New Small Group Series – Practical Christian Living

I posted to the Small Group Lessons page at the top of this blog a new series on Practical Christian Living. There are currently 10 lessons with 4 more on the way.

Small Group Curriculum – Acts of the Apostles

This is a series of lessons that we just finished up last month in our LIFE groups. Again, feel free to use these in any way that is helpful to you and your ministry. I only ask that these not be published for profit.

Introducing Acts (Acts 1)
Cut to the Heart (Acts 2:1-41)
The First Church (Acts 2:42-47)
Filled with Amazement (Acts 3-4)
Giving Gone Wrong (Acts 5:1-16)
Dealing with Persecution (Acts 5:17-42)
Called to Service (Acts 6:1-7)
Stand Up for Jesus (Acts 6:8-8:4)
Evangelism: Partnering with God (Acts 8:26-40)
Saul: Change of Heart (Acts 9:1-30)
The Gospel to All Nations (Acts 10)
Prison Break: Celebrating God’s Deliverance (Acts 12)
Set Apart for God’s Work (Acts 13-14)
Tradition Gets Trumped (Acts 15)
Evangelism & Relying on God (Acts 16)
Religion & Relationship (Acts 17)
Balancing Boldness & Wisdom (Acts 18-19)
Farewells Don’t Have to Last Forever (Acts 20)
Don’t Judge Too Quickly (Acts 21)
The Importance of Testimony (Acts 21-22)
The Resurrection On Trials (Acts 23)
Convenience Or Commitment (Acts 24)
Almost Persuaded (Acts 25-26)
Faith Through the Storm (Acts 27)
From Storm to Solid Ground (Acts 27-28)
To The Ends of the Earth (Acts 28)


Free Small Group Curriculum Available at Kingdom Living

I will be posting our small group curriculum at Northwest here at Kingdom Living over the next few days. Feel free to download it, use it, or whatever other use you can find that will bring glory to the kingdom of God. I haven’t put any copywrite information on it whatsoever. The only thing I would not like to happen is for someone to claim it as their original work or profit from it without permission.

These and more can be found at the Kingdom Living page called Small Group Lessons found at the top of this blog. I will be posting series of lessons on the ministry of Jesus, practical Christian living, and a series on the book of Acts in the next day or so. I also want to thank the Sycamore View Church of Christ and Joe Godley for allowing me to use their LIFE acronym as seen below.

L.I.F.E. Series
L – Living the Commission
I – Impacting Through Compassion
F – Finding Community
E – Encountering the Christ

Prayer Series
Introduction to Prayer Series
Prayer and God’s Faithfulness
Prayer and Our Faithfulness
Priorities in Prayer
A – Adoring God Through Prayer
C – Confession in Prayer
T – Praying Thankfully
S – Supplication – Ask, Seek, Knock
Fasting and Prayer
A Time of Prayer

Resources for Prayer Series
Resource 1 – ACTS Card
Resource 2 – Leader Resources
Resource 3 – Prayer Request Cards

How God Defines Beauty

We studied how God Defines Beauty in our LIFE groups this week. I am going to start uploading all of our lessons to Kingdom Living rather than just linking to our church website. Here is the pdf of How God Defines Beauty. I want to add to this the role of consumerism in forming our definition of beauty. Most of our ideas of what is beautiful comes from people who want to sell us something. The way to generate sales is to breed dissatisfaction so that the consumer feels a need for their product. There is no way to develop a healthy sense of beauty much less a healthy self image by surrounding yourself with messages that say you aren’t good enough unless you buy this, do that, etc. The good news of scripture is that you are valuable and beautiful no matter what anyone else has to say

Here is the text of the lesson.

Icebreaker: Where do most people get their definition of beauty?

We live in a “touched up” world. The Dove Campaign is beginning to show how much touch up work goes into the average photo you see on the newsstand, billboard, or internet. What you see is no longer what you get. We are surrounded by a made-up and make believe world that tells us beauty is basically unattainable unless you starve yourself. That is not how God views us. God sees us as beautiful because that is how he made everyone of us.

Outward Beauty:

Gen 1:26, 31

With what two qualities did God make mankind?

· He made us in his image

· He said that what he had made was good.

Every culture is different in how they define beauty. Because different cultures say different things are beautiful we see that the way culture defines beauty is arbitrary. It is not arbitrary with God. God’s view is, If you exist, you are beautiful to him. Our culture defines beauty and then tries to sell the product that will help make you the way they defined it! That is crazy. You can never be happy or satisfied with that kind of standard. In Genesis God said what he made was good.

Psalm 139:13-16

What does this scripture say about God’s involvement in creating us?

· God is hands on. God is actively engaged in his creation. God loves who and what he makes.

How does the psalmist respond to the idea that God created him this way?

· He responds with praise.

The world’s message of beauty is designed to create dissatisfaction with self and forms an ideal that is unattainable. Why would it be hard to praise God for creating you if you are dissatisfied with yourself?

· Because you wish you were not the person God created you to be.

· God created you with value, worth, and beauty because He chose to make you, you.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

How many things has God made beautiful?

· Everything

God says over and over again that he is head over heals for us! Revelation 2 even calls his church his bride who is being prepared for the great wedding day with Christ. He thinks we are beautiful. But not just on the outside. Society dwells on outward beauty because they do not realize what inward beauty can be. God thinks you are beautiful but not just because of how he made your outside. Even moreso God sees you as beautiful because of how he made you inside.

