Week 3 - Gratitude

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This was week three of Hot Mess and we listened to a message series about our closest relationships. Our guest speaker was Todd Clark, and he talked about the idea of gratitude and how crucial the expression of gratitude is to our loved ones.

Todd shared the story of Jesus healing the ten men with leprosy.

Luke 17:11-19

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[a] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Often we use this passage to talk about being grateful. We think of the nine men who didn’t return as ungrateful. But Todd pointed out that they were most likely very grateful for what Jesus had done. Their lives were drastically changed for the better. The man who returned to thank Jesus didn't necessarily feel more gratitude than the others. What set him apart is that he took the time to express his gratitude. 

As a society, we can be much like the nine others. We may feel gratitude toward others and just assume that they know how we feel. If we fail to express our gratitude, then how will people know that it actually exists?

DISCUSS

Tell us about a time when you felt underappreciated.

Why do you think we are so bad at expressing appreciation toward others?

 Tell us about a person in your life who you feel gratitude for, who may not even know it.

 What keeps you from telling others when you are thankful for them or for something they have done?

Brainstorm some ideas about how you can creatively express gratitude toward people in your life.

 Share the names of two people who are not in this group, that you will express gratitude toward this week.

 Go around the room, and have everyone share one thing they are grateful for about the person on their right and the person on their left. 

 PRAY FOR YOUR GROUP

Pray that we will make an effort to express gratitude to the people in our lives. Pray that this will not just be a short-term focus, but a direction in which we grow and mature.

 PRAY FOR FCC

Pray that as a church we will be a place where people recognize our gratitude, and that this will be a source of encouragement for others.

 PRAY FOR OUR GLOBAL PARTNERS

Pray for FCC global partners, Lifeline Christian Mission, in Haiti. Pray for the people of Haiti and their government as they work to find a peaceful resolution to the unemployment crises and high gas prices. Pray for Lifeline and the church at large in Haiti to be an encouraging voice of hope and love, pointing people to Jesus.

Week 2 - Let's Talk About Sex

GROUP LEADER'S NOTE

This week's message was about sex. This can be a difficult thing to discuss in a group setting. We have groups that are comprised of married couples, singles, all men, all women, younger people, older people, etc. Because of your specific group dynamic, you may need to tailor the conversation a bit. If the following questions don’t dig deep enough for your group, then don’t hesitate to add questions that will take you deeper. If your group is new, it may not be ready for this discussion, and you may want to just hang out this time. Use your own discretion.

 READ / DISCUSS

Scott pointed out that in the culture that the Bible was written in, the Roman world had a view of sex that was much like ours today. What are some things that our culture gets wrong about sex? What are the effects of these errant ways of thinking?

 Sex is more than a physical thing. It is also spiritual. This is why divorce, and break-ups of sexual relationships are so difficult. Jesus draws a connection between outward physical acts, and our inner being…

 Matthew 5:27-28

You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Why does our society compartmentalize inward thoughts away from outward actions?

Why does Jesus insist that the two are insuperable?

 The bottom line is that no matter what we have done or thought about doing, God's grace is bigger than our sin. Read John 8:1-11.

How does Jesus address the woman's accusers?

How does Jesus address the woman?

What does this teach us about how we should deal with sexual sin in other people's lives?

What does this teach us about handling sexual sin in our own lives?

 PRAY FOR YOUR GROUP

Pray that we will be people who embrace God's model for all of relationships in our lives. Pray specifically for those who deal with sexual guilt, addictions, dysfunctions, and paste experiences that hinder the health of our intimate relationships.

PRAY FOR FCC

Pray that FCC will be a place where people can experience the grace of Jesus in spite of their failings. Pray that we will show grace and love and hope to people who need a new beginning.

 PRAY FOR OUR GLOBAL PARTNERS

Pray for FCC Global Partners Nilda Cruz and Deaf Ministries International, in the Philippines as they meet the needs of marginalized people groups, communicate God's love, and empower the people they serve to be leaders and influential voices, sharing the hope of Jesus, in their own communities.

Week 1 - The Foundation of Healthy Relationships

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This week we began a new series called Hot Mess. This series is all about what God wants for us in our relationships. 

