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In the Middle of the Story

There is beauty in sharing your story, by faith, before it is resolved.  It tells others, “this has not been resolved, but I trust God.”    I learned this in a study by Lori Povich called “40 Verses to Ignite Your Faith”, so I wanted to recommend small group studies about it.  

Start off this plan with “In the Meantime” led by Andy Stanley.  As one Amazon reviewer said, “This study puts trials we all face into the right perspective, reminding us to focus on the character of God and what He is doing through our circumstances, not on the circumstances themselves or on our own perspective”.

In the middle of the story we need to to know who God is and why it is good to wait on Him. We need to have the kind of strong faith that is built in the middle. We need hope. which comes from a long view of our lives (an eternal one in fact).

For a stronger relationship with God in unsettled times, check out, “The Power of Knowing God” by Tony Evans.  It is a powerful look at real intimacy, relationship and knowledge of God.  You’ll see that the middle of your story is part of His bigger one, when you keep your eyes on Him.

Studies to build your faith include “Everything is Possible with God” by Rick Warren and “Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith” by Andy Stanley.  These are both on this website and would be excellent to study back to back.

Pete Wilson’s “Let Hope In,” would great to close out a series on living in the middle.  As it says in the description for this study:  “Embrace the freedom of being okay with not being okay.” That attitude is a hallmark of life in the middle of the story.

Doing these studies as part of a series, under the topic of living in the middle of your story, will take about half year.   As the pandemic enters its second year with more unknowns, even as there is increasing hope, many of us feel unresolved.  Knowing God, having faith in Him and hoping in Him can be a beautiful part of your walk with God,  before your story is resolved.

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Top 10 Bible Studies from 2020

As mid-January rolls around, I thought it would be a great time to look back at the small group bible studies that were released in 2020.  With COVID19 running rampant around the world, this year saw many of us hunkering down with our families and doing small group sessions virtually.  Fortunately, many of the new releases were actually filmed back in 2019 so there were plenty of fantastic studies to choose from for our virtual get-togethers on Zoom.

After watching and analyzing the available offerings, here is my list of Top 10 Bible Studies from 2020.  I hope you find them as inspiring as I did!  As always, feel free to leave your thoughts and feedback in the comments section.

NOTE – the videos for all of the studies (except Matchless and Better) are also available on Study Gateway so you could just stream them online and then buy the study guide from Amazon.com

 

#1) Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by Lysa TerKeurst

It seems like Lysa TerKeurst comes out with a new bible study every year.  Sometimes they speak to me and sometimes not so much.  But in this study, you can feel Lysa’s palpable pain as she has walked this journey of forgiveness herself.  How does one forgive the unforgivable?  This powerful study is a keeper.

 

#2) You Are Never Alone by Max Lucado

When you are in the midst of a storm, God is right there with you.  This study couldn’t have been more appropriate for the times and challenges that we face in 2020 and beyond.

 

#3) Meant for Good with Megan Fate Marshman

Using Jeremiah 29:11-14 as the basis for this study, Ms. Marshman explores how to listen for God’s voice, how to let go of your past, how to defeat anxiety, and how to finally and fully trust God’s plan for your life.

 

#4) 28 Day Prayer Journey with Chrystal Evans Hurst

Do you feel like your prayer life is lacking?  If you struggle with distractions, doubts, or consistency, this bible study will offer you great tips and suggestions so that you can start having simple, meaningful and heartfelt conversations with God.

 

#5) Galatians: Accepted and Free with Jada Edwards

One of my favorite bible studies for women released in 2020!   Galatians: Accepted and Free, features practical teaching from Jada Edwards based on the fact that God has called and chosen each of us.  As part of the beautiful word bible studies collection, the study guide is like a piece of art so get your crayons or colored pencils ready so you can share in the fun!

 

#6) Matchless: The Love & Life of Jesus by Angie Smith

This study will deepen your understanding of Jesus through biblical, historical, and cultural insight and help you see Him less as an iconic figure and more as an intimate friend.  Angie Smith unfolds the story of our matchless Savior—His mission, miracles, and message.

 

#7) Jesus Over Everything with Lisa Whittle

Lisa Whittle challenges us to put Jesus over everything- from simple to complex circumstances, heart to head understanding, in everyday application and see what really happens. Because only when He is first do we know what a truly transformed life feels like.

 

#8) Everything You Need with Dr. David Jeremiah

Drawing on 2 Peter 1:3–11, Dr. Jeremiah shows how there is help at your fingertips—help that will give you everything you need to walk life’s trail with resilience and strength. While many Christians feel unprepared to walk the journey of faith, you can be assured that God has provided the tools you need to guide your way—resources such as virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

 

#9) Get Out Of Your Head with Jennie Allen

One of my favorite bible study teachers for women shares the truth of how to get out of the spiraling and non-helpful thoughts/feelings that can take over our lives.  If you want to get free, join Jennie for this study through Philippians that includes video teaching, group discussion, and personal study that will inspire real change from the inside out and will help you choose to get out of your head and into the mind of Christ.

