It’s Time | Week 1: The Light is Green

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God has a very clear goal and purpose for our church. It’s rooted in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Here is our vision:

  • Know God

God is not your religion, He is actually someone you can believe and trust and know.

  • Find Freedom

You can know God and be saved but still have issues that keep you from being who God wants you to be. So we let God take us on a journey of settling some of our issues and we want to take you on that journey.

  • Discover Purpose

You are no accident. It doesn’t matter what your parents version of how you came about. God has always had you on his mind. God has a purpose for your life.

You’re never going to be satisfied or happy without God. Go pursue whatever you want without God, and it will always be empty. Those things will never give you the joy you know you could have had.

  • Make a Difference

We want to take you on this journey of Knowing God, Finding Freedom, Discovering Purpose and Making a Difference in Jesus name.

You are somewhere in this process.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in church your whole life, you have another step. That’s why it’s called following Jesus. Some of you even know what the steps are, but the problem is, getting moving.

We need something or someone to push us toward the life you know you’re supposed to be living. The life that you’ve wanted to try, and you just needed the catalyst to get moving. That’s why this series of posts is called, It’s time.

We’ve got a brand new year and it’s time.


Have you ever sat at a stoplight and waited for the cars in front of you to notice the light is green? They aren’t going because they’re looking at something else or doing something else. While everything in you wants to lay on the horn to wake them up, what you really need to do is give a friendly beep, beep to get their attention on the green light.

Well there are some times that in our spiritual journey we stop paying attention and someone needs to come along and give a friendly beep, beep to remind you to keep moving forward. That’s what today’s post is all about.

The light is green. It’s time.

Take a look at this encounter Jesus had with three different people who want to become disciples of the Lord Jesus.

“As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’” Luke 9:57-58 NIV

Poverty was part of the curse Jesus carried. So, He told them this is going to be harder than you thought. It’s not going to be easy. If it were easy, you’d already be doing it. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

But if you want the life you were meant to have, we’ll help you but buckle up, because it’s not going to be a bump free road.

“He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’”  Luke 9:59-60 NIV

This verse has been greatly misunderstood. Jesus isn’t against funerals and he wasn’t forbidding the man to arrange his father’s funeral. Most scholars would say the man was saying he’d like to take care of his father until he dies and then would be free to follow Jesus. This is the person who wanted to but felt like they had viable excuses.

That sounds like a great excuse. Jesus said, you’re missing it. The lights green and there aren’t endless cycles. Jesus takes first place.

“Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:61-62 NIV

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and this guy is missing the urgency. Beep, Beep. Let’s go. Seize the day.

This new year and new decade gives us a fresh start. You know the song, Auld Lang Syne, sung at New Year’s celebrations. “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind…”

We all know this song but few know what it means. What the penman of this song, Robert Burns in Old Scottish, was saying was Auld Lang Syne which means Days Gone By. What the song is challenging all of us to do is to think about what should stay in 2019 and never come into our new year and what should we bring with us. So he asks the question, what old acquaintance, like the pains and mistakes and hurts, what should be forgotten and what should stay.

The Bible has so much to say about old and new. This year, let’s move on from three old things.

1. Move on from old hurts

You’re wounded and it hurts. Someone has said or done something hurtful to you. It happened, you move on. You can’t go back and change it, but you can let God clear the page. That’s what the cross and the empty grave are for.

We’re not going to be perfect, we’re going to disappoint people. People are going to disappoint us. But there is one, Jesus Christ, who is perfect and He made a way for sinners like us.

2. Move on from old habits

Move on from our addictions. We’re all an addict. We’ve gotten addicted to certain drugs and meds and drinks or certain foods, certain language, addicted to our phones, addicted to bad patterns bad relationship patterns. What do you do with a bad habit?

That’s the power of the 21 Days we’re about to enter into. At the beginning of each year we make it a priority to seek God first. We do this by claiming 21 days in January as days of prayer and fasting. You can join us January 5-25 and make a commitment to pray each day.

You can choose to fast from many different things during those 21 days as well. We choose prayer and fasting because we know those are two powerful ways to turn down the noise of the world around us and tune in to God’s voice directing us.

