HUNGER AND THIRST: REMOVING BARRIERS TO WORSHIP

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION: Last week we looked at David worshipping God with abandon as he brought the ark back to Jerusalem and asked, “What type of worship pleases God?” This week, we’ll look at how Michal’s, David’s wife, responded to David’s worship, and ask, “What is blocking you from truly worshipping Him with all of your heart, your soul, and your mind?”

SCRIPTURE

16As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart. 17And they brought in the ark of the Lord and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it. And David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord. 18And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts 19and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house. 20And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” 21And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord. 22I will make myself yet more contemptible than this, and I will be abased in your eyes. But by the female servants of whom you have spoken, by them I shall be held in honor.” 23And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death. 2 Samuel 6:16-23

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is your first reaction when you see someone worshipping differently than you do?

Read 2 Samuel 6:12-15. How would you have reacted had you seen David worshipping like he did?

Read through the following and discuss what you learn about Michal: 1 Samuel 18:20-29, 1 Samuel 19:9-18, 1 Samuel 25:44, 2 Samuel 3:13-16.

Read 2 Samuel 6:16-23. What did Michal focus on as she watched David? Why do you think this was her main focus rather than focusing on the ark (presence) of God?

Why do you think she was not worshipping with the rest of Israel but rather was watching from above?

Besides dancing, how else did David worship God?

What were the three barriers Joe mentioned that blocked Michal’s worship? *

Do you see any of those barriers in your life? If so, what will you do to remove them?

* critical heart, self-absorbed attitude, unresolved baggage

APPLICATION

This week do a self-evaluation as to what is blocking you from truly worshipping Him with all of your heart, your soul and your mind. Is it a critical heart, a self-absorbed attitude, or some unresolved baggage? Something else? Ask God to free you from whatever is hindering you from worship.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Many consider “worship” and “music” synonymous. We have learned in the past two weeks that worship that truly pleases God comes from the heart in many different forms. Read each passage, and note what you learn about worship.

  • Genesis 4:1-7
  • Genesis 22:12-14
  • Malachi 1:1-14
  • Mark 12:41-44
  • Luke 7:36-50
  • Luke 22:41-43
  • Acts 5:1-11
  • Acts 16:24-26
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31
  • Colossians 3:17

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HUNGER AND THIRST: A LIFESTYLE OF WORSHIP

INTRODUCTION: There are different types of worship because there are different types of people. Some worship quietly, others exuberantly. Some raise their hands, dance, tap their toes…. No matter your background; preference, or perspective, when it comes to worship, the most important question is: What type of worship pleases God?

SCRIPTURE

12Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, 15while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. 16As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. 2 Samuel 6:12-16

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group your favorite way to worship.

How did Aaron define “worship”? How would you define “worship”?

Read 2 Samuel 6:1-11. What did the Ark of God represent to the nation of Israel?

Have you ever been in a situation that felt unfair or simply unjustified, so you became angry with God? What did you do when this happened?

Aaron stated that David lost perspective of God’s greatness and His Power, and so he turned from God for a time. If this has happened at some point in your life (or you are in the midst of this), share your story with your group.

Read 2 Samuel 6:12-16. What prompted David to try again to bring the ark back to Jerusalem?

Why do you think he was successful this time? (See also 1 Chronicles 15:1-4,11-15.)

David’s joy in worshiping God overflowed into dancing; what does it feel like for you when you are enjoying God most? How does it outwardly express itself in your life?

Is your worship God-focused or “me”-focused? If it is “me”-focused, what can you do to re-focus your mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God?

APPLICATION

Re-read 2 Samuel 6:14. Pray and think through these questions this week:

  • Does your sense of pride affect your worship?
  • What stops you from worshipping God with “all your might”?
  • How can you better prepare yourself to worship God both personally and corporately?
  • Does your worship please God?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Next week we will look at Michal’s reaction to David’s worship. In preparation, read the following Scripture and record what you learn about Michal.

SCRIPTURE NOTES
 

1 Samuel 18:1-30

 

 

1 Samuel 19:1-18

 

 

1 Samuel 25:44

 

 

2 Samuel 3:13-16

 

 

2 Samuel 6:12-23

 

 

1 Samuel 14:49

 

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PURSUE WHAT’S NEXT

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

PURSUE WHAT’S NEXT | OCTOBER 28, 2018

INTRODUCTION: We believe that God is asking each of us to embody a number of values, both as individuals and as a community of believers. These values are: 1) ON MISSION (joining Jesus in reclaiming humanity | Luke 19:10, John 20:21); 2) TEAM TOGETHER (leading with unity, wisdom, and humility | Ecclesiastes 4:9-12); 3) SECOND MILE, SECOND NATURE (serving others beyond what’s expected | Matthew 5:41); and 4) PURSUE WHAT’S NEXT (embracing God’s leading into the future | Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 1:6). Aaron shared on Sunday what it means to PURSUE WHAT’S NEXT.

SCRIPTURE

13During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord. 17“Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it. 2 Samuel 23:13-17

GROUP QUESTIONS

Discuss as a group: tap water, filtered water, or bottled water?

Read 2 Samuel 23:13-17. What strikes you most from this passage?

What did David do with the water that the “three mighty warriors” risked their lives to bring him? Why do you think he did this?

What characteristics does this deed highlight in the “three mighty warriors”? What does this show about their relationship with David?

How can their example help you to embrace Jesus and pursue the next thing God has for you?

Discuss as a group your answers to the questions Aaron asked on Sunday:

  • Is your allegiance, affection, and loyalty to Jesus such that as He leads so you GO?
  • Is your allegiance, affection, and loyalty to Jesus such that you will pursue what He has next for you despite difficulty, discomfort, and opposition?
  • Are you willing to take risks to accomplish whatever He asks?

APPLICATION

Pursuing what’s next is more of a mindset and attitude than action and doing. It is a posture of the heart that sits as a lifelong learner. It is an openness to the next thing God is doing and embracing that rather than embracing the status quo. Spend time this week with Jesus, asking Him what He is looking for you to pursue next, and then boldly step forward as He speaks.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read 1 Samuel 22:1-2. Where did these “mighty warriors” come from? Why do you think they “gathered around” David?

Do their humble origins encourage you in your spiritual walk?

Read 2 Samuel 23:8-39 and 1 Chronicles 11:10-47 and list the names of the mighty men, along with the deeds for which they are known:

How many men are listed in all? What names stand out to you?

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VISION SUNDAY

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

The history of Israel began in Genesis 12 with the covenant God made with Abraham, promising Abraham that He would make Abraham a great nation, that his descendants would be too numerous to count, that He would bless them and they would bless the nations, that God Himself would be their God and they would be His people, and He promised them a land to call their own. Abraham’s great-grandson, Joseph, was sold into slavery in Egypt but rose to great power and brought his family to live there. In Egypt, the nation of Israel grew so large that eventually they were made slaves. But God remembered His people, and He chose Moses to lead them out of Egypt. Through a variety of plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea, God delivered the Israelites; they settled at Mount Sinai as a free nation. God gave them their constitution (the 10 Commandments and the law) and they built the tabernacle as their meeting place. The Book of Numbers begins with the Israelites preparing to travel north into the land of Canaan. In Numbers 13, the Israelites are ready to send leaders to explore the Promised Land.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Discuss with your group a time when you either moved out in faith and took a risk, or when you missed out on something special because of fear. What was the result of your action or inaction?

Read Numbers 13:1-16. Why do you think God had Moses send out leaders to explore the land?

What conditions does God put on the Israelites to obtain the land?

Read Numbers 13:17-29. How long are the leaders gone?

What do they report about the land?

POSITIVES                                                               NEGATIVES

__________________________________                  __________________________________

__________________________________                  __________________________________

__________________________________                  __________________________________

What do they spend more time discussing – the positive aspects or negative aspects of the land?

Who were the Anak? (See also Numbers 13:33 and Genesis 6:1-4.)

Since God did not put any conditions on obtaining the land (“Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites”), what kept the nation of Israel from taking the land?

Read Numbers 13:30-14:4,10a. How do the leaders deal with their fear? How did that impact the whole nation? What did they want to do?

Read Numbers 14:5-9. How do Caleb and Joshua show their depth of understanding of the nature of God? (See also Jeremiah 32:7 and Matthew 19:26.)

Since nothing is impossible with God, discuss as a group your answer to the Vision Sunday question, “How will you Take the Land?”

APPLICATION

On Sunday, the Preaching Team shared three areas that we will target to “Take The Land” and one giant to conquer:

  • Build Our People (Alpha, Global School of Influence, Intern Program)
  • Build Our Culture (Fellowship Groups, Fellowship Teams, 2nd Mile 2nd Nature, Love The Land)
  • Build Our Brand/Presence (Make Christ Known, Pop Up Worship Nights, Online Presence)
  • Eliminate Our Debt

This week, begin praying about YOUR part in Fellowship’s vision. Where do you fit? How will God use you? How will you open your eyes, prepare your heart, and extend your hand?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Numbers 14:10-38. What does God propose to Moses? How does Moses respond? What does that tell you about Moses’ character?

Put yourself in Moses’ shoes…how do you think you would have responded?

God listens to Moses’ intercession for the people and forgives them. What does this tell you about approaching (praying to) God with humbleness and selflessness?

Though God forgives the people, what were the consequences from their lack of faith?

What significance do you see in the fact that the Israelites would 40 years wandering in the wilderness – one year for every day the leaders were exploring the land?

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THE OTHER GUYS: MALACHI

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF MALACHI

  • Date: 432-425 BC (Persian Empire)
  • Theme: Are you robbing God of what belongs to Him?
  • Key Verse(s): Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “TBP Synopsis” for Malachi.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Discuss how you felt when you had something stolen from you.

