BELIEVE (September 16 - November 18)

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During these weeks we will not be producing a Talk It Over. We are, instead, encouraging you to be a part of a BELIEVE Group. If you are not a part of a BELIEVE Group, and would like to be, please click this link:

https://wfclv.ccbchurch.com/w_group_list.php

When you have found the BELIEVE Group (or another group) that you want to be a part of, simply email the group leader to let them know that you will be coming!

BELIEVE Books and Study Guides are available in the Community Room for purchase.

For more information, please contact David at dbeauchamp@westsideleavenworth.com.

INFLUENCE (Week 3) - Encourage

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Influence occurs when we accept, challenge, and encourage others.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

I influence by inspiring courage in others.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

This week we look to see how encouraging each builds us to take our next step.  Jesus sends people into our lives to encourage us to take our next step.  In doing so, we encourage those around us to take their next step.  1 Thessalonians 4:18 says to build each other up using scripture and our words.  We encourage each other by being present in their lives, talking with them, helping them with everyday living, listening to them when they have lost hope.  We inspire them with the hope from our stories. Our stories show the trust we place in Jesus and the hope he gives us for a better time to come.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

What does the word Encourage mean to you?  Think of the last time someone encouraged you to do something, did it help or hinder?  Why?

1 Thessalonians 4:18 says to use scripture to encourage each other.  What is your favorite encouraging scripture?

1Thessalonians 5:8-11 talks about putting on faith and love as a breastplate and hope of salvation as a helmet.  With faith, love and hope, how do we encourage and build each other up?

When was the last time you shared your story with someone?  How did you feel?  Will you share your story again?  If not, why not?  What would the next step be to resolve the issue?

What is your next step to encourage others to trust in Jesus as you have?

Other Scriptures to Read:

Day 1:  Romans 15:1-3

Day 2:  Romans 12:4-8

Day 3:  Philippians 2:1-4

Day 4:  2 Thessalonians 2:15-16

Day 5:  Hebrews 6:18-20

Day 6: Acts 18:24-27

INFLUENCE (Week 2) - Challenge

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Influence occurs when we accept, challenge, and encourage others.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

Only when trust is built can challenge come.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

Trust is the foundation for our relationship with God. It takes trust to take a next step. Jesus wants us to take our next step so our life is influenced by Him and so that we can influence others. Part of influencing others is challenging them; however, a challenge without trust builds contempt. Building trust involves listening to others. Building trust happens before we can challenge others. Challenging others is built on the foundation of truth and love. Our motivation should always be to benefit others for their betterment. Challenges should be meaningful. Meaning comes from the hope of growing into our God-given purpose and potential. We therefore challenge others with their potential. We never want to challenge based on our own needs or pride. Understanding that potential gives hope encourages all of us to rise to the challenge. As we challenge others we should first establish trust. We should also look in the mirror and challenge ourselves. We need to continually make sure that we have the best interest of others in mind. We truly want to build others up by accepting, challenging, and encouraging them.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

How do you build trust in a relationship? How can trust be destroyed? If trust is destroyed, can it be rebuilt? If so, how?

Explain why it takes trust to take a Next Step in following Jesus.

What are ways that Jesus influences us? How does taking a Next Step with Jesus influence us? Can we influence others to take a Next Step if we haven’t taken one ourselves? Why or why not?

Explain how meaning comes from the hope of growing into our God-given purpose.

Why is it challenging to us to avoid pride and self-centeredness when we challenge others?

Take a look at the 12 Next Steps (see http://westsideleavenworth.com/about-the-twelve). Which of the twelve next steps lend themselves to challenging others? Explain your thoughts.

Other Scriptures to Read:

--Ephesians 4:1-7                         --Colossians 4:2-4

--Proverb s 31:10-12                     --Matthew 18:15-20

--Matthew 5:13-16                        --Hebrews 10:19-25

INFLUENCE (Week 1) - Trust

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Influence occurs when we accept, challenge, and encourage others.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

Same as Series Big Idea.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

God started the church so we can grow in our relationships with God by following Jesus. We grow in our relationship with God as we take our next step in loving Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and sharing Jesus. We always have a next step in following Jesus; however, we never arrive. The more we follow Jesus, the more Jesus influences us and the more we influence others. We can’t gain influence without trust and trust is the foundation of any relationship. We begin to trust others when they accept us. Others begin to trust us when we accept them. We trust Jesus because Jesus accepted us. Influence occurs when we accept, challenge, and encourage others. Westside Family Church Leavenworth wants us to take our next step so our lives are influenced by Jesus and so we can influence others

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Most of us have had people in our lives who have been both positive and negative influences on our lives. Share about someone in your life who has been a positive influence. What are things they did or said to influence you? What is more important – words or actions? Why?

