Complete the Personal Devotionals (typically 4 5 each week) directly related to the Group Discussions.

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2 How to Use the CORE Group Discussions From the very beginning, we want to express our deepest thanks for being willing to engage in CORE. At the heart of these discussions is a desire to see you and those around you encounter the presence of an amazing God and grow deeper in your spiritual maturity as you follow Him daily. We want you to have a firm foundation in your Christian faith, and we long to see you help others develop that same confidence and assurance. To maximize these group discussions: Everyone will need a Bible, a copy of the discussion questions, and some kind of writing utensil to write down answers to the questions. Follow every question in sequential order rather than picking or choosing only a select number of questions. Every question is critical to the process. Read all the verses or passages related to a particular question. Delegate verses or passages to those in the group so that everyone is engaging the Word of God on some level. At different points during the discussion, you may be prompted to share elements of their own testimony in connection to the topic at hand. Our encouragement is to be as open and authentic as possible in an effort to personalize and internalize the heart of each discussion. You can never be sure when your story may make all the difference for someone else in your group. Complete the Personal Devotionals (typically 4 5 each week) directly related to the Group Discussions. What if I already know all this? GREAT! Grab a friend, family member, coworker, or neighbor and walk with them through the discussions and devotionals, facilitating their spiritual growth and helping them to experience the love and presence of God more. How to Use the CORE Personal Devotionals The simple fact that you are looking at these personal devotionals indicates that you, on some level, are hungry for more of God and desire to grow in your relationship with Him. These personal devotionals are designed to get you into the Word of God to discover the truth about God and how we are to live as His followers. The intent is to progressively establish a routine of spending time in God s presence, hearing from Him and responding to Him. To maximize the impact of these personal devotionals: Carve out a consistent time and place each day to work through the questions. Each devotional should take minutes at the most. Approach each devotional with the right heart and frame of mind. This is not about completing the devotional for a sense of accomplishment; it is about encountering God, being with Him, hearing His voice, and responding. Ask the Lord before even beginning each day to prepare your heart and mind for what He may want to reveal to you through the devotional. Read and respond to every question in sequential order. There is a purposeful progression to the questions, and skipping a question may cause you to miss an important element of the devotional. Read all the verses or passages related to a particular question. Some verses are very clear cut in terms of the question, while others may require some deeper consideration.

3 Group Discussion A growing, devoted faith in Jesus hungers for His presence, extravagantly worships Him, and longs to hear His voice (Psalm 63:1; John 4:19 24; 10:1 5). When we draw near to God, He draws near to us with a desire to give us life and all good things (John 10:10; James 1:17; 4:8). When we seek His presence in worship, God responds and longs to speak to us. His voice is often heard through His Word, through prayer, and through other believers (Matthew 6:33; Luke 11:9). GO DEEPER 1. From Hebrews 4:16; 10:22, what are believers encouraged to do because of Jesus and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection? 2. In John 4:21 24, what kind of worshipers does God seek in His presence? 3. God loves to speak through His Word. From Mark 4:2 20 (the Parable of the Sower), what are the four possible outcomes of those who hear the Word (verses 15 20)? 4. From John 14:26 and 1 Corinthians 2:10, who acts as the voice of God in prayer? In Colossians 3:16, who is teaching and admonishing as an instrument of God s voice? LEADER TESTIMONY Share with your group a brief example of how you have recently heard from God (e.g. through His Word, through the Holy Spirit in prayer, or through another trusted believer). What was God specifically saying to you, and how has it affected you? MAKE IT PERSONAL 1. How well do you personally seek the presence of God and worship Him? Do you have the same heart and mindset that is found in both Psalm 63:1 and Psalm 84:1 2? 2. How confident are you in hearing the voice of God through His Word, through the Holy Spirit in prayer, or through other believers? Which one of these do you need to grow in the most? PRACTICE IT NOW Together as group, take 7 10 minutes to hear from God through the Holy Spirit. Verbally ask God to speak to you in the next few minutes, to bring to mind a particular verse from His Word, a generic word or phrase, or a specific picture or image. Then sit quietly as a group in a posture and attitude of prayer to hear from Him. After 3 4 minutes (which can often seem like a long period of time), begin to share with one another what God may have revealed. Remember that this is a grace filled process intended to encourage and challenge your group. TAKE ACTION THIS WEEK The challenge this week is to purposefully seek the presence of God and to hear His voice. This could be accomplished through engaging the verses or passages within the CORE material, asking God to speak through the Holy Spirit to your heart and mind, or seeking the counsel and wisdom of a mature believer. Take 5 7 minutes each day this week to ask God what He may want to say to you through one or more of these instruments. Write down here what He says or reveals.