Read Malachi 1:1-14. Why do you think God begins His message by telling the Israelites He loves them? Why do you think they doubt His love?

Do you ever doubt His love?

God made some harsh statements about Esau/Edom in this passage. How do you reconcile the fact that God is just and loving with these statements?

Joe mentioned that the people of Israel responded to God’s questions like children. Read the following passages and note God’s statements and the peoples’ responses:

SCRIPTURE GOD’S STATEMENTS PEOPLES’ RESPONSES
1:6-8  

 

 

 
2:13-14  

 

 

 
2:17  

 

 

 
3:6-12  

 

 

 
3:13-14  

 

 

 

Do you have similar responses to God? In what ways do you treat God as less than who He is?

Joe stated that the Israelites 1) robbed God of His image; 2) robbed God of His provision; and 3) robbed God of His legacy. Discuss what these three statements mean, and how they relate to you today.

APPLICATION

God doesn’t want obligation: He wants you to bear His image. He doesn’t want part of your life: He wants to provide for all of it. He doesn’t want temporary: He’s looking for eternal. This week, consider where you are robbing God (image, provision, legacy). Write down some changes you will make in order to give God what is rightfully His.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Malachi 4. This is the last known message from God for 400 years, until Matthew 1. What stands out to you in this last chapter of the Old Testament? What do you think this chapter means?

What was the main lesson you learned from each book of the minor prophets?

  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi

Match the name of the prophet below with the meaning of his name. How do you see each name relating to their message from God?

_____     Hosea                    A      Comforter

_____     Joel                         B      The Servant of the Lord

_____     Amos                     C      Embrace

_____     Obadiah                D      The Lord Hides

_____     Jonah                     E       Jehovah Remembers

_____     Micah                    F       Salvation

_____     Nahum                  G      My Messenger

_____     Habakkuk             H      Dove

_____     Zephaniah             I        The Lord is God

_____     Haggai                   J        Burden Bearer

_____     Zechariah              K      Festal

_____     Malachi                 L       Who is like the Lord?

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THE OTHER GUYS: ZECHARIAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF ZECHARIAH

  • Date: 520-518 BC (Persian Empire)
  • Theme: If the people will put their trust wholly in God, their future will be a bright one.
  • Key Verse(s): Zechariah 2:4-5 – …and said to him, “Run, speak to that young man, saying, ‘Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. 5 For 1,’ declares the Lord, ‘Will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst’.”
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Zechariah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group a time you were discouraged. What did you see God do during this time?

Read Zechariah 1:1-6. What does it mean to return to the Lord?

What does God promise if the people return to Him? What does God mean by this?

Zechariah’s dreams/visions are recorded in the first six chapters. Why do you think God spoke to Zechariah in dreams/visions?

Scan through the following passages and record the eight dreams/visions of Zechariah. Discuss with your group what these visions were about, and why they would be an encouragement to the people of Jerusalem.

VERSES                                                   VISION                                          MEANING

Zechariah 1:7-17                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 1:18-21                ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 2:1-13                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 3:1-10                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 4:1-14                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 5:1-4                    ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 5:5-11                  ____________________________    ____________________________

Zechariah 6:1-8                    ____________________________    ____________________________

One of the more well-known verses in Zechariah is 4:6. How often do you rely on your own strength to get things done? How can you return to God and rely on His Spirit more?

Zechariah ends with a message of hope for the people of Israel – Jerusalem will be secure, never again to be destroyed. When do you think this prophecy was or will be fulfilled?

APPLICATION

Write on an index card a serious problem you are dealing with now. On the back of that card, write out Zechariah 8:13b: “I will save you and make you something good. Do not be afraid. Let your hands be strong.” Carry this card with you throughout the week, reading it at least three times a day.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Malachi for next week.

  • Monday 8/27               1-2
  • Tuesday 8/28               3-4
  • Wednesday 8/29         1
  • Thursday 8/30             2
  • Friday 8/31                  3-4

FOR FURTHER STUDY

There are a number of Messianic prophecies (prophecies that point to the ultimate Hope, the Messiah – fulfilled in Jesus Christ) in the Book of Zechariah. Read the following passages, then write how the prophecy was fulfilled. Look up other passages as needed.

SCRIPTURE                                                            PROPHECY                                     FULFILLMENT

Zechariah 3:8, 6:12-13

Romans 15:7-12

——————————————————————————_——————————————————

Zechariah 9:9

Matthew 21:1-9

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Zechariah 11:12-13

Matthew 26:14-16, Matthew 27:3-10

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Zechariah 12:10-14

Matthew 24:30, John 19:34, Revelation 1:7

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Zechariah 13:1

I John 1:7

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Zechariah 13:7

Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:48-50

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THE OTHER GUYS: HAGGAI

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF HAGGAI

  • Date: 520 BC (Persian Empire)
  • Theme: If the people will dedicate themselves to God’s work, He will bless them.
  • Key Verse(s): Haggai 1:3-4 – Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?”
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Haggai.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What projects have you been involved in that started strong but you didn’t finish? Why do you think this happened?

Around 586 BC, the Israelite captivity began with the sacking of Jerusalem. The Babylonians, under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar, destroyed the great temple Solomon built. The Babylonians took most of the Israelites into captivity, where they spent the next 70 years. Eventually, Babylon was conquered by Persia, and King Cyrus decreed that the Israelites could return home. He ordered the restoration of the temple in Jerusalem and even provided some funding for its completion. As the exiles returned, they began to work on the temple, but ran into obstacles and the work stopped – for about sixteen years. Read Haggai 1:1-15. What was God’s issue with the people of Judah (vs 2-4)?

What did God say was the result from the Israelites choosing not to work on the temple (vs 5-11)?

Do you believe blessing always follows obedience? Why or why not?

What was the people’s response (vs 12-15)? Why do you think they were so quick to obey?

What message of hope and encouragement did God give the people?

Read Haggai 2:1-9. What were the promises that God made? What do you think these promises meant?

Read Haggai 2:10-23. Haggai uses the phrase “consider” or “give careful thought to” numerous times throughout his message. What are the people to “consider” in 2:15 and 18? What consequences are they reminded of in 2:16, 17, and 19? What promise is given?

How would you react if God told you He would be with you and bless you if you obeyed Him?

What does it mean for God to bless you? What would that look like in your life?

APPLICATION

If someone were to watch your life for a week, what do you think they would say your priorities are? What do you want your priorities to be? What changes need to be made to reflect those priorities?

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Zechariah for next week.

  • Monday 8/20         1-2-3
  • Tuesday 8/21         4-5-6
  • Wednesday 8/22   7-8-9
  • Thursday 8/23       10-11-12
  • Friday 8/24            13-14

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Instead of continuing to rebuild the temple, the people of God became distracted and focused on their own wants and needs. Read the following passages; write what you learn about the pursuit of affluence versus wholehearted devotion to God:

  • Haggai 1:6
  • Haggai 1:9-11
  • Haggai 2:1-9
  • Haggai 2:10-19
  • Matthew 6:19-20
  • Philippians 4:11-13
  • 1 Timothy 6:7-8
  • Hebrews 13:5

Read Matthew 6:25-34. What does Jesus say should be a believers’ priority?

Jesus promises to add everything He knows we need in life when we seek Him first. Why is it so hard to live this?

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THE OTHER GUYS: ZEPHANIAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF ZEPHANIAH

  • Date: 607 BC (Babylonian Empire)
  • Theme: God will act, but a remnant will be saved.
  • Key Verse(s): Zephaniah 3:11-12 – In that day you will feel no shame because of all your deeds by which you have rebelled against Me; for then I will remove from your midst your proud, exulting ones, and you will never again be haughty on My holy mountain.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Zephaniah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What made your parents most proud of you when you were a child? If you are a parent, what makes you most proud of your children?

Read Zephaniah 1:1-18. God has always been very clear about what His promises are for His people, as well as what he expects from His people in return (see Exodus 34:11-14). Do you feel God’s judgment in Zephaniah 1 is too harsh? Why or why not?

What sins will the people be judged for? Are these sins prevalent today? If not, what sins do you think God will judge our culture for?

What does it mean to be “complacent” (NIV) or “stagnant in spirit” (NASB) (Zephaniah 1:12)? Does this sin seem to be pervasive in the American church? At Fellowship? How do you battle complacency in your life?

Read Zephaniah 2:1-3. In verse 1, what does Zephaniah urge the people to do? Why do you think this was so important?

What is the only way the people of Judah might escape the coming judgment?

How do you seek God?

Why do you think that seeking God wasn’t a guarantee that the people would escape judgment?

Joe said that sometimes God’s mercy to us is shown through acts of discipline. Read Hebrews 12:6-11. What are the reasons given in this passage for why God disciplines His children?

One of the reasons God disciplines you is to create dependence on Him. How difficult is it for you to acknowledge your dependence on God? What are some things that you tend to depend on instead of God?

What can you do to break your dependence on other things and build your dependence on God?

Probably the most recognized verse in Zephaniah is 3:17. What do you think about the idea of God rejoicing over you with singing? What does this tell you about your worth in His eyes?

APPLICATION

As part of his sermon, Joe said that the way from God’s judgment to God’s promise is through repentance. What are your sins? What are your gods? Are you complacent? Materialistic? Selfish? Independent from or indifferent to God? The people of Judah had the choice to repent…and so do you. Spend time in honest conversation with God, with a repentant heart, and bring a smile to God’s face so that He “rejoices over you with singing”.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Haggai for next week.

  • Monday 8/13         1
  • Tuesday 8/14         2
  • Wednesday 8/15   1
  • Thursday 8/16       2
  • Friday 8/17            1-2

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Zephaniah continues the theme of the Day of the Lord first discussed in Amos in this series. Compare what the Day of the Lord will be like for an unbeliever (Zephaniah 1:14-18) and a believer (Zephaniah 3:16-20).