Read Matthew 5:13-16. Explain what these verses say about influencing others. Based on these verses, what should be the result of influencing others. Explain why that would be important.

Read Hebrews 10:24-25. What are ways that you can “stir up” others to love and good works?

Read the series Big Idea. Explain in your own words how accepting, challenging, and encouraging others leads to influence.

Take a look at the 12 Next Steps (see http://westsideleavenworth.com/about-the-twelve). Which of the twelve next steps have you already taken? Do you have a next step that God wants you to take?

Other Scriptures to Read:

--Romans 15:1-7                          --Ephesians 1:3-10

--1 Timothy 1:12-17                      --Colossians 3:1-14

--Psalm 139:1-18                          --Philippians 2:1-11

At the Movies (Week 4) - Wreck-It Ralph

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MOVIE BIG IDEA:

When I trust in Jesus, Jesus redeems my glitches into His glory by making me new.

MOVIE/TEACHING SUMMARY:

Wreck-It Ralph longs to be loved like his game’s good guy, Fix-It Felix. In order to be a hero, Ralph sneaks into a first-person shooter game in order to win a medal, but soon wrecks everything and unleashes a deadly enemy, the Cy-bug, that threatens every game in the arcade. Ralph ends up in the “Sugar Rush” racing game, losing his medal to Vanellope von Schweetz, a young troublemaking glitch, who uses the medal to enter the game’s race, so that she can become a racer. Ralph then meets King Candy who informs Ralph that the only way to leave the game is to win the game. Ralph forms an alliance with Vanellope and together they build a racing cart to race against King Candy. Meanwhile Felix seeks out Ralph in order to keep their game from being unplugged. They all end up in the Sugar Rush game where Ralph eventually helps Vanellope to win the race, destroy the Cy-bugs, discover that King Candy was evil, and Vanellope discovers that she is actually the Princess of Sugar Rush. Ralph and Felix return to their game and a content Ralph gains respect from his fellow characters.

Our insecurities cause us to find our identity in what we do, what we look like, and what people think of us. Following the teachings of Jesus reveals a truth that will set us free from lies that distort our identity. Confessing our shortcomings and failures leads to change and forgiveness. Jesus is Truth. When you know the Truth, Truth changes you.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Ralph was a bad guy. He wanted to be good. What are areas that people seem to struggle with on their own which are bad for them and bad for others.

Read John 8:31-32. What do these verses claim about truth? How important is truth? Is truth relative? Is truth absolute? In what ways does your life demonstrate that you are a seeker of truth?

Vanellope’s identity was that she was a glitch. What is your core identity? How can your identity be redeemed? What are you willing to do to be redeemed?

At the end of this movie Ralph is back to destroying buildings and Vanellope still glitches. Has anything really changed? How does Jesus really make a difference in our lives?

Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-17. How has the new creation already come? What is preventing you from embracing a new creation in your own life?

Other Scriptures to Read:

--Colossians 3:1-10                             --1 John 1:1-10

--Psalm 40:1-17                                  --Revelation 21:1-7

--Romans 6:1-11                                 --2 Peter 3:1-13

At the Movies (Week 3) - The Chronicles of Narnia

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MOVIE BIG IDEA:

Forgiveness is costly, but it is the only way to overcome evil.

MOVIE/TEACHING SUMMARY:

In 1940, four siblings – PeterSusanEdmund, and Lucy are sent to live with a professor where Lucy finds a magic wardrobe providing a portal to a land called Narnia, where animals can talk. After learning of a White Witch and a perpetual winter, Lucy returns to find that only a few seconds have passed in normal time. Some days later Lucy and Edmund go to Narnia where Edmund is put under the spell of the White Witch, telling him to bring his siblings to her. Next all four children enter Narnia. Edmund goes to the White Witch without his siblings and even though winter is diminishing, the Witch invokes her right to kill the treasonous Edmond. The rightful King of Narnia, Aslan the great lion, agrees to substitute himself for Edmond’s treason. At the Stone Table the Witch kills Aslan, but the next morning Aslan is restored to life because there was a deeper magic that restored to life an innocent killed in place of a traitor. The battle to restore Narnia begins with all four children involved, along with Aslan, and the talking animals. After a great victory, the children are crowned rulers of Narnia and the land enjoys a Golden Age. After 15 years the children find the wardrobe and return to the professor where almost no time has passed.

