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S E S S I O N O N E
Joy in Community
Over my years as a follower of Christ I have grown to put a great deal of importance on what I call 'leadings from God.'
These spiritual leadings happen when you are in tune with the
Holy Spirit and are fully devoted to Christ. These leadings come when you are growing in the Word, prayer, and fellowship.
To hear God's still, small voice, you need to create a quiet center in your life that makes a place for Him. Through these leadings you gain guidance and direction from God.
These leadings are rarely audible. I have never had a leading from God that I have heard with my ears. I refer to them more as impressions on my spirit. When I journal, pray, and seek God, He will sometimes impress an individual's name on my mind. Then I know I need to give that person a call or send a note of encouragement. Or there might be some facet of my own growth as a follower of Christ that is out of balance. God,
by a quiet leading of His Holy Spirit, will bring it to my attention and call me to confession and a changed life.
I remember a day I was walking to my office and had a very clear leading from God. I was in a hurry and had no intention of stopping to talk with anyone. On the way to my office I
walked past more than a dozen doors that led to the offices of many of our staff members. As I walked by one particular door
I had a strong prompting from God to stop and give a particular staff member a word of encouragement. He was offering strong and Christ-honoring leadership during a challenging time in his ministry, and I felt a deep need to drop in and affirm his gifts and effectiveness as a leader.
At that moment, for me to have walked by and not stopped would have been an act of disobedience. So I stopped, talked with him for about five or ten minutes, and then headed to my office to get to work. When I got to my office, my intercom line was ringing. I picked it up to discover it was the same staff member I had just left. He said, 'You have no idea how important that few minutes and your words of affirmation were to me. I have been thinking and praying about my own leadership,
and I have been facing some real challenges. You said exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time.'
After we finished our conversation, I sat there amazed that
God would use me in such a clear and wonderful way. This brother needed a word of encouragement, and God chose to use me in the process.
The sad truth is, too often I miss those opportunities. I get leadings, but I am too busy or distracted to act on them. But what a joy to know that when I tune in and am responsive,
God can give me leadings that will bring honor to His name and uplift others.
Making the Connection
1. Describe a time God gave you a leading that you followed.
What happened when you were obedient to His prompting?
Did you ever receive a leading but you were too busy or distracted to respond. How did you feel when you realized you missed a divine prompting?
The Power of Prayer
Prayer is such an important power. In the concentration camp, seven hundred of us lived in a room built for two hundred people.We were all dirty, nervous and tense. One day a horrible fight broke out amongst the prisoners. Betsie began to pray aloud. It was as if a storm laid down, until at last all was quiet. Then Betsie said, 'Thank you, Father.' A tired old woman was used by the Lord to save the situation for seven hundred fellow prisoners through her prayers.
There may be days of darkness and distress,
When sin has power to tempt, and care to press.
Yet in the darkest day I will not fear,
For 'midst the shadows,You will still be near.
Thank You Lord Jesus.
---Corrie ten Boom, Each New Day (Revell, 1977)
Knowing and Being Known
Read Philippians 1:3--6
2. What is the spirit of Paul's prayer for the followers of Christ at the church in Philippi?
What are some of the specific thanks and petitions Paul lifts up in prayer for the Philippian Christians?
3. How can the spirit and content of Paul's prayer influence your prayer life?
4. Paul was certain that the work God had begun in the lives of the Philippian Christians would come to completion
(grow to maturity). What is a work God is doing in you that you long to see come to completion?
How can your small group members pray for you, encourage you, and keep you accountable as you grow in this specific area of your life?
Read Philippians 1:7--8
5. In your own words, how would you describe Paul's feelings for the Christ followers in the church at Philippi?
6. Tell about a fellow follower of Christ whom you love deeply and 'carry in your heart.' How has this person enriched your life?
7. Paul was in jail and could not freely visit or communicate with his friends. If you knew that you were going to be imprisoned tomorrow for your faith and not see your small group members for a full year, what would you want to tell them before the police came to take you away?
The Value of Relationships
A relationship. It has more power than any nuclear bomb and more potential than any promising seed. . . .What matters most in life is not the ladders we climb or what ownings we accumulate.What matters most is a relationship.
What steps are you taking to protect your 'possessions'? What measure are you using to ensure that your relationships are strong and healthy? What are you doing to solidify the bridges between you and those in your world? . . .
Many wealthy people have died paupers because they gave their lives to things and not to people. And many paupers have left this earth in contentment because they loved their neighbors.
---Max Lucado, On the Anvil (Tyndale, 1985)
Read Philippians 1:9--11
8. What specific requests did Paul lift up for the followers of
Christ at Philippi?
Choose one of the requests Paul lifted up and express why you think it is still important for Christ followers to pray this way for each other.