Daring Faith - Week 10 Recap

There are a couple of sayings about how things “come and go”. They hint at the fast turnaround and the temporary, with a touch of shallowness and a lack of fulfillment.  

However, the words “come and go”, in light of our faith yield a far different outcome.  They actually bring rest and stability, along with triumph and eternal outcomes.

In Sunday’s message, we were challenged to do both of these.  

Come.  Go.

First, God calls ALL of us to come to Him.  He offers rest and help; a desire to share our load.  I recently read a quote that said “God’s care is better than our control.”  And after being reminded on Sunday of Matthew 11:28-30, I realized that while this is in fact true, it is also a very big obstacle for many of us.  We often choose our control over God’s care. He extends the invitation to us to come, but we don’t have to take it.  It is in our best interest. So why don’t we?  Because oftentimes, in order to accept help, it means we are turning over our control.  And letting go of control takes Daring Faith. However, we forget who Our Helper is. Psalm 121:1-2 (CSB) says,

I lift my eyes toward the mountains.

Where will my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

If accepting His invitation to come means finding rest and help from the very God who breathed the world, and everything in it, into existence…then I’m in.  

Then after having gone to Him for help, and therefore with His help, He calls us to go.

I loved unpacking Luke 14:16-20.  God specifically put not one, but multiple excuses in these scriptures.  I’m pretty sure it’s because He knew we would be full of them. Our call to go is not just about us making sure we are offering to others what God has prepared for them.  It is also about us experiencing what He has prepared for us. Our obedience to go has as much to do with our relationship with Christ as it does about helping others find one with Him.  

So my challenge to myself and to each of us is this:

Do I share my load with God?  Will I choose His care over my control?

And then, let your faith in Him send you!  Ask Him, “Where do you want me to go?”  His answer might surprise you…but He’s calling you to have a Daring Faith.

-Mandy Smith

Daring Faith - Week 9 Small Group Notes

DARING TO WAIT ON GOD

“God does everything just right and on time, but people can never completely understand what he is doing.” Ecclesiastes 3:11b (NCV)

Many times in life we feel like we are waiting for God – waiting for an answer to prayer, fearful to move forward without hearing from him. Yet in God’s waiting room we have to remember that there will be delay, there is an unseen battle going on, that God is preparing us for his blessing, God keeps his promises and we are in good company. While we wait we can write down the lessons we learn, act as though we already have our answer (Romans 4:17), imitate the habits that cause our faith to grow strong, and trust God instead of panicking. Let’s talk over a few of these.

“A time to plant and a time to harvest…a time to scatter and a time to gather…a time to tear down and a time to build up…a time to keep and a time to throw away.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-5

  1. Tell us briefly about something you waited for a long time. What was it like to finally receive it?
     
  2. Discuss how waiting on God has had an effect on your spiritual, marital or financial well-being.

“We are not struggling and fighting against human beings but against evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm—the rulers, authorities, and powers of darkness.” Ephesians 6:12 (TEV)

      3. It is important to remember that there is an unseen spiritual battle (between God and Satan) going on and we Christians are in the middle of it. Read Ephesians 6:12 above and share your experiences of how delay was not a denial from God. 

      4. Read Daniel 10:11-13. The good news is that God has power over the enemy’s attack. Share a time when you were discouraged or depressed because your prayers were not being answered. Which of God’s promises can you claim against the darts of the enemy?

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Hebrews 6:12 (NIV)

      5. Waiting is not passive; imitating the habits that grow strong faith builds personal maturity. These five actions will prevent you from putting your life on hold when you are in the waiting room: keep praying, keep serving, keep going to small group, keep sowing and keep believing. How do you think God can use these to refine you when your dream is delayed?

  • Keep praying: How do your prayers reflect your belief that your dream will be fulfilled?
  • Keep on serving: In what ways do you think God blesses you when you are serving?
  • Keep going to small group: How does God use a fellowship of believers to encourage and uplift when life’s delays happen? What can your group do to help other members when their dreams are postponed?
  • Keep sowing: How have you grown spiritually as a result of waiting for the harvest?
  • Keep on belie ving: If God cannot direct a parked car, what step of faith will you take this week to move towards your goal? How can your time in the waiting room amplify your trust in God?