Starting Monday, January 6th will offer prayer services in our worship center each weekday from 6-7am and Saturday mornings from 9-10. It’s so refreshing to just have some moments where we seek God together.

For some digital resources for 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, visit our website or find the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting section in the Rock Brook Church app.

This is a great opportunity to move on from old habits. Anything in your life that you’re not going let master you, you need to fast from.

What’s fasting? Is it to punish yourself to get God’s attention? No. That’s bad religious teaching and it’s not in the Bible. Fasting separates ourselves from the world to fuel our relationship with God.

3. Move on from old hang-ups

The things that still define you. The debts, patterns and events that have shaped how you view yourself. It’s time to move on from your hurts, habits and hang ups.

These words are pulled directly from Celebrate Recovery. Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered recovery program with foundations firmly established in Biblical truth. It exists so you can find freedom from any hurt, habit or hang-up and live fully alive in Jesus. At Rock Brook we have Celebrate Recovery meetings on Wednesday nights at 7:00.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. 

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” Colossians 3:1-10 NLT


Time To Make A Change

It’s time to make a change in four areas.

1. It’s time to get closer to God

You may already love God. Great, get closer. The light is green.

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:8 NLT  

We’ve all let our loyalties go to some other places, but not for the next 21 days. How do you get rid of that dividing line? You starve the world and you feed your relationship with God. You do that with prayer and fasting. 

Prayer gets you closer to God while fasting separates you from the world. It’s radical. You can’t do 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting all year. It’s an intense radical season that you can’t sustain that long, but that season jolts us into where we need to be. It takes kind of jolt to make the change.

One of the problems of moving on from hurts, habits and hang ups, we think it’s going to be easy.

If you want something you’ve never had, then you need to do something you’ve never done.

Some of you’ve never shown up to church all year long. What would it look like if you showed up to church 52 weekends this year? What would your life look like? You’d be closer to God. Your life and family would be healthier.

What if you participated in all 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting? Your life and family would be healthier.

2. It’s time to get honest with a godly friend

Share the whole real you with at least one other person. You’re not going to be able to get where you want to go alone. God designed this process to be achieved through fellowship with others. You’re not going to get there alone. That’s why we are a church of groups. That’s why groups matter to us so much, we try to cultivate environments where this can happen.

Everyone needs to be in a group or lead a group. Many of you need to lead a group for the accountability you get from leading. You’re going to pray harder knowing they’re coming over to your house. Your next level of growth is going to come through giving and leading.

“But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 NLT

Some of our stuff is big and scary because it’s in the darkness. Bring it into the light and it shrivels. Set your mind to it, that’s what is going to make 2020 better. 

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.

3. It’s time to get in tune with God’s purposes and my SHAPE

Some of us have been living for ourselves, our purpose. You tried to find yourself instead of trying to find God. You tried self-discovery instead of God-discovery. It’s time to get in tune with God’s purposes.

And then our SHAPE. That stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. All of those things make up who you are. God has shaped you. Your life trajectory has shaped you and the goal is that God would use that to help someone else.

Your SHAPE is why some of you walk into a room and see things that needs to be done and some walk into a room and see people who need to be connected with. It gets bigger than that. Some of you are shaped to help people know their Bible better or make an environment more hospitable, some help kids or students or lead people in worship.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10 NIV

It’s work, but it’s a good work. You’ll be tired, but it’s a good tired. That’s how God feels about His workmanship on you. He’s not embarrassed by you, He shaped you for a good work.

We’d love to help you take this spiritual journey. That’s why each Sunday we host an event that’s part of a four part series called Growth Track. This is Rock Brook’s way to help get in tune with God’s purposes and your design. Find out more about Growth Track on our website.

4. It’s time to get on doing something greater than myself

A great life doesn’t come from making money, sunny days, great politics or a great neighborhood. Real joy comes by knowing you’re on a God-driven adventure.

It’s when you do something with your life that actually matters.

If you’ll dedicate your life to something greater than yourself, God will fill your life with passion and adventure. 

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24 NLT

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking about a mistake you’ve made. You’re looking in the rearview mirror and don’t know the light is green. If you’re trapped by something in your 2019 or before remember this…

You can’t go back and change the beginningbut you can start where you are and change the ending.

