brown, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye

On & On by Yancy

Yes And Amen by Anthony Brown, Chris McClarney, and Nate Moore

All The Poor And Powerless by Leslie Jordan and David Leonard

Politics of Jesus| Followers of Jesus, Citizens of an Empire

Jesus came proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, a provocatively political act. Jesus asks us for an allegiance that transcends all earthly allegiances.

This Week's Action Step: 

Say the Lords Prayer each morning as a Pledge of Allegiance to Jesus

 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

-During the sermon we noted that when Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom, it was a very politically charged act because he was essentially challenging Caesar’s claim to rule the world. In fact, one of the most persistent themes in the NT is Jesus’s kingship over and conflict with all the rulers of the world.

            -Have you ever noticed how political Jesus was?

-“The gospel of Jesus Christ is more political than anyone imagines, but in a way that no one guesses.”

            -What do you think Peterson means?

-When it comes to faith and politics, I noted that we’ve fluctuated between two extremes: we turn Jesus into a political mascot or we turn him into this non-political, private, personal savior who only talked about private spirituality.

            -Why do you think we’ve done that?

            -Which extreme do you gravitate toward?

            -What are the problems with either of these extremes?

-We distinguished between patriotism and nationalism.

            -Patriotism is a love for your country.

            -Nationalism is a love for your country mutates into an ultimate allegiance to your country and a belief that your country is superior, infallible, and ordained to rule the world in the name of God.

            -So how do we make sure our love for our country doesn’t mutate into an unhealthy belief in the superiority and God-favored-ness of our country?

-In what ways can your allegiance to America compete with your allegiance to Christ?

 

Songs from Today

This Is Amazing Grace by Josh Farro, Jeremy Riddle, and Phil Wickham

Heroes by Amanda Cook, Jason Ingram, and Paul Mabury

10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord) by Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman

It Is Well by Horatio Gates Spafford, Kristene DiMarco, and Philip Paul Bliss

Your Great Name by Michael Neale and Krissy Nordhoff

The Politics of Jesus - 2018

Easter 2018 | The WHY of the Cross

We know that Jesus died on a cross for our sins. His death and his resurrection are the most significant events in history. But why did Jesus die? What does his death specifically accomplish for me?

This Week's Action Step: 

Focus on the cross this week. Picture Jesus hanging there in your place. Thank Him for being your sacrifice. Then join us for Good Friday and Easter services as we remember and celebrate what He's done for us.

 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

  • This week in your small groups we want you to focus on the cross. Rather than a list of questions, attached you’ll find the complete outline of my sermon with all the scripture references that were used.  Take some time this week in your groups and read through all of the scriptures (have different people read each one, or select a few to read them all).  The group leader can read the heading (for example:  Jesus died as our eternal sacrifice… Atonement) then have someone read the verses that correspond to that heading.  Follow that pattern for each of the 10 points pausing to unpack or discuss them as you see fit. End your time together in prayer thanking Jesus for all that He accomplished for us at the cross.

     

    Optional… One idea might be to end your time by taking communion together as a small group.  Obviously if you choose to do this you’ll need to prepare by having bread and juice for everyone.  Some groups may choose not to do this if they feel it would be awkward for new people, but some groups may be pretty cohesive and this may be a great way to focus on the cross together during what’s considered “Holy Week.”  

     

    Have a great small group time.

What did the death of Jesus accomplish for me? 

John 19:16-18 & 28-30

1.  Jesus died as our eternal sacrifice (Atonement)

John 1:29

Hebrews 10:3 & 11-14

2.  Jesus died to take our place (Substitution)

II Cor. 5:21

3.  Jesus died to forgive us (Justification)

Romans 3:23-24

Romans 5:18

4.  Jesus died to bring us back to God (Reconciliation)

Romans 5:10-11

Col. 1:19-20

II Cor. 5:17-19

5.  Jesus died to pay our debt (Ransom)

Mark 10:45

I Cor. 6:20

I Timothy 2:5-6

I Peter 1:18-19

6.  Jesus died to set us free (Redemption)

Exodus 6:6

Galatians 5:1

Eph. 1:7

Col. 1:13-14

7.  Jesus died to crush our enemies (Christus Victor)

John 12:31

John 16:11

Hebrews 2:14-15

I John 3:8

8.  Jesus died to take our wrath (Propitiation)

I John 2:2

I John 4:10

9.  Jesus died to cleanse / purify our filth (Expiation)

I John 1:7-9

10.  Jesus died as our perfect example (Christus Exemplar)

I Peter 2:21

 

Songs from Today

Spirit Move by Amanda Cook and Kalley Heiligenthal

Faithful To The End by Brian Johnson, Hannah McClure, Joel Taylor, and Paul McClure

Great Are You Lord by Steve Cook and Vikki Cook

What A Beautiful Name by Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood

For The Cross by Jenn Johnson, Ian McIntosh, and Gabriel Wilson

Easter 2018 | It Has Arrived

While the world judges against Jesus, God judges for the world. Jesus judges the world even as he reconciles the world.