Daring Faith - Week 9 Recap

Daring to Wait

As I sit in my favorite writing spot looking out over our lovely backyard which is bursting into full bloom, I realize I am doing so for the last time.  Being in a season of not yet has been challenging this past few months as we prepare for our move.  Sunday’s sermon hit home and I would like to share with you how some of the points have directly been impacting me.

We are in good company when we are waiting on God.  It is hard not to grow weary from grieving, balancing single parenting and baring the load of “to do’s” that accompany a move. Spending regular time with God has been my primary source of strength. One particular morning as I struggled with the ever changing variables in our life like selling our house, contracts falling through, selling again, living among boxes yet trying to maintain a home like atmosphere for our children to finish school well.  God led me to Luke 12:6-7,

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed the very hairs on your head are numbered. Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Living in the not yet is hard, but spending our time waiting with God in His Word is like the much needed rain that has breathed life into our backyard. His Word is timely and reminds us we are not alone.  He sees us, knows our pain and most importantly He is right here with us.

Write down the lessons learned along the way.  Three days later after God had led me to Luke 12:6-7, I had already slipped back into a funk. Sobbing from the weight of all that was on my plate coupled with the waves of intense grief from leaving relationships of 19 years had overwhelmed me again. That morning, God led me to Matthew 10:29-31,

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Like a cold bucket of water dumped on my head, I knew I wasn’t getting it and God was graciously repeating to me a message He had already given. I had moved away from recalling the promises God has given me throughout this journey.  I have them saved in my notes on my phone so I can recall them at any time. I added the verse about the sparrows and even have a picture of a sparrow as my screen saver to remind me to not be afraid for I am of great value to God.

Writing down verses, truths spoked from devotionals or points from sermons and even songs played at the right time on the radio is super helpful in the waiting room. Then taking the time to reflect on them to remember God’s faithfulness and that He will continue to be faithful.  Here are some of the verses God has given me since February (Habakkuk 3:10, Psalms 55:22, Psalm 16:11, Romans 15:13-NLT).

There is a natural delay between planting and harvesting.  I grew up on a farm and I would add to this that here is a season that comes between the planting.  This is a time where the ground recuperates, rest and the farmer prepares for the next planting season.

This is particularly a tough one for me. When we arrived at South Shore, I was in a season where I had stepped away from fulltime ministry to focus on our family.  When Silas was three years old, I felt the release to step back in and it was at that time I became the Women’s Ministry Director.  My roles have changed over the years, but it has been an amazing time of planting seeds, nurturing, growing, harvesting and starting the cycle over again.  Many retreats, Bible studies, mentoring, and ministries were are part of my life here at South Shore, but what I see when I look back over the years is an investment in people. Pouring out my life into the lives of others using the gifts God has given me to hopefully make a difference in individual’s lives and ultimately His kingdom.

The past several weeks I have had to put on the breaks and redirect my efforts.  My season is not productivity and harvest.  It is handing off the reigns to others and embracing the unknown of what lies ahead for me in ministry. Accepting this season has not been easy and trusting God that He has a purpose for me is a choice. I choose to believe in my waiting that God will reveal His plan for me in His time, but for now I am in a season of in between.

Spending time with God, remembering His promises and accepting the season I am in has been monumental in my making it through this time of waiting.  I am learning that my emotions of sadness and grief of leaving 19 years of relationships is not a reflection of the lack of trust, but rather an acknowledgement that many seeds of relationships and love have been planted through the years. My faith is reflected each time I choose to believe standing on His promises rather than be anxious or fearful, which is a daily choice and sometimes moment by moment.

