What upcoming event are you looking forward to, such as something fun on your calendar?
Thank You, Jesus, for coming back for us so that we can be with You.
Philippians 3:20 (NLT, emphasis added): “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.”
What are you anticipating with great expectation? Christmas? Your vacation? Becoming an empty nester? Like an expectant bride before her wedding, we are living in the “in between,” longing for the day of celebration when Jesus comes for His own. Jesus used this wedding analogy to underscore the significance of the waiting period prior to His coming back to earth from heaven.
The Philippians, like many people today, were fascinated by the topic of the Lord’s return, but just like today, their culture provided many opportunities to live sinfully. Believers, in any time period, must learn how to live in the “in between” as they wait for the Lord’s return. They can do this by following the principles of holiness, hope, and harvest.
Are you ready for the coming of the Lord? Explain your answer to the group.
Holiness means being set apart. We can make the definition much more practical by understanding that holiness pertains to three main ideas:
What we allow in. What we allow to stay in. What we allow ourselves to do.
What in your life has the ability to distract you from walking in holiness?
Because of hope, we realize that our redeemed loved ones are with the Lord, so we do not grieve like those who do not understand this biblical reality.
We also have hope that one day we will see Christ face-to-face. We hope for our new glorified bodies that we will enjoy forever with the Lord.
Have you ever had the enemy try to steal your hope and make you focus on temporal circumstances? Share your experience with the group.
We should live in harvest, because we are the only people who can reach this lost generation. We do not exist just to fatten ourselves spiritually, but rather to bring others into the family of God. Jesus said, “Wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest” (John 4:35 NLT).
Are you using your lifetime on earth to accomplish harvest? What type of change do you need to make in your life in order to impact more people for the kingdom of God?
The Philippians lived shadily and the Thessalonians were lazy. Let’s personally receive these admonitions to them while we live in the “in between.”
Live holy or set apart. Stay hopeful because there is so much to look forward to. Bring someone to church this week.
What is your favorite worship song?
Thank You, Jesus, for You are the Prince of Peace.
Matthew 13:22 (NLT, emphasis added): “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.”
The word for worry in the New Testament means to be choked. Jesus said that worry chokes the life out of us, making it impossible to fight any longer. There is a direct connection between worrying and losing our peace. Let’s look at things that cause people to worry and lose their peace.
The devil wants to choke your faith through worry. Can you look back on your life and see times that the enemy tried this strategy to rob you of your peace? Share with the group.
The plan of the enemy is to divide and conquer through strife, thus causing us to lose our peace. People who sow strife and grief in the church have forgotten their history and many times their future, not remembering that both of their names are written in the Book of Life. The two women in Philippians 4:2, Euodia and Syntyche, though they had previously worked together serving the Lord, were involved in some type of dispute. Paul urged them, “ Because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement” (NLT).
Have you ever been tempted to pursue a feud with someone? Perhaps an offense occurred and you contemplated letting it go on and on. What did you do, and why? Share with the group.
Not only will rage will cause you to lose your peace, but it will also inhibit your ability to worship. Paul’s solution was to rejoice in the Lord. When you worship at the top of your lungs and lie prostrate before the Lord, rage will leave your heart.
What do you do to calm down when you feel angry? Have you ever gotten your nose bent out of shape and it caused you to lose your peace? What happened, and how did you get back on track?
Remember, the enemy shoots fiery darts into your mind. These wrong thoughts do not originate from you, so don’t water that seed. Don’t dwell on that temptation or lie. Take it captive, like a SWAT team would.
We need to confess and talk to people when terrible thoughts come. Who in your life could you go to in confidence? Share with the group.
Don’t worry about anything; pray about everything. Value peace over other aspects of your daily existence. Worry solves nothing and is the opposite of faith. Don’t be choked by worry. Remember, your fruit depends on the peace that comes from Christ.
Put into practice Philippians 4:8 (NLT): “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
What is one of the dumbest things you have ever asked somebody?
Father, open the heavens over us.
Mark 1:10–13 KJV: “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan.”
The baptism of Jesus was a much more significant occurrence than we often realize in our modern thinking. At thirty years of age, the Messiah was baptized, initiating His ministry. It was a significant moment that included the entire Trinity of the Godhead. In fact, a voice boomed out, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Then a drastic transition occurred. Christ went from total affirmation to conflict, being led into a wilderness experience as prompted by the Spirit.
Do you understand that God feels about you the way He feels about Jesus, that He is pleased with you? Share with the group.
After His baptism, Christ went from total affirmation to a season of deep conflict and temptation. We believers, unlike Jesus, try to avoid testing, but what if this transition from peace to conflict is occurring because God is pleased with us and wants to work something deep in our spirits?
Let’s look at three ways to win in your wilderness experience. First, know where you are.
Would you consider yourself to currently be in a wilderness experience? Share with the group.
Satan seeks to battle against you at the beginning of a wilderness experience, before you become a full threat.
Next, you must know that the Word is your weapon. If the Messiah used the Word when confronted by the enemy, then how much more do we need it?
Which scriptures have you been standing on recently? Who are you agreeing with in prayer in your circle of friends? Share with the group.
Finally, know what is at stake. Jesus made His decisions with your destiny in mind. Don’t falter in the wilderness, but make decisions that will affect the destinies of others.
The easiest thing to do in life is quit. Have you ever felt like you might not make it in a certain situation? Did you quit or press on? What influenced your decision?
The transition to a season of temptation in the wilderness often follows a spiritual mountaintop experience. We must recognize what is happening and endure by using the tools of God’s kingdom.
Filter out every problem you encounter this week with what God spoke over Christ: “I am loved, I am a child of God, God is pleased with me.”
Take time this week to fellowship and be transparent with other believers. Use the Word specifically to address specific temptations. Know that the wilderness is temporary.
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