Centered • Part 3

When your life is out of balance, there is a pull to only focus on what you see and feel in the moment. This is what gets us off track. We look at all that has to be done and all that is going on, and we start to freak out, and become overwhelmed. Life is just going too fast in the wrong direction and we are being pulled in a thousand different directions. How do we get the clarity to become centered when our circumstances leave us feeling hopeless?

1.  What are some of the things that typically stress you out? Have you ever experienced a time in your life when your stress was more about waiting for something to happen rather than what was actually happening?

2.  In a situation where you are waiting for God to work or praying for something specific, have there been times where the amount of time you have been waiting has discouraged you? Are there ways that you struggle during these times that are different?

3.  Read Philippians 1:12-21. What in this passage stands out to you the most? What was striking to you about Paul’s attitude?

4.  What are the ways that hope and optimism are different? How does choosing to have hope based on Christ change your focus in a way that optimism doesn’t?

5.  How can we come to a place where we see the struggles we have in the same way Paul does in Philippians 1:18? Is there something that has to change in your heart in order to see your circumstances this way?

6.  How does Philippians 1:6 encourage you? Is there a situation in your life, right now, that needs the kind of hope this verse promises?

7.  If our hope is fueled by making the choice to rejoice, then what are some of the ways you can choose to rejoice in the waiting? Is there a practical way you could choose hope this week and let go of some of the anger and worry that pulls you away from being centered on God’s word?

Centered • Part 2

Life is complex, full of moving parts. This is what causes us to feel overwhelmed, stressed out and leaves us wanting to give up. When you start getting pulled in a thousand different directions, your life gets out of alignment. Life is no longer whole and balance needs to be restored. Many times, what we want in the moment is in direct conflict with what we really want. So, to get what we really want, we have to discover what is actually important to us.

  1. What does a balanced life look like to you? Do you worry that the direction you are heading might not be the right direction relationally, financially, academically, professionally, or spiritually?
  2. What does Psalm 1:1 tell us about those we allow to speak into our lives and who we spend our time with? How does this verse challenge you?
  3. Read Psalm 1:1-2. These verses focus specifically on what a person who wants to be blessed should avoid and what they should pursue. Which of these two things do you find to be the most difficult? Is there one specifically that you need to move towards as you try to be more balanced?
  4. Read Psalm 1:2-3. What role does meditating on God’s Word play in your spiritual walk? What are some of the blessings these verses promise come from knowing and meditating on scripture?
  5. How do these verses help you shift your focus from asking the question, “What do I really want?” to asking “What does God really want?”
  6. Has there been a time in your life where you’ve seen your decisions push you off balance? How did those decisions lead you away from what you actually wanted?
  7. How is being centered more about the choices you make, rather than the circumstances you face? What is a way you’ve seen this play out in your own life?

We want to take the next 30 days as a church to read God’s Word for at least 10 minutes each day. If you haven’t started yet, there’s still time to join with us. For more information head over to theJourney.cc/bibleresources.

Centered • Part 1

Ever feel like your life is out of control? Most of us have at one time or another. At those times, we tend to focus on the immediate and the urgent and lose sight of the things that keep us balanced and ultimately happy. But how do we get to the peaceful and healthy life that we all desire?

1.  It’s a New Year! Perhaps, like many others, you decided this was a great time to begin eating healthier. Then a picture came to your mind of a mammoth cinnamon roll. What will you do? Will you head to Cinnabon to satisfy that longing or grab some veggies from the fridge instead?

2.  What we want in the moment drags us away from what is important. What are some reasons why it is difficult for us to prioritize what we really want ahead of our immediate desires?

3.  Read Genesis 25:29-34. What caused Esau to lose sight of what was important? Can you identify with him at all? In what way?

4.  Read James 1:14 aloud as a group. We often make decisions based on our immediate desire. Share a time when you made an ‘on the spot’ choice to satisfy that desire but later found out it was not the wisest or most beneficial thing to do?

5.  Most of us have dreams or plans that we wish to pursue. What conflict do you find between what you actually value and what you are currently pursuing?