I pray that if you are in a season of waiting that you will join me in choosing to not be afraid.  I pray we will choose to live today knowing the God Who is mindful of every bird in the world and Who knows every hair on my head has our future in His hands. I pray we will choose to live today knowing we are invaluable to God and His love will push out anything that says otherwise. Then together we will dare to wait in faith.

by Janae Shatley Camp

Daring Faith - Week 8 Small Group Notes

Daring to be Generous

You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts. Your generosity will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 2 Corinthians 9:13 (NLT)

Every decision to be generous or giving brings with it at least 12 benefits: 1) it honors God; 2) it draws me closer to God; 3) it makes me more like Jesus; 4) it’s the cure for materialism; 5) it demonstrates my faith; 6) it reveals my character; 7) it brings God’s blessing; 8) it increases my happiness; 9) it increases my influence; 10) it multiplies my money; 11) it brings God’s protection; 12) it is multiplied in heaven. The Bible has more promises about giving than any other topic—even love. That’s because you can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving. Let’s take a closer look at six of the 12 benefits of giving.

If you are untrustworthy with worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? Luke 16:11 (NLT)

  1. Our natural condition is to be tempted by passion (what we desire), position (status), and possession (material wealth). The antidote is to develop a godly character through integrity, humility, and generosity. How do these godly qualities counteract our natural condition? Discuss with your small group the importance of developing a godly character.
     
  2. In doing a search of the Bible, the word “believe” is found 272 times, “pray” 371 times, “love” 714 times, and “give” 2162 times. What does it mean to give or to be generous? Why is giving so important? In what ways, besides money, can we give to others?

Your giving proves the reality of your faith….. 2 Corinthians 9:13 (Ph)

      3. We benefit when we are generous and when we receive the generosity of others. Share with your group a time when you were blessed by giving or by receiving a gift.

      4. How do you define materialism? Why is generosity the “cure” for materialism?

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV)

      5. Why does the state of our heart matter when we give of ourselves to others and how is the blessing returned to us?

The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy will get smaller and smaller. Proverbs 11:24 (Msg)

      6. One of God’s promises to us when we are generous is that our influence is expanded. What do you think that means? Talk about a few ways you may have seen influence expansion in action.

You will be enriched so that you can give even more generously. 2 Corinthians 9:11 (NLT)

      7. God also promises that when we give, our resources will be multiplied. How is appropriating this promise a vital test of our faith?

Daring Faith - Week 7 Recap

Let’s face it, it’s 2018 and committing to something seems to become harder and harder every day. Our schedules are full, our family time is limited at best, and it’s hard to know what should take priority. Therefore, I find myself saying ‘no’ to a lot of different opportunities because I want to fully invest in what I commit to. We commit to what we prioritize, and we prioritize what we value. 

I’m sure that if I had an individual conversation with each of you reading this, you would agree that church should be a priority; but at what level? What have you said ‘no’ to in order to prioritize church? The fellowship of God’s people doesn’t end on Sunday mornings, true, but the advancement of the Kingdom is peaked on Sunday mornings! If we are to truly live with a Kingdom mindset and want to see Jesus work in the life of people than that will always start with the Church.

Romans 12: “Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of His body.” I love the way that is written. Our purpose is found in Christ! If we are valuing, prioritizing, and committing to the work of God than we have to commit to being a part of His body. Luckily for all of us, we most likely did not wake up today and find out that our left arm took a day off of work. We function fully as a Church for the sake of the Kingdom only when all parts are working at full speed. 

You need the Church just as much as the Church needs you. Spiritual growth, relational growth, and emotional growth happen in a community. The culmination of beautiful community is when God’s people gather together. Where two are more are gathered, so is God; and as we all know, if God is there, what could be better? 

I challenge you today: Commit to the church. Make church a priority. Give, serve, think, strategize, and help us make the church an even brighter beacon in Sarasota. This weight does not fall on the staff or leaders of the church, it falls on all of us! 

- Pastor Brandon

Daring Faith - Week 7 Small Group Notes

DARING TO COMMIT

“Give yourselves completely to God – every part of you – for you have been brought back to life, and you want to be tools in the hands of God, used for his good purposes.” Romans 6:13 (LB)

Daring faith includes daring to commit – daring to give ourselves completely to God, as Romans 6:13 above says. This includes the five greatest, most important commitments in our lives: worshipfellowshipdiscipleshipministry, and mission. To strengthen our faith, we must unite with others in worship.  To discover our identity and purpose, we must connect with others for fellowship. To develop our potential, we must learn from others to grow (in discipleship). To experience significance, we must serve with others in ministry. To make an eternal difference, we must join with others on mission.