You can’t go back and change how the marriage started or something you did in it, but you can get that marriage on a track that has a great ending. You can’t go back and change the things in the past. You serve a God who is the only one with the ability to do this.

It’s time.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, “Your Timing Is Everything.” How did that message help you identify some areas where you need to speed up or slow down this year?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

Each person has a God-given design and a next step to take, but many of us have a problem getting started. In Luke 9:57-62, three people have the opportunity to follow Jesus but then make excuses for delaying the journey. Jesus plainly says, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

The New Year’s song, “Auld Lang Syne” challenges us to leave the unproductive in the past, and Scripture gives us direction for what we should leave behind. 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting is a great time to fast anything that is trying to master our lives.

Let’s stop delaying. It’s time to make a change by allowing Jesus to change our minds and our lives.

Spend some time in the word. Read Luke 9:57-62 and Colossians chapter three.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:57-62 (NIV)

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message?
  2. What past history—hurts, habits, hang-ups—do you think about and are keeping you from seeing the new thing God wants to do in your life? Are they relational? Health? Financial?
  3. How can you use 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting to step into the newness God has for you this year?
  4. Which of the four It’s Times do you need the most right now?

Prayer Focus: Spend some time in prayer thanking God for hope, purpose, salvation and life. Ask him for direction for your life.

Tell Someone Else

With whom could you share this message of this series? You could give them an invite to this weekend’s message. You could share with them this message by telling them about it or sharing the podcast with them.

 

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Building Your Life On Values That Last | Value #1: Responsibility

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What would you say is your greatest ability?

At Rock Brook, we care about your abilities, because we believe when God created you, he created you uniquely. He gave you talents and abilities and specific opportunities.

Perhaps, your greatest ability is responsibilityResponsibility is the ability to respond to life. It’s one of the greatest gifts that God has given you. When God created you, he gave you the ability to choose your response to life. You can respond in many different ways to stress, problems, crises, opportunities, and relationships.

It’s all your choice. 

You do not get to choose a lot of things about your life, but you do have the freedom to chose how you react to life. Because you have that choice, you are response-ableIf you want to live a successful, significant, and God honoring life, you have to start with personal responsibility. 

Responsibility is the foundation of the foundation.

You can’t build any values into your life  if you don’t personally accept responsibility for your choices, your character, and your values. The problem is, naturally, nobody wants to accept responsibility. We would rather accuse and excuse. We want to accuse other people (it’s all their fault) and we want to excuse ourselves (it’s not my fault). 


Three Foes of Personal Responsibility

There are three mentalities that are the antithesis of personal responsibility:

  1. The rights mentality:  “I have my rights and that’s all I’m interested in.” or “I demand my rights.”
  2. The victim mentality: “None of my problems are my fault. In fact, they’re all your fault.”
  3. The entitlement mentality: I deserve it.”

In stark contrast to all of that, notice what the Bible says,

“Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do.”  Ephesians 5:15 PH

The point of this verse is this.

If you live your life in a responsible way it means you probably know the meaning of life.

On the other hand, if you are living an irresponsible life, you don’t know the meaning of life, your purpose, or why God put you on this planet.


Why Live Responsibly?

1. Because God is watching you.

God sees everything and is going to judge us one day on how we lived our lives. Life is a test of responsibility. 

“Nothing in all the world can be hidden from God. Everything is clear and lies open before him, and to him we must explain the way we have lived.” Hebrews 4:13 NCV

God is interested in is your character because character is the only thing you’re going to take with you when you die. Do you have the character, the humility, and the wisdom to know Him personally through His son Jesus Christ, and to become more like him?

“Each of us will give a personal account to God.” Romans 14:12 NLT

We rationalize our irresponsibility thinking, “Nobody will ever know.” But God knows.  And He’s the only one that really matters. 

2. Because others are affected by your life.

None of us live to ourselves alone, we are all interdependent.