This Week's Action Step: 

When you feel the tug of Jesus’s love this week, surrender to it instead of resisting it.

 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

  • Why do you think it’s important to prepare yourself for Easter and not just show up on Easter for the party?
  • When you read John 12:20-33, what jumps out?
  • In John 12:31, Jesus says that judgment is “now” upon the world.
    • How does this change the way you think about the judgment of God? To think about it as something that was happening as Jesus was judged and crucified and not just something that happens at the end of history.
  • Read John 12:32, and then also read 1 John 2:2, Romans 5:18, and Colossians 1:19-20.
    • Take these texts and summarize what you think they’re saying.
  • Do you think these scriptures teach us that “the whole human race has been reconciled to God?”
  • Now read Hebrews 10:26-30.
    • How do we harmonize texts that seem to teach universal reconciliation with texts that seem to teach judgment for some?
  • Discuss this quote: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done." All that are in Hell, choose it…No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”
  • How might it change the way you think about yourself and others to understand that God has no judgment left in him because we have all already been judged guilty but, more importantly, forgiven and loved?

 

Songs from Today

The Lion And The Lamb by Brenton Brown, Brian Johnson, and Leeland Mooring

Blessed Assurance by Mack Brock and Chris Brown

Great Are You Lord by Steve Cook and Vikki Cook

10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord) by Jonas Myrin and Matt Redman

Reckless Love by Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, and Ran Jackson

The Fight | Prayer

After discussing the believer's spiritual armor, Paul encourages us to do one other thing continually as we fight against satan... and that is pray.  

This Week's Action Step: 

Paul encourages believers in Eph. 6:18 to pray for "ALL the Saints."  

Take some time each day this week and pray for the church.

 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

1.  Read the following verses that I referenced in the sermon this week:  Rom. 12:12, Col. 4:2, Phil. 4:6, and I Thess. 5:17.

What does it mean to be “constant in prayer” or to “pray without ceasing?”  How can we do that?

2.  Paul urges the Ephesian church to pray with "all prayer and supplication."  There are different kinds/types of prayer.  List as many kinds/types of prayer as you can think of.  What kind/types of prayers do you find yourself praying most frequently?  Why? 

3.  How do we pray with “all perseverance?”  What is something you’ve prayed for with perseverance/persistence?  Did you (or do you) find it difficult to continue to pray for something for a long time?  

4.  Read Eph. 6:19-20.  We tend to pray for the things that are most important to us.  If that’s true, what was most important to the apostle Paul?  What can/does this teach us about how to specifically pray for our spiritual leaders (Elders, Pastors, Missionaries, etc…) in our church?  

5.  Paul also encourages the believers in Ephesus to “pray for all the saints.”  With that in mind, take some time as you wrap up your small group this week and pray for each other.  You can do this however you want (have a few people pray, open it up to anyone who wants to pray, divide up into groups of 3 or 4 and pray, etc…). The important thing is to pray for one another as we’re all in the fight against satan.  

 

Songs from Today

Spirit Move by Amanda Cook and Kalley Heiligenthal

This Is Amazing Grace by Josh Farro, Jeremy Riddle, and Phil Wickham

Never Stop by Chris Franz and Mariah McManus

Good Good Father

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David Helser and Melissa Helser

The Fight | Helmet of Salvation & Sword of the Spirit

The last two pieces of armor that Paul mentions in Eph. 6 are the helmet and the sword. Paul identifies them with salvation (specifically our future hope) and the word of God (scripture). When we're assured of our future hope, it gives us confidence in the fight against satan. We also need to know how to rightly use the sword (the Word of God) in the fight. 

This Week's Action Step: 

If you don't already have a habit or pattern of doing so, make a commitment to spend some time each day reading the Bible this week. Start with one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and work your way through. 

 

Small Group

Small Group Questions:

1.  Out of all the pieces of armor that a soldier wore, why do you think the Apostle Paul chose to associate salvation with the helmet?  Any significance to that?

2.  Read John 6:37-39, John 10:27-30, Rom. 8:35-39, and Phil. 1:6.  How does knowing these truths, or promises, give us confidence in our fight agains satan?  

3.  Why is it so important to have a high view of God’s Word?  What does it mean to say that the Bible is authoritative and infallible?  

4.  Read II Tim. 2:15.  How do we “rightly handle the word of truth?”  How have you seen or experienced the sword (word of God) being used wrongly?  In other words, how is it often misused?

5.  Answer the first part of this question quietly to yourself.  On a scale of 1-10 how well would you say you “know” the Word of God? (Got the number in your head?). Now, what are some practical things you can do over the course of this year to increase that number so that you can be better equipped to use your sword against satan’s attacks? 

 

Songs from Today

Faithful To The End by Brian Johnson, Hannah McClure, Joel Taylor, and Paul McClure

Love Goes On by Joel Davies, Hannah Hobbs, and Laura Toggs

King Of My Heart by John Mark McMillan and Sarah McMillan

O Come To The Altar by Christopher Brown, Mack Brock, Steven Furtick, and Wade Joye

Tremble by Andres Figueroa, Hank Bentley, Mariah McManus, and Mia Fieldes