Ephesians 5:1 tells us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. In the following verses Paul goes on to unpack what mutual submission looks like. He describes how wives are to submit to husbands, how husbands are to submit to wives, how children submit to parents, how parents submit to children, and how slaves and masters (employees and employers) are to submit to one another. This kind of submission is not about one person assuming power over the other. It is not about who is dominant and who is dominated. It is about the voluntary act of putting another person’s needs ahead of your own. We are to do this out of reverence for Christ. The person we choose to submit to most likely does not deserve this treatment. We do this because this is what Jesus did for us. He set aside His own life, suffered and died for us while we were still sinners.

 DISCUSS

What is the healthiest relationship you currently have? Why do consider it to be healthy?

 Have you ever had a relationship that was strained by selfishness? What did you learn from that experience?

 While we need to selflessly lean into hurting or broken relationships, we also need to end or limit relationships with toxic people. How do you tell the difference between a relationship that is suffering, and a relationship with a toxic person?

 Tell us about a time when someone set aside their own interests and submitted to yours.

 What is it about the idea of submitting to others that is most difficult for you?

 Is there a relationship in your life that you have been pulling away from, and you need to start leaning into?

 PRAY FOR YOUR GROUP

Pray for our relationships, especially those that are suffering. Pray that we will take to heart what it means to submit to one another, to set aside selfishness, and to put the need of others ahead of our own.

PRAY FOR FCC

Pray that as a church we will be an example to our community of what good relationships look like. Pray for the health of our relationships.

PRAY FOR OUR GLOBAL PARTNERS

Pray for FCC global partners, MidIndia Christian Mission, as they come alongside 15 new followers of Jesus who were baptized earlier this week. They are from the Bhil people group, a mostly unreached people group in India, where no one knows about Jesus. Pray for encouragement and a strong community of like-minded followers to help empower and support them in reaching more of their own people with the good news of Jesus.

Week 4 - Broken & Burned

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This week Scott wrapped up our Reset series by talking about the story of Nehemiah from the Old Testament. Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to find that the remnant of Israel was living in the ruins of their defeat. He gathered them up, moved them to action, and rebuilt the city’s walls. 

While Nehemiah was overseeing reconstruction of Jerusalem’s wall, there were men who tried to frustrate his efforts. Nehemiah’s enemies were driven by their own fear and jealousy. They were afraid of what the Israelites might do if they rebuilt their city. They were jealous that a great work was being done without their influence, involvement or permission. Read Nehemiah 6:1-9, and note how Nehemiah responds to their tactics.

 

Nehemiah 6:1-9

When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”

But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”  Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.

Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written:

“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king  and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”

I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

DISCUSS

Have you experienced a time in your life when you became content to live in the ruins of your failure, with no hope of things getting any better?

What tactics did Nehemiah’s enemies use to try to discourage him?

 

What was Nehemiah’s response when they tried to draw him away from his work?

 

What was Nehemiah’s response when they lied about him?

 

Scott said that any time we attempt to do something great, there will be some form of opposition. Have you ever had somebody oppose something you were trying to accomplish?

 

Have you ever allowed others to lure you away from what is important?

 

Nehemiah directly calls out his enemies’ lies. Is this something that we typically do today?

 

Do you presently face any form of opposition? What keeps you from living your best and following Jesus to the best of your ability? What needs to be done to deal with these oppositions?

 

PRAY FOR YOUR GROUP

Pray that we will have faith and boldness to confront the things that keep us from doing what God wants us to do.

 

PRAY FOR FCC

Pray that as a church we will identify and deal with any barriers that hinder us from doing great things. Pray that we will focus on the work that God has given us, and that we will not be distracted by any enemy’s tactics. 

 

PRAY FOR OUR GLOBAL PARTNERS

Praise God for the amazing impact of last week's FCC India Team as they returned home from their trip with FCC global partners, Mid-India Christian Mission. Pray for the 700 distinct people groups in our global partner's state alone who've never heard the name of Jesus before. Pray for more pastors and missionaries to be raised up and equipped to take the good news of Jesus to these groups.

Week 3 - Oh Look, A Bird

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As we continued our Reset series this week, Scott talked about things that distract us from living in the moment, and seeing what God may be trying to do in our lives. Scott shared three stories of people who didn’t stop and see Jesus, even though he was right in front of their faces. Take a few minutes to read the following passages.


John 20:1-14

Luke 24:13-32

Luke 10:38-42


The fact that Mary missed seeing Jesus at the tomb seems to be rooted in her disbelief. When the two disciples on the road missed seeing Jesus, it looks like it is rooted in their sorrow and defeat. When Martha misses seeing Jesus, it is because she is distracted by housework. In all three cases, people who followed and loved Jesus were prevented from being able to see him. If we love Jesus, but fail to see him working our our lives, then we are most likely distracted by something.


