Nov 6, 2016
A Kingdom Torn in Two
Series: The Story

In this Chapter of The Story we learn about the consequences of Israel’s sin, particularly in the area of idol worship.  God desires that He alone receives all glory, honor, praise, and worship from every heart. 

With that said, are there any idols currently in your life…even little ones?

Is someone or something receiving the honor and attention that only God deserves?

If so, what can you do to begin casting out the idols?

Solomon had been placed in a position of influence as King of Israel, as had his father (David) before him.  God places Christians in positions of influence as well to show others who He is.  As you reflect upon your life- your family, place of work, school, neighborhood, congregation, etc., what positions of influence has God placed you in?

Have your recent decisions and actions been accurate or muddied reflections of who God is? Have those decisions and actions been influenced by God or someone/thing else?

What changes need to be made this week with God’s help?

WatchNotesDownloadDateTitle
  • Nov 6, 2016A Kingdom Torn in Two
    Nov 6, 2016
    A Kingdom Torn in Two
    Series: The Story

    In this Chapter of The Story we learn about the consequences of Israel’s sin, particularly in the area of idol worship.  God desires that He alone receives all glory, honor, praise, and worship from every heart. 

    With that said, are there any idols currently in your life…even little ones?

    Is someone or something receiving the honor and attention that only God deserves?

    If so, what can you do to begin casting out the idols?

    Solomon had been placed in a position of influence as King of Israel, as had his father (David) before him.  God places Christians in positions of influence as well to show others who He is.  As you reflect upon your life- your family, place of work, school, neighborhood, congregation, etc., what positions of influence has God placed you in?

    Have your recent decisions and actions been accurate or muddied reflections of who God is? Have those decisions and actions been influenced by God or someone/thing else?

    What changes need to be made this week with God’s help?

  • Oct 30, 2016The King Who Had It All
    Oct 30, 2016
    The King Who Had It All
    Series: The Story

    Near the end of his life, Solomon was inspired by God to write a collection of reflections, the book of Ecclesiastes, on what he learned along the way.  Read Ecclesiastes and reflect on how easy it is to focus on the wrong stuff.  Ask God to help you identify what matters most to him and what should be most important to you.

    In 1 Kings Chapter 11:1-6, we learn about a weak point in Solomon's faith life and relationship with the Lord.  As long as it remained unchecked, this sinful area of his life continued to consume Solomon, eventually pulling his heart away from the Lord.  Is there an area of life where your faith and relationship with the Lord are being slowly corroded? What changes need to be made today to stop the corrosion? Who can you reach out to today for help and support? For prayer?

    Read 1 Kings 3:3-15 once again (today's first Scripture reading).  What strikes you about Solomon's request? Why does he ask for wisdom? Does his request reflect care and concern for his kingdom or the Lord's? How might this better guide your motivations when praying?

  • Oct 23, 2016The Trials of a King
    Oct 23, 2016
    The Trials of a King
    Series: The Story

    In 2 Samuel Chapter 11, we see David enter into sin.  Shortly afterwards, we begin to see a domino effect take place.  One sin seemed to lead to another sinful choice or action in his life…and then another…and another….and so on.  Before it was all said and done, numerous lives had been impacted for the worse! Has this been your experience as well? That sometimes, right on the heels of one poor decision or action, another follows in its footsteps? Is there an area of your life where you currently feel stuck in a cycle of sin? At this time, what do you need to air out and confess to the Lord? 

    Psalm 51 is a heartfelt prayer offered up by David, following his sinful choices.  Read what David has to say and consider the following: How does this psalm reflect a heart deeply troubled by sin? What is David seeking after with this prayer? What does this psalm reflect about God and His relationship with David? What does this psalm communicate to you about God’s desire to take away your sins, in the interest of His relationship with you?

    1 John 1:8-9 is another helpful portion of Scripture, when it comes to laying our sins, struggles, and shortcomings.  Not only do we have an area to air out our sins, but more, we have a place that assures us of the forgiveness of our sins, for Jesus’ sake.  As you read this passage (as well as Psalm 51), what encouragement do you find here? What comfort does this give to you, today?  

  • Oct 16, 2016From Shepherd to King
    Oct 16, 2016
    From Shepherd to King
    Series: The Story
    In this chapter of The Story, many different people think they have David figured out.  How did each of these people view David when they looked at him?
    a. His father, Jesse (1 Samuel 16:8-12)
    b. The prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:7-13)
    c. His brother, Eliab (1 Samuel 17:28)
    d. King Saul (1 Samuel 17:33-39)
    e. Goliath (1 Samuel 17:41-44)
     
    God saw David quite differently from everyone else.  In light of this chapter of The Story, how did God see David? What are our takeaways from this?
     
