Week of 11/22/2015 - It's Already Written

SERIES OVERVIEW

Life is full of uncertainty. Daily situations beyond our control put us at risk for disappointment, failure, and regret. For most of us, bravery is not about staring death in the eye, but finding courage to face the everyday pressure and anxieties life throws our way. In this series, we’ll discover how to be brave and what it means to fully rely on God’s peace and promises in every situation.

SESSION 3: IT’S ALREADY WRITTEN

LEADERSHIP 101

Use the information below to prepare for the discussion this week.

SESSION OVERVIEW

Psalm 112:6-7 declares that God’s righteous people will never be shaken. Though it does not say that they will never receive bad news; it says they will have no fear of it. As people declared righteous through Christ, we have the ability within us to brave any adversity with the hope of Christ. Pastor Don read the story of Moses sending twelve men to explore Canaan, what we would later call the Holy Land of Israel. Numbers 13 captures the full account of these men scouting the land, how they found copious amounts of fruit, and how they returned to Moses speaking not of the fruit, but of the danger that lied around the land. Of the twelve men Moses sent to Canaan, only two of them reported that God’s people should attempt to possess it. Pastor Don likened their report to the approach of some of today’s investigative news reporters. Many reporters will write their story before their investigation and use their questions to fill any gaps to support their story. Likewise, many of us struggle with worry and anxiety because we write our own report before we ever step out into the world. As Pastor Don preached, “You experience your perspective.” We don’t solely experience our realities in life; we experience our perspective of our realities in this life.

In good news or bad, the report we believe is more important than the news we hear. 

KEY PASSAGE

Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV) 
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

GOAL FOR THIS SESSION

In week three of How To Be Brave Pastor Don preached on how the report we believe for our lives is never tied to the news we receive from the world around us.

KEY POINTS

1.    A GOOD REPORT IS HARD TO FIND

Pastor Don preached that it’s not through epic feats of bravery that we make an impact on the world for Christ. It is through long term faithfulness and consistent courage. But how do we find this kind of heroic faith?

-In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul gave them a list of things to think about. He instructed them to think on things that were true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. In order to cultivate heroic faith, we need to form a habit of thinking thoughts that are of God. It’s all about forging a courageous state of mind.  As Pastor Don explained, both fear and faith are products of focus. When we focus on the wrong things, fear is produced. But when we focus on the right things, faith is produced. Unfocused minds welcome fear and weaken faith. -In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam he could eat all he wanted of any tree in the garden, except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Things would have been much different if Adam and Eve had focused on what they could eat instead of on what they couldn’t. In the same way, instead of focusing on not thinking wrong thoughts, we need to focus on thinking right thoughts. God places no limits on our thoughts that come from Him.! A lack of faith is a sign of broken focus. Our faith will rise when we concentrate on the goodness of God.

2.    IT IS UP TO YOU TO YOU THE REPORT THA YOU BELIEVE

Psalm 112:6-7 declares that God’s righteous people will never be shaken. Though it does not say that they will never receive bad news; it says they will have no fear of it. As people declared righteous through Christ, we have the ability within us to brave any adversity with the hope of Christ.

Pastor Don read the story of Moses sending twelve men to explore Canaan, what we would later call the Holy Land of Israel. Numbers 13 captures the full account of these men scouting the land, how they found copious amounts of fruit, and how they returned to Moses speaking not of the fruit, but of the danger that lied around the land.  Of the twelve men Moses sent to Canaan, only two of them reported that God’s people should attempt to possess it. Pastor Don likened their report to the approach of some of today’s investigative news reporters. Many reporters will write their story before their investigation and use their questions to fill any gaps to support their story. Likewise, many of us struggle with worry and anxiety because we write our own report before we ever step out into the world. As Pastor Don preached, “You experience your perspective.” We don’t solely experience our realities in life; we experience our perspective of our realities in this life.

-In good news or bad, the report we believe is more important than the news we hear. 

3.    BAD NEWS, GOOD REPORT

Moses asked his men to inspect Canaan to size up the situation, not to size up themselves. They returned with bad news of how strong their enemies would be, saying, “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” Yet Moses chose to believe the good reports of two men—Joshua and Caleb. Pastor Don explained Moses’ decision by saying, “I don’t have to have good news to believe a good report. ”Faith will turn bad news into a good report. Fear will turn good news into a bad report. When we surround ourselves with people who can help us interpret bad news into a good report, we can have the faith to believe God’s promises. The word “Gospel” literally means, “Good news.” Our Savior Jesus is, in Himself, good news. Hanging on the Cross, breathing His last, Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” What seemed like the worst news in His life would actually become the greatest report the world would ever receive. Jesus’ death and subsequent Resurrection paved the way for all of us to embrace a new life of forgiveness, freedom, and purpose. 