Just as Edmond discovers that he is trapped by his own sinful behaviors, we all are captive because of sin. We all deserve the punishment that sin requires. It is only because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross that the punishment that our sin requires is satisfied. Because of the death of Jesus, we are saved from our sin. Because Jesus overcame death, through Him we now all have victory.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Edmond becomes the key figure in the story. Edmond had sinful desires. What sinful desires are common among people today? In what ways do these sinful desires make people captive?

Read John 10:10. In what ways does Satan come to steal and kill and destroy? What have been your own experiences with spiritual warfare? How does Jesus bring life? How have you experienced abundant life?

How holy is God? How can a holy God associate with sin? Why does sin require punishment?

Read Romans 3:23-26. Make sure you understand all the words used in these verses (look them up if needed). Put these verses into your own words (try writing them down). Now share!

The great sacrifice of Jesus can revolutionize and transform your life. What is keeping you from trusting Jesus? How does trusting in Jesus transition you from death to life?

Other Scriptures to Read:

--Romans 12:1-2                                 --1 Corinthians 15:1-8

--Luke 9:23-26                                   --Isaiah 53:1-12

--1 Corinthians 11:23-26                     --Hebrews 9:11-28

At the Movies (Week 2) - Guardians of the Galaxy

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mOVIE BIG IDEA:

Together as the church with the power of Christ we are unstoppable.

MOVIE/TEACHING SUMMARY:

In 1988, following his mother's death, a young Peter Quill is abducted from Earth. Twenty-six years later on the planet Morag, Quill steals an orb. When Quill attempts to sell the orb on Xandar, capital of the Nova Empire, Gamora, an assassin, ambushes him and steals it. A fight ensues, drawing in a pair of bounty hunters: the genetically and cybernetically modified raccoon Rocket, and the tree-like humanoid GrootNova Corps officers capture the four, detaining them in the Kyln, a prison. There they link up with Drax and escape. They attempt to sell the orb; however, they lose the orb, and the powerful infinity stone it contains, and Gamora is left for dead in space by her sister. Peter rescues her and then they eventually establish a truce with Peter’s original abductors. The five “Guardians” finally come together to follow Peter to prevent the infinity stone from being used by the evil Thanos to destroy the Galaxy. In the battle Groot sacrifices himself for the other four and then Peter successfully handles the infinity stone, with the help of Gamora, Rocket, and Drax, leading to the destruction of Thanos.

The teaching truth from this movie is that God has designed his people to work together, in spite of differences. Each person in the Body of Christ, also known as the church, contributes to making the whole able to accomplish much more than the individual parts. Being together and grabbing hold of the power of Jesus through His Holy Spirit can lead to victory over any evil or challenge.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Read Ephesians 2:10. How does it make you feel being called a masterpiece? What are some of the good things you have seen God work out in your life?

Read Ephesians 4:1-6. What steps should you take to be living a life worthy of God’s calling? How do we ensure unity and cohesion within “the team” called the Church?

Read Romans 8:28. What does it mean to live life according to God’s purpose? How can we be bold in our living knowing that God is working things out for our good?

How can you become a part of the team and take your next step to fulfill the role and plan God has for your life?

What is your Next Step in following Jesus? Have you stepped into a role of serving with other believers in purposeful living?

Other Scriptures to Read:

--Romans 12:3-8                                 --Galatians 3:25-29

--1 Corinthians 12:12-31                       --1 Corinthians 1:10-17

--John 17:1-26                                     --Hebrews 10:19-25

At the Movies (Week 1) - Frozen

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MOVIE BIG IDEA:

Jesus’ death is the act of true love that gives us life.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

This week we begin a new series, At The Movies, a four week series featuring four different movies.  This week we are looking at the Disney’s movie Frozen.  It is a story of two sisters.  The oldest Elsa, who has magical freezing powers, which can be a lot of fun but it also has a very dangerous side. The King and Queen hide Elsa away and encourage her to conceal her magic but that isolates Elsa.  She grows distant from her friends and family and the love they give.  Elsa removes herself from Anna in order to protect her from her freezing powers.  Anna is very persistence; she keeps trying to connect with Elsa, who keeps sending Anna away.  The King and Queen are lost at sea, leaving the girls alone together.  Elsa’s magical powers are revealed, and Elsa runs away and creates her own ice castle.   Anna, an optimist, teams up with Kristoff, an ice delivery guy, and Olaf, a snowman to find Elsa who has sent the entire kingdom into an eternal winter.  Anna wants to know and love her sister.  When Anna, Kristoff and Olaf finally find Elsa, she is living in her ice castle.  Anna asks her to fix the damage she has created, and at this point, Elsa discovers there is no escaping her inner darkness. She will always fight against the darkness.  In our last scene, Elsa struck Anna with her powers. This time Anna’s heart is cold and she will surely die.  But Kristoff does the one thing that can melt a frozen heart, a single act of true love. Elsa is running from someone who is trying to take over the throne by killing Elsa.  You see Anna deciding to give up her life to save her sister, an act of true love. 