“People should be concerned about others and not just about themselves.” 1 Corinthians 10:24

Every decision you make affects somebody else, even the secret ones. It changes you and you then influence other people by the changes in your life.  You may not see the visible results but every choice you make influences somebody else and every time you’re irresponsible it hurts somebody else.  There is no such thing as a non-affecting decision. 

“Love cares more for others than for self.” 1 Corinthians 13:5 MSG

3. When you are responsible, God rewards it.

The Bible says that in eternity we will be rewarded according to our responsibility and our relationship to Christ here on earth.  God has made an investment in your talents, abilities, and opportunities when He created you. He expects a return on His investment. 

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” Luke 16:10-11 (NLT)

If you use your influence well, you become more influential. If you use your possessions well, God will provide more of them. Why should God give you more money when you’re not responsible with the finances you’ve got right now? He doesn’t have any obligation to help you when you’re living irresponsibly in that area or any other area. But on the other hand, if you will be responsible God will bless your socks off in a way you can’t imagine. 

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.” Luke 19:26 NLT

How Can You Become a More Responsible Person?

  1. By controlling your reactions

You can’t control things and tragedies that happen to you. But you can control your response and reaction. God says maturity and responsibility are evident in your life when you can handle the pressures, the stresses, the problems, and the pains of life without loosing it, without becoming stressed out, or becoming angry and blowing up.

The key to responsibility is learning to control your emotional reactions. 

“A fool expresses all his emotions, but a wise person controls them.” Proverbs 29:11 GWT

The way we usually express our emotions is through our words. God says when people hurt you, turn around and do good to them.

“Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” Romans 12:21 NLT

One of the ways you show responsibility is by not trying to get even with people who hurt you. When you try to get even with someone, you’ve just lowered yourself to that persons’s standard. You are even with them. And a person who tries to get even is no better than the person who did the wrong. But when you forgive that person, you move on and say, “God, I’m going to let You take care of it. I know You’re going to settle the score and I trust You to do that.”

2. By guarding your mind

Our minds control everything.  The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Our minds influence our thoughts, affect our feelings, and our feelings affect our actions, but it all starts in the mind.

You are not responsible for every little stray thought that passes through your mind. Aren’t you glad of that? Those can come from all different things like conversations you overhear by accident or things that you see by accident. When Satan gives you a thought, that’s called temptationWhen God gives you a thought, that’s called inspirationBoth God and the devil, good and evil, are trying to influence you all the time.

Martin Luther, the theologian, said it like this,

You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

What you are responsible for are the thoughts you choose to hold on to and go over and over in your mind.  God is going to hold you accountable for what you think about and allow into your mind.  Whatever you put into your mind is inevitably going to come out in your behavior and your beliefs.

When you allow worldly influence in your mind, it weakens you, it weakens your values, and it lowers you because you’ve become accustomed to it. Then it doesn’t bother you anymore. When things don’t bother you anymore, that is a warning light that you’ve already passed the threshold. 

There are three things you can fill your mind with: 

  1. The truth — things that always build you up.
  2. Poison —  gossip, trash, pornography, immoral shows, criticism, etc. 
  3. Stuffing — neutral; stuff that’s neither good, but can still take up space.

You might say, “I never have any desire to read the Bible.” That makes complete sense, because you fill your mind up with other stuff until there’s no room left. When you fill your mind with other things, you don’t hunger for God’s word. If you eat a whole meal of stuffing, when the steak or the desert comes, you don’t want any of it. You’re not hungry for it.

“A wise person is hungry for knowledge, [the truth] while the fool feeds on trash.” Proverbs 15:14 NLT

Your character comes from what you think about. Have you been vigilant with certain things you won’t watch or listen to? Or is your mind just an open freeway that anybody who wants to drop garbage in it, can? You’ll say it doesn’t affect you, but you’re kidding yourself and you’re being irresponsible.

3. By admitting your mistakes.

Typically we try to accuse and excuse. Whenever we blow it we say, “It’s not my fault; it’s all your fault. I’m a victim of circumstances.” 

“A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.” Proverbs 28:13

God gives you another chance. He always gives you more chances if you confess and forsake your sins.  

“Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20 NLT

We’ve all blown it. We’ve all been irresponsible. The Bible calls it sin, but God doesn’t want you going around with a heavy guilt trip about all the irresponsibility in your life. He wants you to go around with a sense of promise and hope and He will help you overcome it. He can even bring good out of the stupid decisions that you’ve made in your life if you’ll give them to Him. This is one of the great truths of God’s word.

Sometimes we feel so guilty and ashamed of stupid decisions we’ve made or irresponsible actions we’ve taken that the guilt and the shame actually perpetuates the problem and we keep doing what’s causing the problem. “I blew it so I’m bad. Since I’m bad, I’m going to blow it again.” It’s a cycle that you can’t seem to get out of.

The guilt and the shame actually keeps you locked in a lifestyle of irresponsibility. You make one dumb decision after another.  What you need is a power beyond yourself.  What you need is a savior who can forgive your sins, clear your conscience and break out of that cycle. Here’s the good news:

“All fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us`not guilty‘ if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.”Romans 3:23-24


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Any more thoughts or conclusions about the message on choosing your standard? How have you seen the temptations of individualism, secularism, materialism and relativism in your life?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

You don’t get to choose a lot of the circumstances and events that happen to you. But you do have the ability to choose how you react to life. Because you have the freedom to respond and you are able to respond you are response-able. You are responsible. Accepting responsibility is the foundation to building your life on values that last.

Three mindsets that keep us from accepting responsibility. A rights mindset, a victim mindset, and an entitlement mindset. In contrast to all of that, God says,

Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do.  Ephesians 5:15 PH

Application

  1. In what ways have you experienced rewards in your life for being responsible?
  2. What disadvantages or consequences have you experienced as a result of someone being irresponsible?
  3. When someone has wronged you, have you ever felt like you wanted to get back at that person? How might you change that response?
  4. How do you typically respond or react when you get frustrated, upset, mad, or angry?
  5. What practical steps can you take to guard your mind and fill it with truth?
  6. What have been some of the biggest mistakes in your life? Have you admitted your mistakes? Have you confessed your sins to God?

All fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us `not guilty’ if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins. Romans 3:23-24 TLB

Tell Someone Else

Who can you share this message with? You could send them a link to the message at rockbrook.org or share the podcast with them. You might consider giving them a Building Your Life On Values That Last study guide.

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Preparing to Build | Week 1: My Life Support System

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No astronaut would ever go into space without a life support system. No deep sea diver would ever go to the ocean depths or soldier ever sent into battle without some kind of support system. In the military it’s a basic unit called a platoon. They support each other, care for each other, watch out for each other and fight for each other. 

God never intended for you to go through life on your own. It was never His design for you to face problems, difficulties, tragedies or pressures by yourself. In fact, the very first thing that God said when he made man is, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” You need people in your life.  You need relationships because we’re better together. God wired us for community and the basic unit of community is the small group.

In your body, the life support system that keeps you alive is the millions of little cells connecting together. You’re not one big giant cell, you’re millions of little cells. The actual life of your body isn’t in the body, it’s in those small cells.

The same is true spiritually. The church which is called the body of Christ, the life of every church is in the cells. In the small groups. What we are right now is a crowd made up of small groups. 

We are gearing up for a season we call a Spiritual Growth Campaign. We call it a campaign because it’s a season where we align many parts of our church. Weekend services, Rock Brook for Kids weekend services along with adult and teen small groups will focus around one theme. We’ll be aligned. And it’s powerful. 

Here’s how it will look: come for weekend worship, hear a message and be introduced to the topic and verses for that week, then meet in small group studies for some more insights and an opportunity to discuss. We will have a personal study guide to take you through the campaign. This concentrated time of alignment will bear lasting, fruit in you and your family.

The question of this spiritual growth campaign is: What are you building your life on?

In a world where what’s true and right seems to shift every day, it’s no wonder we can lead confused, unsatisfied lives. Thankfully, God has a plan. He designed values for us to live by. What are your values? Your values are what you’ve decided to be your core beliefs and they shape everything you do. 

God’s values won’t crumble or fade with age. They are unchanging. They are eternal. If you build on them, they will last. That’s why this campaign is called: Building Your Life on Values That Last.

