Chapter OneSESSION ONE
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?
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?
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)
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?
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
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)
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?
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.
9. What does the life of a follower of Christ look like when
their "love is abounding more and more" (v. 9)?
10. What is one practical act of love you can extend to another
person in the coming week?
Why Pray for Each Other?
Prayer has as much power today, when men and women are themselves
on praying ground and meeting the conditions of prevailing prayer,
as it has ever had. God has not changed; and His ear is just as quick to hear
the voice of real prayer, and His hand is just as long and strong to save, as
it ever was Prayer is the key that unlocks all the storehouses of God's
infinite grace and power. All that God is, and all that He has, is at the disposal
of prayer. But we must use the key. Prayer can do anything that God
can do, and as God can do anything, prayer is omnipotent.
-R. A. Torrey, The Power of Prayer (Revell, 1924)
How can your small group members pray for you as you
extend the love of Jesus through this action?
Celebrating and Being Celebrated
In Philippians 1:9-11 Paul prays very practically and specifically
for the followers of Christ at the church in Philippi. Take
time as a group to pray for each other using the core areas of
prayer Paul lifted up in this passage. Look at your notes from
question eight in this session. Use this as a guide to pray for
each other by name.
Loving and Being Loved
In Philippians 1:5 Paul expresses great joy over those who have
worked with him as partners in the gospel. These were followers
of Christ who had labored by his side, encouraged him,
and suffered with him. Make a list of all those who have been
partners with you in the gospel of Jesus Christ through your
years as a Christian.
Take time in the coming week to lift up prayers of heartfelt
thanksgiving for each of these people. Also, drop a note, e-mail,
or make a phone call to one or two of these people and remind
them how much you appreciate them and their partnership in
Serving and Being Served
Often as followers of Christ we can turn our focus inward
toward those who are already part of God's family. Our acts of
service can revolve around those who are Christians, and the
majority of our energies can be invested within the walls of the
church building. Pray for God to open a door for you to extend
His love to a seeker-someone who has questions about God
but is not yet a Christ follower. Commit to invest love and time
in this person's life.