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Revelation 3:20 says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in….”  Is there someone in your life who is standing at the door of your heart knocking?  What is your reaction?  Do you leave them knocking or do you invite them in?  Is there a reason you are not opening the door?

Romans 7:18-20,24 Paul says we have the desire to do good but not the ability to carry it out.  What sin do you struggle with?  Who will deliver you from this evil?

John 15:13  Have you risked your life for another?  Has someone given up their life for you?

Have you ever felt like “Letting go”?  Turning away, slamming the door, not caring what others say or feel, just taking care of yourself without concern as to how it will affect others?  What is/was the outcome?

What could be a Next Step for you as you follow Jesus?  Do you need to be more persistent with loving those God has placed in your life?  Is there a single act of love you can do to thaw a frozen heart?

GPS (Week 3) - Mess & Success

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Discovering our GPS positions us to pursue God’s direction.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

My story: I can’t. Jesus can. I join Jesus.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

This is our final week in the GPS series.  While we share a universal calling to become like Jesus, each of us has a unique personal calling that is our GPSGifts, Passions, and Story.  During the previous weeks we looked at our gifts that make us uniquely prepared to serve others and our passions that guide who will receive our service.  This week’s message focuses on our story.  To know where God is leading us, we need to understand our own story.  Because our lives matter to God, our stories matter.  It’s easy to include our successes when we share our story with others, but it’s how Jesus makes our story valuable by writing meaning into our mess that matters.  Sharing our story of brokenness leads others to experience wholeness. We become more like Jesus when we leverage our story for others.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. What sort of reception should we expect when we come to God with our “mess”?  What keeps you from seeking God’s comfort in your painful times? How does our brokenness get redeemed according to these verses? How have you seen this in your own life?

How would you explain to someone that to know where God is leading you, you need to understand your story?  What essentials would you include from your own story to help demonstrate this?

What does it mean that, “No one can argue with your story”?

Read Acts 1:8. What comes to mind when you hear the word witness? What does a witness do?  In what ways have you been a witness of what Jesus has done for you?   Where are the places that are easiest for you to share your story?  Where is it most challenging?  Why?

Name some practical next steps that you can take to leverage your story for Jesus where you live, work and play.

Other Scriptures to Read:

--Mark 5:1-20                               --Psalm 107:1-16

--Acts 1:1-8                                   --1 John 1:1-4

--Isaiah 6:1-13                               --Psalm 66:16-20

GPS (Week 2) - Problems

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Discovering our GPS positions us to pursue God’s direction.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

I become more like Jesus when I have a godly passion for people facing ungodly problems.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

This is our second week in the GPS series.  While we share a universal calling to become like Jesus, each of us has a unique personal calling that is our GPSGifts, Passions, and Story.  This week’s message focuses on our passions. We discover our calling when our passion is awakened to a problem God is passionate about. We must allow God to break our hearts for what breaks His. To discover our passion we should ask the question, “For what people is God breaking my heart?” It is important to understand that our hearts don’t break for problems, but they break for people. When we discover the people who break our hearts, we need to bring them to God by praying. After prayer, we should take action. Although we can’t do everything, we can do for someone what we wish we could do for all. By embracing our passion we are compelled to take action.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

What are people in your city struggling with? What about your region? What about your country? What about your world?

What are causes that are worth being passionate about? What are causes that are not worth being passionate about?

What is God passionate about? How can we allow God to break our hearts for what breaks His?

Are all causes that are worth being passionate about related to people? What happens if we focus on problems instead of people?

What happens when we pray to God about the people we have concerns about? Will prayer always lead to action? Should it?

How can you make a difference with the people you have a passion about? Do you know others who share your passion? Are you able to prayerfully share your passion with others and see what God does? Are you willing to take action even if no one else joins you?

How do your gifts align with your passions to make a difference with the people God cares for?

