Welcome to week eight of our fall series Philippians: Choosing Joy Under Pressure. This week, we learn more about the crisis facing the growing church in Philippi. This young church is facing opposition, persecution, financial stress, and conflict with each other. Some are bailing on their faith. Our writer, Paul, must find a way to motivate and inspire this community to press on when all of their starter enthusiasm is gone.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.
Think back to some of the commitments you have made during this series. How is it going? How can your group encourage and pray for you to keep going or restart?
Share part of your story
Describe a time in your life when you enthusiastically started something new but over time, lost interest or were tempted to quit. How did you lose interest? What did you do when tempted to quit?
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Look back to Philippians 3:10-4:1. Identify the main the themes, key words, and big ideas found in these verses. Pastor Jeff started last weekend’s sermon with the question, “What do I want?” Re-read Philippians 3:10-11 and discuss as a group which one of those is most hard for you to want and why?
How Am I Running?
The Apostle Paul could have made a compelling argument that he had spiritually “arrived” (Philippians 3:4-6). Discuss these statements, “A mark of maturity is recognizing where we are immature. In contrast, a mark of immaturity is thinking we are fully mature.” How have you seen this to be true?
What is an area of your life you find difficult to admit your immaturity and ask for help? What is one change that you could make today that will help you move away from a sin or bad habit toward obedience?
The harder challenge is that we all have blind spots. These are the habits and behaviors we don’t even know we do. We need to eliminate them, but often require the help of others to identify. Who has permission in your life to call out your blind spots? Would you feel safe asking your small group members to do this? Why or why not? What specific steps does your group need to take to create this type of environment?
Discuss this statement, “It is incredibly freeing to admit that all is not as it should be and I don’t have to be perfect.” Explain why you do or do not agree.
Living in the Past
Paul highlights the difference between living in the past and just visiting the past. What is the difference between the two?
Paul urges the young Philippian church to let go of their past mistakes and successes to focus on Jesus. What mistake, poor decision or past success continues to paralyze you? How has this limited your spiritual growth? What does it look like to focus on Jesus rather than our mistakes or successes?
Pick Up The Pace
There is a significant difference between going for a jog around the block and lining up at the starting line for a 26.2-mile marathon. The difference is the intensity and focus required to finish a long race. In this passage, the believers in Philippi are tired and discouraged. Their first steps into the faith and following Jesus have not been easy or painless. What would you say to the believers in Philippi to inspire them to keep following? What does Paul say?
How do you see our culture cope with weariness, discouragement and the temptation to quit? What are some key differences you see between our culture and the coaching of Paul? What do you find most helpful when you are tired in the midst of a discouraging season?
Who am I following?
Who was your hero as a kid and why? Who is your hero now and why? What are some of the key character traits you look for in a hero?
In this passage, Paul pleads with the Philippians to follow his example (Philippians 3:17) and live as he does! Would you feel comfortable telling anyone to imitate you? Explain why or why not.
One of the markers of being a Philippian was that you had Roman citizenship. You were supposed to come to Philippi to see what Rome is like. In contrast, Paul wanted someone to come to the church in Philippi to see what Jesus is like. How do guests, visiting your group, know that you follow Jesus? Discuss this question, “If our group stopped meeting in our neighborhood, workplace or coffee shop—would we be missed?”
INVEST IN OTHERS
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
Think about the neighborhood, office building or coffee shop where your small group meets. Each time your group meets, you drive or walk by people who most likely do not know Jesus. What are some specific ways your group can reach out to a neighbor, co-worker or fellow patron with the kindness of Jesus? Which neighborhood project could you tackle? What co-worker is the hardest for you to like and how can you encourage them this week? Whose coffee can you buy today as a random act of kindness?
This week we learned that kindness and encouragement could help us pick up the pace when we are tired and discouraged. Who is a person or family in your life that is in danger of quitting? In what specific ways can you offer your words and/or resources to serve as a source of kindness and encouragement?
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