UNBELIEVER                                                                      BELIEVER

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

________________________________________                  ________________________________________

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THE OTHER GUYS: HABAKKUK

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF HABAKKUK

  • Date: 609–598 BC (Assyrian Empire/Babylonian Empire)
  • Theme: Why doesn’t God punish the wicked?
  • Key Verse(s): Habakkuk 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Habakkuk.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is the most unfair thing that happened to you?

Read Habakkuk 1:1-11. What was Habakkuk’s complaint to God? How did God answer Him?

What was Habakkuk’s response (1:12-2:1) and God’s next answer (2:2-20)?

Do you think it was wrong for Habakkuk to question God so directly? Why or why not? Have you questioned God’s fairness (justice) in an honest discussion with Him?

As God begins His answer, He says that “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness”. What do you think this means?

Read the following verses in Habakkuk 2. What is the warning (woe)? How do you see some of the same practices in our culture today?

  • 2:6-8
  • 2:9-11
  • 2:12-14
  • 2:15-17
  • 2:18-20

Read Habakkuk 3. How has Habakkuk’s attitude changed? How can his new attitude be an example to you in your relationship with God?

The Book of Habakkuk begins with frustration over God’s seeming lack of justice, and ends with a change of attitude to joy because of God’s faithfulness. How is it that Habakkuk can rejoice when he knows what is coming? Have you experienced joy even though your circumstances seemed hopeless?

APPLICATION

Following Habakkuk’s example in chapter 1, take time this week to make a list of your “complaints” (concerns). Be specific about injustices in your world. What do you think would be God’s response to your complaints? Considering your list and God’s character, write a response to God following Habakkuk’s example in chapter 3.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Zephaniah for August 12 (Baptism Party on August 5!)

  • Monday 8/6           1
  • Tuesday 8/7           2
  • Wednesday 8/8     3
  • Thursday 8/9         1-2
  • Friday 8/10            3

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Common themes of the minor prophets include the sinfulness of the people, God’s judgment to come, God’s love for His people, God’s redemptive plan, and of the hope of the coming Savior. Review the prophet’s we’ve already covered; what patterns do you see thus far in our sermon series?

  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk

There are several incidences in the Bible where “bad things happen to good people” – circumstances that could cause believers to question God. Look up the following passages and list the “unjust” treatment and the “just” outcome. What do you learn from these stories about God’s sovereignty?

PASSAGE

UNJUST TREATMENT PASSAGE

JUST OUTCOME

 

Genesis 37:18-28

 

   

Genesis 45:3-8

 
 

Daniel 6:1-24

 

   

Daniel 6:25-28

 
 

Acts 16:16-24; 37

 

   

Acts 16:25-34

 

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THE OTHER GUYS: NAHUM

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF NAHUM

  • Date: 663-654 BC (Assyrian Empire)
  • Theme: God is slow to anger, but will punish evildoers.
  • Key Verse(s): Nahum 1:7-8 The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him. But with an overflowing flood He will make a complete end of its site, and will pursue His enemies into darkness.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Nahum.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What attribute of God is your favorite (see partial list on back)?

It’s not likely that anyone named God’s wrath as their favorite attribute. But the Book of Nahum chronicles God’s wrath against a nation and city. Read Nahum 1:1-6. What description of God stuck out to you?

How can you reconcile Nahum 1:7 with the previous verses?

What does Nahum’s name mean?* Why is the meaning of his name appropriate, despite the seeming doom and gloom of his message?

To Nahum (and Jonah before him), the city of Nineveh and the country of Assyria were the embodiment of evil. Is there anyone you believe embodies evil? As a Christ-follower, how do you balance mercy with a desire for justice?

Following Jonah’s message, the repentance of the city of Nineveh (Jonah 3), though remarkable, did not last. Read Nahum 3:1-3. How is Nineveh described? Discuss God’s patience in giving them ~100 years after their repentance to “get it right”. What does this reveal about Nineveh and what does it reveal about God?

Read Nahum 2:13. How would you feel if you heard those words directed to you?

Read Romans 8:31. What is the promise for believers in this verse?

The language that is used in Nahum 3:4-6 is graphic. How does the descriptive language give you a sense of the way God feels about sin?

Though the judgment of Nahum concerns the Assyrians, the book itself is addressed to the people of God. Aaron shared that the message is one of hope: no matter what, God is God, God is good, and God’s good is for YOU. Nahum himself says that God “cares for those who trust in Him” (1:7). Do you trust that God’s good is for you?

* Nahum means “comfort”

APPLICATION

Write down specific actions you will do to implement the message of hope in Nahum by choosing to trust and take refuge in God (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Habakkuk this week:

  • Monday 7/23          1
  • Tuesday 7/24          2
  • Wednesday 7/25    3
  • Thursday 7/26        1-2
  • Friday 7/27             3

FOR FURTHER STUDY

A number of God’s attributes are on display in Nahum, including His justness, goodness, and wrath. Read through the verses below. Write down anything that strikes you in the verses describing His attributes, and meditate on them this week.

  • God is infinite. Romans 11:33
  • God is just. Psalm 75:1-7
  • God is holy. Revelation 4:8-11
  • God is merciful. Deuteronomy 4:29-31
  • God is omnipresent. Psalm 139:7-12
  • God is omniscient. Psalm 139:1-6
  • God is self-sufficient. Acts 17:24-28
  • God is omnipotent. Jeremiah 32:17-18, 26-27
  • God is good. Psalm 119:65-72
  • God is transcendent. Psalm 113:4-5
  • God is immutable. Psalm 102:25-28
  • God is love. 1 John 4:7-10
  • God is sovereign. 1 Chronicles 29:11-13
  • God is wrathful. Nahum 1:2-8
  • God is faithful. Psalm 89:1-8
  • God is wise. Proverbs 3:19-20

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THE OTHER GUYS: MICAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF MICAH

  • Date: 735-710 BC (Assyrian Empire)
  • Theme: God will punish His people for their injustice, then He will restore them.
  • Key Verse(s): Micah 7:9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my case and executes justice for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will see His righteousness.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Micah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group a time that you deliberately disobeyed your parents. What were the consequences?

Read Micah 1:1-9. What do you think he means when he calls “Jacob’s transgression” “Samaria” and “Judah’s high place” “Jerusalem”?

Read Micah 1:7, 3:9-11, and 6:10-12. What specific sins does Micah mention? Read Micah 5:13, and 6:6-8. What is God’s remedy for these sins? What is His ultimate remedy (Micah 5:2)? Who was the fulfillment of this prophecy?

Read Micah 3:1-12. Who is being condemned and why? Does this situation seem similar to your culture? Why or why not?

Read 1 Timothy 6:10 in the Amplified and The Message versions. How does this verse expand your understanding of what God was condemning the leaders for in Micah 3:9-12?

Though the Israelites knew what God asked of them, they did not follow His commands, and Micah contains their judgment for their lack of obedience. Read Luke 6:46-49, John 14:15, and James 1:22-25. What do these verses have to say about your obedience to God?

Micah ends with a beautiful description of God. Read Micah 7:18-20 and list the characteristics attributed to God in this passage. How do these characteristics make God unique among other gods/religions?

Knowing that no one is like God, why do you at times follow the things of this world instead of worshipping God alone?

APPLICATION

Transformation isn’t in the information, it’s in the application” (Aaron DeLoach). This week, focus on listening to the Holy Spirit and DOING what God is calling you to do.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Nahum this week:

  • Monday 7/16 1
  • Tuesday 7/17  2
  • Wednesday 7/18 3
  • Thursday 7/19  1-2
  • Friday 7/20 3

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Micah follows an interesting pattern of judgment and restoration. Read through the passages and note whether it describes judgment or restoration:

  • 1:2-2:11    ____ Judgment     ____ Restoration
  • 2:12-13    ____  Judgment     ____ Restoration
  • 3:1-12        ____ Judgment     ____ Restoration
  • 4:1-5:15    ____ Judgment    ____  Restoration
  • 6:1-7:6      ____ Judgment     ____ Restoration
  • 7:7-20      ____  Judgment     ____ Restoration

Micah is filled with the message of God’s forgiveness and restoration. Read the following verses and list the hope or promise:

  • Micah 2:12
  • Micah 4:1
  • Micah 4:3
  • Micah 4:5
  • Micah 5:2
  • Micah 7:18-19

Micah 4:3 contains a similarly-worded phrase used a couple of times in Scripture. What is the phrase? Read Micah 4:2, Isaiah 2:3-4, and Joel 3:10 and write in your own words what this phrase means.

Phrase __________________________________________________________________________

Meaning __________________________________________________________________________

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THE OTHER GUYS: JONAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF JONAH

  • Date: 760 BC (Assyrian Empire)
  • Theme: God loves and cares about all nations, even when His people don’t.
  • Key Verse(s): Jonah 4:2-3 He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Jonah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?

Discuss with your group a summary of chapters 1-2.

Read Jonah 3 and 4 (they’re short chapters!). Jonah despised the Ninevites, and probably had good reason to do so. Read Nahum 3:1-4, which is a description of Nineveh. What were the charges against the city?

God gave Jonah a second chance to warn Nineveh of the coming judgment. How did Nineveh respond? What were the signs of their repentance? What was God’s response to their repentance?

Read Jonah 2:1-9 and 4:2-3. What is the difference in Jonah’s attitude in these two prayers? What does this reveal about Jonah’s heart?

Are you surprised at Jonah’s attitude? Why or why not?

Have you ever been angry because of God’s forgiveness toward someone else? If so, why?

What does Jonah 4:11 reveal about God’s compassion for the lost? How do you view the lost?