DISCUSS

We just looked at three passages about people who missed seeing Jesus. Which one do you identify with the most?


Tell us about one of the greatest or fondest moments that you can remember in your own life?


What made that moment so great?


Have you aver had an experience that may have been a great moment if you had not been preoccupied with, or distracted by something?


Are there people, places, or things in your life that you would like to be able to enjoy more?


What keeps you from enjoying these things as much as you would like?


What distracts you the most?


What are some simple and feasible things you can do to minimize the distractions in your life, and live in the moment?



PRAY FOR YOUR GROUP

Pray that we will each be able to slow down and live in the moment for our own sakes, and for the benefit of those around us.


PRAY FOR THE CHURCH

Pray that we will be a church of people who look different from the rat-race of the world. Pray that people will see that we are not too busy or distracted to follow Jesus and love others.


PRAY FOR THE WORLD

Spend a moment praising God for the 103 youth in Chile who’ve been mobilized by FCC global partners, Ibero American Ministries, to do short term missions in 2019/20. Pray that our global partners are able to successfully equip and launch all of these commitments to serve cross culturally and for their impact to bring many to know and follow Jesus.

Week 2 - Old Vs. New

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As we continued through our Reset series, Scott talked about the transfiguration. This event is detailed in Mark 9:1-8. Take a minute to read it.

Scott pointed out that Peter’s response was to default to his old religious practices. He wanted to build an altar or something commemorating Moses and Elijah. God did not even acknowledge Peter’s statement, but told him to listen to Jesus. 

We can be like Peter in the way we live out our faith. Instead of looking and listening in wonder, we think conventionally about what we have always known, and how we have always operated. We all experience a gravity that pulls us toward what we know. We can become fonder of the comforts and familiarities of the past than of the excitement and potential of the future. We can become more passionate about people who are like us, than we are about the people God wants us to reach.

 

DISCUSS

What is an object that you no longer have, but brings back fond memories for you?

 

Why did you have to let go of that thing?

 

We have a tendency to romanticize the past. Do you have memories in your life that are probably sweeter than the reality once was?

 

When Peter witnessed the transfiguration, he immediately defaulted to the mode of religion that he was familiar with. Are there things in your life that you immediately default to?

 

In Mark 2, Jesus says not to put new wine into old wineskins. He did something new, and what he was doing could not be contained by the practices of the past. How can past practices become detrimental to forward momentum?

 

Peter Drucker said, “If you want something new, you have to let go of something old.” Have you had an experience where this rang true in your life?

 

Is there something new that you want for your life or the lives of those you love?

 

What will this new thing require you to let go of?

 

PRAY

Pray that we will let go of any old things that prevent God from doing new things in our lives. Pray that we will actively seek out new things that God would like to do in us and through us. 

Week 1 - Building Momentum

RESET: WEEK 1 DISCUSSION GUIDE

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We all have momentum in our lives, leading us toward something. If you think about your decisions, habits, and routines, they are leading you somewhere, even if there is no plan or intention behind your actions. This weekend, Scott talked about how some of us have positive momentum that is leading us in good directions, while others have momentum that is not leading us to great places.

Changing this momentum requires two things: a catalyst, and a progression. Change doesn’t just begin without a catalyst. There must be an event, a decision, a crisis, or a circumstance that drives us toward change. But this catalyst alone is not enough. There must also be a progression of actions that follow. These actions must be planned and intentional.

DISCUSS

Just for fun, do you have any stories about failed new year’s resolutions? Where is the current momentum of your life leading you?

How do you feel about new year’s resolutions? Do you make them? How good are you at keeping them?

Did you make any new year’s resolutions this year? If so, what are they? What is one thing that you would like to change in your life?

What was the catalyst that prompted this change?

What is the progression of necessary steps you will need to make if you want to see this change become a reality in your life? Take a minute to list them out. Share them with your group.

If time allows, give one another input and advice about additional action items, and how to stick to the action items they have listed.

PRAY

Pray that we will follow through with our plans. Pray that with God’s help, we will be able to see real life changes that go beyond new year’s resolutions.

