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Lesson: Feeling Blue?

Icebreaker

Should we talk about depression in church?

Prayer

Psalm 139:14 NLT: “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

Key Scripture

1 Kings 19:1–8 NLT:

When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”

Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

The Big Idea

Emotional intelligence is important in indicating success in life. Academics value IQ, but we also have to take into account all the emotions that we feel. They play a large part in life, and the Bible has a lot to say about them. Let’s try to raise our EQ to have better marriages, families, and careers.

Many people are not even aware of their emotions, but this is the starting line: becoming aware of them. Many people struggle with depression; “feeling blue” could describe sadness, fear, or shame. One out of ten Americans is medicated for depression, with a 300 percent annual increase. Experts predict this statistic will climb to nearly 50 percent by the year 2050.

Discussion

Even after accomplishing huge exploits, including defeating the prophets of Baal and raising the dead, Elijah fell into depression. Would you consider yourself to be aware of your emotions, or would you consider yourself EQ challenged? Share with the group.

In our Rhythms series, we discussed developing healthy habits and building in margin in order to keep up in life. However, many of us are comparing ourselves to other people’s highlight reels on social media. This wrongful comparison can bring on symptoms of depression, as can trying to maintain a crazy, overfilled schedule.

Many others ruminate over past failures and strife. Instead of leaving those things behind, they bring them into the present. Like a cow chewing the cud, they constantly go over and over the same painful memories. However, we must learn to give our sorrows to the Lord and overcome the pain of the past. Coping at the pharmacy is not the best solution to our inability to process and release pain.

Discussion

Do you rehearse painful things over and over? Are you able to turn to the Lord in your time of need? Share with the group techniques and practices you have learned to let go of the past and move with expectancy into the future.

It is one thing to be sad, but it is another thing to be depressed and all alone. The devil’s tactics include isolating people to weaken them and eventually destroy them. Recognize this. Increase your EQ regarding this and the other things we have discussed in this lesson.

Discussion

What is your solution for feeling lonely? What do you recommend to others who look to you for leadership?

Elijah rested, ate something nutritious, and finally got some real exercise. Don’t underestimate the power of stewarding your physical body to prevent depression. Too much sugar, for example, can seriously hinder your performance. There is a connection between your body and your mind. When you get into the presence of God, it recalibrates your emotions.

Discussion

Have you ever felt terrible because of lack of sleep combined with poor eating habits? How did it affect your performance? What steps have you taken to improve in this area?

Application

Ruminating, or mulling over your distress, is one of the leading causes of anxiety and depression. Don’t allow your inability to process pain, disappointment, or weariness lead you to medication as the solution. Remember that adequate sleep, eating, and exercise make a huge difference.

Action Point

Everyone occasionally has a bad day, and everyone medicates in one way or another. Will yours be the presence of the Lord, or binging on video games, TV, eating, drinking, or medications?

For You, the Leader

  1. Instruct group members to do the following:
    • Pray for and touch base with another member before next week.
    • Invite someone to the group next week and/or to attend a church service with you.
    • Encourage someone this week.
  2. Remind the group about outreach. Find out which outreach will be taking place in the zip code closest to your group and participate. One of the greatest joys of life in Christ is serving others!
  3. What is the next step for each member of your group? Whether it is water baptism, Cultivate, or A-Team/B-Group leadership, encourage them in it. Also encourage all members to read their Bible and pray daily.
  4. Close in prayer, asking for any specific prayer requests.
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Lesson: Forgiveness Given is Forgiveness Received

Icebreaker

What are you most looking forward to concerning the arrival of fall?

Prayer

Lord, we love You and worship You.

Key Scripture

Genesis 50:20 NLT (Joseph to his 11 brothers): “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

The Big Idea

All of us are vulnerable to offenses. Jesus said we would undergo trials and tribulations, and we know offenses are going to come. It is not that offenses don’t hurt; it is very difficult being disappointed or abused, and of course, it does hurt. And sometimes this leads to losing our edge in our walk with the Lord. In this lesson, we will take a look at forgiving the inevitable offenses that come into our lives.

Discussion

Have you ever had a time in your life when you put up walls in order to prevent people from being able to hurt you? What caused you to do this, and how did you eventually overcome it?

What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is not about minimizing the hurt. No, it is likely the offense was real, severe, and uncalled for. Neither is forgiveness a glorified griping session with God.

Forgiveness is instantaneous because it is a decision you make, but it doesn’t mean you automatically trust the person again. Trust must be regained over a long period of time.

Discussion

Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. Do you think people misunderstand forgiveness because they don’t feel different when they initially forgive? What would you say to help someone trapped in this way of thinking?

Why should we forgive others? Because we ourselves have been forgiven by God. Resentment just doesn’t work.

Mark 11:25 (NLT) warns us, “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Matthew 6:14–15 (NLT) repeats the same warning: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Forgiveness given is forgiveness received.

Discussion

Are you aware that your salvation depends on your willingness to forgive others? Discuss with the group.