4 Day 1: Hunger for His Presence For when God is the supreme hunger of your heart, He will be supreme in everything. And when you are most satisfied in Him, He will be most gloried in you. John Piper At The Heart of It We were created with an appetite for the presence of God. Our souls hunger and thirst for that which God alone can provide (Psalm 63:1 5). Unfortunately, we are tempted daily to satisfy that hunger by snacking at the table of lesser things. C.S. Lewis writes in The Weight of Glory, We are half hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. God invites us to be truly satisfied in the majesty, wonder, and splendor of His presence. 1. In Psalm 63:1 and Psalm 84:1 4, who or what is the psalmist longing for? From Psalm 84:10, what is the reason or motive for his desire? 2. According to Psalm 119:97 103, what has God given us to help satisfy our hunger and longing to know Him and His ways? 3. From John 17:3, what does Jesus desire for us in our hunger for His presence? 1. When was the last time you truly hungered for the presence of God, for Him to satisfy the deepest desires of your heart (see Psalm 103:1 5)? 2. What are the deepest longings of your heart and soul that only God can fulfill? When it comes to satisfying our spiritual appetites for God, there is no such thing as overindulgence. There are no rules or limits requiring moderation, and there are no boundaries beyond which we cannot go in seeking to know and enjoy God's presence. Do you want to increase your hunger for God? Take 5 7 minutes, in an attitude of prayer, to ask God to reveal any area of your life where you are turning to lesser things, or lesser relationships, to satisfy the deep longings of your heart. Ask Him to increase your hunger and appetite for His presence above these things, and then declare to Him the goodness of His nearness (Psalm 73:28).

5 Day 2: Worshipping Jesus Without doubt, the mightiest thought the mind can entertain is the thought of God. A.W. Tozer At the Heart of It God is jealous for our worship (Deuteronomy 5:7 10). We worship Him when we seek Him first, when He alone satisfies the deep longings of our heart. When we elevate His worth and goodness above anything or anyone else, it honors Him and brings Him glory. Such worship is not limited to just singing choruses or hymns at church on Sunday but can be expressed in all that we are and do as a spouse, parent, family member, worker, friend, or neighbor. 1. How does King David describe and command worship in Psalm 29:1 2? 2. From John 4:19 24, what kind of worshipers does our Heavenly Father seek? What does it mean to worship God in these two ways (read Deuteronomy 4:29; Matthew 22:36 38; Philippians 4:8)? 3. In reading Hebrews 12:28 29, why do we worship and are thankful? From these same verses, how are we to worship? 4. How is worship expressed in 2 Samuel 6:14 15; Psalm 150:3 5; Psalm 30:4; Romans 12:1? How well do you worship God? How do you typically express your worship, and what expressions of worship do you need to grow in? To read so many verses about worshipping the Lord and not actually engage in worship would miss the point of this entire devotional. Take 5 7 minutes right now to worship the Lord by reading Psalm 146 and then, in an attitude of prayer, declare to Him the truths about who He is from this particular psalm. If other psalms or passages from scripture come to mind, use those as well to make declarations of praise to God.