“We are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from Christ’s Body as a whole, not the other way around. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body.” Romans 12:4-5 (Mes)

  1. Read the verse above, and think about how different organs of the body only fulfill their purpose as parts of the whole. What does the verse say about how we get our meaning both as members of the church and as individuals.

“Christ brought us together through his death on the Cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility.” Ephesians 2:16 (Mes)

      2. Before Christ’s death, Jews could kill Gentiles just for walking into the inner court of the temple. Read Ephesians 2:16 above and discuss in your group how this was changed through Christ. How did he bring Jews and Gentiles together? 

“Now God had reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation… and the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NIV)

      3. Read the verse above and discuss in your group where reconciliation is urgently needed around the world today. How about in your own lives? What specific steps can you take now to promote the message of reconciliation in your life?

“Christ’s Body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow.” Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

      4. What does Ephesians 4:16 above say about growth through relationship in Christ’s Body? Discuss why relationship in community or discipleship is necessary to grow in character traits such as love, forgiveness, loyalty, and compassion.

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” Mark 8:35 (NLT)

      5. In your life, explain a time when you were living for yourself and not for the benefit of others. What steps can you take to embrace what Mark 8:35 above states? Discuss in your group the challenges you may encounter living this way.

“Two people are always better than one, because they get more done by working together. If one falls down, the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls, because no one is there to help. If two lie down together, they can share the same blanket and stay warm, but a person alone will not be warm. An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves. And a rope that is woven of three braids is hard to break.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NCV & LB)

      6. It is a risk to confuse prominence with significance. As the verse above says, a rope woven in multiple braids is hard to break. Talk about how working together helps minimize your personal prominence and pushes your efforts towards significance. Where can you apply this concept of team work to further your mission and purpose?

Daring Faith - Week 6 Small Group Notes

Daring to Plant in Faith: the key to Miracles

Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like someone who plants seed in the ground. Night and day, whether the person is asleep or awake, the seed still grows, but the person does not know how it grows.” Mark 4:26-27 (NCV)

God has created laws of planting and harvesting that apply not only to farming, but to every area of our lives. This law pertains to all, not just believers in Christ. It begins when we first plant a seed. Although we may not be around at the time of harvest, the seeds we sow will create a crop – for good or for ill. It all depends on what you plant. When you plant prayer, love, and kindness you get a great harvest of rewards. When you plant laziness, irresponsibility and stinginess you get a very poor harvest. Let’s talk more about the benefits of daring to plant in faith.

God said, “Let the land have seed-bearing plants and trees that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their varieties.” Genesis 1:11

  1. A seed is anything of value that we give away. What seeds are you planting today, in your relationships, your finances, your time? Briefly share one area where you need to sow more carefully. What next steps will you take?

“I sent you to reap where you didn’t plant; others had already done work before you, and you will gather the harvest.” John 4:38

      2. How do you feel knowing your life will affect future generations? Even though you may never see the effects of your life’s work, what do you need to change to leave a more faith filled legacy?

“Some seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times.” Mark 4:8

      3. Where have you seen this principle of multiplication in your life already? Whether or not you have seen a great harvest in the past, today you can sow more of yourself. What part of you will you give away to reap an even larger harvest in the future? How do you think God will use your faith in this area to mold your character?

“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest!”  Psalm 126:5-6 (NLT)

      4. Read the above scripture aloud together. How can you plant by faith when you don’t feel like sowing the seed?  What was it like when you planted a seed (for example: generosity, kindness, giving hope to others, money, and time) when you were tired, stressed, or even grieving? What harvest did you have “with shouts of joy”?  

      5. Read Mark 4:26-27 at the top. What seeds have others planted in your life that are now being harvested? If you could change them, what would you have wanted planted in you?

         “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.”                                    Proverbs 11:24 (Mes)

      6. In what areas of your life do you need to be more generous? How will you accomplish this?

Daring Faith - Week 5 Recap

Daring Faith – Daring to give God my best

After reflecting on Pastor Nic’s message this past Sunday, I was especially drawn to the passage from 2 Timothy 2:3-7, where it uses three illustrations to focus on faithfulness, and doing our best. I can highly relate to all three as they apply to our lives.