6.  When you discover what is important in life, you are more likely to remain centered in life. Commit as a group to answer the following:

  • What do I really want?
  • Why is that important to me?
  • What keeps dragging me away?

Why God • Part 5

Throughout Scripture, we see Jesus as emotional, hurting, suffering and grieving. He is not superman with nerves of steel, He enters our real world, and feels the sting of it all. He has gone through the craziness of life. He has been hurt. The more you really believe this, the more you will run to Him when life hurts, not away from Him. If you believe this, you will turn to Him knowing that God is actively working to bring life and healing to our darkness.

1.       What do you think the average person would claim is the basis of the Christian faith? Why do people believe that Christianity is based on things other than Jesus?

2.       Read John 1:1-4. How do these verses give us hope in our times of uncertainty, fear and disappointment? What specifically do you find encouraging about these verses?

3.       How does John 1:14 illustrate the idea that “God is not a concept to be learned, but a person to be known”? How does understanding this change the way you interact with God?

4.       Read John 14:6-11. What does Jesus give as evidence in these verses to show us why we should have faith? How do these verses give us confidence that our trust in Him is not just blind faith?

5.       What is reassuring to you about the idea that God is with us in the midst of our brokenness, and not just a bystander? Has there been a time in your life where you have seen Him give you comfort and confidence to face your problems?

6.       What are the ways that you have carried out the #WorkYourCircle challenge this week?  

7.       Is there someone you are praying about inviting to one of the Journey’s Christmas Eve services? How can we, as a group, pray as you approach the person who God has laid on your heart?

Why God • Part 4

How can we be expected to believe in a just and good God when there often seems to be little justice or goodness in the world He created? More people have stepped away from God because of their inability to reconcile a good and loving God with the injustice, pain, and suffering in the world around us. There is no rational argument against the existence of God based on the injustice we see in the world. Christians have never made an argument for God’s existence based on a world where bad things never happen to good people. Injustice in the world calls into question the justice of God, the goodness of God, the love of God, not the existence of God. Injustice does not prove whether or not God exists.

1.  What was your biggest takeaway from the message this weekend?

2.  When you look at the world around you and see injustice, pain and hurt, do you struggle reconciling what you see with your belief that God is good? Why or why not?

3.  How do you answer the question: “If God is good, then why doesn’t He rid the world of injustice?”

4.  When you think about your concept of what is just and unjust, where do your values come from? What framed your understanding of these concepts? (Family, friends, religion, etc.)

5.  Why does the injustice you see around you call into question the moral character of God, but not the existence of God?

6.  What is so radical about John 3:16-18?  How do these verses show us that God is both just and good?

7.  When Pastor James said that justice requires judgement, what did he mean by that?  How does John 3:18 illustrate this?

8.  How are you continuing to #WorkYourCircle to invite people to one of our Christmas Eve services? Who have you invited so far? Spend some time praying for the people your group has invited that they would attend one of our Christmas Eve services.

Why God • Part 3

1.  What’s your favorite mystery or crime show you like to watch or book you loved to read?  What is it about these shows or books that you like?

2.  In many mystery stories, detectives learn to “follow the evidence” instead of jumping to conclusions.  Can you think of an example of this? Why is it so easy for us to simply jump to conclusions?

3.  Why is it significant that the New Testament, as an ancient document, is so well preserved compared to other ancient texts?

4.  Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-6.  What is so significant about the claims of the New Testament writers?  Why do you think these claims led to such widespread distribution and preservation of these documents?

5.  Everyone makes assumptions about the world.  Our assumptions shape the conclusions we make.  What are some ways modern people try to explain away the claim that Jesus raised from the dead?

6.  If we “follow the evidence” of the New Testament, why do these common explanations fall short?

7.  In the past, have you ever thought of faith in God as “blind” faith?  What evidence has helped build your faith in God over the years?

8.  Read 1 Corinthians 15:17-19.  What does this passage teach us about the importance of the resurrection of Jesus to the Christian faith? 

