This fall, every campus and ministry of Calvary Church will focus on the same emphasis: DARING FAITH. Each weekend from now through October, we will explore a new passage from the life of Abraham and discover how he dared to overcome with God's power. He could have spent his life wandering in doubt; instead, Abraham chose to embrace God’s destiny for his life. The result? His descendants were as numerous as the stars in the sky!

Come back every week as we explore practical ways to live by faith in today’s world, and discover how your life can change when you dare to trust God!

Weekly Recap

Week 6: Dare to Intercede

Oct. 13/14

Watch this message (by Pastor Ross) on our sermons page.

When we intercede in prayer, we have the power to change the course of history. This week, Pastor Ross led us through the story of Abram's intercession for Sodom and illustrated how questioning God can lead to our greatest answers. Abram heard that God was going to bring his judgment upon the city because of its "great and grievous sin," but the Bible says Abram approached God asking for mercy upon the city for the sake of the righteous few. This interaction shows our ability to respond to God and God's love in responding to us.

Abram had an intimate relationship with God and that is what we need in order to experience true intercessory power. This interaction with God is founded in love. Think about how much more you can approach a friend than an enemy, and how much more effective that interaction is. We need a relationship with God before we can know the depths of his heart. To know his heart is to know what to pray for; intercession is based on God's character, not ours. It's so important to know who God is and what he wants for us. This way we can genuinely ask for it in prayer and ask for it for others. 

When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[c] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
Genesis 18:16-33

Truth

Prayer changes things.

Dare

Pick one thing to pray for and don't stop until you see a breakthrough.


Week 5: Dare to Believe

Oct. 6/7

Watch this message (by Pastor Scotty) on our sermons page.

What happens when we know God's promises, but all we can see is what's in front of us? This weekend, we remember that, with God, we walk by faith and not by sight. God promises Abram a son but it doesn't happen right away. It doesn't even happen in a few years. It happens after decades. How do we keep our faith strong when we are waiting on God's promises? One way is to learn the difference between God's promise and our preference, because His promise is always greater than our preference. It's so important that we take our eyes off the limited perspective that we have and put them on something that's bigger—someone that's bigger! He wants us to remember that the same God who spoke the stars into existence spoke His promises to you.

When we trust and believe, we are saying, "You are who You say You are. And You will do what You said You will do." And God says, "That's all I needed." God loves it when you believe, because you're acknowledging your trust in Him. We grow closer to God when we know His promises, look to His promises, study His promises and memorize His promises. Whatever it is you're going through, there is a promise in scripture for you. We will, of course, face doubt along the way, but even though we may face doubt, we don't have to embrace doubt. We reject it, and we replace it with God's promises. Because God is the one who will always come through. 

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
    I am your shield,
    your very great reward.”

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:1:6
 

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6 I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
Genesis 17:1-8

Truth

With God, we walk by faith and not by sight.

Dare

Think of one "God dream" that you have given up on. Ask God for the faith to believe again.


Week 4: Dare to Bless

Sept. 29/30

Watch this message (by Pastor Ross) on our sermons page.

This weekend, Pastor Ross showed us how Abram was blessed by blessing God. After parting ways with Lot and defeating King Kedorlaomer, the king of Sodom made an offer: If Abram handed over the people to the king, all of the kingdom's goods would be Abram's to keep. Abram declared that his loyalty was to the Lord and he would seek to honor God and His kingdom first before any earthly kingdom. Abram tithed because he knew the important choice between living for God and living for the world. 

Abram models that we can only truly live free in Jesus. Everything else will capture us and eventually let us down. When we feel afraid, when we feel insecure, there is spiritual warfare happening to claim the foundation of our hearts. When we live free in Jesus Christ, it's life-changing! When we do, we need to do it in faith and love and never let the enemy put us into bondage!
When we put God first in our lives—in every part of our lives—we are honoring him and trusting his ultimate plan. He knows better than we do, and his ways are greater than ours. The enemy wants us embittered, wants us defensive, wants us afraid and looking at what we don't have. God just wants us to know him, honor him, put him first and seek the kingdom. When God finds the right heart and the right value system, he entrusts us with more.