The Christian walk is often presented as spiritual warfare, of which I have experienced many times in my life of ministry. The only way to deal with spiritual warfare is to focus on Jesus and give Him our best. But what does that mean? We must realize that nothing in life is easy, and that anything worthwhile will be an uphill battle that we will need God’s help with. If you’ve been in my office, you have probably noticed that on the wall behind my desk, is a quotation I try to live out every day of my life. “Do your best & let God do the rest”. The most interesting part of that is, that I need God’s help do even do the first part of doing my best. We must realize we can’t do this on our own, and like it says in verse 3 “we must endure hardship”, spiritual warfare can be brutal!!!

The second illustration in 2 Timothy involves athletics. In our family of 4 sons, athletics has been a huge part of our lives for a very long time. This continues to be so with our grandchildren as well. In all our athletics we have had to learn to compete by the rules as verse four says, to do our best. Just like in spiritual warfare it is not easy and takes sacrifice and hard work to do your best. As all our sons have experienced over there years of competing, whether it’s being undersized or injured or other people just not showing up. When you are focused on doing your best good things can happen and will.

The third illustration on farming is also personal for me growing up on the farm in northern Indiana. A hardworking farmer must be conscientious, because hard labor is necessary before a farmer can enjoy a bountiful harvest. As a boy the lessons I learned when we worked so hard, and then got to enjoy the fruits of our labor was very rewarding. The overall one thing I’ve learned throughout my life is that laziness cannot be a character trait of faithful Christians. So, are we daring to give God our best or are we coming up short each day?

As I wrap this up I also thought about our work day this past Saturday, and how doing our best for others even in difficult situations, is so important. Keeping in mind that being the hands & feet of Jesus, to those who may not know Jesus, and doing our best for them can be a very big deal. So, I’m asking myself as well as all of you, am I going through hardship as a soldier for Christ? Am I training hard in my spiritual life as an athlete does? And am I cultivating like a farmer does, so I can plant the good seed for Jesus? And am I doing all the above to do my best for the kingdom of God? Am I doing my best, so I can make a difference in the world where God has placed me? Am I daring to give God my best? This is a great message series that hopefully we are applying to our lives.

Love you all, Pastor Randy

Daring Faith - Week 5 Small Group Notes

DARING TO GIVE MY BEST TO GOD
Week 5

Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best part of everything. If you do this, your barns will fill with grain and your barrels will overflow with wine.  Proverbs 3:9-10

Since everything on earth will be gone one day, what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and dedicated to God, as you wait for the Day of God and do your best to make it come soon! 2 Peter 3:11-12 (TEV)

God tells us many times that this world is not going to last. The universe is winding down, history is moving toward a climax—Jesus Christ is coming again. The Bible has more to say about his second coming, in fact, than it does about his first. How would your life change if you used more of your time, money, and energy on what’s going to last forever?

  1. Proverbs 3:9-10, above, tells us to honor God by giving him the first and best part of everything. What does giving your best to God mean to you?
     
  2. Many of us have comfortable lives in today’s world while some are still persecuted and abused. What is important enough to you to die for?

“Live a life of sacrificial love just like Christ loved us and gave himself as an offering and sacrifice for us.”
Ephesians 5:2

      3. Who would you sacrifice for? Why would you sacrifice yourself for others?

“As Christ’s soldier, do not let yourself become entangled in the affairs of this life, wasting time, for then you can’t please your commanding officer who enlisted you in his army.” 2 Timothy 2:4

      4. What distractions are you caught up in that you can you live without? What can you let go of to spend more time giving God your best?

      5. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-13 together. How can you plant seeds of love, faith, and grace?

To be the best I can be for God, I must do three things winning athletes do: intend to win, be disciplined, and stay focused.

