Viewing entries tagged
Let It Go Too

- Let It Go Too - Week 4: Control

- Let It Go Too - Week 4: Control

SERIES INTRODUCTION

When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally and more importantly spiritually. Last year we challenged people to just LET IT GO. Now, as we continue this series, ask yourself what else are you holding on to?

  • Who is the person in your life you can turn to in good and bad times?


SERMON GUIDE

There are things in our life we need to let go of because they have a hold on us. We try to control things, but it doesn’t help. Thankfully, we don’t have to do this on our own; we have the choice to look to God and His promises.

  • Has there ever been a time when due to illness or circumstance, you were unable to control your day to day life? How did that feel?

Control makes us think “I know better” and often we find that doesn’t work out so well. Each of us is a work in progress and there is a better way. The best way is to look to God and choose trust and surrender over control.

Our attempts to control what we are holding on to it, leads to fear. The more we try to control, the more our fear of losing control rises. It is a vicious cycle, we can’t win.

Control leads us to fear and makes us afraid of other people. We become afraid to step out in faith because of the unknown and all the “what if’ scenarios we easily conjure up in our mind. The truth is control is just an illusion. We can tightly control our finances, but we have no control over the economy. Eating healthy and exercise might not keep something unexpected from showing up on a scan. We drive ourselves crazy when we believe that we are in control.

Control has its roots in pride.  We stubbornly decide to keep doing things our way.  When we control things our ego edges God out. Pride keeps us from apologizing, makes us defensive and drives us to do things to keep up our image. We just want to keep it all under control.

  • Is there something in your life that you would like to let go of, something you feel has a hold on you?

When we read the Bible, we see woven through the text that God detests pride. He detests it because it keeps us from living the life He has for us.

Humility is the key to overcoming control. When we quit playing God we begin getting well. Choosing to trust God simply begins with a willingness to believe there is a God who is bigger than ourselves. It is stepping out in belief that God is stronger, more capable and knows better than we do.

Often, we have trouble trusting God because we are afraid He will not do as good a job as we would have.  It sounds crazy to say it, but that is what we are saying when we let control rule us. Trust is a willingness to believe that God is better than we are at running our lives.

We miss out and actually lose by grasping on to control. We exchange abandon for protection, intimacy for security, and peace for worry. We trade generosity for storing up, so we’ll be ready to face the what if’s in our life. When we decide to loosen our grip and trust God, we begin to see He does more than we could imagine.

Control says we are not sure He will come through and that we doubt that nothing is impossible.  We don’t have to doubt that God will come through. He is the strong one who will catch us and be there even when life is hard. 

God is good and faithful. We can lean into Him no matter what our circumstances or feelings.

Have a volunteer read Lamentations 3:22-26.

To let go of control and move towards trusting God, we need an accurate picture of God. If you look search the Bible, looking for the characteristics of God you will find He is powerful and can be trusted. We can rest in the knowledge of how much He loves us.

Have a volunteer read Daniel 6:15-33.

Daniel, knowing he was going against the king’s decree, prayed anyway. He trusted God and saw Him provide and protect in the lion’s den. He had seen God work years before in the fiery furnace and knew without a doubt that God can be trusted.

Jodi shared the quote, “God is too wise to be mistaken. God is too good to be unkind. So, when you don’t understand, when you can’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand…trust His heart.”

Have a volunteer read Proverbs 3:5-6.

  • What does it look like for you to lean in where normally you would hold tight and instead, decide to put your trust in the Lord?

Trust leads us to surrender which is defined as relinquishing control to someone else.  We have a choice to give up control to God. We give the leadership of our life, saying “you can have it all Lord,” and believe He is more capable than ourselves.

When we are holding tight to control we might resist when we feel the Holy Spirit stirring in us, convicting us to not do something.  Maybe there is a relationship that needs to end, or we need to reconcile. Perhaps it is our finances, an addiction or a direction we feel He is nudging us towards. Our resistance causes us to miss out on God’s best for our lives.

In Matthew 5:2-5, Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

The word “meek” doesn’t just mean quiet and gentle but also includes to yield. It was used in reference to bridling wild horses. When we read the words “Blessed are those who give over the reins to God,” through that lens we have more clarity.

  • Where are you bucking God in your life? Share if there Is an area of your life where you are coming up against this and what would it look like to hand over the reins to Him?