And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And he gave him a tithe of all.

Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’— except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.”
Genesis 14:17-24

Truth

If we dare to give, then God will dare to bless

Dare

Trust God with your finances. Dare to give to God this week.

 


Week 3: Dare to Do the Right Thing

Sept. 22/23

Watch this message (by Scotty Gibbons) on our sermons page.

This weekend, we saw Abram and Lot part ways because of feuding herdsmen, but was there more to the story than just fighting shepherds? Throughout the encounter of Genesis 13, Lot failed to communicate, focused on himself, and showed a lack of spiritual character by failing to look to God. There was conflict, which he chose not to address, and then an opportunity to escape from the problem by pursuing personal gain. Because of this, he is physically and relationally separated from Abram. Lot's disposition shows us that when we strive to serve ourselves, we lose.

Just because things come up in a relationship, doesn't mean they have to come between. We should follow the example of Abram as he valued personal relationships above personal gain. Because he lived to serve and bless others, Abraham's relationship with God was a blessing to his relationship with others. It's important to remember what we are called to do in a relationship and what we are responsible for. We may not be able to control other's actions and responses, but God has called us - and we are able, with his help - to respond in a God-honoring way. How is God calling you to engage in a conflicting relationship?

So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.

The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.
Genesis 13:1-18

Truth

It's always the right time to do the right thing.

Dare

Choose the one area in your life which God is calling you to do the right thing and trust Him with the outcome.

 


Week 2: Dare to Worship

Sept. 15/16

Watch this message (by Pastor Ross) on our sermons page.

This weekend, we looked at when Abram went out and built an altar to honor and worship God. After that, Abram continued to visit the altar in good times and in bad. An altar is somewhere you meet God in a holy, sacred gathering place. Through Abram, God shows us that devoting our hearts and time to him will always lead us closer to his heart and his plan for us.

God has a plan for you, but it is in his timing, not yours. You have to wait on the Lord. You have to have patience. Sometimes, God's best will take a long time. Little things take a little time. Big things take a lot of time, and God's plan is deep and broad. He takes time to purify you and work in your life.

It's time to build your altar. If it's been scattered, build it again. It's never too late. God will send the fire, but first, you have to put the work in. Are you just beginning your journey? Are you realizing that you're not growing, not following Him? Wherever you are, it's time to get up and listen for God's voice.

The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring, I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev. Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.
Genesis 12:7-10

Truth

Each moment of God's faithfulness creates an altar in your life.

Dare

Take 15 minutes every day this week to reflect on moments of God's faithfulness in your life.

 


Week 1: Dare to Begin

Sept. 8/9

This weekend, we looked at when God called Abraham out and gave him the great promise. Abram's family left their home for Canaan but stopped before ever getting there. Often, we find ourselves on a journey, but we stop. Maybe we choose to stop, maybe something stops us. God shows us, through Abram's calling, that it's never too late to be used by God and continue our journey. 

God is calling you to be a part of a world-changing movement. He's calling you to have the courage and the faith to start your spiritual journey again. It doesn't matter your age, it doesn't matter what you've been through—you just need to say, "Lord, yes! I want to discover who you are and all you have for me." God has a plan for you, but you have to believe that following Him is the only way to get it done. And if you just take those small steps and begin a journey of Bible study and fellowship, of growing and seeking Him, He's going to lead you to where you never thought possible. Imagine what God can do in your life if you start letting Him speak to you!

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

Genesis 12:1-3

Truth

In our Journey of faith, we must always make the choice to keep going.

Dare

What have you given up on? Dare to start again, whether it's a Bible reading plan, prayer, serving, etc. 

 


Small Group Leaders

Note to small group leaders:

  • You may use these questions to enjoy conversation during your relational time, prior to your study, or at the beginning of your discussion time as a precursor to your study. Some general questions are provided below if you prefer this approach.
  • If you prefer to use these questions as the curriculum for your entire group, please consider the complete set of questions below. Feel free to use the general questions as an icebreaker to get the group talking.