4.    IT’S ALREADY WRITTEN

Pastor Don issued a challenge for each of us to remember that no matter what news comes into our lives, our stories are already written by an infinitely powerful and loving God.
-Jesus said the exact phrase, “It is written...” in Matthew 4 while He was being tempted by the devil. Jesus used the unfailing promises written in the Word of God to thwart the devil’s schemes against Him. The devil has written a script of how he wants derail our destinies. It’s full of bad news and temptation to issue a permanently negative report. However, we have access to God’s Word (literally, we can download the Bible on our phones and take it with us everywhere) which promises that our report is always good through Christ.

-Joshua, one of the two men who issued a good report on Canaan, would later only send two people to scout the land of Jericho. Why? Because he knew first-hand the effect of having too many bad reports. Pastor Don closed with Psalm 23:6, calling us to see that we too only need to send for two reports—goodness and mercy—for if our stories are already written by Christ, those two reports will follow us everywhere we go.

Session 3: IT’S ALREADY WRITTEN

REFRESH

Review the sermon if needed.

DISCUSSION

Use the questions provided in each session to facilitate your group’s discussion and application of each topic. Use the questions ands discussion that is best for your group.

GET GOING

Only the Good (M&M) Reports.

Pass a bowl of M&Ms around to your Life Group. They can take as many or as few as they want, but everyone must take some. Once everyone has their candy, they must share one “good report” for each M&M they took. What is your Life Group praising God for?

GET DEEP

Read Philippians 4:8-9
  • Challenge your Life Group members to memorize these two verses.! 
Read Numbers 13:1-3
  • Of the twelve people Moses sent, ten of them came back with a bad report. Only two—Joshua and Caleb —gave a good report. Why do you think he believed their two good reports over the ten bad reports?
  • Have you ever experienced a feeling inside you that God was calling you to do something, even though people around you told you that it wasn’t a good idea? What was it? 
  • Pastor Don preached, “You experience your perspective.” What does this mean? 
  • How does making up your mind to believe a good report change the way you receive bad news?

Key Point 1: A Good Report is Hard to Find

  • Pastor Don preached that our fears are often indicative of where our strengths may lie. Which fear do you resonate with the most, failure, embarrassment, commitment, vulnerability, or loneliness?
  • What is it about these fears that make you so afraid? What makes your fears unique?
  • If our spiritual Enemy uses fear to keep us from realizing our fullest potential in Christ, what do you think he is using your fear to keep you from? 
  • What potential strength lies at the bottom of your fears?

Key Point Two: It is up to you, the report that you believe!

  • Sometimes, we turn to people because we know they will sympathize with us and allow us to vent our emotions. Other times, we turn to people because we know they will tell us what we need to hear. 
  • When you receive bad news, who are the first people you turn to? Why?
  • Who do you know that consistently turns good news into a bad report? What do you learn from them?
  • Who do you know that consistently turns bad news into a good report? How do they inspire you?

Key Point Three: Bad News Good Report

  • Pastor Don warned us that our spiritual Enemy is attempting to write a story that will discourage us and derail our destiny. However, God has already written our stories and filled them with His promises. 
  • What stories, doubts, or fears does the Enemy typically throw at you? 
  • Have you ever prayed that God would change a piece of bad news into a good report, but it seemed like He didn’t? How did that discourage you?
  • Looking back, what good can you take from that experience?
Read Psalm 23:6
  • This passage assures us that goodness and mercy will follow us forever. Is anyone in your Life Group going through some bad news right now? How can your Life Group encourage them to see goodness, mercy, and victory in the midst of their bad news? 
Read Numbers 13:13-33
  • What stands out to you in this story?

Key Point Four: It’s Already Written

No matter what bad news comes our way, we have the ability as children of God to bring forth a good report. One of the best ways to begin living by good reports is to practice praising God in a personal way each day. This can look a number of different ways, from reading the Bible, listening to a sermon podcast, or playing worship music in your car on the way to work. 

NEXT STEP

Help your Group identify and take their next steps with Jesus. Pray with them and for them. Ask them about their next steps later this week. 

  • Is your Next Step to memorize Philippians 4:8-9 to guard your heart against fear and anxiety?
  • Is your Next Step to lay down the worry a fear of the situations that seem to overwhelm and surround you knowing that God has you?
  • Is your Next Step to begin to or to restart a consistent time with God in His word to remind you of the truth even when you receive “bad reports?
  • Is your Next Step to change your radio station or the music you listen to keep your focus on praising God?

PRAY

Pray for those in your group are currently in bad news situations, that they might find peace in the good news of hope in Christ. Pray that they may be free from fear by focusing on the promises of God. Ask God to help your group be brave this week as the waves no matter what news they receive. Thanks God for allowing these times so that we can grow in our faith and to be brave.