How do you feel about the fact that God loves your “enemies”, and desperately wants them to accept the same grace offered to you?

The book ends abruptly with God asking Jonah “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh.…?” What do you think Jonah did next?

APPLICATION

Is there something God has called you to that you are not doing? Or an attitude you have towards others that you know is not from God? Pray, asking Him to show you what needs to be changed. Ask the Spirit to give you the courage and desire to do what is necessary to have God’s heart for the lost.

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Micah this week:

  • Monday 7/9            1
  • Tuesday 7/10          2
  • Wednesday 7/11    3-4
  • Thursday 7/12        5-6
  • Friday 7/13              7

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Matthew 8:24-27. How is this story similar to Jonah’s in Jonah 1? How is it different?

Jesus mentions Jonah in Matthew 12:38-41 and Luke 11:29-32. List below the similarities and the differences between these two passages:

Who approached Jesus? What did they demand from Him? Why would this elicit the reaction it did from Jesus?

Why do you think Jesus used Jonah as an illustration?

What do you think He meant by “the sign of the prophet Jonah”?

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THE OTHER GUYS: OBADIAH

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF OBADIAH

  • Date: 835 BC (Assyrian Empire)
  • Theme:  Proud Edom is about to be punished.
  • Key Verse(s): Obadiah 1:3-4 The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Obadiah.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group your most embarrassing moment.

Read Obadiah 1:1-21. What indictments and accusations does God bring against Edom?

What is the definition of pride?

What were the sources of Edom’s pride? Do you have pride in any of these things?

Read the following passages and note the history between Israel and Edom. How does their shared history inform your understanding of the relationship between the nations, and of God’s judgment in Obadiah?

  • Genesis 25:21-26
  • Genesis 25:27-34
  • Genesis 27:30-36
  • Genesis 27:41
  • Genesis 36:1-8
  • Numbers 20:14-21
  • 1 Samuel 14:47
  • 2 Samuel 8:14

C.S. Lewis said “Pride is the worst sort of sin because we hate it in others while simultaneously being unconscious of it in ourselves. Others smell the odor of our pride and are repulsed by it, but so often we are oblivious to our own stench.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

How does pride affect your relationship with others? With God?

APPLICATION

Aaron said on Sunday that God gives you a choice—YOU can either deal with pride in your life, or God will deal with it for you. Below is a list of seven indications of pride* with a brief description of each. This week look over the list and pray for God to open your eyes to any of these subtle symptoms in you. Read Psalm 139:23-24, and ask Him to show you where you are being prideful.

  • Fault-Finding: Seeing faults in others and not seeing God’s goodness in them.
  • A Harsh Spirit: Speaking with contempt, irritation, frustration or judgment about others’ sin.
  • Superficiality: Being more concerned with others’ perception of you than the reality of what is within your own heart.
  • Defensiveness: Becoming frustrated or defensive when you feel challenged or rebuked.
  • Presumption Before God: Forgetting Who God really is; not knowing Him well enough.
  • Desperation for Attention: Seeing glory from people or from God.
  • Neglecting Others: Gravitating or looking to associate with people of higher standing because it makes you feel or look more important.

*Jonathan Edwards, 18th century American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and theologian

Follow the reading plan for the Book of Jonah this week:

  • Monday 7/2          1
  • Tuesday 7/3          2
  • Wednesday 7/4     3
  • Thursday 7/5        4
  • Friday 7/6             1-4

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read the following passages and note what God says about pride and humility. Why do you think God hates pride? How can you cultivate humility in your life?

  • Psalm 10:4
  • Psalm 138:6
  • Proverbs 11:2
  • Proverbs 13:10
  • Proverbs 15:25
  • Proverbs 16:5
  • Proverbs 16:18
  • Isaiah 13:11
  • Daniel 5:20
  • Romans 12:3
  • Romans 12:16
  • Philippians 2:3-4
  • James 4:6, 10

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THE OTHER GUYS: JOEL

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF JOEL

  • Date:  Debatable: 835 BC (Assyrian Empire) or 500 BC (Persian Empire)
  • Theme: Disasters are a time to turn to God.
  • Key Verse: Joel 2:13 – Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity.
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis, visit fellowshipcleveland.com/the-other-guys and click on “The Bible Project Synopsis” for Joel.

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is your biggest regret?

What does the name “Joel” mean?*

Read Joel 1:1-4. Joel begins just after a great disaster struck the nation. What is the difference between the various locusts? What point do you think Joel is trying to make?

Read Exodus 10:4-15 and Revelation 9:7-10. Do you think the purpose of the locusts in these three occurrences are comparable? Why or why not?

Read Joel 1:16-20. Why would God bring such devastation on His people?

Read 1 Samuel 15:22, Psalm 51:16-17, Ezekiel 11:19, Hosea 6:6, Joel 2:12-14, and Micah 6:6-8. What is God ultimately looking for from His people?

Aaron stated that restoration doesn’t happen without repentance. What would true repentance look like in your life?

As a result of true repentance, what does God promise (Joel 2:19-27). What would it mean to “repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (2:25)?

Read Acts 2:14-21. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter quotes from Joel 2:28-32. Why do you think Peter used this passage to speak to the Jewish leaders about Jesus?

* The name Joel means Yahweh is God.

APPLICATION

Aaron closed his message with a call for repentance and restoration. Ask God to open your heart to any areas that you need to confess and seek restoration, whether it be with God Himself, or with those around you.

Read the Book of Amos by next Sunday:

  • Monday 6/18: 1-2
  • Tuesday 6/19: 3-4
  • Wednesday 6/20: 5-6
  • Thursday 6/21: 7-8
  • Friday 6/22: 9

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read the Book of Joel and find every occurrence of the phrase, “the day of the Lord”. How many different “days” do you believe Joel is describing? Is it one specific day or does it refer to multiple days?

Read the following passages and note what you learn about “the day of the Lord” from them:

  • Isaiah 2:17-18
  • Isaiah 13:6-9
  • Ezekiel 30:3
  • Joel 1:15
  • Joel 2:1
  • Joel 2:11
  • Joel 2:31-32
  • Joel 3:14-16
  • Amos 5:18-20
  • Zephaniah 1:7-9
  • Zechariah 14:1
  • Malachi 4:5-6
  • 2 Peter 3:10
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
  • Revelation 6:13-18

Though many of the verses above describe the “day of the Lord” as “dreadful” or “cruel”, God is described as gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in love, longing for reconciliation, and relenting over disaster. How do you reconcile these two seemingly paradoxical pictures of God?

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THE OTHER GUYS: HOSEA

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

SNAPSHOT OF HOSEA

  • Date: 755-710 BC
  • Theme: God’s faithful love for an unfaithful people
  • Key Verse: Hosea 3:1 – The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
  • YouTube: For a brief video synopsis from The Bible Project, click HERE.

GROUP QUESTIONS

Give a prize to the first person who can recite all 12 of the Minor Prophets in order.

What does the name “Hosea” mean?*

Read Hosea 1:2-3. Why did God ask Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman? How was this a picture of God’s love for Israel?

Has God ever asked you to do something that you did not understand and/or you did not want to do? Share with your group what that was, and if you obeyed, share the result.

One of the messages from Hosea is that your obedience has causality. Read Hosea 4:1-13. What charges (causes) does God level against the people of Israel, and what are the consequences (effects)? Could some/all of these charges be brought against you?

VERSES CHARGES CONSEQUENCES
Hosea 4:1-3
Hosea 4:6-11    
Hosea 4:12-13    

Why is idolatry so detestable to God (see Exodus 20:3-6)? What does it mean to be idolatrous in today’s culture (see Colossians 3:5-6)?

Many say that in the Old Testament God is harsh and full of wrath, whereas in the New Testament, God, in the form of Jesus, is more personal and loving. Most of the prophets spoke of God’s coming judgment, but almost always included the actions needed for restoration and reconciliation. Read Hosea 2:14-23. What words and phrases depict God as someone who relentlessly pursues those He loves?

Compare Hosea 6:6 with 1 Samuel 15:22, Isaiah 1:11, Micah 6:8, Matthew 9:13, and Matthew 12:7. What key trait is God looking for in your heart? How would you rate this trait in your life?

Hosea was used by God to warn the people of Israel of the punishment that would be brought on them because of their disobedience. Hosea also shared that God’s redemptive love was available to them if they repented of their idolatry and turned back to Him. Read Hosea 14:9. How do you interpret Hosea’s last words…as a command or as a challenge?

 * The name Hosea means salvation.

APPLICATION

Joe said on Sunday that the point of Hosea is that your 1) obedience has causality, 2) your God is consistent, and 3) your heart is central. This week, focus on how you can be obedient to what God is calling you to do, with a heart that is willing and open to Him, and spend time praising Him for the faithful love and grace He shows to you daily.

Read the Book of Joel by next Sunday.

  • Monday 6/11 (Chapter 1)
  • Tuesday 6/12 (Chapter 2)
  • Wednesday 6/13 (Chapter 3)
  • Thursday 6/14 (Chapters 1-2)
  • Friday 6/15 (Chapter 3)

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Hosea 1:4-5. Why did God tell Hosea to name his son Jezreel?

Jezreel refers to the Valley of Jezreel, where Jehu (the founder of the dynasty that put Jeroboam II, one of the kings of Israel in Hosea’s time, on the throne) massacred all the descendants of Ahab, thus establishing his throne (2 Kings 10:1-14). Why do you think God would judge Jehu for that massacre, which brought an end to the line of Ahab & Jezebel, considered by many to be the most evil rulers ancient Israel ever had?

In Hosea 1:6-11, what did God tell Hosea to name his other children? What were the meanings of their names? How do these names play a key part in his message?