God is relentless in His pursuit of us. It is a good day when we relinquish control and hand over the reins to Him. He wants you to be free and loves you so much. We were not created to live without him. Surrender is a daily thing, giving over our lives to God. It is about living a surrendered life.

  • Share something in your life that has happened that can only be attributed to God having worked?

End your time by having a volunteer read 2 Corinthians 1:9-11.


PAIR OFF

Continue to pair off as you have been doing, the last two weeks. Check in and share where you need to say yes to God and let go of control. Spend time praying together.

- Let It Go Too - Week 3: Cynicism

- Let It Go Too - Week 3: Cynicism

SERIES INTRODUCTION

When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally and more importantly spiritually. Last year we challenged people to just LET IT GO. Now, as we continue this series, ask yourself what else are you holding on to?

  • Who from your younger years influenced the big decisions you’ve made in your life? Why did that person have such a strong influence on you?


SERMON GUIDE

Many of us started out young and optimistic. Then something happened that shocked us. We were hurt by others, and we started thinking people will let us down, that we can’t trust anyone. We begin assuming everything is going to go wrong all the time. Some call it a defense mechanism or being a realist, but the truth is that some of us have become cynics.

An optimist will read the verse "my cup overflows" and they'll say, "The Lord is blessing me." A pessimist will say, "My cup overflows. Lord, there's going to be a mess in the house today."

We all know people who see even an abundance of blessings as a negative.  Some of us might even be those people.

  • On a scale of 1-10—with a 1 being an Eeyore and 10 being Tigger—how cynical are you?

There are a lot of things going wrong in the world. We as Jesus followers can’t put our heads in the sand and pretend like nothing is wrong. At the same time, we should recognize that God is doing a lot of amazing things all over the world.

C.S. Lewis once said “what you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”  Each day we have a choice. What will we look for, good or bad?  For better or worse, we often find what we are looking for.

  • When you consider the statement “we often find what we are looking for?” where in your life do you need to look for more good?

Have a volunteer read Proverbs 11:27 and Psalm 13.

As Christians, we should be the least cynical because we have the gospel and we know Jesus rose and left an empty tomb. Our hope isn’t just wishful thinking. In Psalm 13 we see a practical example of someone moving away from cynicism and towards hopeful trust.

King David had quite a life. He started out as shepherd, was anointed by Samuel, and found himself being hunted by King Saul. He becomes king, and his own children try to overthrow him. He wrote many Psalms that give us a peek into his emotional and spiritual journey.

In Psalm 13 he starts with blame and the feeling of “Why me?” He is wrestling with thoughts and feelings of deep sorrow. We often do this. We ask why bad things always happen to us or we try to blame something or someone else for our troubles.

  • Is there a situation where you need to stop blaming someone else and seek to forgive? Maybe it is anger or bitterness towards God, a friend, a family member, or a co-worker you need to repent and let go of.

We see a pivot in verses 5-6; David stops asking, “Why me?” and turns towards the Lord. He pushes aside the cynicism and despair. He says, “I will trust in you.”

Trusting God will turn us from cynical curmudgeons who think there’s no hope to curious children who trust that our loving Father is looking out for our good.

Like David we can say,” I don’t understand what you are doing or why these things are happening, but I know you can be trusted.”

Cynicism creates a barrier between us and God and makes it hard to pray. It allows bitterness to take root in our souls. But we can choose a better way, seeking God in prayer, asking Him to move, to meet us and intervene in difficult situations or relationships. Choosing to reject cynicism and seek God changes our heart in the midst of tough moments in life.

Have a volunteer read Psalm 23.

  • What are some of the ways you’ve seen God be your shepherd during difficult seasons of life?


PAIR OFF

Last week we asked you to pair up with another person of the same gender.  Check in to see how things are going with their spiritual next step and encourage each other to continue moving forward.

Share areas you want to overcome cynicism and find hope. Spend time praying together.

- Let It Go Too - Week 2: The Past

- Let It Go Too - Week 2: The Past

SERIES INTRODUCTION

When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally and more importantly spiritually. Last year we challenged people to just LET IT GO. Now, as we continue this series, ask yourself what else are you holding on to?

  • Share a story about a time when someone else’s kindness impacted you.


SERMON GUIDE

Many of us are trapped by our past.  Maybe we did something wrong.  Maybe something wrong was done to us.  Or maybe we just faced some unlucky circumstances.  But regardless of the cause, it’s all too common for something in our past to keep us from moving forward.