9.  How does it encourage you that our faith is truly reasonable and grounded in evidence?

10. How are you carrying out the #WorkYourCircle challenge? Who are you praying about inviting to one of the Journey’s Christmas Eve service?  If needed, how can this group encourage you to be bold to make the ask?

Why God • Part 2

  

As you got older, perhaps you began to ask some adult questions about a childhood faith. The more you asked, the more you were confused. Maybe you believe in God, but you don’t really know why. Your faith is based on tradition or personal experience. Perhaps you were told and believed that you had to stop thinking about it and just have “blind faith.”

1.  What was your biggest takeaway from this weekend’s message?

2.  Do you consider yourself to be more scientifically  minded or geared more towards the arts? How has this been a challenge to you in your journey of faith?

3.  Have you taken a moment when out walking a trail or sitting by a lake and noticed how everything seems to be orderly and laid out perfectly? How would you explain this to others? To yourself?

4.  Why is the fact that we can rationally understand the universe so remarkable? Do you think this was by chance or design?

5.  How does understanding that the universe is fine-tuned in order for life to exist help you answer the question “Why God?”

6.  If the fine-tuned universe that surrounds us speaks strongly of God’s existence, what does it say to us about His character?

7.  Read Matthew 10:29-31. Jesus points to the heart of the Father in regard to His children. Share a time when His love and protection for you was very real in your life.

8.  How does knowing that God is interested in every detail of our lives and our world affect you personally?

Why God • Part 1

It’s essential for us to know what we believe about God, but also why we believe in God. We’ve all struggled with doubts and sometimes wonder if it is all true. The more we study, the more evidence we find that points to God. Not just any God, but the God that Jesus Christ taught about and came to reveal to us. We come to have faith, not just faith because we were told, not faith that is just based on personal experience, not just faith because of some life altering encounter with God, but faith based on reason, logic, philosophy, and science.

 

1.  What was your biggest takeaway from the message this weekend?

2.  Have you ever been asked “Why do you believe in God”?  How would you answer someone who doesn’t believe or is struggling to believe?

3.  Pastor James said that everyone puts their faith in something. What do you see people putting their faith in, other than God?

4.  What are the ways you see faith in God as a commitment to trust based on evidence and reason, and not just a leap in the dark?

5.  Read Genesis 1:1. How does creation give us overwhelming evidence that something or someone was behind everything we see, touch, taste, hear and smell?

6.  What does active trust mean to you?  How is faith in God something we have a good reason to believe in?

7.  Read Romans 1:19-20.  What are the ways that creation reveals to us not only that there is a God, but also what kind of God He is?

Grace Beyond Walls

1. How ethnically diverse was the area in which you were raised as a child? What was the general attitude in that community about ethnic diversity?

2. As you watch the events in our culture over the last few years when it comes to racial divisions, what are your personal reactions to what you see?

3. Why do you think these issues are so polarizing in our current time?

4. Read Ephesians 2:11-18. According to verse 15, for what purpose did Jesus Christ die? 

5. What divisions were the early church battling?  How were these similar to what we face today?

6. What does it mean that Jesus came to “break down the wall of hostility,” and “create one new man instead of two?”

7. Read Ephesians 2:19-22. What parts of this text demonstrate the fact that God wants all believers to be unified?

8. In what ways does the analogy of God building a house show the beauty of His vision for His people?

9. Read Revelation 5:9-10. What clues do we see from this text that demonstrate the fact that Heaven will be a place of diversity?

10. Why do you think ethnic diversity glorifies God?

11. When someone looks at God’s people, they should see a picture of Heaven. What keeps us from living out this kind of unity and diversity as God’s people today?

12. What are some practical steps we can and need to take in order to make progress in this area?

Worth It • Part 3

When you live with an open heart and open life in giving you allow God to do incredible things through you. God is moving, and by giving, God actually does something in you, not just through you. 