Read Hosea 2:14-15. The Valley of Achor was infamous in Israel’s history. After God’s intervention caused the complete destruction of the city of Jericho, the people were told that everything in the city was to be devoted to God. Achan took some of the “devoted things”, and the end result of his sin was that he and his family were stoned to death (see Joshua 6:15-19 and Joshua 7:19-26). The place they were stoned was “called the Valley of Achor (Hebrew: troubled) ever since.” What significance do you find in the promise that God “will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15)?

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GOD’S PLAN FOR FELLOWSHIP

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Over the past four weeks, we’ve been looking at our identity in Christ; but over the last year, we’ve been in a process of re-discovering our identity as a church. We have found out what we have always known – that Fellowship lives by its name. Fellowship has always been characterized by fellowship with God and fellowship with others. God created you for fellowship, you are called to fellowship, and you are commissioned for fellowship. But what does fellowship have to do with the woman at the well in John 4?

SCRIPTURE

1Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that He was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—2although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but His disciples. 3So He left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. 4Now He had to go through Samaria. 5So He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give Me a drink?” 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to Him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” 11“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” John 4:1-15

GROUP QUESTIONS

Would you rather be stranded on an island alone or with someone you don’t get along with? Why?

Read Genesis 3:8-9 and 1 John 1:3. What do these verses say about fellowship?

Read John 4:1-15. Jesus was compelled to go through Samaria even though “good” Jews avoided it. Has God ever compelled you to go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go? What was the result?

In biblical times, the well was THE place for conversation, connection, and the central point of meeting in society. As Jesus sat by the well, a Samaritan woman came during in the heat of the day. It was unlikely that someone would go to the well at that hour unless they were avoiding people. Why do you think the Samaritan woman wanted to avoid the people in her town?

What are the reasons the Samaritan woman would not want to fellowship with Jesus? Why do you think Jesus chose to fellowship with her?

Have you ever felt that your reputation, gender, religion, financial standing, etc., has kept you from fully fellowshipping with other people? Explain.

Read the verses below; on the line provided, write down the reason given for why you are called by God to fellowship:

  • Proverbs 27:17
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
  • Romans 1:11-12
  • Galatians 6:2
  • Hebrews 10:24-25
  • James 5:16

Read John 4:28-30. The woman at the well, so excited about her encounter with Jesus, left her water jug and went back to town to tell everyone about Him. As a believer, your divine mandate is to make Christ known by sharing Him with others. How can you be more intentional about making Christ known and drawing non-believers into fellowship with God?

APPLICATION

This week think through and put into practice ways you can lean even more into fellowship with God and others.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

In John 4:10, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman that He can give her “living water”. What is “living water”?

Read Psalm 42:1, Isaiah 55:1, Jeremiah 2:13, Jeremiah 17:13, and Revelation 21:6. How do these verses expand your understanding of “living water”?

What are some of the “broken cisterns” that you’ve put your trust in? What did it take for you to return to the source of “living water”?

Read John 4:28-30 and 39-42. What changes do you see in the life of this woman as a result of drinking at the well of “living water”?

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE ALIVE

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

If you are a Christ-follower, you have been given a new identity in Him: you are adopted, chosen, marked, and alive! Many do not live in the reality of this identity. Instead, our attitudes, speech, and actions give off the stench of death. Christ didn’t come so that we would continue to live in our old pattern of life. Instead, Jesus said that He came so “that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). What is keeping you from your true identity and “life…to the full”?

SCRIPTURE

1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:1-5

GROUP QUESTIONS

Do you like to watch zombie movies? If so, what is your favorite one?

Read Ephesians 2:1-5. List all of the words or phrases that describe your life apart from Jesus. Which of these stand out the most to you, and why?

The tone of the passage changes in verse 4. What is your new identity?

What reasons does Paul give for God giving you this new identity?

On Sunday, Aaron shared the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Read John 11:1-44 aloud in your group. What impacts you most from this story?

In John 11:44, Jesus commanded that the grave clothes Lazarus was buried in be removed. Aaron mentioned that as believers, we sometimes walk around with our grave clothes on, looking, smelling, and acting like death. What are some things that you do that fit this description?

Since God has made you alive, how can you shed your grave clothes and live in your new identity?

APPLICATION

The Greek work for “alive” (also translated “quickened”) means “to make one alive together” (Strong’s Concordance). Though you (singular) are alive, YOU (the church) are alive together. List ways that your small group can be life-giving to those in your community. Pick a few of the ways from the list and put them into practice this week together.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Colossians 2:6-15. How can you be “rooted and built up in Him”?

What type of ‘hollow and deceptive philosophy’ typically leads people away from Christ in today’s culture? What can you do to protect yourself from being taken captive to it?

In verses 10-11, what are the “in/with Christ/Him” statements? What do these statement mean to you?

What does Paul reveal about God in verses 13-15? What all has He done for you?

Read the following passages. What traits/attitudes/actions characterize a believer who lives out their identity in Christ?

  • Romans 12:10-16a
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • Ephesians 4:29-32
  • Philippians 2:14-15
  • Colossians 3:12-17

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE MARKED

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

I love the song “Flawless” by MercyMe: “No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars, still the truth is the cross has made, the cross has made you flawless. No matter the hurt, or how deep the wound is, no matter the pain, still the truth is the cross has made, the cross has made you flawless.” In Christ, you were adopted, chosen, and marked…but your human nature reminds you of how flawed you are. Ephesians 1:13-14 reveals that in Christ, you can have confidence and security in the fact that you are marked by the Spirit…to the praise of His glory!

SCRIPTURE

13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

GROUP QUESTIONS

If you have a tattoo, share with your group what it is and what the significance of it is.

Read Ephesians 1:13-14. What two things do you learn about the Spirit in these verses?

What do you think it means to be “sealed…with the Holy Spirit”?

The Greek word for “listening” (or “heard” in some versions), akouō, has the connotation of listening AND understanding. Read Matthew 13:1-9 and 18-23. What are the four types of “hearers” in this parable? Which of these “hearers” do you believe is “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit”?

The word for sealed is sphragizō (to stamp with a private mark for security or preservation) and the word for pledge is arrabōn (earnest or down-payment). In Christ, you are marked with the Spirit as an indication that you have already received part of an inheritance that is to come. What is this inheritance?

We live in a world where it is common for people break their promises, but this inheritance is guaranteed by God. Does this knowledge give you assurance that you are secure in His love and power?

This is the third instance in Ephesians 1 that Paul used a form of the phrase “to the praise of His glory” (verses 6 and 12). What does this tell you about why God created, saves, and blesses us?

APPLICATION

Are there hurts, habits, or hang-ups that create doubt and keep you from living with confidence that you are adopted, chosen, and marked? Brainstorm with your group practical things you can do when doubt arises.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The Holy Spirit does not just seal those in Christ; He has many roles. Read the passages below, and list His work in each.

  • John 3:5-8
  • John 6:62-63
  • John 14:26-27
  • John 16:8
  • John 16:13
  • Acts 1:8
  • Romans 8:26-27
  • 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
  • Galatians 5:16-26
  • Ephesians 4:1-6
  • Ephesians 5:18
  • Titus 3:5

Which of the above most impact you, and why?

What is the “fruit of the Spirit”?

What does it mean to be “filled with the Spirit”?

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE CHOSEN

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Last week Aaron DeLoach defined identity as “the truest thing about you”. This week, Aaron Tredway shared that identity is also whatever you think is the truest thing about you. Whatever you think is the truest thing about you (whether it is or isn’t true) has the power to define your identity. The Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 1 that if you are a Christ-follower, the truest thing about you is that you are “in Christ”. Since Christ has made you new, is this what most defines you?

SCRIPTURE

11In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, 12in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:11-12

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group what you wrote on your name tag last week in church, and why you wrote it. (If you weren’t there, share what you would write if you were at a party and had to fill out a “HELLO, I AM…” name tag with something to identify you other than your name.)

Read Ephesians 1:11-12. The Greek word for “chosen” is klēroō and means “to obtain an inheritance”. What do you learn about your inheritance from the following verses?

  • Romans 8:17
  • Romans 8:22-23
  • Ephesians 1:13-14
  • Hebrews 9:15
  • 1 Peter 1:3-4
  • Revelation 21:1-5

The Greek word for predestined is proorizō and means “to determine before”. What do you think it means to be “predestined”? How comfortable are you with this doctrine that states that “that those who freely come to God are those whom God has freely chosen” (The Gospel Coalition)? Discuss why this doctrine is controversial to some believers.

What does it mean that God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Ephesians 1:11)?

Why were you chosen by God (Ephesians 1:12)? How can you live this out in your daily life?

APPLICATION

Aaron stated that “We live like our identity is achieved; not received”. Has this idea that you are what you have accomplished influenced what you think is most true about you? If so, prayerfully brainstorm with your group ways you can correct this thinking.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” Read through the passages below and write what now identifies you in Christ:

  • John 15:15-16
  • Romans 6:18
  • Romans 8:1-2
  • Romans 8:37
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • 2 Corinthians 2:15
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20
  • Galatians 4:7
  • Ephesians 1:5
  • Ephesians 1:11
  • Ephesians 2:10
  • Philippians 3:20
  • Colossians 1:22
  • 1 Peter 2:9-10

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IDENTITY CRISIS: YOU ARE ADOPTED

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Henri Nouwen said there are three ways people identify themselves: 1) I am what I do (business man, secretary, mother); 2) I am what I have (money, power, friends); and 3) I am what others say about me (beautiful, ambitious, bossy). We all have the tendency to find our identity in these things. As we spend the next four weeks looking at our identity in Christ, we’ll be asking this question: “If Christ has made you new, what should most define you?”