Other Scriptures to Read:

--1 John 3:11-18                         --Matthew 25:31-46

--Philippians 2:1-11                   --James 2:14-26

--Hebrews 13:1-16                    --John 15:9-17

GPS (Week 1) - Toolset

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Discovering our GPS positions us to pursue God’s direction.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

I become more like Jesus when I leverage my gifts for others.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

This is our first week in the GPS series.  While we share a universal calling to become like Jesus, each of us has a unique personal calling that is our GPSGifts, Passions, and Story.  This week’s message focuses on our gifts.  We have natural gifts and supernatural gifts—all of which are sacred.  It is God who decides which supernatural gift each person should have and  the Holy Spirit distributes these spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11).  We must obey the Holy Spirit’s leading in the use of spiritual gifts not just rely on our feelings about what we would like to do.   Our spiritual gifts are given to us so we can help each other (1 Corinthians 12:7). We may be tempted into “gift envy” by comparing our gifts with others. The gifts enable us to be a force under people, not over them; connecting us with others without elevating us above them.   We become more like Jesus when we leverage our gifts for others.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “a calling”?   When did you first learn that God has a calling on the lives of those who follow Jesus (Romans 8:29)?  How did you respond to that truth?  Is there a particular area of your life that you recognize has been conformed more to the image of Jesus?

When you hear the term “gifted” what do you think of?  How do you decide if someone is gifted in any area of life?  What is the difference between natural and supernatural gifts? How do you tell the difference?

What is your initial reaction to the topic of “spiritual gifts”?  How has your understanding of spiritual gifts been influenced? 

Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. Why do you think it might be tempting to compare our gifts with others?  What are some likely outcomes when comparison enters the picture? What is the purpose of these gifts?

How would you explain to someone what it means to “pursue the Giver, not the gift”?

Have you visited westsideleavenworth.com/gps or taken another kind of gifts assessment? 

Assessments should always lead to next steps…name some practical next steps.

Other Scriptures to Read:

--1 Corinthians 12:1-31                 --1 Peter 4:7-11

--Matthew 7:7-12                        --Ephesians 4:1-16

--Romans 12:3-10                       --2 Timothy 1:6-14

Like a Child (Week 4) - Think, Say, Do

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Receiving the life that Jesus offers means accepting His way of life like a child.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

Jesus, help me choose what is wise, right, and what honors You in everything I think, say, and do.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

This is our final week to look at the value of simple, child-like faith in God’s kingdom. During the first weeks we discovered the truths that “God made me” “God loves me”, “Jesus wants to be my friend forever”, and “I can trust God no matter what.” This week we introduced the last two truths of “I need to make the wise choice” and “I should treat others the way I want to be treated.” Applying Proverbs 3:5-7 allows us to embrace our own limitations while choosing to trust God no mater what. Applying wisdom gives us direction and protection. Treating others the way we want to be treated is the right thing to do. We also want to honor Jesus with our thoughts, words, and actions. The new command of Jesus found in John 13:34 sums everything up: We should love others the way that Jesus has loved us.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

How do you think children feel when they are told to do something simply because their parent told them to do something? How hard is it for you to do something when you don’t understand why? Can you share an example from your family or from your work?

Read Proverbs 3:5-7. What is the most challenging part of these verses for you? Do you trust the Lord with ALL your heart or just part of your heart? What part of your heart has the most difficulty trusting God? Relationships? Health? Money? Something else? What does it mean to “shun evil”?

Is God trustworthy? In what ways does God direct us and protect us when we apply wisdom?

The “Golden Rule” establishes the gold standard of how to treat others. What are natural reactions to treating others when someone has mistreated us? How can we live out the Golden Rule in our real life?

What are things that Jesus has done for us? What should our response to Jesus be in light of everything that He has done? In light of this, Jesus challenged his disciples with a new command to love each other as He has loved us. What are the challenges of putting this new command into practice?

How are our thoughts, words, and actions related?  How can we honor Jesus with our thoughts, words, and actions?

Other Scriptures to Read:

--James 1:1-9                                --Matthew 6:25-34

--Proverbs 2:1-22                         --1 Peter 2:11-17

--Luke: 10:38-42                          --Hebrews 13:15-21

Like a Child (Week 3) - No Matter What

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Receiving the life that Jesus offers means accepting His way of life like a child.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

If I can trust Jesus with my salvation, then I can trust Him with (fill in this blank with YOUR issue).

TEACHING SUMMARY:

This is our third week to look at the value of simple, child-like faith in God’s kingdom. The first week we started with the basic foundation God made us and loves us.  Last week we talked about Jesus wants to be our forever friend, through the good times and the not so good times.  This week we look at the fourth truth, I can trust God no matter what.  As we go through life it is harder and harder to trust God with the situations we get into. In Mark 10, Jesus tells a story of a rich man asking what he needed to do to get into heaven.  Jesus tells him to obey all the commandments, which the young man had done since he was a child.  Jesus goes on to tell him to sell everything and give it to the poor, and to follow Jesus.  The young man couldn’t give up everything and trust Jesus.  It is impossible to be good enough to earn eternal life on our own but with God all things are possible.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Have you trusted someone and they let you down?  How did you feel?  Did it take time to trust them again?  Or do you still not trust them?