Run your best in the race of faith, and win eternal life; for this is the life that God called you to when you professed your faith before many witnesses.  1 Timothy 6:12 (TEV)

      6. What are you willing to do without in order to be the best?

      7. What do you wish you were more disciplined about?

Daring Faith - Week 4 Recap - Daring To Imagine

Picture yourself lying flat on your back gazing up into the endless space of the deep black night sky.  The vast black canvas is dotted with millions of twinkling stars and it is difficult to imagine galaxies beyond what your eyes can see. Even more incomprehensible is the idea that God breathed these stars into existence and gave each of them a name. Psalm 33:6. Psalm 147:4.

A wrestling match exists between our knowing and believing. We know that God promises to not waste anything.  For those of us who believe, He assures us that he will take our messy lives, our impossible situations and bring good out of them, Romans 8:28. When we are at the bottom of our grief face down in our tears and it feels like we are drowning in the hurt and pain of our circumstances, do we really believe that God is good?  Does what we know about Him transfer into a belief that God has our best interest at heart regardless of how it appears or feels?

Imagine setting on the edge of your purpose enjoying a great sense of fulfillment.  As you approach the season in your life where you feel like the sky is the limit, suddenly your circumstances change and now the future appears to be a giant black hole.  Soon to be empty nesters, I have looked forward to moving back into full time ministry. Yet our move in six weeks seems to be taking me in the opposite direction. 

Unaware of what direction God’s call on my life will take, over the past couple of months as we prayed through this decision, I have desperately asked for Him to show me my role. I longed for a glimmer of my future to claim as part of the confirmation of God’s leading us to Georgia. I finally surrendered to God’s will for our life despite the uncertainty of my role in it.  Some days I am stronger than others, but I do choose to believe that God does have a purpose for me too, even though I cannot see it.

I have prayed the prayer Nic mentioned on Sunday, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief,” Mark 9:24. Belief becomes the gravity that keeps us grounded.  Belief positions us to imagine without having to see all the details. Belief keeps our eyes pointed at the possibilities. Belief gives us courage to take the next step.  Belief gives us hope that God will do far more than we can think or imagine, Ephesians 3:20.

In the struggle of knowing versus believing, know that there is a blessing that comes with believing.

“Blessed are those who believe without seeing me,” John 20:29.

“It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him,” Hebrews 11:6.

On the brink of your daring to imagine, know that the star breathing God also knows your name.  He does have a purpose and plan for you even if feels scary or uncertain.  Like the galaxies hang in their designated place in the universe, “cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now,” Joshua 23:8.  Keep clinging to Him and His strong right hand will hold you up. Psalm 63:8.

And may you be blessed in every step you take in choosing to believe what you know.

By Janae Shatley Camp

Daring Faith - Week 4 Small Group Notes

DARING TO IMAGINE
Daring Faith: The Key To Miracles – Part 4

“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Daring faith includes daring to imagine! God-inspired dreaming often goes far beyond anything we could imagine! Through God-inspired dreaming, we learn that: (1) Our imagination shapes our life, (2) Imagining is essential to living by faith, (3) Great lives are built around great dreams, (4) God’s dream for our lives is bigger than our dreams, (5) Doubt is the enemy of imagination, (6) God’s Spirit and God’s Word fuel our imaginations, (7) Growing our character will clarify our vision, and (8) If a dream is from God, it will be connected somehow to His church and plan for the world.

Icebreaker: Discuss an assignment (such as an art or creative project) that you had to create from scratch. How did it grow and develop from initial concept to final completion?

1. Read Hebrews 11:1 above and share with the group a difficult time in your life where your faith was essential in pulling you through it.

“We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NCV)

2. What have you focused on that is fogging your vision from imagining God’s possibilities for your life? By allowing the Holy Spirit to influence you, what could those everlasting possibilities be?

“May God enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see the hope that his calling holds for you.” Ephesians 1:18 (NJB)

3. God told Abraham when he was old and Sarah was beyond child-bearing years that he would be the father of nations. What simple messages has God shared with you that could be the fuel to ignite your imagination for a bigger dream?

“God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by his Spirit working deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20 (MES)

4. What does Ephesians 3:20 above say about how God influences how you imagine or dream? What does “by his Spirit working deeply and gently within us” mean in this scripture? Share your experience of God working within you; what were the results of this?