  1. What was your biggest takeaway from this week’s service?
  2. Read John 5:6. The healing you are seeking and what is promised won’t be yours unless you want it. How was this true in the paralytic’s life? Share an experience when it was true in your own life as it dealt with your time or your finances.
  3. Paul’s words in Acts 20:35 are as true today as they were in the 1st Century. What are some practical ways you’ve experienced that it is more blessed to give than to receive?
  4. Read Proverbs 11:24-25. Share a time when you have been refreshed by someone else’s giving. How did this impact you? How did this encourage you to be a giving person as well?
  5. Share something from the 7-day Worth It devotional that God has used to impact your life this week. 

Worth It • Part 2

Sometimes we get caught off guard because we think that when we commit to follow Christ, to serve him and to live for him, everything will fall into place. But why does it feel like the moment we begin to live for His purposes everything becomes a struggle?  What do you do when you start stepping up, but then want to give up?

1. Has there been a time in your life when you stepped up to follow where God was leading, but then things didn’t turn out like you thought they should and you wanted to give up?  How did you see God work through those circumstances?

2. Read John 21:3-15.  How did you relate to what Peter was going through in these verses?  Can you share a time that you have given in to the temptation to ask “What about me?”

3. How did Jesus challenge Peter in John 21:15-17?  Did these verses challenge you with the idea that if we love God, then we have to care about what He cares about?

4. What is the difference between the bib and the apron mentality?

5. What are some of the ways we can be constantly reminded that, as a church, God has strategically placed us where we live, work, or go to school because He has a purpose for us?

6. How does understanding who Jesus is and why He is worthy shift our focus away from “What about me?” to asking “What can God do through me?” What is a practical way you can put this question into action this week?

 

We want to take the next 7 days to walk together through a devotional from God’s Word on generosity. All Christians desire to be a part of a movement of God, but find themselves having to move past some major obstacles in order to step into what God has for them personally. These next 7 days will encourage you that living for God is always Worth It!  You can access the devotional from the Journey App (search for the Journey - Florida) or on our website (thejourney.cc/soap).

Worth It • Part 1

  1. What was your biggest takeaway from the service this weekend?
  2. How have you seen God work and move this past year in our church and in your heart through Stepping Up?
  3. If applicable, share personal stories of how Stepping Up has been worth it.
  4. Read 1 Peter 5:6. Humbling yourself is never easy, but it’s always worth it. What is so hard about humbling yourself?
  5. Between creating excellent environments, reaching people who are far from God right where they are, and offering help and hope to those hurting the most, what are you most excited about regarding Stepping Up? With the mindset of reaching people where they are, how should this change your involvement in our church?
  6. While taking steps of faith are never easy, how can this group help you remember it’s always worth it?
  7. As a group, please spend some time praying for leaders (campus pastor for Deltona and ministry leaders for each campus), places to launch, and where God wants to use you.

IDK • Part 5

1.     Who was the best friend you’ve ever had? What made them so likable? Could you count on them to give you good advice?

2.     When faced with a difficult decision, do you tend to seek the advice of others or do you tend to make the decision alone?

3.     Read 1 Kings 12:1-21. Did the king (Rehoboam) do anything right in his decision-making process? If so, what did he do right?

4.     What mistakes did the king make?

5.     What was specifically wrong with the advice the king received from the group of young men in vv. 8-11?

6.     In what kinds of real-life scenarios do we encounter the following kinds of bad advice…ignorance? arrogance? self-centered motives?

7.     When seeking advice, what criteria should we use when deciding whom to ask?

8.     Why is it so easy for us to trust ourselves? Why is it so dangerous to do so?

9.     Read Jeremiah 17:9. It seems out of step with modern culture to believe the human heart is wicked. What does the Bible mean when it claims that the human heart is indeed wicked?

10.  Name a situation in your life in which you need to seek godly advice.

IDK • Part 4

This weekend we heard a story of trusting in God when there seemed no way. We saw how out of our brokenness God can make all things beautiful – more beautiful than we could ever imagine. He is always working, always living, even when we can’t see it.

 

1. What was your biggest takeaway from this weekend’s service? What was one way in which God spoke to you through the story you heard?