    The Story author, Randy Frazee, noted the following, “God put David through spiritual boot camp to chisel him and refine him into the kind of man who truly
    trusted God.” Think back to a time God sent you to a spiritual boot camp (maybe you feel you are presently enrolled in one).  How did God use this time to refine,
    strengthen, and grow you?
     
    Reading The Story we discover that David had his share of struggles and sins.  But through it all he was a man whose heart sought after God.  What are the
    things that tend to distract your heart and pull it away from God? What can you do to keep your heart focused on God and growing more in love with Him? How can
    your church family, here at Praise, pray for you and support you?
  • Oct 9, 2016Standing Tall, Falling Hard
    Oct 9, 2016
    Standing Tall, Falling Hard
    Series: The Story
    In 1 Samuel Chapter 8, we learn about the Israelites’ request to have a king appointed over them, so they could be like “all the other nations.” Read this passage and consider the following: what did this request really communicate about the Israelites’ feelings towards God? Were they telling God that He was enough for them, or not enough? How did God feel about that?
     
    God’s people (the Israelites) desired to conform to the pattern(s) of the world around them, even when that pattern was detrimental to their relationship with God.  Do Christians today still struggle with the temptation to conform to the patterns, habits, and behaviors of the world? Has this been an area of temptation for you, recently? Read Romans 12:2 and hear what God has to say on the matter.
     
    In Hebrews 13:5, God assures us- “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” How do these words of Scripture encourage you in your struggles against contemporary, cultural pressures? How would your life change if you were able to say, “In this area of my life, God is enough for me!”
  • Oct 2, 2016The Faith of a Foreign Woman
    Oct 2, 2016
    The Faith of a Foreign Woman
    Series: The Story
    In the Old Testament book of Ruth, we see three characters who, in their own ways, live out their faith in tangible ways.  Read Ruth Chapters 1-4 (it’s a short Book of the Bible!) and see how the following individuals put their faith and trust in God into action: Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz.  As you read their stories, ask yourself- what challenges were they facing when they decided to live by faith? What resulted from their desire to live by faith?
     
    As you think about your present season of life, where do you see God opening up an opportunity for you to live by faith, not by sight? Are there any portions of their (Naomi’s, Ruth’s, or Boaz’s) stories that you resonate with? Why?
     
    In Ruth 1:16 we hear a solid statement of faith from Ruth, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God.” The resolve to follow, no matter what, is clear! What would it look like for you to adopt a similar resolve to follow, in your relationship with Jesus? In other words, what changes need to be made in your life (perhaps letting something go, or perhaps taking something on) so that your heart says something similar? “Jesus, where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay! With your help, I commit to letting go of _____________________________ and/or taking on _____________________ in order to follow You more faithfully, as you desire!
  • Sep 25, 2016A Few Good Men…And Women
    Sep 25, 2016
    A Few Good Men…And Women
    Series: The Story
    The Book of Joshua seems to end on a high note: God has brought His people into the Promised Land; God has handed the Israelites victory upon victory over their enemies; and God has brought them to a point where they can finally settle in the land and begin to call it “home.” Under Joshua, the Israelites had solid, faithful leadership modeled to them.  Read Judges 2:6-23.  Does this passage mirror the leadership and faithfulness of men like Joshua, or does it reflect something else? If so, what do we see?
     
    What pattern or “cycle” do we see in the passage above?
     
    Read Judges 2:10-11.  What was a root cause of Israel’s falling away from the Lord? What were they forgetting to do for their families, friends, and neighbors? (clue: they were forgetting to tell T__ __  S __ __ __ y!)
     
    In light of the above, what is our takeaway? What will that look like for you, this week?
  • Sep 18, 2016The Battle Begins
    Sep 18, 2016
    The Battle Begins
    Series: The Story
    Read Joshua 1:1-11.  What did God call His people to do as they prepared to enter the Promised Land?
     
    As you reflect upon the challenges and decisions of the former generation of Israelites, who were not able to enter the Promised Land (see Numbers Chapters 13-14), what opportunities are now being presented to this generation? In other words, in what ways can this generation succeed where the former failed?
     
    The Israelites were given numerous opportunities to face down their fears, in faith.  As those moments and situations arose, they could stand and fight, or flee.  Perhaps as we consider this, we are led to recall various “battlegrounds”  present in our lives, along with the opportunity to stand firm in faith, or flee.  What challenge in your life might you be putting off or fleeing from, when/where all the while you know God is calling you to stand firm and address it?
     
    When Christians live in a world that flows so strongly against the desires and heart of God, we are often identified as followers of Jesus simply because of the way we live.  Name some actions and attitudes that show the world we are followers of Jesus.  As you take stock of the places you live, work, exercise, etc., where do you see God gifting you with an opportunity to live as “set apart for Him”?
  • Sep 11, 2016Wandering
    Sep 11, 2016
    Wandering
    Series: The Story
    As the Israelites approached the Promised Land, they could almost taste its goodness! However, when the Lord sent twelve men to scout out the land, they came back with mixed reports.  Read Numbers 13-14.  What two reports (generally speaking) did the men return with? What does each report tell you about what was going on in the hearts of God’s people?
     
