Week of 3/13/2016

STRETCH MARKS- WEEK 6: YOU HAD TO BE THERE

 Pastor Don n closed out the Stretch Marks series by preaching on the purpose God has for every place along the path that He leads us.  

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES

Luke 4:24-27
1 Kings 17  

Recap

  • 1 Kings 17 recounts a story in the prophet Elijah’s life. After the Lord spoke through Elijah to announce that God’s people wouldn’t see rain until He spoke through Elijah again, He led the prophet from place to place to show His provision in several different ways. In each place, there as a distinct purpose God wanted to reveal.
  • Pastor Don preached, “Your provision awaits your obedience.” God calls us to obey Him, and we will experience His provision in the places He leads us.  

SUPPORT SYSTEMS  

  • In 1 Kings 17, God is challenging the support system of the nation of Israel. The people had placed their hope in the prophet Baal, whom they trusted to bring rain. In turn, God chose to shut down all rain for three and a half years. The Elijah spoke this in verse one. 
  • If our support systems are never challenged, we will never see God as our source. Sometimes, we will experience failure in our lives that will ultimately bring us back to God. As Pastor Don n reminded us, this can be meant to show us that we don’t need to depend on a system that cannot support what God wants to do in our lives.  
  • God does not mean to hurt us; He longs to reveal His calling to us. With the skies shut, food supply was scarce. Yet God sent Elijah to a brook where he would be fed by ravens. Some time later, the brook dried up, prompting God to lead Elijah to Zarephath.
  • Likewise, God will lead us from place to place to show us His provision. Sometimes, we will experience drought in our lives because of a sin we’re holding onto. Other times, things will dry up so that God can lead us to our next place. Wherever God leads us next, as Pastor Don n taught, “The blessing of the Lord is there.”   

ULTERIOR MOTIVES  

  • Pastor Don n explained how God often has ulterior motives. We may perceive one purpose in the places He leads us, but He will often use that as a gateway to reveal another purpose. 
  • The Lord led Elijah to the brook and then to Zarephath seemingly to find food. However, the woman in Zarephath would offer Elijah an even greater purpose than he could understand.  
  • Though God leads us with our needs, He leads us to needs, We may go to new places or enter new opportunities with one thing in mind, but God has another purpose to use us in each place—He just has to get us there first. -Callings are born in the times of crisis. The woman in 1 Kings 17 is in desperate need of help. She’s out of money and food, yet Elijah asks for food. Elijah assures her that if she provides food for him first, then goes to feed herself and her son, she will not run out until the day the Lord brings rain back to the earth.  
  • Elijah didn’t necessarily do this out of selfishness; he did this to teach her about priority. Whatever we need, if we seek first God’s Kingdom, He will give all these things as well (Matthew 6:33). 
  • Many of us ask, “Why am I where I am?” The turning point of our lives is the moment we realize that the reason God leads us somewhere is not what God wants to give to us, but what He wants to do through us.  

FINAL ARRANGEMENTS  

  • God always knows what’s next and is always positioning us according to His purpose. That purpose is not always about us; it’s about what God wants to do for them through us. 
  • Well after the Lord led Elijah to the widow in Zarephath, her son fell ill and died. “What do you have against me, man of God?” she asked Elijah. “Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”  
  • However, in verses 19-22 Elijah was able to take her son, stretch himself over him, and breathe life back into him. Though it seemed that God led Elijah from place to place during the drought so that he might have food, perhaps his greatest purpose was the final arrangement in Zarephath, where he would resurrect a boy from the dead.
  • The entire Bible is meant to lead us to God’s final arrangements—Jesus death on the Cross. Jesus broke down our religious support system and showed us God’s ulterior motives on the Cross. He had to be there. He had to stretch Himself on the Cross so that He could be resurrected from the grave to offer us new life.  

ICEBREAKER  

Series Recap. Start your Life Group by asking everyone to share their biggest takeaway from the Stretch Marks series.  

INTRO

  • Watch this week's sermon recap with your Life Group. What stood out to you from this week's message?  

As your Life Group begins to share, ask a few follow-up questions to help them apply this week’s message to their lives.  

SUPPORT SYSTEMS  

  • •God allowed the skies to shut to challenge the support system His people had turned to so that they might turn back to Him. Talk about a time when something dried up in your life, but it drew you closer to God. •Sometimes, God will call us to leave what's comfortable so that we can pursue our calling. What have you learned from the times in your life that you've had to step out of your comfort zone?  
  • •If you had to explain to someone why it's important to follow God's purposes, not your own plans, what would you say? 
  • Pastor Don n preached, "God has hidden supply for people who walk in simple obedience. “In your own words, what is simple obedience?  
  • What does God supply to those who simply obey? 

ULTERIOR MOTIVES   

  • Think about the last big "step of faith" you made in your life. What is that brought you here? 
  • Though God leads us with need, He always leads us to needs. How does coming to church and working to grow your faith both feed you and prepare you to help others? 
  • Think about serving at church or volunteering with an outreach partner. How can focusing on the needs of others actually allow you to receive more than you give? 
  • God will often use one thing to get us somewhere, but then have a greater, hidden purpose once we get there. Think about your job, your marriage, or your workplace. What ulterior motives might God have for bringing you there? 
  • Set a goal to invite people you work with or live near to church. Who will you invite this week? How will you do it?  

FINAL ARRANGEMENTS  

  • The entire Bible leads up to the final arrangements God made for Jesus on the Cross. Knowing that, how does that change the way you read your Bible? 
  • Leaders, challenge your Life Group to read their Bible this week while looking for ways each passage points to Jesus.  
  • If you looked at every inconvenience in your life as having a purpose for God to use you, how would that change your outlook on life? 
  • Challenge your Life Group to say, “God has me here for a reason," every time you find yourself frustrated with someone or something this week. Who is the first person you know you'll have to say that about?  
  • God used every step of Elijah's journey to lead him to the widow in 1 Kings 17. Think about the journey of life you've been on. What purpose is God stretching you to serve right now?  

NEXT STEP  

If you have never accepted Christ as your savior and began a relationship with God, that is you first step.  

  • Is your support system based on you or your performance? Your Next Step is to remember and return to the truth that any support system that doesn’t have its foundation in God is one that will fail you and return to trusting in his provision. 
  • Sometimes as God is meeting our needs he is positioning us to meet the needs of others.  Your next Step maybe to look around and see the opportunities God is providing you to help others. The opportunity could be in your current crises or a past crisis.   
  • Each trial and every step we take is moving us into being more useful in God’s purpose. Your next Step maybe to look at your inconveniences as purposeful and realize and embrace that “God has you here for a reason”.