2. How did what you heard this weekend compare with your own IDK moments and how can this story encourage you during those  times?

3. What were some of the biblical principles within this story and how can you apply them to your life?

4. Read Romans 8:28. Often times, when we’re in the midst of difficult and challenging circumstances, it can seem as if there’s no way that God can redeem the heartache or mess we find ourselves in. Share a time where God worked something out for His good when it seemed like things were too far-gone.

5. Ephesians 2:1-10, Psalm 37:4-5 and 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 were a few of the verses mentioned this weekend. Read through these and share if any of these spoke to you this weekend.

IDK • Part 3

The more complex the decision, the more stress it creates. The choices we make will impact our life and our future. It’s no surprise that so many of us get scared to death to make a decision. We need some wisdom on how to de-stress our life when we face these IDK situations.

1. Read Matthew 6:25-27. Share some examples of how you worried and fretted over your circumstances. What has worrying about what to do actually done for you?

2. Read Matthew 6:28-32. This passage is such a vivid picture of how much God loves you and will provide all the things you need. How can trusting in what God knows allow you to rest in what you don’t know?

3. Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek God first and He will take care of the rest. He will take you exactly where you need to be. Do you struggle to really believe this and what steps can you take to overcome the worries of life?

4. How freeing is it to know that your decision to seek God first opens up the direction for your life? What tension comes naturally with this statement?

5. There are many times in our lives when we come to an IDK moment, a time when you really wanted and needed God’s direction. Share some of those times with your group. How can you seek God best in this area of your life?

6. Spend some time in your small group praying for each other, that you can be set free from the worries of this life.

7. God has given us His word to help us in our daily struggles. Memorizing scripture will help when you face difficulties. Memorize Matthew 6:33 and apply it whenever you need to be reminded of His unfailing love for you and His bountiful provision.

IDK • Part 2

Life is a series of choices. Every day we face decisions that impact our lives. Some decisions are simple; others are complicated. What do we do when we don’t know what to do?

  1. Read John 16:7-13. God wants to personally guide your life more than just give direction to your life. What would it look like for you to have God guide your life? Share some examples how this played out in your life.
  2. Jesus said He would leave this earth and send the Holy Spirit to guide and teach His people. Give examples of how you have sensed the guiding of the Spirit. Did you follow His lead? What were the results?
  3. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Psalm 119:105. The Word, the Bible, was penned by men as the Holy Spirit instructed them to do. Yet, so often, we try to take a shortcut and make decisions based on our own understanding. Why do you think God wants us to rely totally on His Word when making choices that affect our life?
  4. Read Philippians 2:13. Has there been a time when you knew God was working in and/or through you? Share about this time and the results?
  5. God created us. God is our wonderful Father. He only wants what is best for His children. His desire is to direct us in all our decisions. Is this a reality in your life? How can your group members help you on this road to totally trusting God?
  6. Your challenge this week is to pray: “God, I trust you to personally guide me as I follow wherever you lead.” Will you commit to doing this? Come back next week, ready to share how God worked when you submitted to His leading.

IDK • Part 1

Every day we make multiple decisions in life. Whether big or small, highly impactful or uneventful, the decisions we make form who we are. Some decisions are easy, but what do you do when the decisions are tough--when you get to that place where you say, “I don’t know what to do?

1. When growing up, did you ever witness a moment when your parents didn’t seem to know what to do? How did that impact you?

2. Read 1 Samuel 17:1-11. Have you ever been there? Where you are faced with giants and totally unsure which way to go? What did you do when that happened?

3. We all look for easy answers, a way to be in control or guaranteed success if we step out. Was there a time when you felt this way? What did you do?

4. Read 1 Samuel 17:24-26, 36-37. At times God will not explain the reason for what is happening but rather He is waiting to see your response to what is happening. How has your choice to trust God brought clarity so you could move confidently in your choices?

5. Psalm 25:1-5 is a wonderful scripture to read when you are faced with fear, doubt and insecurity about the future. As a Group, read and discuss how this can help in a time of struggle.

