20 Jan Discussion Guide: Great Faith Week 3
One of the things we value within community is fun. In the midst of all the pressures life throws at us, it is our ability to laugh, play and celebrate together that reminds us we serve a good, loving, and resurrected Lord who stands above it all. So, we want to take the first few minutes of our time together to play, have fun, and celebrate the fact that we belong to Jesus.
Today’s Ice Breaker: Stand Your Ground
The group will need to be up for a challenge with this simple, but incredibly fun game. Stand Your Ground combines balance, reflexes and quick wits to succeed and is a quick game of elimination. Your group will pair off in groups of 2. At the end of each round the winners will then pair off for the next round and on and on until the final 2 are left for the championship round.
How to Play:
The two people stand facing each other. Their hands should be able to touch palm-to-palm with elbows bent at 90 degrees. Each person’s feet should be shoulder width apart to provide a good base. They must try to make the other player move their feet (falling backward or falling forward) by slapping/pushing their opponent’s hands (kind of like playing patty cake) or by moving their hands out of the way as their opponent tries to slap/push theirs. Touching anywhere else, moving feet, falling, interfering means disqualification. The first person to move their feet loses.
We are continuing our new series entitled Great Faith. We will be joining thousands of Believers in nearly 60 different countries within our Every Nation Church Family in preaching, praying and fasting as we seek to discover what great faith is and why having faith even matters in the first place. That word, ‘faith‘ can mean a lot of things to a lot of people based on upbringing, church experience, and personal struggles. But, what does the Bible mean when it uses the word faith? And why was Jesus continually amazed by either the presence or lack thereof, when it came to faith in people’s lives? Let’s find out together.
How would you describe the difference between a life of religiosity and a life of faith?
Excerpt from Sunday’s Sermon
“Great faith isn’t always respectable, but it is always visionary.”
Consider the question posed in Sunday’s sermon: “Where are you today, are you merely respectable (living for the approval of others and a respectable reputation), or do you have a vision for Jesus that pushes you past the point of respectability?”
What aspects of your reputation are you willing to risk in pursuing great faith?
What is it about Jesus and the Gospel that, if you could be absolutely sure of, would enable you to push past the point of respectability and reputation?
Excerpt from Sunday’s Sermon
“Great faith is not always patient, but it is always persistent.”
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow who refused to give up in petitioning a judge “who neither feared God nor cared what people thought” for justice. Eventually, because of her persistence, she received that for which she was asking. After telling the Parable, Jesus posed these questions in verses 7-8:
“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Why do you think God values and longs to see this kind of persistent faith in his people?
What is it about our culture and generation, in particular, that makes this kind of persistent faith so challenging?
We are currently living in a day and time where our culture is experiencing entitled immediacy. Meaning we, as a people believe that we deserve whatever it is we think will make us happy and we deserve it right now. We get hungry and after 60 seconds in a microwave, our food is ready to satisfy that hunger. We get lonely and within 60 seconds of posting that photo, we have “friends” making comments to reassure us that we are not the losers we feel we are. It’s a culture where everyone gets a participation trophy whether they put in the work and effort to earn a reward or not. We can watch the movie we want at the exact moment and location we want to watch it. If I’m missing my mom I can FaceTime her right then and there. None of that stuff is inherently sinful, but it has contributed to a mindset that makes us feel like we shouldn’t have to wait for any good thing we feel we have coming to us.
So, when it comes to persistent faith, the kind of faith that doesn’t give up after 1, 2, or 10 unanswered prayers but continues to press into Jesus and trust Him without giving up, we have a difficult time understanding why God didn’t’ give us what we wanted when we wanted it. What we have to understand is that God’s main desire for our lives is not for us to be happy, but for us to be holy. He has made us for a purpose. That purpose is to reflect who He is the world around us as His image bearers, for Him to rule over His creation through obedient human beings who will love Him and one another. That’s what it means to be holy, to be set apart for a specific purpose. And more often than not, the thing we think will make us happy (getting what I want when I want it) is the very thing that will keep us from being holy. God’s withholding the answer to that prayer is His way of developing us and conforming us to the image of Christ, the perfect image-bearer.
The reason God values that kind of persistent faith is because it not only accomplishes His purposes in our lives, but it also demonstrates our willingness to trust His love for us by trusting in His timing while simultaneously continuing to ask Him because we also trust He’s a good Father who wants to give his children good things. In short, it is believing the best about who He is and what He wants to do in our lives.
Excerpt from Sunday’s Sermon
“Great faith sees the self as deeply broken, yet radically loved.”
The tension that exists between these two points is the seeming contradiction between such abject humility and supreme confidence. How do we reconcile these two in living a life a faith?
How does this impact our relationship with God?
How does it impact how we relate to and engage others?
In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Dr. Tim Keller states, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” He writes this in the context of husbands and wives learning how to love one another unconditionally, but the principle applies to all of us when it comes to how we relate both to God and to one another.
Within this tension of recognizing we are deeply broken and yet radically loved, sinful and flawed yet unbelievably accepted by Jesus, lies the root of our identity. You see we live in a world where love and acceptance is conditional. The ‘haves’ are accepted and the ‘have nots’ are rejected. If you are a person of power, influence, beauty, affluence, or celebrity then you are a person to be envied and pursued because of what you can do for those who pursue you. And, the moment you lose the ability to offer something in return for that pursuit then you are no longer worth pursuing or “loving,” as our world would describe it. This leads to a cultural phenomenon where we are subjected to a kind of Hunger Games existence where we have to eliminate any potential threat to our status so that we can remain on top. This leads to backbiting, backstabbing, competitive relationships where people treat one another as commodities to be used rather than humans to be loved, valued and respected.
However, when you learn to live in the tension of the Gospel which tells us that there is nothing inherently good or loveable in us, that we are all broken and sinful and flawed, and yet at the same time we have been loved and accepted and purchased by the blood of the most beautiful, influential, affluent, powerful being in the Universe then our identity is reset. When we realize we are loved and accepted by Jesus not because of, but rather in spite of, what we have done then we can cease in our striving and competing with others for the envious position. When we no longer need others to give us that status of loveable then, and only then, are truly free to love and give ourselves to others unconditionally.
This moves our hearts to a place or worship towards God and to a place of humility and service to others. When I don’t need anything from you I can give everything to you.
How would a people with this kind of great faith affect our community, neighborhoods, and city?