Have you ever prayed to God asking for something, trusting him to answer your prayers the way you wanted him to?  On those occasions when he didn’t answer your prayers, did you lose your trust in God?

When you asked God “Why?” were you blaming God? OR Did you ask for understanding from God?

In Mark 10, Jesus tells the rich man to sell everything he owns, give the money to the poor and follow him.  Could you sell everything you own, give the money to the poor and trust Jesus to take care of you?  Is there some area of your life in which you don’t trust Jesus to take of?

The more we share our stories of what Jesus has done for us, the more we will trust in God. Share a story about you trusting in God.

What would the Next Step be for you so you can trust Jesus with all aspects of your life?  Is there an area where you don’t want to give up control? Ask Jesus to help you to trust like a child again.

Other Scriptures to Read:

--John 14:1-27                              --Psalm 13:1-6

--Isaiah 26:1-9                            --Proverbs 3:1-12

--Joshua 1:1-9                             --Psalm 34:1-7

Like a Child (Week 2) - Friend Forever

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Receiving the life that Jesus offers means accepting His way of life like a child.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

Jesus is a friend who shows up and never leaves me in the good or bad.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

This week we continue to look at the value of simple, child-like faith in God’s kingdom. We started the series with the foundation that God made us and God loves us. A third truth is that Jesus wants to be our friend forever. When it comes to friendship, it has to be offered and received. In John 15, Jesus shares with his disciples that he calls them his friends. By coming to earth as a human being, Jesus shows us that God can be trusted as a friend. But Jesus goes further. He offers his friendship to us by dying for us and taking our sin on Him so that we can have a restored relationship with God. We receive His friendship by trusting and following Him. Jesus never leaves us in the good or bad because he gives us His Spirit so He can always be with us. As a result we have joy. The Spirit gives us counsel, helps us, comforts us, brings us peace, leads us into truth, and gives us courage. Jesus is a friend who leads us to life when we trust and follow Him.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Who was your best friend growing up? What made them your friend?

As an adult, do you find that it is more difficult or less difficult to have friends? Why or why not? What are the most important things that make a person in your life a true friend? Can a family member be a friend?

In John 15, Jesus shares that he called His disciples friends. What are ways that Jesus is our friend?

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, replacing the word “love” with “Jesus.” How can understanding the depth of the friendship of Jesus challenge us in how we are friends to Jesus and to others?

Jesus is with us now through His Holy Spirit. What challenges do you have in embracing the Holy Spirit in you as the very presence of Jesus? Share how the Holy Spirit has provided comfort to you in a time of need.

What could be a Next Step for you as you follow Jesus as a Friend who loves you and is always with you? What is keeping you from doing that right now? Pray a prayer of commitment to Jesus as you submit to the Holy Spirit leading you in every area of your life.

Other Scriptures to Read:

--1 John 3:1-10                             --Romans 8:16-30

--Matthew 11:25-30                    --Matthew 28:18-20

--Ecclesiastes 4:9-12                  --Galatians 5:13-26

Like a Child (Week 1) - Made & Loved

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

Receiving the life that Jesus offers means accepting His way of life like a child.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

I can trust that God made me because God loves me.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

This week we look at the value of simple, child-like faith in God’s kingdom. With adulthood comes complexity. Jesus makes clear that God values differently than our culture does. Jesus came to bring God’s kingdom of life to those under the authority of the kingdom of death. Because God made us and loves us, we can trust that our lives have meaning and purpose; that we are valuable to Him. Accepting that God made us because He loves us leads us to life.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

What does it mean to have faith like a child?  If you have faith like a child, is it OK to question your faith and what you believe?

Have you ever doubted God made you?  What changed your mind?

What is the meaning of your life?  What is the purpose of your life?  Are they the same?

Read Mark 10:13-14. What value was Jesus giving to children by His response? How would you describe child-like trust? Why would you not want to trust like this?

Read Romans 8:35. How do these words help explain the value God places on His people

Read Psalm 139:13-16. What do you think of when you reflect on God “knitting you together” in your mother’s womb? How might this matter to someone who has been told they were an “accident”? What does it mean to you that God knows you so completely?

Respond to the statement: “Because God made and loves me; I can trust that my life has meaning and purpose.”

Other Scriptures to Read:

--Genesis 1:26-27                       --Jeremiah 29:11-13

--John 15:9-17                            --Matthew 6:25-34

--Colossians 1:15-18                    --Ephesians 2:1-10

What If The Church? (Week 3) - Loves KC By Sharing

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

What if the Church loves the city by praying, caring, and sharing?