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS WEEK #5

This week’s actual questions to ask are in bold.

General Questions:

  1. What is intercession?
    1. Response: Intercession is coming near to God with childlike confidence, generally in behalf of another through prayer
  2. Describe your prayer life
  3. Are you (or do you know) an intercessor?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is intercession?
    1. NOTE: Give the group some time to discuss this. Then, share the recommended answer listed below.
    2. Response: Intercession is coming near to God with childlike confidence, generally in behalf of another through prayer
  2. Read 1 Timothy 2:1, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.”
    1. Understanding the definition of intercession, what behavior or actions is 1 Timothy 2:1 asking for?
  3. How to intercede:
    1. Pastor shared that intercession is performed out of an intimate relationship with God.
      1. How do you define an intimate relationship with God?
      2. How can an intimate relationship with God inspire you to intercede for someone?
    2. Pastor shared that intercession is founded on love. The great commandment is to love God, and to love our neighbor.
      1. How does love serve as a motivator for intercession?
  4. Additional thoughts about intercession: Read each statement below, and ask for feedback from the group. Then, consider the included comment.
    1. Intercession is engagement in a Spiritual battle
    2. COMMENT: Prayer for God’s will to be done and prayer against the schemes of the enemy is part of spiritual warfare
  5. Intercession is complete regard to someone else (or others). As you pray, you pray for God’s will and the best result of the person (or people) you are interceding for. You do not pray your own personal will or desires.
    1. COMMENT: Intercession is complete collaboration with another – even if the other person or people do not know you are interceding on their behalf.
  6. Intercession may welcome personal attacks from the enemy
    1. COMMENT: The enemy is opposed to God’s will, and will attack servants of the Lord.
    2. COMMENT: Remember, we, children of God, are VICTORIOUS!

 


 

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS WEEK # 5

General Questions:

  1. What does it mean to walk by faith?
  2. Can you describe a time in your life when God gave you a promise, and it came to pass?
  3. Can you describe a time in your life when God gave you a promise, and it has not yet come to pass?
  4. In your opinion, does God always keep His promises?

Sermon texts: (read as a group)

Questions for Discussion

  1. Take a moment to recall the longest you have ever sat in a traffic jam. What emotions surfaced? How would you rate your level of patience?
    1. If your assignment was to model Christian character to a group of new believers, how would you have behaved differently in that traffic jam?
  2. Sometimes God gives us promises that we hear with a human ear and wrap the concept of time around the promise. God is not bound by time. Abraham is an example of waiting 25 years for a promised son, only to be greeted with the message that the promise would soon come true.
    1. What emotions could have surfaced throughout the 25-year waiting period?
  3. Truth and Dare:
    1. Truth: God promises Abram a son and shows up 25 years later to tell them the promise is almost here.
    2. Dare: Dare to Believe
    3. What can you do during a time of waiting in order to believe God’s promises as opposed to losing faith as you wait?
  4. Read 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
    1. What does this verse mean to you?
  5. What is your greatest learning from this discussion (and Pastor Scotty’s sermon) regarding waiting on God’s promises?

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS WEEK # 4

Note to small group leaders:
Please use this talk sheet as a true discussion starter. Get people talking about giving and tithing in a way that is not awkward. I would love any feedback about your group discussion. Feedback can be emailed to Pastor Michael.