  • What is something in your past that has kept you trapped? If you’ve been able to work through it, how did you do it?  If you’re still trapped by it, what do you think is keeping you from being able to work through it?

Have a volunteer read Acts 16:16-34.

  • What sorts of lessons do you think the jailer learned—and we can learn—from Paul and Silas?

The jailer in this story was desperate.  In the ancient world a jailer who let his prisoners escape would likely be executed.  When an earthquake caused the prison doors to swing open, the jailer couldn’t see past what had just happened.  The problem seemed too huge, too insurmountable, and he almost certainly couldn’t see a way out.

  • How might you be able to give the things you’re facing over to God so that He can help you find a way out?

Fortunately, Paul and Silas catch the jailer before he kills himself.  They intervene, keeping him from making a mistake he literally can’t come back from.

We all need people in our lives who are looking out for us, people who we can trust with the things we’re afraid to tell anyone, and people who will step in and intervene when we need them, people who will encourage us… or challenge us… when we need it.

  • Who are one or two people in your life who are looking out for you? How did you develop such a close relationship with them?  If you don’t feel like you have anyone like that right now, what is one step you could take to begin developing deeper relationships with others?

It’s tough to say what’s crazier, an earthquake opening all of the jail cells or the fact that none of the prisoners ran away.  Taken together, these things captivate the jailer’s attention and lead him to the life-changing question, “What must I do to be saved?”

  • What is an event in your life that has been catalytic for your own spiritual journey?

Of course, their answer is to believe in Jesus.  And the kind of belief they meant wasn’t just an intellectual belief.  They meant not only to believe intellectually but to actually trust Jesus, to trust his teachings and his plan.

When we truly trust someone, it shapes the way we act.  If your parents advise you not to take a particular job and you trust them, you don’t take it.  If you trust your own judgment more than theirs, you take the job anyway.

It’s the same with Jesus.  If we trust him, we’ll make decisions according to his plan.  We’ll move from cutting corners to operating with integrity, from gossiping to speaking well of people, from lying to truth-telling, from greed to generosity, from self-centeredness to love.

We see the jailer do this.  He washes Paul and Silas’ wounds, gets baptized along with his family, and then prepares a meal for Paul and Silas.  He didn’t just intellectually assent to the idea that there’s this Jesus guy and then continue on as before.  His belief, his trust, changed what he did.

Note to Leaders: One of the key responsibilities of a small group leader is to identify a spiritual next step for each member of your group and to help them take those steps.  This next question is designed to help facilitate that process. You may want to write down the steps that people mention and think through how the group can rally around each person to help them take that step.

  • In what area of your life do you think you need to make a change to better live according to God’s way of doing things?  How can the group help you make that change?


PAIR OFF

Have each group member pair off with another person of the same gender.  Each pair is responsible for following up with each other for the remainder of the semester to see how things are going with their spiritual next step and encourage each other to continue moving forward.

 - Let It Go Too - Week 1: Procrastination

- Let It Go Too - Week 1: Procrastination

SERIES INTRODUCTION

When you can’t let go of stuff, it will eat you up – physically, emotionally and more importantly spiritually. Last year we challenged people to just LET IT GO. Now, as we continue this series, ask yourself what else are you holding on to?

  • Share your favorite fall memory growing up. It could be a family tradition, time with friends or place you would visit.


SERMON GUIDE

There is so much that stops us from experiencing the kind of freedom, vibrancy, joy and fullness that God wants for us. We hang onto things like anger, bitterness, control, fear, and the past that keep us from becoming God’s best version of us.

This weekend we talked about procrastination. Take a moment to go through the quiz Mike shared this weekend:

  • Do you feel resentful when someone reminds you of tasks left undone?

  • Do you feel you have too much to do each day?

  • Do you sometimes delay a task so long that you’re embarrassed to do it?

  • Do you find yourself frequently making excuses for unfinished work?

  • Do you spend time on non-essentials while letting important work go?

  • Do you have a hard time determining what to do first?

  • Do you often agree to do a task and then regret it?

  • Have you ever put off signing your kids up for something, and they missed out as a result?

  • Do you sometimes think that by waiting long enough the tasks will not have to be done?

  • Do you rush to the Post Office at midnight on April 15 to mail your tax returns?

  • If you’re still intending to have a talk with your kid about the facts of life…and your kid is now 40 years old…?