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

Loving others includes sharing my Jesus story with them.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

Here at Westside we embrace the BLESS strategy to love our city. During the first two weeks of this series we talked about Beginning with Prayer and then Caring by Listening to, Eating with, and Serving Others. This week culminates the series by challenging Jesus followers to share their Jesus Story with others. Various obstacles can keep many of us from sharing our Jesus story. We can feel incompetent, but we should realize that we are simply tools being used by God. We can feel distracted and be in a survival mode, but we should realize that we should be content in any and every situation. We can feel afraid, but we must remove fear as an excuse knowing that our powerful God is with us even when we are afraid. Our story should share about our lives before Jesus, about our meeting Jesus, and about our life with Jesus. Paul’s story in Acts 26 gives a great example of how stories can be shared. We are responsible for sharing our stories, while recognizing that we cannot be responsible for how others respond.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Are you a confident person? Why or why not. How does this impact your life?

Have you experienced being stuck in a “survival” mode (dealing with money, loss or grief, challenges at work or school, or some other stressor)? Are you stuck right now? How can you get out?

What are you afraid of? Why?

Of the three obstacles that get in the way of Jesus followers sharing their Jesus story (feeling incompetent, being in a survival mode, or being afraid), is there one that you have experienced? Is there any other obstacle that gets in your way of sharing your Jesus story with others? Explain.

Briefly share your Jesus story. Be sure to include “before Jesus,” “meeting Jesus,” and “with Jesus.” Do you think that sharing your story with those who love and accept you can help you to share with those who are far from God? Why or why not?

Explain the importance of realizing that we cannot be responsible for how others respond to our Jesus story. If we are not responsible for their response, who is?

Other Scriptures to Read:

--1 Peter 3:13-16                            --Luke 24:46-48

--Acts 1:8                                      --Acts 26:9-22

--Acts 22:15                                  --Psalm 107

What If The Church? (Week 2) - Loves KC By Caring

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

What if the Church loves the city by praying, caring, and sharing?

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

What if I cared enough to listen to, eat with, or serve someone?

TEACHING SUMMARY:

What if the church asks the question of what would happen if the church did certain things together to grow God’s kingdom in the Kansas City metropolitan area. This week’s message asks what if the church cares for the city? Caring implements the three middle letters of our “BLESS” strategy (Begin with prayer, Listen, Eat, Serve, and share your Story). Listening sometimes requires asking questions and often prepares us to serve them best. Eating with someone can be the first experience someone has with Jesus’ love and the good news that they are accepted. Finally, caring for someone leads us to serve them by giving up something for them. When we are faithful to Jesus in using what we have to care for others, Jesus will allow us to be faithful with more.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

The “B” in the BLESS strategy is “Begin with Prayer,” which is what the message was about last week. How does Beginning with Prayer set us up for Caring for others by Listening to, Eating with, and Serving Others?

Being a good listener can be extremely challenging. Describe a situation when you felt that you were not listened to. How did that make you feel? What are some important guidelines to being a good listener? 

What is your favorite food? What is your favorite restaurant? Share a situation where you shared your favorite food or restaurant with someone else. What are some situations where Jesus ate with others? What are reasons that eating with others deepens a relationship? What does eating with someone communicate to them?

What are challenges that people have that keep them from serving others? Read Mark 10:45. How does Jesus model serving others? If serving others requires us to give something up for others, what are we giving up?

What is your biggest challenge in caring for others by listening to, eating with, and serving others? Why?

Read Luke 19:16-19. What is your capacity for caring for others? How can that capacity grow?

Other Scriptures to Read:

--James 1:19-27                        --Luke 15:11-32

--Philippians 2:1-11                   --Matthew 25:31-46

--Acts 2:42-47                         --Ephesians 2:1-10

What If The Church? (Week 1) - Loves KC By Praying

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

What if the Church loves the city by praying, caring, and sharing?

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

What if I made a daily habit of aligning myself with what God is doing by praying?

TEACHING SUMMARY:

What if the church asks the question of what would happen if the church did certain things together to grow God’s kingdom in the Kansas City metropolitan area. This week’s message specifically asks what if the church prays for the city? The foundation of understanding prayer is to understand that Jesus came to bring His Kingdom to earth by saving all who trust in Him and surrender to His authority. Prayer is therefore aligning ourselves with what God is doing to grow His kingdom. Prayer is certainly talking to God, but is also listening. In fact, Jesus spent more time listening to His Father than He did talking. Not praying can prevent God working through us. Prayer prepares us for people’s problems. Prayer positions us to depend on God and be used by Him. To best implement prayer into your life, create a place, find the time, listen as much, or more, than you talk, and be sure to include scripture in your prayer time.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

What are reasons that people (perhaps you?) have for NOT praying?