Week 3 - Shepherds

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DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? SHEPHERDS
WEEK 3: DISCUSSION GUIDE

This week Scott talked about the shepherds in the Christmas story. These were uncivilized country folk. They were not accepted, included, or trusted by the rest of society. In spite of this, God chose them to be the first recipients of the greatest birth announcement of all time. The outcasts became the guests of honor. The nobodies became the VIPs.

This is at the heart of what Christmas is all about. You matter to God. He doesn’t care about if you are on the inside, outside, upside, or downside. With Jesus there is no longer an in crown or an out crowd. Everybody is loved and accepted and invited to participate in what He is doing.

Scott contrasted this idea to the Roman way of life that serves as a backdrop for this story. In the ancient world that Jesus was born into, you had to be a free Roman citizen to be on the inside.
Today we can still feel like outsiders at times. And sadly, as Christ followers, we can often make others feel like outsiders.

DISCUSS

Tell us about a time when you felt like an outsider. It could be an instance when you weren’t invited, felt excluded, or just didn’t feel like you fit in.

What is your emotional response when you feel like you are on the outside?

Do you think that we do anything at church; intentionally or unintentionally, that can make visitors feel like outsiders? If so, can you think of an example?

Is there a place in your life where you presently feel like an outsider?

Is there someone in your life who may feel like an outsider? What can you do to make that person feel included?

PRAY

Thank God for the fact that Jesus includes everyone of us. Pray that we will understand that we matter to God and that to Him we are insiders, no matter how we may feel. Pray that we will reach out to marginalized people, and those who need to know that they matter to God. Pray that as a church, and as individuals, outsiders will matter to us.

Week 2 - Herod

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DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE HEROD
WEEK 2: DISCUSSION GUIDE

This week Scott talked about King Herod. Herod is traditionally viewed as the “bad guy” of the Christmas story, and for good reason. He unsuccessfully attempted to kill Jesus, and, in the process murdered an unknown number of innocent children. Herod is not a man with whom we typically want to associate ourselves. However, we all have one thing in common with Herod. We all have a deep-seated desire to protect what is ours. We all have our own “kingdoms” that are compiled of our possessions, our relationships, our goals, and our lifestyles. And as we follow Jesus, at some point we understand that He is a threat to our kingdoms. If he is in charge of our lives, we may not be able to have what we want, or do what we want. His lordship over our lives threatens our desire to decide what is best for ourselves.

DISCUSS

Tell us about a time when something precious to you was threatened. What was your gut reaction? What did you end up doing about it?

How does following Jesus threaten the status quo of your life?

What Biblical commands or teachings are most threatening to your own lifestyle and preferences?

Is there one area of your “kingdom” that you need to work on surrendering to God? What is an action you can take to begin to surrender this thing?

PRAY

Pray that we will be honest with ourselves, when we are protective of our own little “kingdoms”. Pray that as we grow in maturity, there will be nothing in our lives that is not surrendered to God.

Week 1 - DOUBT

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE DOUBT
WEEK 1: DISCUSSION GUIDE

This week Scott kicked off our Christmas series by talking about Joseph. Joseph was faithful to God, and obedient in taking Mary as his wife, but his obedience began with a struggle. He struggled to believe Mary. He struggled to trust what God was doing. In the end, we see that Joseph was a man of faith. Faith isn’t about blindly believing. We see a lot of people “of faith” throughout the Bible, who also struggle with God. In our current Christian culture, struggling with questions, or having doubts are often judged as being a sign of faithlessness.

Joseph was never judged for his struggles. Within the church, people often conceal their struggles and doubts. We can think that it is weak to doubt. We can feel like it is embarrassing to have questions.

DISCUSS

Just for fun...
Tell us about your favorite Christmas tradition.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were afraid to ask questions?

Do you often deal with doubt?

What are the things that can cause you to have doubts and struggles with God?

When you have doubts and struggles, do they make you feel like you are not faithful, or spiritual?

Struggles and doubts are not a sign of faithlessness. To the contrary, they are things that great leaders in the Bible endured as well. Knowing this, do you need to allow yourself to struggle with some things?

What do you need from other people when you are working through struggles and doubts?

How can you be there for others who are working through these kinds of things?

PRAY

Pray that we will be honest with each other, with God, and with ourselves when it comes to the struggles and doubts that we face. Pray that we will not pretend that these things don’t exist, but that we will learn to face them head-on.