If you are struggling to forgive, you can take a couple of steps that will help you heal and enable you to release forgiveness. First, remember your imperfections. The Pharisees thought they were perfect and thus struggled with forgiveness. In the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus said that the one who was sinless should throw the first stone. Of course, no one stepped forward. Jesus also told a parable of a man who was forgiven a debt of $12 million. This same man, however, refused to forgive a man who owed him only $17, instead having him thrown into debtors’ prison. Give to others the same forgiveness that God has graciously given to you.

Second, abandon your right to get even with someone who has hurt you. Drop the rock.

Discussion

The man who owed $12 million represents us as sinners before the Lord. Have you had your sin debt paid for by the Lord? Share with the group a brief account of your salvation story.

Discussion

The man who was owed $17 represents us when we refuse to forgive others. Have you forgiven those people who have wronged you in your life, or do you need help doing this? Share with the group, if you can.

Application

Forgiveness given is forgiveness received. Remember the moment when God forgave you of all your sins. Your sins being forgiven is an insurmountable sum, like millions of dollars. Your forgiveness of others is a more accessible amount, like $17. You will struggle with resentment and bitterness unless you realize the overwhelming mercy God showed you.

Action Point

Remember your imperfections and the enormity of forgiveness Jesus bestowed upon you. Next, abandon your right to get even. Forgive others, because your salvation depends on it!

For You, the Leader

  1. Instruct group members to do the following:
    • Pray for and touch base with another member before next week.
    • Invite someone to the group next week and/or to attend a church service with you.
    • Encourage someone this week.
  2. Remind the group about outreach. Find out which outreach will be taking place in the zip code closest to your group and participate. One of the greatest joys of life in Christ is serving others!
  3. What is the next step for each member of your group? Whether it is water baptism, Cultivate, or A-Team/B-Group leadership, encourage them in it. Also encourage all members to read their Bible and pray daily.
  4. Close in prayer, asking for any specific prayer requests.

Lesson: Here Comes The Dreamer

Icebreaker

How long is your daily commute to class or to your job?

Prayer

Thank You, Father, for the lives You have given us.

Key Scripture

Proverbs 13:12 NLT, emphasis added: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”

The Big Idea

Even if you have been on earth for many years, don’t stop dreaming. Spiritual dreams can give insight or direction from the Father about what He wants to do through you. A dream for the future can lift you even as you are struggling in the present.

A buoyancy vest on a scuba diver lifts him to the surface from the depths of the ocean. In the same way, even when everything around you is sinking, your dream will bring you to the top and keep you from becoming filled with hatred and resentment. In the Bible, Joseph was a prolific dreamer. He had many opportunities to give up on his dream and grow bitter because of the circumstances of life, but instead, he held on to his childhood dream and used it to keep himself sane through his years in Pharaoh’s dungeon.

Discussion

Have you ever received a dream that you felt was from the Lord? Share with the group.

In the life of Joseph, we can identify three phases to a dream. First, you conceive the dream. If natural sleep is where natural dreams happen, then spiritual rest is where spiritual dreams originate.

Discussion

Do you think most of us are too busy to receive dreams from the Lord? Discuss.

Next, you must pray over the dream. Prayer filters the dream and helps you refine God’s will. If it advances God’s kingdom, has eternal impact, and involves helping people, there’s a good chance it’s a God dream. Prayer acknowledges to God that you have received the dream and need Him to cause it to come to pass. Prayer is the womb of the dream. It will keep it alive until it comes to fruition.

Discussion

Prayer is like a safety net that will keep you from missing God. What dream are you praying over at this time? Share with the group, if you can.

Third, you must believe the dream. It won’t come to pass if it is not spoken, so speak it to a trusted friend. Believe that God will cause it to come to pass. Resist the gravity of doubt. Doubt doesn’t want to believe the dream will come to pass.

Discussion

When Pastor Jonathan shared the dream of the Livingston campus, what did you think then? What are your feelings about the New Orleans campus? Share with the group.

Application

You are not your own. God wants to dream through you and make your life great. You must be willing to accept that and live it out.

Action Point

Rest in the Lord in order to be able to receive God’s dream. Pray over the dream to filter it. Speak it out loud and resist doubt. Patiently walk it out.

For You, the Leader

  1. Instruct group members to do the following:
    • Pray for and touch base with another member before next week.
    • Invite someone to the group next week and/or to attend a church service with you.
    • Encourage someone this week.
  2. Remind the group about outreach. Find out which outreach will be taking place in the zip code closest to your group and participate. One of the greatest joys of life in Christ is serving others!
  3. What is the next step for each member of your group? Whether it is water baptism, Cultivate, or A-Team/B-Group leadership, encourage them in it. Also encourage all members to read their Bible and pray daily.
  4. Close in prayer, asking for any specific prayer requests.

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“In order to prosper, you have to find a rhythm”
—-Joel Stockstill "Healthy Rhythms Part 2"