6 Day 3: Hearing God through the Word The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts. A. W. Tozer At the Heart of It The most predictable and reliable way to hear from heaven is to read and apply the Word of God. He has spoken through written word of human hands His wisdom and direction for many of the things we face (2 Timothy 3:16 17). The Word of God is His true and trustworthy voice that strengthens our faith and guides us daily (Psalm 33:4). 1. How does Psalm 119:105 describe the Word of God and its role in our lives? 2. From John 10:17, where does hearing the message (e.g. the gospel, good news of Jesus) come from, and what does it produce in us? 3. According to Colossians 3:16 and John 15:7, where does God intend for His Word to remain or dwell? 1. Jesus teaches in Matthew 4:4 that man cannot live on bread alone but is dependent on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Do you view the Word of God as His voice speaking to you, and how dependent are you on that voice? 2. Matthew 4:1 11 also gives an account of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the desert. By recalling the written Word of God, Jesus is able to resist that temptation. What situation or temptation are you facing right now that you need strength of the Word of God in? Who or what can help you discover what God is saying through His Word about your situation or temptation? Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of desire and hunger for the Word of God, take 4 5 minutes to seek Him and ask Him to stir in you a fresh longing to hear more of His voice through reading and engaging of His Word. Write out Colossians 3:16 below and, if possible, commit the verse to memory. Ask God to make this verse more of a reality for you personally.

7 Day 4: Hearing God through Prayer Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue; God s voice is its most essential part. Listening to God s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine. Andrew Murray At the Heart of It When we pray, God speaks through the Holy Spirit by bringing specific thoughts or images to our attention. This is only possible because as believers, we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We have received the Holy Spirit, whose primary role is to guide believers to all truth and to reveal the heart and nature of God to us (1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 1:13 14; John 14:15 26). 1. From reading 1 Corinthians 2:9 16, who knows the thoughts of God and reveals those thoughts (i.e. the message of wisdom) to us? In John 14:26, what else does this Counselor or Helper do for us? 2. Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd in the passage of John 10:4 16. What do verses 3 5 from this passage specifically say about the sheep that belong to the Good Shepherd? 3. Speaking to the people of Israel and Judah, how does God respond in Jeremiah 33:3 to those who call upon Him? What will God reveal to those who call upon Him? 1. According to Romans 8:26 27, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, especially when we pray. What are your greatest weaknesses or struggles when it comes to praying and hearing the voice of God through the Holy Spirit? 2. Often in prayer it is easy to only request things from God and not listen to what He has to say. What keeps you from allowing His Spirit, in the quiet stillness of His presence, to disclose hidden things to you (see John 16:12 15)? God wants to draw us closer into a loving relationship by revealing His thoughts to us (1 Corinthians 2:6 16). For the next 8 10 minutes, be still and quiet in His presence, asking Him to speak to you through the Holy Spirit. Write down here any particular verses from scripture, mental pictures, or specific words/phrases that come to mind (no matter how strange they may seem). Ask God to give you further understanding as to what these verses, words, pictures, or impressions may mean. Then praise and thank God for speaking to you.

8 Day 5: Hearing God through Community That is why the Church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important. You might say that when two Christians are following Christ together there is not twice as much Christianity as when they are apart, but sixteen times as much. C.S. Lewis At the Heart of It God speaks through other people. That is the main reason that God gives us the opportunity, and even commands us, to walk in authentic, Biblical community (Hebrews 10:25; John 13:34 35). C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, describes men as mirrors or carriers of Christ to other men. In the context of true community, there is encouragement, correction, teaching, and strengthening with immeasurable love and grace. In these relationships we exercise our spiritual gifts (e.g. prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, teaching, etc.) for the explicit purpose of communicating the heart of God and building up the church in its faith and maturity (1 Corinthians 12:7 10; Ephesians 4:11 13). 1. From Colossians 3:15 17, what instructions are given in how we live in community with other believers? 2. According to Ephesians 4:11 15, what are the specific benefits of using our spiritual gifts (i.e. communicating the truth of God in love) in the context of Biblical community? 3. In Hebrews 3:12 15, encouragement within true community is compared to hearing the voice of God. What do these two things help prevent? 1. In Hebrews 10:25, we are challenged to not forsake meeting together and to encourage one another. How well do you engage Biblical community? What keeps you from being more open and vulnerable about your heart and life with other believers, allowing others to encourage you? 2. From 1 Corinthians 12:7 10 and Ephesians 4:11 13, what spiritual gifts do you possess that God wants to exercise as His voice to others around you? For us to fully hear God, it is crucial to walk in community with other believers. Spend 4 5 minutes asking God how you can engage Biblical community better. Remembering Hebrews 3:12 15 about the need for us to encourage one other, who in your sphere of influence needs encouragement today? Write down here what you can specifically do or say that would encourage those who came to your mind.

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