Week 3 - Love

WEEK 3 DISCUSSION GUIDE

This was our final week of Be Rich. On week one, FCC stepped up to the challenge to be rich with our resources by raising $81,000 to give to organizations who are doing great work in our community. Last week we stepped up to the challenge to be rich with our time by serving others. This week’s challenge is a bit more personal. The challenge is for each of us, individually, to be rich in love by doing something selfless, loving and kind for another person.

Our hope is that these things will not just be a one-time occurrence, but become a lifestyle of richness in generosity, in good deeds, and in love. Be rich is about having a generous spirit that looks for opportunities to love others in our everyday lives.
When talking about love, Scott used the example of your first youthful crush. Whether it was internal or external, you pursued that crush in some way. You made efforts to be around that person, or you daydreamed about them. In some way you nurtured and pursued your feelings toward that person. Love is the same way. When we pursue it, we find ourselves experiencing it. If we want to feel love for others, we must pursue it. We must be intentional about it. We must work for it.

DISCUSS

Tell us about your first crush. Who was it, and how did you nurture your feelings toward that person, or pursue them?

How does real love differ from a crush?

This week’s challenge was to perform an act of love for somebody. Have you done this already? If so, tell us about it. If not, who is someone in your life who could use an act of love? What can you do for them?

PRAY

Pray that we will love the way that Jesus loves us. Pray that the “Be Rich” series will not be a season of isolated incidents, but the beginning of a new way of living as we are rich toward others in generosity, in service, and in love.

Week 2 - Serve

WEEK 2 DISCUSSION GUIDE

This was week two of our Be Rich series. Last week we stepped up as a church and together we gave $81,000 to local non-profit organizations. This week Jericho Rhoten talked about how we can be rich with our time. At the heart of sincere service, lie sincere motives. The Bible shows us that our motives matter to God.

Philippians 2:3-7

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very natureof a servant, being made in human likeness.

People have all kinds of motives for serving. Humble service is about truly valuing the person you’re are serving above yourself, and above your own effort and recognition.

DISCUSS

Have you ever had somebody help you in a way that left you wondering about his or her motives?

Have you ever helped someone out of false motives? What are the things that motivate you to help others? According to the above verse, what motivated Jesus? What are some ways that you like to serve?

What are some kinds of service that you are not so interested in?

How can you keep your own motives in check?

PRAY

Pray that we will have hearts that are motivated by the things that motivate Jesus. Pray that we will learn to serve selflessly out of love for God and others.

Week 1 - What Makes You Angry

WEEK 1 DISCUSSION GUIDE

This week we kicked off our Be Rich series by talking about giving. A special “above and beyond” offering was taken to share with partners in our community who are doing great things to love and serve people. The idea behind Be Rich is that we would reflect the love that Jesus has shown us. If our hearts are in step with God’s heart, then the things that matter most to God will matter most to us. And what matters most to God is loving people.

We looked at the example of the religious people who criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath and we discussed how religion can actually oppose God. When we focus more on preferences, traditions, and rules, than we do on loving people, we use our devotion as an excuse to not love like Jesus.

When we peruse God, we will be people who love others, serve others, and give to others. We will be “rich in good deeds.”

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in
wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

DISCUSS

This question is just for fun, let’s talk about being rich in worldly terms. If you won millions of dollars in the lottery, what is the most extravagant thing you would do?

What are some examples of people being so religious that they actually oppose God? How do people use “devotion,” as an excuse to not love others?

Tell us about a time when somebody was rich toward you. Don’t limit the conversation to financial matters. We can also be rich with things like our time, energy, and compassion.

What is your favorite way to be rich toward others?

What is a way that you find it difficult to be rich toward others?

PRAY

Pray that we will be a church that is known for being rich in love and good deeds toward our community, and that we as individuals, will love others like Jesus loves us.

Freeway

As we go through our Freeway series there are several videos available for free to watch that compliment the series. Search "freeway" in Right Now Media. If you don't have an account, we'd love to give you one as a gift. Click below to register.

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Good News

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“The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves that we ever dared to believe, yet at the same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

-Tim Keller

“The gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. It cannot be grasped by reason and memory only, but it is fully understood when it possesses the whole soul and penetrates to the inner recesses of the heart.”

-John Calvin

The New Testament is all about the Gospel, or Good News, of Jesus Christ. If you are in a community group, then this is something you are probably familiar with.
This Gospel belongs to Jesus. It is His Good News. It was created by Jesus. It is about Jesus. It all points to Jesus. But in the book of Romans, Paul refers to this message as his own Gospel.

