Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sermon Notes and CG Questions - 2/28/10

Prayer prepares you to face temptation.

Fail to pray; prepare to fall.

There is a progression to sin:

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

– James 1:13-15

Temptation is an intricately prepared atta ck by a powerful enemy.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

We have to ask God for hel p . . . before temptation hits.

See Luke 22:31-35; 39-46 (Page 732)

Your best intention s cannot carry you through the severest trials – you have to learn to pra y.


1. You have to be aware of temptation and alert to Satan’s schemes.


o Where are you wea k? Where do you struggle?

o Whe n are you weak? Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired?

o How are you tempted? What is the mediu m that introduces it?

2. Pray and prepare before temptation hits.


o Put on your armo r every morning. (See Ephesians 6:10-18)

o Pray through your da y.

o Pray before difficult situation s.

o Send up an S.O. ..


To prepare for group this week, listen to the sermon and take notes. Then read Ephesians 6:10-18 and answer the following questions:

1. What are some of your favorite Halloween or dress up costumes? (Either for you or your kids) Why those?

2. As you reflect on Sunday’s sermon, what one principle or insight stands out as being particularly helpful, insightful, or difficult to grasp?

3. Look back at Eph. 1:19-21. Where is Jesus now? How powerful is he? How does this instill hope in Christians as we encounter the evil forces described here?

4. With what attitudes should we face these forces? How does prayer fit into this battle?

5. What does Paul mean by each of the six pieces of armor (vs. 14-17)? What is the purpose of each? Which are defensive? Which are offensive?

6. As you consider your armor, what parts are in good shape? What is moldy and rusty? What do you need to do to get ready for battle?

7. Paul was on the front lines of the battle (v. 20). What evidence do you see of the battle in your life? Your church? Your community? Your nation? The world? What would it mean to “stand” in these particular battlefields?

8. What can you learn from Paul’s prayers (1:16-18; 3:14-19; 6:19-20) about your prayers for others in your small group?

9. How can we pray for you this week?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lenten Fast: Day 3

"God's greatest adversaries are his gifts - satisfaction with something else." - John Piper

Our great struggle in life is settling for lesser things. Fasting reveals that. When we fast, we give up a good thing to redirect our desires to a Greater Thing - God.

Here's how life usually works. When we have a longing or desire, we stuff it full of something. It's usually something that doesn't really satisfy, but fills the void. We get hungry, so we grab fast food to fill our bellies. We get bored, so we grab the remote and start clicking. Things get quiet, so we turn on the iPod to drown it out with music. We feel lonely, so we grab a bowl (or tub) of ice cream. These things may be good, but they are settling for less than the best.

When we fast, we refrain from one or more of those things. We recognize that that they are not the ultimate good or satisfaction. By going without them, we find that a void remains in our lives that points us to God - the greatest good.

Use your cravings to remind you that you long for God. When you crave the thing you gave up, turn that into a prayer to God. Maybe you want to pray something like this:
  • "Father, give me a hunger for you."
  • "Help."
  • "Draw me close to You."
  • "Father, I want You more than I want _________."
Use your fast to remind you that God is greater than the things He gives. While you may enjoy them, He is better still.

Read Psalm 63 and make it your prayer to God this week.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lenten Fast: Day 1

As a kid growing up in the South, there wasn't a Catholic church for miles. I'm not even sure where the closest one was located. Needless to say, I never understood Lent, fasting, Ash Wednesday or any of the other traditions.

Since then, I've learned the value of fasting and Lent provides a great time to practice this spiritual discipline.


Lent lasts from February 17 - April 3, 2010. Take this period of 46 days to fast from something and seek God. Sunday's are "free days" where we celebrate Jesus' victory over sin and death.


Fasting is abstaining in some significant way from food or drink. I've expanded this definition to include anything that you tend to enjoy - such as television, computer, facebook, etc. It can also include types of food - chocolate, sweets, coffee, pop, meat, etc. It is not giving up "bad things" but giving up something that you depend on or enjoy.


1. Fasting shows you the value of God above all things. Instead of turning to these things or finding our satisfaction in them, we use the void created to turn us toward our ultimate source of satisfaction - God.

2. Fasting trains you to suffer well. You will suffer. That's one of life's realities. You can either waste your suffering by becoming bitter and angry or you can allow God to use your suffering to make you more like Jesus. When you fast, you are intentionally suffering in order to train yourself for godliness.

3. Fasting teaches you self-denial. Jesus called his disciples and said "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." (Matt. 16:24) Denying yourself helps you learn to resist sin and temptation.

4. Fasting helps you focus on God. Focus on one goal or prayer during your fasting. When your stomach growls or your thumb itches for the remote, turn your thoughts to God and pray for that thing.

5. In spite of all of these reasons, the main reason I began to practice fasting was this - Jesus did it and tells us to do it. In Matthew 6:16, he says "When you fast . . . ". There was no "if" or any thought that His disciples wouldn't. Jesus practiced fasting and He expected that His disciples would too.


1. Choose the item that you will fast from.

Maybe you will abstain from meat, sweets, coffee, pop, or some other food. You may choose to fast from an entire meal - for example, skip breakfast or lunch every day.

2. Find a focal point or prayer.

I am praying that God will use Redeemer to help 60 people encounter and follow Jesus in 2010. I hope you'll join me in that prayer.

3. Commit your journey to God.

The point of this exercise is to learn to depend on God, not your own skills or willpower. Commit your way to God and ask Him for His help.

Check back to the blog for prayers, thoughts, and challenges throughout the Lenten Fast. Also, feel free to comment and share your own thoughts and discoveries.

Here's my prayer for you today:

"Father, thank You for those who are giving up some pleasure to seek you. We want You more than we want the comfort of these 'things.' Teach us to rely on You through this journey. As we draw close to You, I ask You to respond and draw close to us. Amen."