So the next 3 weeks of posts will be about preparing us to build our lives on values that last. Let’s start in Acts 2 where we model our Small Groups after. Since many of us will be in a small group let’s answer a couple questions.

  1. What does a small group actually do according to the Bible?
  2. How do I get the most out of it?

In Acts 2 is the very first church described in the Bible. It was started in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. They would meet at the temple and then have connections throughout the week in their homes and communities. Primarily, two meetings: large group worship and small group fellowship.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47 NIV


What Do We Do In A Small Group?

1. We study God’s word together.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” NIV

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…” KJV

“They committed themselves to learning the teachings of the apostles…” MSG

The whole Spiritual Growth Campaign is built around the Apostles teaching. The truth of the Bible, God’s word, God’s truth. Studying the Bible with a small group is more important to your spiritual health than personal Bible study. 

As you drive today and you witness a car accident, who’s going to see more details – one witness or six witnesses? Six pair of eyes are going to see more relevant details than one pair of eyes. The same is true of Bible study. When you study the Bible or reflect on a sermon with other people in a small group you get far more out of it than when you just read it by yourself.

When yo uhave other eyes, they things you don’t see. We all have cultural lenses that when we look at the Bible, we see it from our perspective.

You should read the Bible and study it on your own AND you should study it in a small group.

2. We practice learning how to love

A lot of religions teach that the way you become holy, is by getting away from people. In a lot of religions they claim the holiest person, is the person who goes and lives up on the mountain in the cave so he’s untouched by evil, wicked, mean, bad, nasty humanity.

Jesus came in and blew up that myth. He was in the marketplace, in homes and in a small group. He knew you can’t learn love by yourself.

You learn relational skills in a small group, with people who are different from you. In every small group there are people who need extra grace. You learn how to love them. The theological word, the purpose word for practicing love is called fellowship.

“They devoted themselves to… fellowship” NIV

“They were like family to each other…” CEV

“They committed themselves to… life together…” MSG

3. We eat together.

This is the fellowship of food. The cup of coffee with your small group is going to be your favorite cup of coffee of the week.

“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…” (NIV)

“They shared in fellowship meals…” (TEV)

 

Most of the time when Jesus is teaching the most important things, he’s at a meal or he’s walking. When you’re eating and walking you’re relaxed. When you’re relaxed your tension goes down, you’re barriers and resistance go down and your receptivity to truth is much wider.

It also mentions the breaking of bread a couple of times in this passage. One is talking about fellowship meals. Just eating together. In another place it’s talking about celebrating communion. It’s an act of communing with God, remembering His sacrifice and repenting from our sin. We primarily do communion in small groups.

4. We pray for each other.

There’s additional power when we pray together. God likes agreement and unity in His family, and he blesses it, so we pray for each other.

You pray with the group and you pray for your group. You’ll find, prayer is the one of the most powerful parts of small group. It’s the greatest thing in the world to know that people are praying for you.

5. We help each other.

When we help each other out we’re not just doing something for ourselves or our family. It’s doing something for somebody else because they have a need. That’s small group.

The larger your group becomes, the harder it is to do these five things well. In a small Small Group, you can strengthen each other.

If you aren’t in a small group because of all the unknowns, let’s look at what a small group meeting looks like. Most groups meet for an hour and a half to two hours. In this upcoming Spiritual Growth Campaign, you’ll visit with one another and then you’ll watch a video where the weekend sermon gets a quick recap. There will be some more teaching that you won’t get from a blog post or podcast. You can watch that video on a TV, computer or tablet. There will be places to pause the video to discuss some of the questions in your personal study guide. You’ll share how you can pray for and support each other that week, you’ll pray and go home.


How Can I Get The Most From My Group?

Take a look at these six very simple things to do for this fall spiritual growth campaign. If you do these things you will enjoy your small group and your life will be stronger.

1. Make my group a priority.

Do your best to show up every week. If you only show up every other week then you’re going to miss half of Building Your Life On Values That Last and you’ll only have half a foundation.

“Let us not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

2. Share my thoughts with humility.

When you enter into the discussion time in your small group you don’t go to show off. You’re not trying to impress people. You leave your ego at the door and come in with the sense of wanting to learn. Come to group to express what you are facing and what you are learning.