SCRIPTURE

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—6to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:1-10

GROUP QUESTIONS

If you could pick a new name, what would it be?

Read Ephesians 1:1-10. What does the word “blessed” mean?

In the Greek, verses 3-10 are one paragraph with the theme of what it means to be “in Christ”. How many times in these verses does Paul use the phrase “in Christ” (or “in Him”)? What does it mean to be “in Christ”?

List the spiritual blessings that define your identity “in Christ” because of your adoption (verses 4-7):

  1. ______________________________________ 4.      ______________________________________
  2. ______________________________________ 5.      ______________________________________
  3. ______________________________________ 6.      ______________________________________

Paul writes that even before the foundation of the world God had already chosen those who would be adopted through Christ. If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, how does it make you feel that you have always been a part of God’s plan?

Aaron explained that at the time Paul wrote Ephesians, Roman adoption meant that the adoptee had the rights of a fully legitimate child in the new family, an inheritance from the new family, and a complete break/erasure from the old family. How does this compare with what God offers you as His adopted child?

Read Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6. According to Dictionary.com, “Abba” is “an Aramaic word for father, used by Jesus and Paul to address God in a relation of personal intimacy”. Do you feel this way about God? Have you experienced Him as a loving Father?

APPLICATION

Spend time this week meditating on your spiritual blessings in Christ. If you are having difficulty believing or accepting any of them, prayerfully ask God to open the eyes of your heart to feel His love for you. Look for ways to share your blessings with others as a way to glorify your Abba, Father.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The doctrine of “predestination” can be difficult and controversial. Read through the following Scriptures and questions to help you gain a better understanding of this concept.

What does it mean to be “predestined”?

Read John 6:44, Romans 1:6, Romans 8:29-30, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, and 1 Peter 1:1-2. What do these passages say about being chosen or predestined?

Read Ephesians 1:5 and 9. On what basis does God predestine people?

What do the following passages say about God’s heart toward all people? Isaiah 55:7, Ezekiel 33:11, John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:13, I Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9

Read Isaiah 55:8-9 and Romans 11:33, and write your thoughts on predestination below,

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FAMILY MATTERS: FUTURE FAMILY

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Allen Stone, a soul and R&B singer and musician, began his career at the age of three singing at the church where his father was pastor, eventually leading worship when he was a teenager. According to an interview in SF Gate, after a year at Moody Bible Institute (Spokane), Allen said that “I learned the history of the church and the conception of the Bible and learned about the religion and really just, like, didn’t believe it… I got to the point where it was like, ‘I don’t believe this is the truth’.” The Barna Group reports that 9 out of 10 kids who grow up in a Christian family will leave their faith by their sophomore year of college. God designed and intended families to thrive, but no one ever drifts to success. Edmund Hillary, who was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, said that “There’s no casual route up any great mountain; if you really want to make it to the top, you must have a resolute mind firmly set on the purpose.” So, how can your family thrive in the midst of a broken world?

SCRIPTURE

1These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, 2so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all His decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. 3Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. 4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:1-9

GROUP QUESTIONS

What was the greatest lesson your parents tried to instill in you?

List from memory the Ten Commandments. (See Exodus 20:1-17 if you cannot remember them all.)

  1. ______________________________________ 6.      ______________________________________
  2. ______________________________________ 7.      ______________________________________
  3. ______________________________________ 8.      ______________________________________
  4. ______________________________________ 9.      ______________________________________
  5. ______________________________________ 10.      _____________________________________

Read Deuteronomy 6:1-9. Why did God command Moses to pass these laws along to the people?

What does it mean to “fear the Lord”?

Deuteronomy 6:4 is known as the Shema (sh’ma), an affirmation of God’s sovereignty; it is a centerpiece of prayer for Jewish people even today. However, if you glance through the Book of Judges, you will see that the Israelites did a poor job worshiping only one God (Judges 2:11-13, 3:7, 6:10, 10:6). Why do you think it was so difficult for them to follow this command (see Judges 2:10, Hebrews 2:1)?

Deuteronomy 6:7 says to “impress” (“teach diligently” in other versions) God’s Word on your children. The Hebrew phrase for this implies something different than lecture-based education. What does “impress” look like in your family? Are there ways to make it more natural to be diligent about teaching your children God’s Word?

What two things did Aaron say made up the “secret sauce” for a family to thrive?* How would you rate yourself on doing these two things? How can you improve so that your family thrives spiritually?

*1) Have God’s commands in your heart; and 2) teach them to your children.

APPLICATION

In his book “Think Orange”, Reggie Joiner shares four times families can build faith into their children. Make a plan to use these times with your family on an ongoing basis.

  • Meal Time (“when you sit at home”: focused discussions as a teacher to establish core values)
  • Drive Time (“when you walk along the road”: informal discussions as a friend to help your child interpret life)
  • Bed Time (“when you lie down”: intimate conversations as a counselor to listen to the heart of your child)
  • Morning Time (“when you get up”: encouraging words as a coach who gives a sense of value and instills purpose)

FOR FURTHER STUDY

In the New Testament, we get a snapshot into the life of Timothy, a protégé of the Apostle Paul. Timothy’s father was Greek and his mother was Jewish. Read 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:14-17. What does Paul note in these passages about Timothy’s upbringing?

What part do you think “the sacred writings” played in Timothy’s home?

What are the four things the Bible can produce?

Read the following verses and note the importance of God’s Word found in each passage. How will you incorporate a love for God’s Word into your family? Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 119:9-11, Psalm 119:105, Isaiah 55:10-11, Matthew 4:4, Hebrews 4:12

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FAMILY MATTERS: THE SPIRITUAL FAMILY

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

In week one we looked at what God intended family to look like from the very beginning, and week two we saw how sin introduced brokenness into families. God chose the spiritual family, what we call the family of God, to come around the nuclear family to support, encourage, and restore the family back to what He originally intended. How involved are you with your spiritual family?

SCRIPTURE

41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:41-47

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with the group why you began attending Fellowship.

Read Acts 2:41-47. Can you imagine the addition of 3,000 new believers to Fellowship in one day? How would that make you feel?

What were the four main activities of the first church listed in verse 42?

How “devoted” are you to these activities? Do you believe you make them a high enough priority in your life and in the life of your family? Why or why not?

Read the following passages: Acts 2:44, 5:12, 12:12, 14:27, 15:30, 20:7. What is the common thread throughout these verses?

How do you define “fellowship”?

Why do you think these believers exhibited the extraordinary sense of generosity seen in verse 45?

What do you think holds most Christians back from living in community like the believers of the first century?

Read Deuteronomy 31:8 and Joshua 1:9. God made a promise to the Israelites in the Old Testament that we can claim today (Matthew 28:20). What is that promise? On Sunday, Pastor Joe shared that God continues to fulfill that promise through two entities. What are they? (See John 14:15-17 and Romans 12:4-5.)

APPLICATION

For the next five days, read through the verses listed, and reflect on the question for that day. Ask the Spirit to show you any area in which you need to grow.

  • Day 1 | Acts 2:42 | If someone were to look at how you live, what would they say you were devoted to?
  • Day 2 | Acts 2:43 | When was the last time you were filled with awe?
  • Day 3  | Acts 2:44-45 | Do you share with others out of a generous heart? How has God grown your faith as you’ve given generously?
  • Day 4 | Acts 2:46 | Do you make it a priority to be at church on Sundays? How often do you eat a meal with someone who is not part of your family?
  • Day 5 | Acts 2:47 | What can you do today to show gratitude to God for all He has done for you?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The Bible has much to say about how believers in community are to treat one another. Look up the passages below and list what you learn about biblical community.

  • John 13:34
  • Romans 12:10-16
  • Romans 14:13
  • Romans 15:7
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10
  • Galatians 5:26
  • Galatians 6:2
  • Ephesians 4:25-32
  • Philippians 2:3-5
  • Colossians 3:13-16
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • James 4:11
  • James 5:9
  • James 5:16
  • 1 Peter 3:8
  • 1 Peter 4:9

How will you begin or continue to incorporate these attributes in your life?

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FAMILY MATTERS: THE BROKEN FAMILY

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

In the beginning, God saw that “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18), and so He created Eve as Adam’s wife. But starting with this first family, sin entered the world, and brokenness became a part of every family. But there is hope for broken families – a God who extends great grace!

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is one characteristic you received from you parents that you want to keep, and one you wish you could change?

When you hear the phrase “broken family”, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

There are numerous examples of broken families in the Bible. Read the passages below, and list the sins that came out of the broken families involved.

  • Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-16)
  • Abraham (Genesis 16:1-6)
  • Lot (Genesis 19:1-8, 30-38)
  • Joseph’s brothers (Genesis 37:1-4, 23-28)
  • David (2 Samuel 11:1-17)
  • Solomon (1 Kings 11:1-8)
  • Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)

On Sunday, Joe encouraged us to remember Psalm 46:10a – “Cease striving and know that I am God” (NASB). What sin do you struggle with that has become a burden on your family? How can you cease striving in this sin?

Some sins have been passed down through families from generation to generation (Exodus 34:7b). You may not even be aware of this sin because you see it as just a part of who you are. There is hope to break the cycle! Read 1 Corinthians 15:10. What does Paul say about God’s grace?

What were the three truths about God’s grace that Joe shared on Sunday?*

Read James 4:6 and 1 John 4:4b. Are you ready to move beyond your brokenness into all that God has for you? How do these verses encourage you to do so?

*Grace is offered, active, and sufficient.

APPLICATION

This week, pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any sins that are contributing to the brokenness within your family. Confess anything He brings to mind, and seek support if necessary (friends, pastors, support/accountability group, counseling – call the church office {440.543.5643} if you need help getting started).