The Value of Inward Beauty

Outward beauty is not all there is to life. When we spend our time and money chasing that and not tending to our souls we have gotten our priorities out of line.

Proverbs 31:30 & 1 Samuel 16:6-7

The proverbs say there is something more lasting and substantial than outward beauty. God gave us a clearer picture of what that is when he selected David to be king. When the people selected a king they picked Saul because of his physical characteristics (he was head and shoulders above the rest). When God picked a king what was he looking at?

· The inner person—the heart, soul, and character.

People use all sorts of products to makeup the outward person. What can we do to really develop the quality of our inner self?

· Through relationship with God, trusting God, faith, Bible study, prayer…all the things that put us in touch with God and his people.

· Time invested in those things will never go to waste.

1 Peter 3:3-4

Beauty is not skin deep. As we already saw outward beauty fades. What type of beauty does Peter say never fades?

· Beauty that comes from a gentle and quiet spirit.

· God puts a great value on that.

God sees past all the outward adornment straight into our hearts.


Where have you gotten your cues of what makes you beautiful?

When you get ready for your day which gets more prep time the outside or the inside?

What does God see when he looks past all the makeup, all the nice clothes, and jewelry right into your soul?

God thinks you are beautiful through and through. God says we are valuable and that it more important than what anyone else in the whole world has to say about it.

Practical Christian Living – From Consumerism to Contentment

We are experiencing technical difficulties with our email due to a website server switcharoo and so I am posting the content of our next LIFE group lesson here. Feel free to give feedback.

Icebreaker: What would have been your favorite thing about living in the Garden of Eden?

Last week we talked about sin in the garden and how the serpent tried to challenge God’s command not to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan was substituting God’s way with an alternative that, although sounded good and pleasing, in the end resulted in emptiness and death. God had all their needs taken care of but Satan convinced them that what God had provided was not enough—they needed more.

That is the message of the world—Consumerism. Why does consumerism breed dissatisfaction?

·You feel like you never have enough. There is always something bigger and better you can buy.

Consumerism can become an entire worldview—something that effects the way we see everything. Because of that we have to address this early in our study because many of the other things we study are problems because people have developed a consumer mindset that has taken the place of God in their lives. In other words, when this has fully taken root, we begin believing that the world can meet our needs instead of God. But like Adam and Eve the end result will be emptiness and even death.

How does the world bombard us with the message that what we have is never enough?

· Advertisements, trends, movies, television, internet, etc.

How was the Garden of Eden before sin entered the picture?

· It was a perfect existence between God and mankind.

· They should have been satisfied—all their basic needs were met.

The Bible makes very clear that God is the one who supplies our needs. Because of that we should be content.

Phil 4:19 

How many of your needs did Paul say God will meet?

· All

What is the difference between a want and a need?

· A want is something that is non-essential for the continuance of living life as a whole person. A need is something that only God can provide that is essential for life and spiritual development.

· Paul didn’t say God will meet all your wants. Paul said God will give you what you really need.

What does the world tell us we really need?

· Definitely not God—they say God will mess you up or that God is out to get you or that he doesn’t exist.

· The world says we need stuff. Once you get enough stuff you will be satisfied.

· The world says we need love and acceptance—the difference is how you go about finding it.

Matthew 6:28-34

The world says if you don’t have what you want you better worry until you get it. What does God say about worry? Why?

· Don’t worry—God will provide what you really need.

Jesus shifts the priority from chasing some really important things (food and clothing) to something of even greater importance. What does Jesus say is the most important thing to seek out?

· A relationship with God

What does Jesus say will follow if we make God our priority?

· The things we really need will be provided in addition to the greatest thing—a relationship with God.

Back to the way the world looks at this. The world says if you want clothes you chase clothes. If you want food you chase food. If you want stuff you better chase it yourself because no one else is going to do it for you. And don’t chase just anything. Only the best is worth your attention. Following that line of thinking to the end makes stuff our “lord” instead of God. Stuff begins to rule our lives and we end up on an endless pursuit of things that will make us seem important or “somebody.”

Gen 1:26-27

Where does scripture say our value is found?

· Our value rests in our relationship with God. We are made in his image and that makes us valuable.

What does it take for the world to say you are valuable?

· If you have the right income, job, clothes, cars, appearance, etc.

· In other words, you don’t have any inherent value apart from your things.

Consumerism robs us of who we are and it steals away from us a healthy view of others. Instead of seeing others for who God made them to be we start seeing others for how they can benefit us, how they can help our cash flow, buy our product, compliment us, etc.

Moving from Consumerism to Contentment:

Philippians 4:11-13 shows us that contentment does not come from filling ourselves with stuff. Contentment is not based on circumstances or a series of good purchases. Contentment comes from resting in the fact that we have value that comes from God and that through God our needs will be met.

What are some things in your life you feel get in the way of seeing God and others in a healthy way?

What are the necessary steps it will take for you to find contentment in God alone?

New LIFE Group Series – Practical Christian Living

I am writing up a new curriculum for our small groups on practical Christian living. We are going to be focusing on using the Bible to help us formulate our thinking and behavior on a variety of issues many of us encounter on a regular basis (consumerism, effects of the media, homosexuality, dealing with non-Christian family and co-workers, pornography, and many more). The first lesson is going to be about the inspiration of the Bible. If we don’t have some commonality on that it will be hard to trust the Bible for guidance.

What would you want to see covered in such a class?