Romans 16:25
Now to Him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus...

This is confusing until we understand what Paul is getting at. He is not claiming that the message of the Gospel is all about him. He is showing how Jesus’ story becomes our story. As the Gospel of Jesus Christ lives itself out in our lives, we express it through our own experiences in different ways. His good news becomes our good news. And we have a unique story and a unique gospel. It is told through the story of our lives, and what Jesus has done in us and through us.

DISCUSS -

This week we just have one discussion question. What is your gospel? Describe how the Gospel of Jesus has become your story. Share what Jesus has done in you and through you.

PRAY -

PRAY FOR YOUR LIFE GROUP
Take some time to pray prayers of thankfulness, for what God has done in our lives, and how His gospel has become ours.

PRAY FOR FCC & OUR COMMUNITY
We have a huge “Block Party” event coming up on September 23rd. There will be four simultaneous parties in four different local parks, where we will be loving our community in a fun way. Pray for the success of these events, and that because of them, people will get connected to FCC, and ultimately come to know Jesus.

Week 7: Robin Vs The Avengers

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This past week, Scott discussed the idea of a moral circle. In Psychology Professor Richard Beck’s book, Unclean, he discusses how we all have a moral circle. Inside circle exists the people we would consider a part of our tribe. Traditionally, they look like us, act like us, think like us and even vote like us. Then there are those outside of our circle. Oftentimes, we treat those outside of our circle differently, but not necessarily intentionally. Scott shared how sometimes it happens at an unconscious level.

It happened in the first century just like it does today. The gospel of Matthew shares this story.

When the Pharisee saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” – Mathew 9:11

For first century Judaism, eating together was a sign of acceptance. You would only eat with those inside your moral circle. Even today, we operate in this way. We are cautious with who we share a meal and with who we hang out. In reality, our very own moral circle has a way of elevating ourselves at the expense of lowering those outside of our circle.

Jesus would lower himself in order to elevate others. Paul writes,

“...being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”

Paul is saying Jesus is God. Because of that, everyone was outside of Jesus’ moral circle. Jesus didn’t live the way people of the first century lived. Jesus didn’t live the way we live. Instead, his circle was all about giving himself up for others.

Jesus flipped the idea of a moral circle upside down with the way he lived. It ended up permeating throughout the early church as His followers found themselves elevating those around them in the same way Jesus did.

Discuss –

Describe your moral circle? Who is in it? Who is outside of it?

Think back to Scott’s illustrations (gas station, Ikea). Share a time when you have seen someone intentionally or unintentionally treating people outside of their circle differently. Share a time when you have done it.

Go back and read Acts 2:42-47. What would it look like if we lived like this? What are tangible ways we can begin living a life without moral circles or barriers?

Scott said, “The person of Jesus, his life, his love, and his resurrection inspired the early Christians to change the way they lived.” What are some things we need to change in our lives in order to live the way Jesus lived?

The examples of Batman, Robin and the Avengers paint a picture for us. They help us understand how to live as a community, working together for the betterment of said community. How have you lived as a Batman or Robin? How have you lived as the Avengers?

In John 3:30, the author records John the Baptist as saying, “He must become greater; I must become less.” It is a choice to ultimately choose to see and treat others as if there is not moral circle. How can you make choices this week to live with a wider moral circle? How can you begin to eliminate your circle completely?

Who is one person you can invite to be a part of a group during the Freeway series?

Pray –

Pray for your Life Group
Pray that your group will begin to widen their moral circles or eliminate it completely. Pray that you will start to see people the way Jesus saw people. Pray that will change the way we live in community with those around us.

Pray of for FCC and Our Community
Pray for our upcoming GroupLink on September 16. We believe groups are the place to pursue healthy relationships and spiritual growth. GroupLink will be an event to connect people into our community groups for the upcoming fall season. Pray for those who have registered, for those on the fence and for those who show up to GroupLink.

Pray for our Global Partners
Praise God for continued healing for baby Silas with the B Family, FCC global field workers in India. Their baby boy was born stateside 4 months ago and they've continued to ask for prayers for his growth and development of his brain. He's suffered a brain injury but is continuing to exceed expectations. Pray that our field workers' ministry in India continues to thrive and impact people's lives despite our field workers' current absence.

Week 6: Suit Up

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This week Scott talked about the fact that as followers of Jesus, we need to understand that our true enemy is the devil. This can be a real struggle for us in this age of secularism. If we believe what the Bible teaches about spiritual forces, it will reframe our worldview. We will no longer see people as our enemies. We will understand that our real enemy is not flesh and blood.