General Questions:

  1. How has your faith been tested during a difficult time?
  2. How has your faith been tested during a time of blessing?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do you know about tithing?
  2. In your opinion, why is tithing (and giving of finances) honoring to God?
  3. In addition to financial giving, what are ways to honor God?
  4. Abraham did not give a tithe because it was law. Abraham did not give the tithe because God demanded it. Abraham was showing the world whose side he was on. The tithe was Abraham’s loving declaration of thanksgiving for God’s rich blessing.
    1. So, why do YOU believe that God’s Word promotes tithing as a Christian practice?
  5. What are your thoughts about the following statement: Tithing is less about money and more about a choice between God’s system and the world’s system.
  6. If someone wanted to start tithing today, but feels as if they cannot afford it, what are a few thoughts you could share with them?
    1. note to leaders: Maybe you can just try
    2. maybe start with a certain dollar amount each month, then increase it over time
    3. maybe begin with 5%, and then increase it over time
    4. Another thought… Once you reach 10%, determine the possibility of giving more (larger tithe, gifts toward missions and other projects, ETC…)

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS WEEK # 2

General Questions:

  1. How do you define worship?
  2. Describe a time in your life when you clearly identified God’s presence in your life. What emotions surfaced? How did you respond to God’s presence?
  3. What is your favorite Bible verse about worship?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. A truth in this week’s sermon is that God’s plan takes time.
    1. Illustration (by Pastor Michael Smith): I recall a time in my life when I did not have enough money to pay my monthly tuition bill when I was a student in Bible College. God miraculously provided just enough money for me to pay my bill. Later in life, I served on staff as a youth pastor at a church who changed insurance companies. In the process, we lost insurance because my wife was expecting our second child. This was deemed a pre-existing condition. I prayed weekly in my youth staff prayer meeting for God’s provision, and the youth staff recognized my faith. Again, God miraculously provided for our family and met our needs. God prepared me for that moment by the victory He provided to me when I was in college.
    2. Share an example of when God unfolded His plan for your life over time.
  2. Read Genesis 12:7-8. This text records that Abraham built an altar… He stayed connected with God. (Ask the first questions to the group, and have people answer it. Then ask the next questions, and let people share responses. Finally, ask the last question).
    1. How do you stay connected with God?
    2. In a perfect world, with nothing competing against your desires – how would you like to connect with God?
    3. What is one action you can take to move closer to your desires in a perfect world?
  3. What comes to mind when you hear the word altar? (like the one Abraham built)
    1. Pastor mentioned that an altar is a place of atonement, or where sacrifice is made for sin. It’s also a place of protection. It is a place where God speaks to us.
    2. How has God used an altar to speak to you in your life?
  4. This week’s truth: When you experience the reality of God, You can’t help but worship Him
    1. This week’s DARE: Set aside time in your schedule to discover who God is… and worship Him!
    2. How will you live out this week’s DARE in your life?
  5. What is your greatest learning from this discussion (and Pastor’s sermon) regarding worship? Or regarding an altar?

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS WEEK #1

General Questions:

  1. Share a story of a time when you displayed great faith. What did you learn?
  2. Share a story of a time when you displayed weak faith. What did you learn?
  3. What inspires you about Abraham’s story?
  4. How do you define faith?
  5. What is your favorite Bible verse about faith?

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Abraham is the father of faith. Read Hebrews 12:1-2 and share a definition of faith in your own words.
  2. Look throughout Hebrews chapter 11 and share what happened/happens by faith.
    1. What do we learn about faith in Hebrews chapter 11?
  3. Read Galatians 3:6-9:
    1. According to this text, what does it mean to be a child of Abraham?
    2. As a child of Abraham, what blessings have we been promised (Consider Genesis 12:1-4).
  4. According to Genesis 12:2-3, what is Abraham’s clear promise from God?
  5. In today’s sermon, pastor alludes to the fact that faith is simple, yet profound. Simple, because faith is about trusting God. Profound, because faith is about trusting God (same words for simple and profound).
    1. What makes this definition so simple?
    2. What makes this definition so profound?
  6. Faith depends on hearing the voice of God. Two miracles happened with Abraham:
    1. One, God spoke. Two, Abraham heard God.
    2. What is God speaking to you? And, how will you respond? What is God calling you to?
  7. In Sunday’s message, Pastor communicated that God blesses those who live by faith. Share a story of a time where you enacted faith, and saw God’s blessing.
    1. This could be a story about someone else…
  8. What is your greatest learning from this discussion (and Pastor’s sermon) regarding faith?