As they did last week, it's likely that this week your group members need to CONNECT more than anything else. As you meet online, we encourage you to spend time again this week talking, laughing, listening and caring for each other. Therefore, you may want to go through ONLY the first section (REFLECT) of this week's guide and encourage everyone to use the second section (THINK) as a personal or family study. You know your group best, and we want you to feel empowered to worry less about getting to the deep discussion and focusing more on making sure each of your members has the chance to breathe, smile, share, and feel supported.
Ways to Connect:
- Have you begun to see certain aspects of shelter in place as a blessing? In what ways?
- How was the church experience on your "campus" at home this weekend?
- How is your Lent season different than you expected?
- What is the funniest MEME you’ve seen regarding COVID-19?
- What is one new thing you’ve learned about a family member/roommate since the shelter in place?
- What is one new thing you’ve learned about YOURSELF since the shelter in place?
- How many times did you go out for a walk this past week?
- What shows should we be watching on Netflix?
- Which favorite old movie have you pulled off the DVD shelf to watch again?
- What is the most fun you’ve had this week?
Ways to Care for Yourself and Others This Week:
1. KEEP MOVING
How can you keep physically active during this week? Going for walks? Workout video/app? How can your group encourage you to keep moving?
2. LOVE THE SPACE YOU ARE IN
What can you do to make the space you are living in feel better? Is there a closet to organize? Weeds to pull? Change the room you are in working/homeschooling? Have dinner outside one night?
3. GIVE YOURSELF PREDICTABILITY
How can you keep a routine/rhythm during the day? Think of ways to calendar rest, ways to be restored physically/emotionally/spiritually, to connect with God/others and be creative throughout your week.
4. IDENTIFY WORRY
Write down what, if anything, about this new way of living makes you worried or feel anxious. Consider sharing with your group or using the questions below to work through the worry.
5. PREPARE FOR WHAT’S HARD
What point in the day is hardest for you? When can your group be praying for you?
6. REACH OUT
Who, outside of this group, can you touch base with this week to see how they are doing/if they need anything?
7. SPEND TIME WITH GOD
Use the Daily Steps devotional to daily connect with God. Also, consider working through the digging deeper questions (see below) throughout the week.
8. WORK THROUGH NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
When we get stressed, frustrated, worried or anxious, those emotions are often fueled by the lies we believe and the negative thoughts we are dwelling on. This week, invite God's presence into your heart and mind by prayerfully working through this negative thought worksheet.
Our driving question for Community Groups this week is, “How is God teaching me to be consistently joyful, pray instead of worry, control what I think about, and surrender my need for control to Him?"
Paul teaches us in Philippians 4:4 to “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
- To have an always-kind-of-joy means we can have joy when we are frightened, feel sadness, isolated like Paul, in pain, or are lonely. We can be illogically joyful. Our joy is different.
How have you experienced joy differently this past week - when it might have seemed illogical to be joyful? If you felt that joy was absent for you during this past week, what would you do or how would you think differently?
- Jesus chose joy at the most unusual times. The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy that was before him. (Hebrews12:2) He knew His sacrifice would mean salvation for us.
How are you finding your joy in the Lord as a follower of Christ and not in your circumstances during these most unusual times?
- Start a joy journal - make a note on your phone or choose a journal to keep track of moments in your week where you choose joy.
Philippians 4:5 continues, “Let your gentle graciousness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
- How does knowing that the Lord is near make room for you to receive His comfort, grace, patience and forgiveness? And in return, share those gifts with everyone in your household - even when it’s hard?
- Paul continues teaching us in verse 6, “Don’t be anxious about anything.” What are you feeling most anxious about? How have your anxiety levels changed over the last few weeks?
- What are the different ways your day is affected when you allow your anxious thoughts to continue to be on repeat?
Verse 6 continues, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
- Paul teaches us to take every anxious thought captive and transform it into a prayer (Greek: an exchange of wishes) until this practice becomes a habit.
Pastor Steve described this as a way we can scrub our souls and purify our minds. As often as we are washing our hands, we can wash away anxious thoughts with prayer.
Take a moment and read Matthew 6:25-34 together. Take turns reading. How do Jesus’ words cause you to present your requests to Him with thanksgiving?
- Challenge yourself to pray every time you wash your hands this week; on your next walk this week, take time to consider the birds and the poppies that are blooming in our fields. The Lord is near.
Paul writes in verse 7 that if we pray in this way that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Biblical peace literally means “joined, tied together into a whole.” To receive God’s peace means you won’t fall apart - it transcends understanding, and it is super-human. In what ways do you need this kind of peace to help you keep it all together?
Our need to focus on what is true and pure rather than what is fearful and unknown is as important as it has ever been.”Whatever is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy - think about these things.” Verse 8
- When we worry too much, our minds can distort the truth without us even knowing it. We all might need to go on a thought diet. What kinds of thoughts have you been allowing yourself to consume?
- How has it been difficult for you to trust God in the middle of your worry?
- CHALLENGE: Take a sabbath from bad news multiple times this week. Open your Bible and read true things. Focus on Jesus - He is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Talk about Him instead.
“Whatever you have learned, or received, or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And then the God of peace will be with you.” Verse 9
- As you are putting into practice the things you have learned, in what ways can you help bring God’s peace to someone this week?
For this week, consider memorizing Philippians 4:4-8 individually. There are many ways that someone can memorize a verse. You will find two different ways listed below. Feel free to choose one ... or both!
In addition, we encourage you to check out Daily Steps. It's a new weekly devotional reading designed as a companion to our weekly study guide, but Daily Steps is focused on an individual's journey, rather than group study and discussion.
DAILY STEPS - PHILIPPIANS - WEEK 6
MEMORY VERSE: Learn Through Repetition
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about these things. Philippians 4:4-8
Say this verse 3 times each day (Tip: write it out a card and keep copies in your car, on the bathroom mirror, etc.):
▢ ▢ ▢ Monday
▢ ▢ ▢ Tuesday
▢ ▢ ▢ Wednesday
▢ ▢ ▢ Thursday
▢ ▢ ▢ Friday
Or, use the following template to fill in the blanks:
Verses 4-5 Rejoice in the _______ always. I will say it again: _____________! 5 Let your ____________ be evident to _______. The _______ is near. _______ 4:_-_
Verse 6 Do ____ be _____ about __________, but in ______ situation, by __________ and
__________, with __________ , present your ______ to ________. 7 And the __________of God , which transcends all __________ , will __________ your __________ and your __________ in __________. _______ 4:_-_
Verse 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is________, whatever is __________, whatever is __________, whatever is __________, whatever is ______, whatever is
__________, if anything is __________ and __________, __________ on these things. _______ 4:_
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION
After each weekend sermon, our pastors and various church leaders, will sit down and have a 15-20 minute discussion around the weekend's sermon. Search for "CF Beyond Sunday" wherever you listen to podcasts, or watch on YouTube by tapping the button below. FYI - This week's episode will be #56 and will go live on Sunday night, March 29.