If you are engaged or married, plan to attend the Family Matters Date Night on April 29, 6:30PM-8:30PM at Fellowship. Topics include:

  • How to keep your relationship healthy
  • How to fix your communication
  • How to handle conflict resolution better

Text DATE to 797979 to RSVP.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The story of David is a beautiful example of the extension of God’s great grace. You’ve already read the story of David and Bathsheba. Read the following references regarding David and his family. What affect did David’s brokenness have on him and on his family?

  • 2 Samuel 13:1-39
  • 2 Samuel 15:7-17
  • 2 Samuel 18:9-15
  • 1 Kings 1:5-14

Read Acts 13:22. Why do you think God calls David “a man after My heart”?

Read Psalm 32 and Psalm 51. What traits to do you see in David that endear him to God?

David’s family was broken. And yet He was considered a man after God’s heart because of his authentic repentance when he was made aware of his sin. How can you emulate David to bring about healing to your broken family?

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FAMILY MATTERS: THE FAMILY GOD INTENDED

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

God created family, and He created family to be good – to be a source of blessing, love, and instruction. But family doesn’t always feel like that, does it? Sometimes it feels like a struggle just to make it through the day. Family doesn’t always function the way God intended, mainly because individuals don’t always function how God intended. No matter what kind of a family you’re in, God intends for your family to be better than it is today. What will it take for your family to thrive in today’s broken world?

SCRIPTURE

5:21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30for we are members of His body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. 6:1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—3“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 5:21-6:4

GROUP QUESTIONS

Which TV show family is your favorite, and why?

Read Ephesians 5:21-6:4. What do you think of when you hear the word “submit”? What was the definition that Aaron gave in the sermon?* Does this definition affect how you view the word?

The default thinking on submission in most church circles is that a wife should submit to her husband. However, how does this passage begin? What do you think it means to “submit to one another”?

Read Philippians 2:6-8. What are some of the ways Jesus submitted?

Now read Philippians 2:5. How are you supposed to emulate Jesus?

Each person has a role to play in a family. List the role(s) that pertain to you from Ephesians 5:21-6:4. How can you live out your role in submission to others?

What are the two ways to improve your family that Aaron shared in the sermon? (See 1 Peter 2:17 and Mark 10:45.)

What are some ways that you can honor and serve your family?

Submit = hupotassoi (to voluntarily arrange yourself under someone for a good and proper purpose).

APPLICATION

Take time this week to think about your family, and whether it is functioning the way God intended it to function. Aaron shared on Sunday that one of the best ways to adjust the spiritual temperature of your home is by increasing your level of service. How can you serve your family differently? Are there chores you could do without being asked? Could you go out of your way to do something your normally rely on your spouse to do? Pick one thing a day that you will put into practice with your family, and watch God begin to change the temperature in your home.

If you have elementary-aged children, text FAM to 797979; starting April 9, you will receive a text devotion for 31 days to do with your family.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

When your family is properly arranged in a united front reflecting Christ’s love, Satan will not be happy. Paul follows this passage on submission with an admonition to “put on the full armor of God”. Read Ephesians 6:10-18 and list below the types of armor and what their use is:

ARMOR USE
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

What pieces of armor are strengths for you? What pieces do you need to work on?

What does it look like practically to put on the armor of God each day? How can it be applied to your family?

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MADE FOR MONDAY: WORK AS WORSHIP

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

In our Made For Monday series, we have discussed how God made work BEFORE the Fall and called it good; He worked, and created us to work. There is no division between the secular and sacred…everything you do, whether it is reading your Bible, praying, or changing a diaper, is sacred. This week, you learned that your work IS worship. If you view your work through the lens of Scripture, will that change the way you approach your work?

SCRIPTURE

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

GROUP QUESTIONS

What was your first paying job?

Read Romans 12:1-8. What is the “therefore” there for?

What do you think it means to “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…”? Why is this a natural response to what Paul wrote about in the previous chapter?

Read Romans 6:13. How many times does Paul encourage you to “offer” yourself to God? Do you see any significance in the face that he repeated this three times (four, if you count Romans 12:1)?

What is worship?

Do you view the entirety of your daily life as “true and proper worship”? Why or why not?

What parts of your work can you easily see as worship? What parts of your work are difficult to be seen as worship?

What are some ways that you could worship God through your work this week?

APPLICATION

Pick at least three things that you answered in question 8 to begin to apply to your life at work this week.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

The last three weeks we have looked at work, starting in Genesis with how God worked as He created the universe. While work is good, it is important to note that God also rested, and created us to do the same. One of the ways Satan has distorted work in our culture is by making it part of our identity, so much so that we work too much, and don’t experience the rest that God has commanded. Read the following verses; what do you learn about rest from these passages?

  • Genesis 2:2-3
  • Exodus 20:8-11
  • Psalm 127:2
  • Isaiah 58:13-14
  • Mark 2:23-28

Re-read Exodus 20:8-11. How do you feel about the fact that God commanded you to rest?

Read Mark 3:1-6 and Luke 13:10-17. If God commanded rest on the Sabbath, were the Pharisees right to question Jesus? Why or why not?

What is rest? Is it just not working, or does it encompass more than that?

List some practical ways you will begin to rest this week:

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MADE FOR MONDAY: SACRED WORK

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

The Greeks believed in a concept called dualism – the idea that the world contains both good and evil, reflected in the soul and body of man. Anything related to the soul was good, but anything related to the body was evil. For the Greek, only work associated with the soul mattered. We learned last week that this belief is wrong; God created us, before the Fall, to work. We are made in the image of God and are called to represent Him in this world. Missionary, parent, garbage collector, engineer, pastor, landscaper, secretary, teacher…all of these occupations are “full-time ministry” for those who follow Jesus.

SCRIPTURE

23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

GROUP QUESTIONS

How would you answer the question, “What do you do?” without naming your occupation or job title?

Read Colossians 3:23-24. Do you think Christians should be the hardest-working people around because of this passage?

Do you view all work as “spiritual”? Why or why not?

What is the “inheritance from the Lord” received as a reward for working with all your heart?

Read 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17. Paul essentially repeats himself in these passages, saying that whatever you do, do it for God. What is your “whatever you do”? When is it more difficult for you during your “whatever you do” to remember that you are doing it for God?

What are the hardest aspects of your work? Imagine doing that least favorite part of your job for Jesus. How might it look different to “do everything for the glory of God”?

Because of the Fall, work can be toil…you can dread going to it each day. Or, you can work with joy knowing that what you do is worship to God. And sometimes, your work IS joy. Eric Liddell, whose story was told in the movie Chariots of Fire, explained to his sister why he chose to participate in the Olympics rather than immediately setting off for China as a missionary: “I believe God made me for a purpose – for China. But He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” What do you do that you feel God has made you to do…something that when you do it, you “feel His pleasure”?

Aaron spoke about integrating your faith and your work. In some cases, not only is it difficult to do so, but some are prohibited to talk about faith. What are some ways you can integrate your faith and work in these instances?

APPLICATION

Read through the following questions. Is this how you view your work? List specific ideas of ways you will view your work differently.

  • Do I intentionally practice the fruit of the spirit at my job so my co-workers see Christ in my life?
  • Do I do my work with diligence and an attitude of joy so that my co-workers and clients see that I pursue excellence?
  • Do I eat lunch with my co-workers or invite them to my home for dinner?
  • Am I a part of a work-place Bible study or prayer group?
  • Do I see myself as a missionary in the workplace?
  • Am I Christ-like in my relationships with co-workers and clients?

FOR FURTHER STUDY

From the following passages, list some of the ways you can show your faith to those with whom you work:

  • Proverbs 3:27-28
  • Ephesians 4:29
  • Philippians 2:14-16
  • Colossians 3:13
  • Colossians 4:5-6
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Paul had much to say about work. Read the following passages; according to Paul, why is work valuable to God?

  • Ephesians 4:28
  • Thessalonians 4:9-12
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
  • 1 Timothy 5:8
  • Titus 2:9-10

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MADE FOR MONDAY: DESIGNED FOR WORK

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

The average Christian will spend roughly 2% of life in prayer, 1% of life reading the Bible, and less than 1% of life at church. But 40% of a Christian’s life is spent at work, whether that be in the marketplace, in school, or at home. Aaron stated on Sunday that if you don’t know the story, it’s nearly impossible to know the right response. For that reason, we are going to spend the next three weeks looking at work through the lens of Scripture, seeking to answer one question… “As a follower of Jesus, how should you approach work?” To begin to answer this question, we need to understand the story that work fits into, so we’re beginning in the beginning – Genesis – to find out how God, our creator, views work.

SCRIPTURE

1:1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. 31God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. 2:1The heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. 3And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. 15The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. Genesis 1:1-5, 31; 2:1-3, 15

 GROUP QUESTIONS

If you never HAD to work again, what would you do with your time?

When you hear the word “work”, what comes to mind? How do you define “work”?

Read Genesis 1:1-2:2. Though we don’t often think of God and creation in this way, the Bible references God’s role in creation as “work” (Genesis 2:2). Discuss God’s attitude about His work.

Read Genesis 2:5-8. What do you notice about God’s intended purpose for man from these verses?

In the beginning, God worked. He rolled up His sleeves, put His hands in the dirt, and worked. Re-read Genesis 1:26-27. Since you were made in God’s image, what does that imply about work?

Read Genesis 2:15. At the very beginning, in a beautiful paradise-like garden, God gave Adam work. Why do you think God created us to work, rather than just live a life of ease?

God put Adam in Eden to “cultivate” and “keep” the garden (NASB). Aaron reminded us that the word “cultivate” means “to serve”, and the word “keep” means “to protect, to take care of, to manage, or to steward.” You were created by God to work to accomplish His Do you view your work this way? If not, what can you do to cultivate God’s creation as part of your job?

