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Week of April 3

Home: Where Stories Are Made

You Will Be OK

Day 1: Begin this week by reading through the Next Steps “Take 5” Questions below. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak truth into you as you consider and answer the questions. Write down your thoughts, responses, and what God is showing you. Use the “Take 5” questions this week as a conversation starter with your family or possibly a close friend.

 

  1. Have you learned to be content with God, even when you don’t receive what you want from God?  Or is your contentment linked directly to God doing for you what you want Him to? 
  2. Identify those things that concern you and attempt to consume you.  Intentionally & purposefully, commit and submit these realities to the Lord, applying the truths from Psalm 131, Psalm 46 and Lamentations 3.
  3. Name the voices that have the most influence in your life.  Are they voices that are consistent with the truths you desire to implement in your life?  When our faith is weak and our perspective skewed, we need people around us who will speak life-giving truth to us, remind us of God’s presence, and who will draw our attention outside the realm of our immediate circumstances and back upon the realm of God’s eternal faithfulness.  Do you have people in your life that do this for you?  If not, who could be one of those people? 

 

Day 2: As our stories unfold, we often face trials and challenges.  Many of us have paragraphs, chapters or entire sections of our storylines that are filled with hurt and pain. How can we “be ok” when things – circumstances – are not ok? Read Psalm 46: 1-3. God is our refuge…our help, but what exactly does help look like? In the midst of it all God is present, he is with us; that is our help. Help is not a removal of the pain or fixing the situation how we want it fixed. Help is the reality of the presence of God with us in and through it all. Re-read Psalm 46:1-3. Think about the ways that God’s presence with you provides a refuge (a haven, a safe place) and strength (courage, endurance).  Take a few minutes to take these and write out a prayer thanking God for His faithful presence.

 

Day 3: Continue to meditate on Psalm 46: 1-3.  What does the psalmist say is a result of God being our refuge, our strength, and ever present help? Therefore (because of that) we will not fear. He isn’t describing a spontaneous emotion of fear or being fearful of something, rather the psalmist is referring to a state of being where fear has consumed us in such a way that everything is seen through the lens of that fear. How might a shift in perception from “I’m not going to be ok unless…” to “You are with me. You see me. Help me to see you”, change how we view life’s difficulties? Without this shift in perspective we are in danger of being gripped by fear at every turn. The call is for us to move beyond fear of difficulties to seeing Jesus despite the difficulties. A family at the dinner table all interacting with their smart phones may be in the presence of one another and they may even see one another but they are not present with one another. What practices do you have in place that help you engage in God’s presence? How does the family at the dinner table move from being at the table together to actually interacting and engaging with one another? Focus attention, conversation, removal of distractions? How can you practice these types of things with God? How can you be present with Him today?

 

Day 4: Being ok when things are not ok isn’t putting on a game face and pretending to be ok. Read Lamentations 3:19-20. This is real stuff. Honesty of “I’m not ok”. Now read verses 21-23. “Because of Your love and presence with me, I will not be consumed… I will be ok”. Where are you today? Is your soul downcast? Are you feeling overwhelmed?.  Give yourself permission to be honest with yourself, with God and a trusted friend. If this is where you are right now, speak it, put words to it – through prayers, through journaling, through lament.  This is relationship. This is community. Consider praying this prayer: Father, I don’t like what is happening right now. I’m feeling overwhelmed. Thank you that I can pour out the deepest part of my soul to You. Help me to remember that you are with me, You are my refuge, You are my strength and because of your love, even though I may not see it right now, I will be ok. Help me be present with you and be engaged in your presence.

 

Day 5: Read Lamentations 3:19-26. Could it be that at times when we are waiting to be “ok” we are waiting on our own definition of  “ok” – our definition of the goodness of God, faithfulness, deliverance, and even His salvation (v. 26)? What if these things have less to do with fixes of circumstances or solutions to problems and more to do with experiencing a deeper intimacy with God? Are you taking time to engage with God for the purpose of relationship or to solve a problem? Go back to Day 3 of the devo. What specific ways are you practicing the presence of God? How are you focusing your attention on Him?  What practices have you put into place where you are consistently talking to Him and allowing Him to speak to you?

Downloadable devo + notes

 

Week of February 12

Home: Where Stories Are Made

Rekindling Fun and Friendship

Day 1. Begin this week by reading through the Next Steps “Take 5” Questions below. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak truth into you as you consider and answer the questions. Write down your thoughts, responses, and what God is showing you. Use the “Take 5” questions this week as a conversation starter with your family or possibly a close friend.

·       How did you know he/she was the right person to marry? If you are single what are you going to be looking for in a spouse or dear friend?

·       How did you become friends to lovers… Like Song of Songs talks about? If you are single what boundaries do you need to establish so that you maybe able to take this journey from friends to lovers when you become married.

·       How have your interests changed as you have continued to grow in like/love with one another? In all of your close intimate relationships.

 Day 2. To grow in our love for others, we go to the source of love. I John 4:19 says, We love because he first loved us. God loves us. He respects us. God enjoys who we are. Read Zephaniah 3:17, Galatians 4:4-7. Like a father to his infant, God sings over you. That is amazing! The creator of the universe knows you. What other passages remind you of God’s love? Spend some time reflecting on one of these verses. Quiet yourself for a full 5-10 minutes reading and re-reading the verse. Let it sink in. Actually say your name when reciting the verse as if He is speaking to you. If this is difficult, write down several of the struggles or barriers you have in believing this verse.

Day 3. Most of the time when we talk about relationships - marriage, parenting, and friendships in the church- we always start with love. Yet, do you like the people you have chosen to love? To like someone means you enjoy and get pleasure from being with the person. You see value in them as a person and appreciate their qualities. Think of one person who you want to deepen your “like” for. How is this person like Jesus? What qualities do you admire? What are their interests?

Now that you have a great list to inspire you to deepen your relationship with this person, what would keep you from spending time with them? What leads you to distance yourself, shut yourself off or avoid this person? Be honest with yourself. Ask God to show you attitudes and behaviors that prevent you from liking this person. Remember God is the expert in love and wants to show us all how to love.

Day 4. Cyndi Lauper in her 80’s hit got it right when she sang, “girls just want to have fun…O girls just want to have fun!”  The truth is we all want to have fun!  How fun are the relationships in your life? Who makes them fun? Do you feel a twinge of insecurity, like me, because the fun department is not your thing? In the message, Travis gave us examples of not looking to our own interests, but to the interest of others. When was the last time you did something not because you wanted to, but because the person you like was interested in it? Did you think of something? Almost always, stepping into someone else’s fun is uncomfortable, that is a part of why Paul had to instruct us to do it! That is natural. Read James 1:5. Ask God to give you a way to step into someone’s fun today (maybe the person you journaled about yesterday). Think of an activity, topic of conversation, or a passion that would interest them. Maybe you could find a simple way to serve this person.

Day 5. Read Philippians 2: 3-4. Did you do something for someone else yesterday? In Day 3, you focused on deepening your “like” for one person. What is a next step you can take? Pray that God would give you opportunities and for you to step into them. Make a plan and do it. Or maybe you can have a conversation with a spouse, your family, or a friend and come up with a 2017 bucket list. This is a list of realistic activities that you can do before the end of the year. For couples, we have an opportunity to spend a night together with your spouse and other couples. Date Night, Saturday, March 11, 6:30-9pm in the East Auditorium. Wear prom attire from your favorite decade and prepare to have fun! This a FREE night and is for married couples of all ages! Childcare provided for b-K. RSVP for childcare at myls.cc/2lowzL0.