If you found yourself answering yes to a bunch of these, then procrastination is probably something you struggle with. It seems subtle, but procrastination is a deadly enemy.  It steals your days.

  • When is a time procrastination cost you something?

Have someone read Psalms 118:24 and Exodus 8:8-10.

Like Pharaoh we choose to put off until tomorrow things we need to deal with today. Maybe it is a challenging conversation, an expensive home repair, or dealing with our finances, we let emotions push it off instead of dealing with it today.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Many procrastinators are closet perfectionists.  Their striving for perfection gets in the way of making any progress at all.

Laziness drives many people to procrastinate.  Let’s be honest, the word for our culture is “easy”…5 easy ways to this…3 simple steps to that. If it’s easy, I like it.  If it’s hard, count me out.  If I can simply attach electrodes to my abs and look like a Men’s Health cover model, then why not sit in my recliner and eat Cheetos. If I could just guess the Powerball and strike it rich, then why would I go to work?  The Bible actually has a bunch to say about the problems of being lazy (Proverbs 26:15, Proverbs 13:4, Proverbs 15:19, 2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Fear is another paralytic that keeps us from moving forward. In his book Great by Choice, Jim Collins writes about “productive paranoia.” He shares how several highly successful people were always worried about something going wrong. They channeled that fear into remaining hypervigilant–always preparing, making contingency plans, and taking action. They took their fear and turned it into action.

Our desire for control can cause us to procrastinate.  We refuse to act because we don’t want to allow ourselves to be told what to do or when to do it by someone else.

  • What causes you to procrastinate? What could you do to overcome this kind of procrastination?

Let’s look at a few things God teaches us in the Bible that will help us overcome procrastination in our lives.

Have someone read Proverbs 22:13.

We need to stop making excuses. We have a partnership with God. That partnership ought to bring a level of excellence, hard work, honesty, humility, and integrity to our workplaces. Procrastination is a refusal to play our part in the partnership God wants to have with us at work.

Have someone read Colossians 3:23.

God designed us to work. From the very beginning God was a productive being, and He created us in His image as productive beings.  Work is one way that we honor him and reflect his character into the world.

Fear is a huge culprit in procrastination, so if you are going to let it go, you need to face your fears.

Have someone read 2 Timothy 1:7.

Procrastinators wrestle with two kinds of fear: the fear of failure and the fear of success. To move forward and live our lives to the fullest we have to face those fears. Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s moving ahead in spite of the fear!

We need to partner with God and cooperate with the Holy Spirit all throughout the day. When the Spirit of God is in you, you can rely on Him for power, love and self-discipline so you can face your fears and live today.

  • What practices or habits could you implement to connect and partner with God each day?

Organization and planning are key to making progress and overcoming procrastination.  Even the simple act of writing out a list of tasks can help organize our thinking and our day and make us more productive.

  • What apps do you use to help keep you organized and on track?

Sometimes we procrastinate because the tasks we’re facing are ones that we’re not particularly well suited for.  If you find yourself facing this challenge on a regular basis, especially at work, it’s worth taking some time to evaluate where you’re life is currently and the direction that you want to head.

To make this happen block out several hours or even a day to spend time with God and a notebook. Pray and ask questions like:

  • What do I want to accomplish?

  • What are my priorities?

  • What are my core values?

  • What are my gifts?

  • What’s in the way?

  • How do I define success?

  • What do I want my legacy to be?

  • What are some immediate things I could do that would make a big difference?

Write down your answers to these questions.  Write down any thoughts or impressions or messages you think might be coming from God.  Formulate a plan for how to move forward.  There may be some areas of your life where you need to stay the course, others where you need to make a change.

Share your plan with a trusted friend or mentor for feedback.  Ask them to encourage you and hold you accountable to the new path you want to take.

Start doing some little intentional things so that you can begin to trade relief for victory. You might need to put some disciplines into your life that goes against your personality tendencies, so you can survive and thrive.

  • What is one area of your life where you think you might need to make a change sooner rather than later?  What is keeping you from acting?

Hebrews 3:15 (NLT) says “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled.”

When God calls ‘today’, and we don’t respond today, we get a little more set in our ways, a little more stubborn, a little harder on the inside. Don’t let the thief of Someday, steal another one of your days that you could be walking free and forgiven with God.


PRAYER

Break into small groups and share one place you feel God is calling you to act and take the next step. Pray for the discipline to follow God’s calling. Pray to be aware of what keeps you stuck and the courage to overcome it.