Ephesians 6:12

Many of us are familiar with this verse, but we feel more like our struggles are, in fact, against flesh and blood. Our present culture has rejected the spiritual, and when we do this, other people become our enemies. C.S. Lewis speculated that the secularization of modern society is all a part of Satan’s strategy. In his book The Screwtape Letters, a fictional demon writes to his protégé...

My Dear Wormwood,
I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics.

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.” -From the movie The Usual Suspects (1995)

Regarding those who were plotting to kill Jesus, he said...

John 8:44

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Jesus consistently attributed evil to the devil. The fact is, that if we believe the words of Jesus, then we will understand the world around us as a spiritual battleground, where the enemy works against God and his purposes.

DISCUSS ~

Describe your default worldview. Do you have more of a spiritual or secular way of seeing things?

Is it ever a struggle for you to believe what the Bible teaches about spiritual forces?

When you think about an enemy, is there a person, or group of people who comes to mind?

How is the perception of other people as our enemies changed, if we really believe and apply Ephesians 6:12?

If we believe what the Bible says, then all people have a common enemy. How does this reframe the conflicts you experience with other people?

Look up and read Ephesians 6:10-17. Is there a piece of gear in the “Armor of God” that you feel like you are missing? What can you do to grow in this area?

This section of scripture ends by encouraging us to pray. Why is prayer so important? How does an active prayer life affect your spiritual worldview?

PRAY ~

PRAY FOR YOUR LIFE GROUP
Pray that we will see reality. Pray that we will understand that our struggles are not with people, but with the devil. Pray that we will reject the secular worldview that permeates our culture.

PRAY FOR FCC & OUR COMMUNITY
Keep on praying for our “Snow Way Event”. This is an opportunity for us to invite friends and neighbors to FCC, and connect with people who need Jesus. Pray about who you might invite, and that the event will be a success.

PRAY FOR OUR GLOBAL PARTNERS
Spend a moment giving praise to God and thanking Him for the impact the FCC Mexico Global Connection Team had 2 weeks ago. They built a home for family that makes $177 a week and the team finished two other unfinished homes in Tijuana. Pray for the 3 families living in those new homes that they would be surrounded by an encouraging group of like-minded Christians and that they would be able to continue seeing positive transformation in every aspect of their lives.

 

Week 5: Take A Stand

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This weekend Matt talked about Gideon from the book of Judges. Gideon took a stand against the false gods that his people worshiped. In doing so, he angered his friends and neighbors to the point that they were ready to kill him. In the next chapter, we see thousands of men ready and willing to follow him into battle.

When you take a stand, many won’t like it at first. Change is difficult for people to deal with, and change often threatens the things that people hold to be sacred. In the long run, we follow those who stand for something.

We learned about the progression of Gideon’s character. He started out in a place of cowardice. He initially took a small stand, and then went on to something bigger. Sometimes the stand we need to take is big, but smaller stands prepare us for what lies ahead. Gideon’s journey to leadership had it’s bumps and obstacles. In the end, he became the leader that he was because he was willing to take a stand.

DISCUSS ~

Just for fun...
Sometimes we don’t choose our battles wisely. What is the dumbest thing you’ve ever taken a stand for?

Who is a person that you admire for taking a stand?
For you, what is the most difficult thing about standing up for what you believe? What do you wish more people would take a stand for?
What stand do you need to take? How can this group support you in it?
PRAY ~

PRAY FOR YOUR COMMUNITY GROUP
Pray that we will have the courage to take stands in our lives, and that God will bless our actions when we follow him.

PRAY FOR FCC & OUR COMMUNITY
Keep on praying for our “Snow Way Event.” This is an opportunity for us to invite friends and neighbors to FCC, and connect with people who need Jesus. Pray about who you might invite, and that the event will be a success.

PRAY FOR OUR GLOBAL PARTNERS
Spend a moment giving thanks and praise to God for three baptisms that took place this week where FCC field workers work in the Middle East. Pray for those who committed their life to Jesus, to remain bold in their faith and encouraged by a surrounding body of believers.

 

Week 3: Kryptonite

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James 1:15
Then, after desire is conceived. It gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

As people, sin is our Kryptonite. Sin is what brings death and destruction into our lives, dreams, and relationships. Sin damages our ability to love and trust others, and separates us from God.