 

#10) Better: A Study of Hebrews with Jen Wilkin

This year I am focused more and more on Books of the Bible rather than just themes or topics so this new study from Jen Wilkin was a no-brainer for my top 10 list. In this verse-by-verse study of the Book of Hebrews, Jen Wilkin explores how God “provided something better for us” in the person of Jesus Christ (Heb. 11:40).

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RightNow Media Limited Free Access

For those of you that aren’t familiar with RightNow Media, they are an online platform that offers access to over 20,000 different biblically-based videos for small groups, church leaders, families, youth groups and more. Normally, your church must sign-up and pay big bucks to give their members access. I find this annoying because not every church can afford to give all of their members access. We’ve been asking for a way for individuals or small groups to access the vast video library on their own to no avail. However this year due to the COVID19 crisis, RightNow Media has generously opened up at least part of their library to the general public for free. That means that from now through July 2021, you can get free access to thousands of videos including amazing small group studies. Just go to RightNow Media and click on link at the top that says “Access Limited Library”. You will instantly be able to stream their content on all your devices like iphone, android, tablets, Roku, fireTV, chromecast, etc.

We love using RightNow Media for our virtual small group because we can simply watch the videos on our own before meetings and then just get-together to discuss the questions and video notes. We each buy or download (some are free) our own discussion guide for the given study and do the personal exercises during the week between meetings. Here are my three favorite Books of the Bible Studies from RightNow Media and because I’m all about honesty, I’d suggest you avoid Philippians by Jo Saxton and Ephesians by J.D. Greear (not much substance).

The Book of 1st Corinthians with Jennie Allen

In this 12-part series, author and speaker Jennie Allen walks into the messy lives of the Corinthians and takes us through Paul’s words to the conflicted church. We’ll see how the truth of the gospel and the Spirit of God can empower us to choose to follow Jesus every day of our lives.

 

Gospel of Mark with Francis Chan

In this 11-part series on the Gospel of Mark, author and speaker Francis Chan invites us to walk with him along the ancient ways of the Master. Tracing the steps of Jesus and the Twelve through Israel, Francis explores the major themes of the Gospel of Mark, and asks: Are we willing to take this journey to embrace discipleship?

 

The Books of 1, 2 and 3 John with Tony Evans

Comfortable Christianity often means a weak Christianity. In this study on John’s three letters, Dr. Tony Evans challenges Christians who have grown comfortable and complacent in their faith. Fellowship with God is the essence of our faith, and Tony walks through 1, 2 & 3 John to paint a picture of love, obedience, and truth. In a world that hates Jesus, we are called to love Him and His people with a fierce love.

NOTE – the study and leader guides are all included and can be printed out directly from RightNow Media for this small group study.

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Winter Study: 5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith

As we head south for the winter, our small group is getting ready for Andy Stanley’s 5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith.  We’ll be doing Ninety each week live with Andy Stanley and Clay Scroggins.  We hope the new series is a good one for the two of us and our southern friends…

It’s the start of a new year. But believe it or not, we’ll be celebrating Easter in just 90 days. Between now and then, join us on a journey through the life of Jesus.
In the meantime, we are so happy that the couples in our group stepped up to host in their homes, facilitate discussions and rotate bringing dessert.  We will miss seeing everyone, but are hoping to stay in touch via Facebook.  I’ve personally already watched the  5 Things God Uses To Grow Your Faith series several times so I know it will be a good one for all of the participants.  Here is what they can expect:

Five Things God Uses to Grow Your Faith by Andy Stanley is an exciting small group bible study that establishes the biblical case for five things God uses to grow an unshakable faith in you.

Imagine how different your outlook on life would be if you had absolute confidence that God was with you. Imagine how differently you would respond to difficulties, temptations, and even good things if you knew with certainty that God was in all of it and was planning to leverage it for good.

In other words, imagine what it would be like to have PERFECT faith. In this new small group bible study, Andy Stanley builds a biblical case for five things God uses to grow BIG faith.

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Fall Study: The Book of James with Francis Chan

Well we recently wrapped up our Christian study with Andy Stanley and are moving on to the Book of James.  But I wanted to take a moment to tell you all how much our group loved Christian!  It is hands-down THE best study that we’ve done in our couple’s small group.  Even the men were fully-engaged in the discussions and many of the lessons were shared by us on social media platforms like Facebook.  The information was just too good not to share with family and friends.  If you are looking for a study for your small group, I highly recommend Christian…it would work for new thru spiritually mature believers.

And now we kick-off our Book of James study with Francis Chan.  We haven’t really done a specific book of the Bible study in our group up to this point so we are looking forward to digging in.  The Book of James is literally my favorite book of the bible so I’m super excited to get started.  Francis Chan is usually pretty good and he doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to teaching what God expects of us.  Here’s a preview of what we are expecting to see and hear….

Francis Chan unpacks the dense truth contained in the book of James in front of the iconic backdrop of San Francisco, the city where he lives and ministers. Through 12 sessions, Francis works through James verse-by-verse, challenging followers of Christ to move beyond a private, intellectual knowledge of God and His Word, to a vibrant faith that impacts every square inch of life.

Please note that this study is only available through Right Now Media so if your church or group leader doesn’t have a login to this site, you won’t be able to do this study.