“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” Romans 12:16 NLT

Nothing ruins a small group faster than one person in the group acting like they know it all. Humility means being teachable. The Bible says “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Because humble people are teachable. Everyone in your small group can teach you something. Because they have different life experiences than you.

“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.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

In a world where it’s very easy to be preoccupied with your life, your goals, responsibilities, job and to-do list, let a small group teach you to think of others. The Bible says don’t just be interested in your own life but be interested in the lives of others too. It teaches you to be a better person. You can’t be interested in the lives of everybody, but you could be interested in a few.

3. Respect others ideas with courtesy.

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” Romans 14:1

Don’t start quarreling about things that don’t matter yet. Instead, respect where someone is in their journey of Knowing God and be courteous to their fears.

Fears are an interesting thing. They are usually irrational, unreasonable and totally illogical. But the Bible says if you’re going to be Christlike, you’ve got to learn to be considerate of the fears of other people.

4. Share my faults with honesty.

This will take your group go to the next level. Not just faults, but your stresses, problems, pressures, trials, troubles, difficulties. The bad things that are happening. The more you’re able to share the real you, the more you’re going to get out of your group.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:7-8

We know everything’s not great in your life, you know it’s not great. So why would you even try to pretend. We just need to admit it. The people who are most open with someone, always have the best success rate.

Sharing your strengths never helps anybody else. You actually help people more by sharing your weaknesses. It bonds you together.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 

Many people confess their sins to God and they receive forgiveness. But if you want to stop being haunted by that memory or haunted by that hurt, you need to tell one other person. You are only as sick as your secrets.

You don’t have to tell everybody in the group, just find somebody you know you can trust who’s going to love you unconditionally. Our small groups are confidential. There are small group guidelines that say what’s said in the group stays in the group. If it’s not your news to share, don’t share it. If it’s not your sin to confess, don’t talk about it with others.

5. Share others’ problems with sympathy.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

When you go to small group and share a joy, it’s doubled. If you share a sorrow, it’s halved. In either case, sharing is good for you. 

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26

Do you have anybody like that in your life? More importantly, are you like that to anybody else? Does anyone know that you’re mature enough that you’re unselfish enough and you’re loving enough to show up in their life in their problems when they need you. 

That’s where the body of Christ works in the small group.

6. Encourage each other to grow.

Do you have anybody in your life who can spur you on to be a better man or woman of God?

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” Hebrews 10:24

“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.” Romans 1:12 NCV

So to get the most out of your walk with God, we want everybody in our church in a small group for this fall. In order to get everyone in a group we need more small group leaders. We will train you to be a small group leader. We have groups meet in homes, basements, kitchens and restaurants.

You don’t have to be a teacher to lead a small group. You just have to open up your home, get a study guide and stream the video. You can do this. You can start a small group for Building Your Life On Values That Last.

Why be small group leader?  Because the small group leader always grows the most. That’s our hope for you, too.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. How has the serenity prayer brought more peace into your life?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

Read: Acts 2

What does a small group do?

  1. We study God’s word together
  2. We practice learning how to love
  3. We eat together
  4. We pray for each other
  5. We help each other

How can I get the most from my group?

  1. Make my group a priority.
  2. Share my thoughts with humility
  3. Respect others ideas with courtesy
  4. Share my faults with honesty
  5. Share others problems with sympathy
  6. Encourage each other to grow

“I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will help me, and my faith will help you.”  Romans 1:12 NCV

Application

  1. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” Take the time to share with your group members what you appreciate about the insights and value they have brought to the group as you have studied together.
  2. “They committed themselves to… life together…” If love is not a feeling but a commitment, what changes can you make today in your schedule, relationships or attitudes to more fully practice God’s love?
  3. How does believing God really loves you change the way you view yourself? Think of the thing about yourself you’ve always wanted to change. How might God use that very trait to bring glory to him?
  4. “If we live in the light as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other… (But) if we claim we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 12:7-8 (NCV) Authenticity. Why do you think it is important to “just be real” in your small group?
  5. What is the difference between admitting your faults to God and admitting them to each other? How do you think admitting your faults within your small group can help to heal them?

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