God takes sin so seriously, that Jesus used extreme examples to describe what measures we should be willing to take to avoid it. While his statements are obviously hyperbolic, they are communicated this way to convey the severity of the destruction that sin can bring to our lives.

Matthew 5:29-30
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Scott focused the second half of his message on the idea of “guardrails.” These are preventative measures that we can take to make sure that sin does not get a grip on our lives. Guardrails are in place to keep us “away from the edge.,”

In the book of Genesis, Lot is a man who could have used guardrails. In chapter 13, he separates from his Uncle Abraham, and chooses a new place to settle.

Genesis 13:11-13
So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

Lot chose to live not in, but near a city full of wickedness. A few chapters later, where do we find Lot?

Genesis 19:1The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.

Unless our boundaries are defined and in place, they do not guard us from anything. It is easy to imagine that over time, Lot inched closer and closer to Sodom, until he was eventually a part of the wicked culture that he once only observed at a distance.

DISCUSS ~

What are the things in your life that you value the most?
How can sin threaten these things?
Have you defined guardrails when it comes to protecting these things from sin?

What are some possible guardrails that we can put in place when it comes to the following sins?

-Drunkenness-Sexual Sin -Greed -Gossip

-Hate -Envy

What does it take for guardrails to work?
If we set boundaries in our lives, how are they enforced?

PRAY ~

PRAY FOR YOUR CUMMUNITY GROUP
Pray that we will guard our hearts by setting appropriate boundaries in place that will protect us from the destructiveness of sin.

PRAY FOR FCC & OUR COMMUNITY
Continue to pray for our “Snow Way Event.” This is an opportunity for us to invite friends and neighbors to FCC, and connect with people who need Jesus. Pray about who you might invite, and that the event will be a success.

PRAY FOR OUR GLOBAL PARTNERS
Pray for FCC field workers in the Middle East as they run a second center to help give aid to marginalized people groups and refugees. Pray for many to sense the presence of God in our workers and their programs and to then have the boldness and courage to ask faith questions and pursue following Jesus.

 

 

Week 2: You Were Born For This

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As we continued through our “Heroes” series this past weekend, Scott talked about our identities as follower of Jesus. We were born to be the heroes of this world.

Ephesians 1:4-5
For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship in Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-

We have been adopted into the family of Jesus. His holiness belongs to us. His sonship belongs to us. His selflessness and self-sacrificial love also belong to us. Our lives are to be lived in response to what Jesus has done through us. In this way, we are called to be heroes.

In the same way that Jesus went to the cross to give all he had for us, we are called to lay down what we have for others. If I don’t live my day-to-day life like this, it is because of a lack of understanding about who I am. If I look into the mirror and don’t see a hero, then when the opportunity to do something heroic arrives, I won’t behave like a hero. The more we view ourselves as who we really are, the more we will behave in a way that is consistent with our heroic reality.

DISCUSS 

Just for fun...
Who is your favorite superhero, and why?

Look up the following verses and share what they say about our identity as followers of Jesus...

2 Corinthians 5:17 1 John 3:1-2

1 John 3:16

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

John 15:15 Galatians 4:7 Ephesians 1:7 Genesis 1:27
1 Peter 2:9 Philippians 3:20 Romans 8:31-38

When you look into the mirror, do you see a hero? If not, who do you see?

If the Bible is true, then we should be defined by what God says about who we are. Sadly, most of us allow our society, or our self-perception to define us. What keeps you from allowing God’s words to define your identity? Why do we allow anything else to define us?

If you really understood yourself as a hero, how will this effect the way you handle day- to-day situations?

PRAY ~

PRAY FOR YOUR LIFE GROUP
Pray that we will begin to see ourselves as the heroes we really are. We are all called to a life of loving and serving others as children of God.

PRAY FOR FCC & OUR COMMUNITY
Next month we will be having a huge Summer event called the “Snow Way Event.” This is an opportunity for us to invite friends and neighbors to FCC, and connect with people who need Jesus. Pray about who you might invite and that the event will be a success.

PRAY FOR OUR GLOBAL PARTNERS
Pray for the FCC Global Connection Team to Southeast Asia departing Monday, July 16. Pray that our field workers will feel encouraged and rejuvenated by our team. Pray for many people who do not follow Jesus to be impacted by the team and to feel comfortable and bold in asking questions about who Jesus is and the hope he brings.