    Grumbling, complaining, and rebelling had become the chorus for many of the Israelites as they took stock of their wilderness situation.  Why is it so easy to grumble, complain, and rebel when things don’t go the way we had planned them? In those moments, where is our focus? Where should our focus be? 
     
    Even today, God’s people journey through wilderness-like situations where the circumstances are uncomfortable and the way is not always clear.  As you think back to God’s relationship with the Israelites and His faithfulness to them (even in the most arid of situations), what comfort does this give you for the wilderness-like situation(s) you may be facing?
  • Sep 4, 2016New Commands and a New Covenant
    Sep 4, 2016
    New Commands and a New Covenant
    Series: The Story
    In Exodus 19:1-7, God shares with Moses what He desires for His relationship with the Israelites to look like.  What did He say? What does this communicate about God’s “missional heart” for those who don’t yet know Him?
     
    Exodus 20 gives us a look at the giving of God’s Ten Commandments.  The First Commandment sets the tone for all of the others- “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Where do you see others in your community struggling with this? How has this been a struggle and a challenge for you?
     
    Not long after the giving of the Ten Commandments, the Israelites gave God a glimpse of what was in their hearts, and how they would respond to His Commandments.  Read Exodus 32:1-35.  What happened?
     
    After the events of Exodus 32, God continued to show the Israelites steadfast love, mercy, and grace.  What encouragement does this give us for the times when we fall short of God’s Commandments and expectations?  Read 1 John 1:8-9.  How does this promise encourage us, today? What assurance do we have?
  • Aug 28, 2016Deliverance
    Aug 28, 2016
    Deliverance
    Series: The Story
    When God calls someone to serve Him, He gets it right the first time!  In looking at God’s call for Moses to serve as His “instrument of deliverance” (see Exodus 3-4:17), we hear a number of excuses from Moses as to why he feels he may not be the right man for the job (see Exodus 3:11; 4:10, 13). Where might the Lord be inviting you to serve Him, presently? What reasons might you have for not jumping at His invitation? Ask the Lord to help you move past any real or perceived barriers.
     
    In Exodus 3:12 God gives Moses a great reason to have hope all throughout this Divine Assignment. What does He say to Moses?
    How does this encourage us with the tasks God gives to us?  
     
    Read Exodus 3:1-10. Then carefully reread Verses 7-10. What does this passage communicate about God’s connection with His people’s struggles and suffering, as well as His willingness to respond? How does this help you in your current struggles and sufferings?
  • Aug 21, 2016Joseph: From Slave to Deputy Pharaoh
    Aug 21, 2016
    Joseph: From Slave to Deputy Pharaoh
    Series: The Story
    In Genesis Chapters 37-39, we hear a portion of Joseph' story.  From our perspective it does not sound pleasant: betrayed by family, sold into slavery, cast into prison for crimes he did not commit, etc. In fact, it sounds more than unpleasant; it sounds hopeless! And yet, in the midst of "the storm" God was still working for the good.  Even in prison, God was moving His Story forward through Joseph.  How do we see God doing this in Genesis 39:20-23
     
    Years later, Joseph is reunited with his brothers and father (Jacob/"Israel").  Read Genesis 45:3-8; 46:29; and 50:15-21.  How does Joseph interact with his family members after what happened? What does he say? How would YOU have responded?! How does Joseph point his families members (and each of us) back to God's involvement through it all?
     
    Joseph was a man of integrity and faith.  God calls each of us- His Church- to be people with these same qualities.  As you consider your current chapter of life, where is God blessing you with opportunities to be a person of integrity and faith?
     
    Read Romans 8:28. What reassurance and encouragement does this passage give to you? How will this promise inform your thoughts and actions, even in dark and uncertain times?
  • Aug 14, 2016God Builds a Nation
    Aug 14, 2016
    God Builds a Nation
    Series: The Story
    In Genesis 12 God asked Abram to “go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” What thoughts do you suppose were racing through Abram and Sarai’s (Abram’s wife) minds? How would you have responded to God’s request?
     
    What would it look like to orient your life (conversations, actions, relationships, decisions over use of time, talents, and treasures, etc.) this week according to God’s Story and His will? What obstacles are standing in the way, preventing you from fully following Him?
     
    Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham by God Himself; see why in Genesis 17:5) was by no means perfect. In fact, neither was Sarai (whose name was later changed to Sarah). And yet, God in His grace chose them for a divine mission. What does this reveal about God’s character? What does He look for? (Read Genesis 15:6 to hear Abram’s response to the details and assignment of God’s Story)
     
    Gods oftentimes calls ordinary people to do extraordinary things. This holds true even for us, today! His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Out of divine love and grace for you, God chooses to use you in order that others will know Him through you. Where has God already opened up such doors and opportunities in your life? (Where is the “door” at work? With family and friends? In your neighborhood? Etc.?)
  • Aug 7, 2016Creation: The Beginning of Life as We Know It
    Aug 7, 2016
    Creation: The Beginning of Life as We Know It
    Series: The Story
    What elements of God's Creation speak to you?  In other words, where do you see God's handiwork?
     
    In Genesis 3, we learn of Adam and Eve's (man's) fall into sin.  And yet, in this same chapter we also learn of God's Gospel promise to them and to US.  In Verse 15 we catch a glimpse of this promise, which points us forward to Jesus (check it out!).  What does this tell you about God's character, that He would respond in such a way so quickly after Adam and Eve's mistake?
     
    Over the next several weeks as we spend more time journeying through The Story, what goals would you like to set for yourself?  For your family? (possible examples: more time in prayer, daily devotions, family devotions, dedication to the work God is entrusting to His Church at/through Praise, joining Sunday morning Bible study, etc.)
     
    As you think about the wonderful promise God gave to Adam and Eve, as well as to you and me in the Garden, what other promises of God are you led to recall?  Is there a specific promise you need the Holy Spirit to remind you of this week, because of what you have been going through or facing?  (e.g. One focused on forgiveness? God's unconditional love? His divine presence?)
  • Jul 31, 2016So Long, Self?!
    Jul 31, 2016
    So Long, Self?!
    In follow-up to last week's message, where have you experienced the effects of a "Build in Yourself Workshop," particularly in the area of religion?  (That is, where has your faith in Jesus Christ and HIS Gospel of grace been challenged by contemporary messages, as of late?)
     
    Paul encourages the Colossians Christians to pursue a "spiritual detox" of sorts (see Colossians 3:5-10 once again). Which of those areas do you find yourself struggling in?  What do you feel would be helpful to you in moving away from old, unhealthy habits?  What steps need to be taken TODAY?
     
    Within Colossians 3:12-18, we hear about the "wardrobe change" we as Christians are to undergo, as we grow in our relationship with Jesus.  Which "article of clothing" do you resonate with the most?  Is this an area the Holy Spirit is nudging you to grow into?  Take some time to pray about that this week and see where he leads!
  • Jul 24, 2016“Religious Routine or a Relationship” – Colossians 2:6-19
    Jul 24, 2016
    “Religious Routine or a Relationship” – Colossians 2:6-19
    In follow-up to last week's message, "where have your feet been, lately?" (i.e. where has God been leading you to communicate your faith this past week in some tangible, personable way?)
     
    The Colossians were at a "cross roads" of sorts.  As new cultural/world influences were brought into Colossae, the Christians there had an opportunity to ministry at each and every intersection of life and culture.  Which "cross roads" has the Holy Spirit brought you to, recently?  In other words, where do you see your path consistently crossing with that of someone else?  Could it be that God is inviting you to step into the intersection, to share your faith in some way?
     
    Where do you most often find yourself experiencing pressure from the world/society to live up to its standards of "good" and "religious"?  How do those pressures clash with what God's Word shares about "works" and "salvation"?  (See Romans 3:21-24 and Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • Jul 17, 2016“The Word on the Street” – Colossians 1:21-29
    Jul 17, 2016
    “The Word on the Street” – Colossians 1:21-29
    Paul encouraged the Colossians to "continue in their faith" in our Lord Jesus.  What area of your walk with Christ could use a similar word of encouragement to "press on"? (Time in God's Word, prayer, fellowship, faith-sharing, worship, etc.)?
     
    For the Colossians - new converts to the Christian faith - the Gospel message was a breath of fresh air: God's grace, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation as a FREE gift because of Jesus' death and resurrection.  Wow!  Who do you know that needs to hear this Gospel message?  ("Remember, God oftentimes works to send His Gospel message through us to the people we already know!)
     
    In time, more and more Christ followers came into the Colossians' community.  These message-bearers saw to it that the "word on the street" was JESUS.  How is God inviting YOU to take this precious Word to the street?  (Pray and ask Him!)
  • Jul 13, 2016“When Kingdoms Collide” – Colossians 1:1-14
    Jul 13, 2016
    “When Kingdoms Collide” – Colossians 1:1-14
    When was the last time you felt you had experienced "culture shock"?
    Where do you see the effects of culture shock in your life?
    Is there someone in your life (a family member, friend, classmate, co-worker, neighbor, etc.) who needs to hear more about Jesus' "culture and Kingdom"?
    What door do you see God currently opening in order for you to have that conversation?