6. Read 1 Samuel 17:46-47. Try to picture this little shepherd boy facing a mega man and yet, boldly declares his God will give this giant into his hand. What giants are you facing today? What can you do when fear seems to overwhelm you?

7. When you trust God in your decision-making, He will always work in the decisions you are making. Share examples of when this was a reality in your life.

 

Pray this Prayer

In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.

Guide me, for my hope is in your all day long.

Psalm 25:1, 5

Under the Influence • Part 3

1.     It’s only natural for parents to plan their kids’ story for them. What kinds of plans do parents typically make for their children’s lives? What are the reasons for some of the plans we feel most passionate about for our kids?

2.     Read Matthew 22:35-40. What commands did Jesus say are most important for our lives? What does this passage teach us about our purpose in life?

3.     Read Genesis 22:17-18. In this passage, God promises Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. In what way does God promise his descendants will impact the world around them?

4.     Read Matthew 28:19-20. What mission did Jesus give to His followers in this passage?

5.     In these three passages, we see that we are created to make a difference in the world around us. What kind of difference does God want our families to make in this broken and hurting world?

6.     It’s easy for parents to focus on a story for our children that is not the same as God’s story for them. Why is this so easy to miss as parents? Why is it so important for parents to use their influence to help their children focus on others and not themselves?

7.     What are some practical ways for families to connect to God’s story in the world around us? What step is He leading you to take?

Under the Influence • Part 2

God has designed it so that parents play a huge role in developing and influencing their children, no matter what their age. One of the reasons we talk about the ways parents can influence their children, is because the depth of your relationship will determine the depth of your influence, and what you do with your influence will determine the health and wellbeing of your family.

1.     What is one way that being a parent is completely different than you thought it would be when you were younger? 

2.     Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9. How do these verses show God’s plan for parents to be some of the primary influencers in their children’s lives?

3.     How does the question “Who do I want my children to become?” bring clarity to what you are supposed to do with the influence God has given you? What are the ways this question can help you see beyond the present, and develop a vision for the person you want them to be?

4.     How does Deuteronomy 6:4-9 illustrate that parenting is more about who your kids are becoming than about what they’re doing? What are some of the ways these verses show you how to be intentional in encouraging your children as they pursue God?

5.     In your parenting, how do you clarify what is important, and focus your priorities on the things that matter most? How do you think your children would respond to this question of what is most important to you?

6.     Are there ways you can adjust how you respond to your children with your goals for them in mind, and not just react to them in the moment?

7.     Can you think of something practical you can do that will begin to influence who your children will become and how they will pursue God?

Under the Influence • Part 1

Every family faces obstacles that will push them and stretch them. If you are a parent, know someone who is a parent or had a parent, then you will agree that parenting can be a struggle.  What we find, throughout the Bible, is that there are no perfect parents or easy formulas, but God does give us some clear instruction and wisdom on how to parent well and how to deal with family issues.

  1. During your childhood, what did your parents do that you said you would never do when you had kids? If you’re a parent now, did it work out the way you thought it would?
  2. As a parent, how have you seen that you are the primary influencer in your children’s lives?  Do you worry about being the “perfect” parent?  What does the “perfect” parent look like to you?
  3. Read Ephesians 6:1-4. How do these verses show God’s plan for the family and the responsibility He gave to parents to influence their children?
  4. How are you living out Ephesians 6:2-3 in your life right now? What are the ways you are teaching your children how to obey and honor you through your own example?
  5. Read Ephesians 6:4. How can you shift from controlling to connecting so you don’t lose out on influencing your children as they get older?
  6. Communicate who you value, not just what you value. What are some of the practical ways you can communicate to your children that you value them, and not just their obedience?
  7. Lecture less to listen more. Would others describe you as a good listener? How can you take the time needed with your children in order to have quality time connecting?
  8. Constantly reengage with love. How does Ephesians 5:1-2 challenge you as a parent? How can the group pray for you as you continue to fight to influence your children for Christ?