5. Read James 1:5-7 a loud in your group. What does this verse say about God sharing his wisdom and how our doubt can keep us from receiving it? Why is doubt the enemy of imagination – and even a dream killer? How has doubt had an impact on your dreams and on God’s dream for you?

6. Taking into consideration that the size of your God determines the size of your goals, read Mark 9:22-24 and share circumstances in your life in which you could use the father’s words in this scripture as a prayer. Having admitted any doubt, pray with your group believing that the Lord will help you.

Daring Faith - Week 3 Small Group Notes

DARING TO BELIEVE
Daring Faith: Week 3

“This is what God wants you to do: Believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 (NLT)

On the first Easter morning when Jesus’ disciples John and Peter went to the place where Jesus had been buried, they found an empty tomb with the body gone. When John saw this, he believed in Jesus’ resurrection, though until then the disciples had not understood the Scriptures about Jesus rising from the dead. John 6:29 above says that God wants us to believe in Jesus. The word “believe” appears 250 times in the New Testament, and God’s people are called “believers.” The question “Do you dare to believe?” may be the most important question in your life.

“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. … Even the demons believe this.” James 2:19 (NLT)

1. Even the devil, who tried to tempt Jesus, believed there was only one God and that Jesus was his son. What is the difference between that kind of knowledge about Jesus and the kind of belief that God wants from us?

“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart
that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (NIV)

2. What do you think “Lord” means here?

3. If you pray to God every day asking to live by God’s will and not your will, what changes might take place in your life?

“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ
but also the privilege of suffering for him.” Philippians 1:29 (NLT)

4. Why is this kind of suffering a privilege? Why would God want us to suffer for our belief?

5. What kinds of sufferings based on your beliefs in Jesus have you experienced that truly impacted your life in a personal way?

6. You may think you believe in Jesus, but how can you know for sure? What evidence should there be in your life to show that your heart believes in Jesus, and not just your brain?

“God gives strength to those who are tired;
to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy.” Isaiah 40:29 (NET)


7. What kinds of God’s power have helped you in overcoming life difficulties?

8. When people feel God has not forgiven them, what problems might arise in their lives?

9. What are examples of things that may cause people to lose their faith?

10. How can we trust what God says and promises when our lives don’t go as expected and we feel a lot of pain?

Daring Faith - Week 2 Recap

I have always wrestled with the concept of faith and miracles. What if I pray for years and don’t receive a miracle? Is God truly faithful at all times, even in my lack of faith? This past Sunday, Pastor Nic showed us not how to solve all of our problems and receive prosperity, but how to truly get ready for a miracle.

In the conversation of miracles, it’s important to first remember the greatest miracle of all time: Jesus. He is the one who was prophesied throughout the Old Testament, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and died in our place to bridge the gap of sin and death, reconciling us to God. Jesus was the personification of a miracle, and the fact that He would redeem and rescue us is the greatest miracle of all time!

In the story of the loaves and the fish in Mark 6, I am captured by not only the faith of the child who gave what little he had, but the child had the faith and obedience to give it all to God! Not only did he see God receive that, he saw God perform a miracle with it. Personally, the hardest step for me is putting what I have in the hands of Jesus! There have been many times in my life where I held onto what I had for reasons of safety or security. I have always been afraid of losing it. What if I give something to God and receive nothing in return? That’s where I have always been wrong: God will do something miraculous with everything I give Him! It may look different than I was expecting, but He is always faithful to provide for you! Faith in Christ is planting a seed and expecting it to grow.

         Jesus: “A kernel of wheat must be given away and planted in the soil.
         Unless it dies and is buried, it will remain a single seed. But its death
         will produce many more seeds and a great harvest!”
 John 12:24

What would happen if you gave what little you had and put it all in the hands of Jesus? I challenge you, give Him what you have, plant a seed, expect Him to use it for your good, and wait for Him to grow your life and expand your faith!

“God doesn’t just want to do a miracle for you, He wants to do a miracle through you.”

