Where did you grow up?
Lord, let Your Holy Spirit guide us and strengthen us!
Proverbs 13:20 NLT: “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”
Pastor titled this message “Check Your Circle.” Think about who is in your inner circle, who speaks into your life. You can’t be unintentional with our relationships; they can’t be accidental. Your friends are a statement of the person you are choosing to become. Whoever you associate with tells others that you want to become like those people. Name your top five friends and you will be the average of all of them. That’s why it’s so important to have intentional friendships.
It is important to be intentional rather than accidental in our friendships. We can’t just have any old friendship just because it is easy, saying, “Well, I have always been friends with them.” Sometimes the easiest things are not the best things.
When you look at your inner circle of friends, does it look intentional or accidental? Share with the group.
When cultivating friendships, there must be intentional selection (Abraham and Lot). There are three categories of friendships you can have. First is a friend for a moment. Sitting in the lobby of the doctor’s office, starting your first day at a job together, and planning an event for your kid’s school are all great moments to make a friend. This is where you will find your best evangelistic opportunities.
What “friend for a moment” opportunities do you currently have that maybe you could be evangelistic and invite them to church? Share with the group.
Second is a friend for a season. This person is in your life for a purpose, and when the purpose is over, you both move on.
Third is a friend for life. What are the qualities you are looking for in a person you build a relationship with for life? It should be reciprocal. At some point, they have to show similar interest and commitment to the relationship. It should be strengthening. When you are with this person, do you leave feeling encouraged and feeling better about yourself? It should be enriching. Is this a person you enjoy having conversations with that cause your life to be better? Conversely, do they discuss negative topics or gossip? Finally, it should be challenging. Do you challenge each other? Do you make each other better?
What does being selective in a friendship mean to you? Do you have any lifelong friends?
In developing friendships, there must be an intentional investment (David and Jonathan). The relationship between David and Jonathan was characterized by intentional investment. First Samuel 18:1 (NLT) says, “After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David.”
One of the reasons that God puts us in relationships is to teach us how to be more loving, giving, and selfless. In your friendships, there are three major major investments you need to make. First is time. You will never have a healthy relationship that doesn’t require an investment of time. Second is transparency. You will never have a healthy relationship that doesn’t require you to be transparent. Third is resources. Being cheap never helped anyone have a healthy relationship.
Would you consider your heart more open or more closed to allowing new people into your circle? Share with the group.
Our friends determine our destiny. Don’t get locked into failure as a result of a bad circle of friends, but rather be intentional in who speaks into your life. Be open to other people. Be willing to invest in strong friendships.
Evaluate your friendships this week. Be open to new people. Don’t let your current circle limit your growth.
Who introduced you to Bethany?
Teach me to take all thoughts captive that contradict the promises I find in Your Word!
Philippians 3:13–14 NLT: “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
This week we will deal with the mind. You will go where you think. If you have an unhealthy thought life, you will eventually end up in an unhealthy place. You become what you think about all day long. What you dwell on determines your choices and becomes your future.
An unhealthy mind and a healthy life cannot coexist. What you dwell on prioritizes your life. Whatever you think about, you magnify, and it consumes your vision. When you repeatedly think the same thoughts, trenches are formed in your mind, and strongholds can eventually be formed. However, the good news is that the mind is like a remote control that you can use to change the channel.
Have you realized the power that thoughts have in your life? Share with the group a realization in this area that you are learning.
Forgetting the past is important to moving on from failures. We all have unfortunate things we can look at in the rearview mirror, but refuse to fill your mind with thoughts of regret. Instead, act like you were born today.
It is also important not to be limited by your past. Don’t rehearse your former limitations as if they were written in stone.
How is your focus? In what area of your thoughts would you like to improve? Share with the group.
Before a thought is allowed to remain in your mind, ask yourself, “Is it true? Is it valid?” Just as Pastor Jon shared about not being allowed on the Augusta golf course, we too must filter our thoughts and not allow entrance to harmful ones. We would be better off to dwell on things of honor, things that produce life.
Ancient Rome was destroyed by perversion. Perversion can also try to dominate your thoughts. Do not feed on those thoughts.
Do you fixate on political divides or even conspiracies? What do you think of Pastor Jonathan’s suggestion to just let them go and not feed upon them? Share with the group.
When a thought comes into your mind, ask yourself, “Is this pure? Is it admirable?” 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.”
”Admirable” is a great filter. Don’t rehash non-life-giving content. How would you rate yourself in this area? Do you allow embittering topics to dominate your thoughts?
What you dwell on prioritizes your life. Forget the past and filter your present to obtain your God-given future. Your mind is powerful enough to deliver just such a future, so be sure to prioritize those thoughts.
Focus this week on thoughts that make it through the filter of being admirable and pure, valid and true. Then enjoy the positive outcomes of not wallowing in negative thoughts or regret.
What did you think of Pastor Jonathan’s cold-brew coffee?
Lord, let our spirit man be healthy.
Matthew 26:41 NLT, emphasis added: “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
We have started a new series called Vitals to help us identify those things in the Word that are vital to our lives. The word vital means “that which is absolutely important and essential.” When you go to the doctor, they check your “vitals.” In this lesson, we will discuss the importance of developing and maintaining spiritual health. If we are spiritually healthy, we are connected to the Lord in a natural, powerful way. This enables us to subdue fleshly appetites as our spiritual appetites grow stronger and stronger.
The most important aspect of maintaining a healthy spiritual life is prayer, praying throughout the day just as you would converse with a daylong companion. If you find yourself lacking in this area, perhaps your spiritual appetite for God needs to increase.
Honestly evaluate your spiritual appetite for God. On a scale of 1 to 10, how great is your appetite for spiritual things?
Having an appetite for the things of God is an important indicator of your spiritual health, just as having a physical appetite is an important indicator of your physical health. In Psalm 42 (NLT), David looked at that deer drinking that fresh cool water and said, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you” (verse 1). David said, in a paraphrase of verse 4, “When can I get back to the house of God; when can I go and stand before Him?” With great longing, he reminisced of the good old days when he was in the temple in the presence of God.
At what time in your life was your appetite for God the greatest, and at what time was it the least? What factors came into play at these times that affected your spiritual appetite?
Besides a lack of spiritual appetite, there is a second sign that indicates a lack of spiritual health. Your spirit is not in charge when you are spiritually unhealthy.
Each of us is a triune being; that is, we have a body, a soul, and a spirit. Sadly, many people have weak spirits that live underneath a powerful and dominant flesh nature. Many do whatever they feel like doing at the moment. They are slaves to whatever they crave, controlled by their flesh rather than by their spirit. This is the opposite of what God desires: for our spirit man to totally dominate our fleshly appetites.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT) Whenever you notice that your spirit is not in charge of your fleshly desires, that is a good indication that you are lacking spiritual health.
What is most effective for you personally to prevent your sinful nature from running the show? What steps can you take to assure that your spirit man will be more in control?
The most important aspect of a healthy spiritual life is prayer. Examine your appetites to see who is in charge. If your spirit is in control, you will be pleasing to God.
Prayer is the key to spiritual health. Pray with confidence. Pray in accordance with God’s will Pray in the Spirit. This will determine which appetite wins out.
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