As you meet online, we encourage you to spend time again this week talking, laughing, listening and caring for each other. (If you need help meeting online, take a look at this guide.) 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:
- What is the funniest MEME or video you’ve seen regarding COVID-19?
- Have you caught up with anyone you haven’t talked to in a while?
- What is your go-to activity to de-stress or to get your mind off the pandemic?
- What videoconference “pro-tips” have you learned?
- What has been your primary way of getting groceries?
- Have you returned to a hobby or pastime that you previously haven't had much time to do?
- How are your homeschool students doing with their assignments?
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? Maybe 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 that 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 content in any circumstance, whether I am feeling comfortable and happy or struggling through a time of hardship?"
Read through Philippians 4:10-20 together, first using a literal translation of the Bible like the NIV or ESV. Then go back and read it again using a paraphrase version, like The Message, The Passion Translation, or The New Living Bible.
We have the benefit of knowing a lot about Paul’s life, from being a student of Gamaliel to his time as a pharisee, persecuting the church, to his many travels and missions. When he writes this letter, some scholars believe he was within a couple of years of the end of his life. Paul has experienced wealth and power, but also great suffering.
- Can you think of a time you had plenty, but were not content or were wanting but had joy?
- We are all going through something together. Each person is experiencing it in their own way, but we are all in the same struggle. Is this time for you a time of plenty or a time of want? What is one way in which it is a time of plenty? What is one way it is a time of want?
- Paul writes to the Philippians, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Does this promise apply to us? What needs are you praying for God to meet?
- Paul writes in verse 13, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” We know that the “him” in this scripture is Jesus, but why does God choose to give us strength through times of want and times of hunger, rather than just blessing us with times of plenty all the time?
- Share a personal story about a time when you experienced unexpected strength from Jesus during a difficult time or a season of need.
- Pastor Steve discusses how Paul has discovered the secret of joy in ANY and EVERY circumstance: Paul is a card-carrying member of the “contentment club”. How do we join this club, too? What do we need to do, or rather, what needs to be done? How can or should this current COVID-19 pandemic affect our membership?
- Pastor Steve told us about three things we need to resist to be a part of the contentment club — resentment, greed, and comparison. In what ways are each of them an enemy of contentment?
- Which of them is most challenging for you to resist?
- What strategies can you put into place this week to actively resist these feelings?
For further insight and practical application, this week's Daily Steps outlines five keys to having a contented heart (see the section called Bible Readings with Prayer Prompts). If your group has time, consider reviewing each of the steps and choose a few of the verses to read together. Discuss as a group which key each of you needs the most right now and why.
For this week, consider memorizing Philippians 4:12-13 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, a weekly devotional message designed as a companion to this sermon study guide. Daily Steps guides you through spending time with God through personal reflection and includes prayer prompts throughout the week.
DAILY STEPS - PHILIPPIANS - WEEK 7
MEMORY VERSE: Learn Through Repetition
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Phil 4:12-13
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:
12 I know what it is to be _______, and I know what it is to ____________. I have learned the _____ of being content in any and ___________, whether well ____or ______, whether living in _______or in ______. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me ______.
12 I know what it is _____________, and I know what it is _____________. I have learned the ____________________ in any and ________________, whether __________________, whether ___________________. 13 I can do all this through him _____________________.
12 I know _____________________, and I know ___________________. I have _________________________________________________, whether ___________________, whether ________________________. 13 I can _______________________________________________.
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 #57 and will go live on Sunday night, April 5th.
Why You Might be Feeling Panicky or Anxious Right Now and What to Do About It — If you are struggling with anxiety especially during this season of captivity, you may find this essay especially helpful. It was written by someone who is prone to anxiety herself, our own Community Team Study Guide Writer, Sara Goetz.
Read Part 1 of the Essay