Daring Faith - Week 2 Small Group Notes

HOW TO GET READY FOR A MIRACLE
Daring Faith
Week 2

“Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish…He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.” Mark 6:41 (NASB)

What an incredible blessing it must have been to be in the crowd the day Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves! The disciples were looking at the situation in the physical realm, yet Jesus was about to do something they couldn’t imagine – turn two fish and five loaves into enough food to feed 5,000 men. As we prepare for Daring Faith, let’s look at how God wants us to take the unsolvable problems in our lives, give what little we have to him, put it into his hands and expect God to multiply it. Let’s look at the size of our God instead of the size of our problems and trust him with daring faith.

“But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” Mark 6:37 (NIV)

  1. Have each member of the group identify an unsolvable problem (where they need a miracle) in their life. Then take a moment and discover each person’s response to the problem: procrastination, passing the buck or worrying. How does knowing Jesus is standing right beside you change how you view this problem?

    “He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.” John 6:6 (NIV)
     
  2. Before he even saw the 5,000 and had compassion on them, Jesus knew he would feed them. How often do you speak of trusting the Lord, but in reality you lean on an earthly source of supply? List ways God has provided for you over the past year. What has this taught you about him and how he provides miracles in your life?
     
  3. Referencing Mark 6:41 above, how does putting everything into Jesus’ hands tap into the inexhaustible fullness of the power of God? This miracle not only met the needs of the people, but caused the disciples to grow in their knowledge of Jesus.  If you are waiting on a miracle in your life, what might God want you to do so that you draw closer to him?

    Jesus: ”A Kernel of wheat must be given away and planted in the soil.  Unless it does and is buried, it will remain a single seed.  But its death will produce many more seeds and a great harvest!” John 12:24
     
  4. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the result.   What is God asking you to sacrifice by faith for a greater result?  What one specific thing can you do by faith this week as an expression of your surrender to God?
  5. As you develop a daring faith, you can expect to grow spiritually. How have you grown spiritually because of the storms in your life? Where do you doubt God’s presence the most? How can overcoming this doubt be transforming?
     
  6. Imagine yourself as the small boy who gave up his lunch for the crowd. What kind of joy do you think he experienced and how can you find that kind of joy in your life?

Daring Faith - Week 1 Small Group Notes

“Faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, and to be certain of the things we do not yet see.” Hebrews 11:1 (GNT)

“Scripture says ‘Those who are right with God will live by faith.’” Romans 1:17 (EXB)

Faith is multifaceted: it is seeing everything in the world from God’s perspective. Faith is not desire; it’s not feelings (which often get in the way of faith); it’s not bargaining with God; and it’s not pretending something untrue is really true. There is always more than one way of looking at things. Here we’ll discuss how seeing things from God’s point of view produces a faith that dispels fears and unlocks miracles and dreams.

  1. Why is the way God sees things more important than the way we see them?

“I pray that the eyes of your heart will be flooded with light so that you can see the wonderful future God has promised to those he called.” Ephesians 1:18

      2. Was there a time in your life that God opened your eyes to see something from his point of view?

Jesus said, “Have faith in God! If you have faith in God and you don’t doubt, you could tell this mountain to get up and jump into the sea, and it would. Whatever you ask for in prayer will be yours, if you only have faith.” Mark 11:22-24

      3. Meditate on Mark 11:22-24. God works miracles when we stretch our faith. What can we do to increase our faith in God so God can open the doors for miracles in our lives?

      4. Share how God has moved mountains in your life, or name current mountains in your life you want God to move.

“God … is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of.” Ephesians 3:20 (LB)

      5. Faith turns God-given dreams into reality. How can we distinguish God-given dreams from selfish or worldly dreams?

      6. What are some possible examples of God-given dreams?

      7. Why do you think God wants us to have faith?

      8. We often exaggerate our difficulties when we look at things with eyes of fear rather than eyes of faith. Most people don’t have enough faith and are therefore pessimistic about big personal challenges. Has there been a time in your life when fear held you back?

      9. Being safe often feels better than doing something unpredictable and risky. What might God say to you about this?

 “It’s a magnificent land but the people living there are powerful, and their cities are … large!” Numbers 13:27b-28

      10. Compare how a problem in your life looks like through eyes of fear and how it looks like through eyes of faith in God.