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Discuss what implementing that prayer into our lives would actually mean? What would it look like on a daily basis?

How much time do you spend in organized prayer each day now? Are you satisfied with that? What may be your “Next Step” in going deeper in your prayer time? Do you have a place? Do you have a time?

What are different ways to organize your prayers? (i.e. ACTS-Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication; Look up the Echo App for your smart phone)

The message focused on listening to God as much or more than talking. Scripture is certainly a part of listening to God. What are other ways?

Read Acts 1:8. What is our “Jerusalem”? What is our “Judea and Samaria”? What is our “ends of the earth”? Conclude with a prayer for the Kansas City metropolitan area that people across the city who are far from God can take their Next Step in finding and following Jesus.

Other Scriptures to Read:

--Matthew 7:7-12                        --Acts 9:3-43

--Mark 11:12-25                           --Philippians 4:4-9

--John 14:5-14                            --James 5:13-18

Stranger Things (Week 6) - Stranger Struggle

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

The life we experience in Jesus because of grace is a powerful and stranger thing.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

When life fights against me, I can stand in what Jesus has already done for me.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

The message this week faces the reality that we have a spiritual enemy who wants to destroy unity among Jesus’ followers. What are we to do? God has all authority and He has given us the same power that raised Christ from the dead. We are to prepare ourselves for spiritual attack with our Spirit-empowered armor. Our struggle is not with people but with spiritual powers. We take our stand in the truth that we trust God’s love has saved us by His grace and we can pray powerfully from His word.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Describe the biggest battle that you have been a part of. Were you alone? Who or what was the enemy? Was it a physical battle or an internal battle?

Read Ephesians 6:10-11. How do you feel when you read these words? Which words capture your attention? What instruction do you see and what assurances can you take?

Read John 8:44. What is Jesus saying about the devil in this passage? How might this influence our relationships? ...with God? …at home? …at church?

Read Ephesians 6:14-17. What part of the armor would you say is your ‘weak link’ and why? What does it mean that, “We don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory”?

Practically speaking, how can we stand by praying what God has already said in Scripture? What are some ‘go to’ verses that help to defend your mind with truth? (If you’ve never done it before try typing into your web browser, “Scripture that helps to defend our mind with truth” and view the results!)

Stranger Prayer: Lord, teach us to recognize the schemes of our real enemy and how to defend our minds with your truth.

Other Scriptures to Read:

  • Romans 12:2
  • James 4:7
  • 2 Timothy 2:25-26
  • Philippians 4:8

Stranger Things (Week 5) - Stranger Relationships

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SERIES BIG IDEA:

The life we experience in Jesus because of grace is a powerful and stranger thing.

TEACHING BIG IDEA:

We are like Jesus when we use power to serve rather than to control.

TEACHING SUMMARY:

Continuing from the book of Ephesians, this teaching addresses the question of what Jesus did and how we respond, especially in the area of our relationships. The posture that governs our relationships, especially with our closest family and friends, is a posture of self-giving. This is strange and “upside-down” compared to how most of us think. We are called to think like Jesus – to be other oriented, to be self-sacrificing, and to embrace our enemies. Therefore, we are like Jesus when we use power to serve rather than to control. To embrace Jesus, we submit any power, such as what we know, our intelligence, or our sense of being right, to do the following in our relationships: We love and serve our spouse; we honor and respect our parents; we humbly teach and guide our children; and we diligently work in honor to God.

TALK IT OVER (Discuss One or More):

Describe a relationship in your life that has been a challenge to you. What makes it a challenge? Is there any way that it can be improved?

Being right, being smarter, being stronger – are temptations to use OVER people. How can we put these things UNDER (in other words to serve) the people we have relationships with? How does Jesus provide an example to us of how to serve others, especially in light of Him being the Son of God? (Philippians 2:5-10)

What is the difference between love and respect? Why do you think husbands are challenged to love and wives are challenged to respect? If you are married, what is the challenge of these verses for you?

Read Ephesians 6:4. What things did your parents do to exasperate you? What is the key to avoiding doing that with your own children?

Read Ephesians 6:5-8. How can we apply being “slaves” and “masters” in these verses to being “employees” and employers”? Describe the challenges of putting these verses into practice.

Read Ephesians 5:21. Describe how this verse applies to all relationships.

Other Scriptures to Read:

  • Psalm 19:14
  • Matthew 7:3
  • Proverbs 17:14
  • Matthew 7:12