God declared His creation, which included work, “good”. What changed after creation that warped our view of work, making it seem like “toil”?

Read Genesis 3. After Adam and Eve sinned, part of the curse affected work (Genesis 3:17-19). Do you think that work is more difficult because of our own sin nature, or do you think that God made work itself more difficult?

Read 1 Corinthians 7:17. How difficult is it for you to see what you do as part of the calling that God has given to you?

APPLICATION

What would happen if you saw your work like God sees it? If you understood that God made you for work, would that change your attitude about work? Would it change your objectives or approach to your work? If you were to view your work (no matter what type of work you do) through the lens of Scripture, as a gift from God, given to you by God to accomplish the purposes of God, what would happen?

This week, list the attitudes and actions you would like to change regarding your work. Ask the Spirit to help you make these changes.

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SIFTED: HOPE IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Last week, after all of Job’s questions, we looked at God’s response – “I am God, and you are not!” Job’s only response was to confess and repent. The greater you understand who God is, the more aware you become of your own humanity and limitations. The better you understand the holiness of God, the better you understand your need for mercy and grace. As Aaron mentioned last week, “We might not know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future!” Let’s look at this last chapter of Job and discover the hope in the midst of suffering.

SCRIPTURE

1Then Job replied to the Lord: 2“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” 7After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about Me, as My servant Job has. 8So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to My servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer. 10After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. 12The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers. 16After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17And so Job died, an old man and full of years.  Job 42

GROUP QUESTIONS

Who has been a spiritual hero in your life (you can’t say “Jesus”!)?

Read Job 42:1-6. In your own words, describe Job’s mental and emotional state of mind?

Not everyone who suffers will regain what was lost, but this passage implies that there is hope. What is that hope?

Read Job 42:7-9. Why was God angry with Job’s friends? What did he ask them to do to about it? What picture do you see in Job being the intercessor for his friends? (Hint – see Romans 8:34.)

Read Job 42:10-13. Why do you think Job’s brothers and sisters, along with “everyone who had known him before” showed up to offer their support after he had been restored?

God increased all that Job had twofold and his latter days were blessed more than his beginning days. What significance is there, if any, in the fact that God multiplied Job’s possessions but not the number of his children?

Thinking about your personal walk with the Lord, would you say that your latter days have been blessed more than your beginning days?

As a group, reflect on this study of Job. What have you learned about worshipping, integrity, comforting, understanding, and hope in the midst of suffering?

APPLICATION

How can you now see a hope-filled life for yourself if you are in a season of suffering? Or during the next time you endure suffering? List some practical steps that you can take that you have learned during this study of Job.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

On Sunday Joe stated that suffering creates humility, opportunity, and hope. Look up the following Scriptures about humility. Put a check beside the ones that you find most difficult to follow. Ask God to help you find humility in areas where you are lacking it. List an opportunity that you missed because you struggle with humility OR a situation where humility could present an opportunity for you to show the love of Christ.

  • Matthew 5:44
  • Luke 6:35-36
  • Philippians 2:3
  • Philippians 2:4
  • Hebrews 13:2

When you suffer, there are people left in the wake of your pain. Think through the times you have suffered and the people who have been there for you, and the people who have not. Are there any relationships that need to be restored? Take the opportunity now to seek reconciliation.

Joe shared that even in the midst of suffering, there are opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ. If you are currently in the midst of suffering, how can you minister to someone else?

Read Titus 2:12-13. What ultimately is our “Blessed Hope”?

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SIFTED: UNDERSTANDING IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Job 29-31 contains a monologue from Job. He longs for the “good old days”, defends his innocence, and asks why so many awful things have happened to him, since he did not deserve them. In Job 32-37, Elihu, a new voice, delivers his view of what was happening. And then, finally, God speaks. But He does not answer Job’s questions…He has a few questions of His own.

SCRIPTURE

1Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: 2“Who is this that obscures My plans with words without knowledge? 3Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. 4Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—7while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? 8Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, 9when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, 10when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, 11when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? 12Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place….? Job 38:1-12

GROUP QUESTIONS

If you could go back in time, what would you say to your younger self? Is there something you would tell yourself to avoid, or something you’d challenge yourself to do?

In order to understand God’s answer to Job, you need to read through some of Job’s statements. Read the following passages and list the things that Job says to or about God. Do you think Job is asking or accusing?

  • Job 13:1-3
  • Job 13:20-23
  • Job 23:3-6
  • Job 31:35

Read Job 38:1-12. What is described in verses 4-7? What did He ask Job?

List all the aspects of nature described in verses 8-12. What did He ask Job? What is the point God is making in theses verses?

These 12 verses in chapter 38 are just a taste of what God says to Job. In chapters 38-41, God goes on and on, reminding Job of how little he understands. Think through how you handle your day-to-day life. Do your attitudes and actions reveal that you think you know as much as or more than God? In what ways? Do these questions from God to Job remind you Who is in control in your life?

Does God give Job an explanation for why he is suffering? Do you think that a theological explanation for suffering would bring peace, comfort, or even some kind of closure to those suffering? Why or why not?

God did not rebuke Job for being honest about his anger, confusion, or bitterness towards Him. He did, however, correct Job’s error in thinking He was being unjust. Have you ever felt that God was unjust toward you? How did you respond?

APPLICATION

On Sunday, Aaron said that if you want to respond rightly to suffering when it comes your way, you have to understand that God is God and that He has you in process. Understanding God in all His fullness is impossible (Job 36:26). But God has given us glimpses of Who He is in His Word. This week, study the names and attributes of God. For online help, go to https://bible.org/article/names-god and https://bible.org/series/let-me-see-thy-glory-study-attributes-god.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Job 38-41. How many questions did God ask Job? Read through each one, and answer it as if God was asking you these questions.

Read Psalm 8. How does the language in this Psalm reinforce Job 38?

How would you answer David’s question, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

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SIFTED: COMFORT IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

No one wants to suffer. No one chooses to suffer. But Jesus says suffering is inevitable: “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). While suffering is never our first choice, it is part of the broken world in which we live. At this point in Job’s story Satan has asked God for permission to “sift” Job, and God gives Satan permission to proceed. Satan takes most of Job’s servants, kills most of his animals and his family, strips Job of his fortune, and since God told Satan he wasn’t allowed to kill Job, he inflicts him with horrible sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. And now, Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, enter the narrative. We’ve been asking this question in our sermon series: “How do we respond rightly to suffering?” Now we are asking, “How do you respond rightly to those who suffer around you?”

SCRIPTURE

11When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. Job 2:11-13

GROUP QUESTIONS

What is your favorite comfort food?

Read Job 2:11-13. What do you notice first in these verses?

What was the intent of Job’s friends? What words are used to indicate their depth of feeling when they saw him?

Read the following passages. What are Job’s friends accusing Job of or implying about him? Do you think they felt these words would be helpful or comforting to their friend?

  • Job 4:7-8
  • Job 8:4
  • Job 11:13-14 | Job 15:1-6
  • Job 18:21
  • Job 22:4-11

How would you have comforted Job?

Have you ever tried to comfort someone who was suffering, and your attempt failed because of your words or attitude? What did you learn from that experience about how to comfort someone dealing with suffering?

Aaron shared that the word “sympathize” means “to share in or commiserate; to walk in harmony”, and “comfort” means “to give strength and hope; to ease grief or trouble”. What might these words look like practically as you sympathize with and comfort others?

On Sunday, Joe gave an example of what to do and what not to do when comforting others. Did anything he say surprise you? What was the most helpful thing he said that you plan to put into practice?

APPLICATION

Is there some kind of suffering in your life that you need to share with another Christian in order to be comforted? Ask God to give you the courage and wisdom to share with a trusted fellow believer.

Is there someone you know who is suffering? Ask God to show you how you can comfort them this week.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. What are the three different ways God is described in verse 3? How do these titles affect your view of God and suffering?

In this passage, what does Paul say is the purpose of suffering?

In verses 5-7, what four principles does Paul give concerning suffering and comfort?

  • __________________________________________________________________________________
  • __________________________________________________________________________________
  • __________________________________________________________________________________
  • __________________________________________________________________________________

Our capacity to comfort is determined by the degree to which we’ve suffered” (Andy Stanley). Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

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SIFTED: INTEGRITY IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

Job lost almost everything – his children, his livelihood – and yet Job 1 ends with this statement: “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 2 begins with a familiar scene. Satan again comes before God, and God again brings Job to Satan’s attention, saying, “And he still holds fast his integrity.” Satan’s next target is Job’s physical person, seeking to attack that integrity. How can you maintain integrity in the midst of suffering?

SCRIPTURE

1Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. 2The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 3The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” 4Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.” 6So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.” 7Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes. 9Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:1-10

GROUP QUESTIONS

When you hear the word integrity, what comes to mind?

Read Job 2:1-10. Discuss the similarities and differences between this scene and the one in Job 1:6-12.

How does Satan’s assertion about Job in 2:5 compare to his statement in 1:11? What do you learn about Satan from this?

How does it make you feel knowing that God gave Satan permission to harm Job?

According to Thomas Constable (Notes on Job), “Job’s ailment … resulted in an unclean condition that made him a social outcast (cf. Exod.9:9-11). He had to take up residence near the city dump where beggars and other social rejects stayed. He had formerly sat at the city gate and enjoyed social prestige as a town judge (29:7). The change in his location, from the best to the worst place, reflects the change in his circumstances, from the best to the worst conditions.” Not only did Job endure the loss of his property, children, and health, he also lost his social standing. Job’s wife also lost her children and way of life, saw her husband in immense pain, and would have been affected by his fall in social status. What was her advice to Job? Why do you think she said this?

Aaron mentioned on Sunday that the first attack on Job was outward – an attack on his property and his children. The second attack was inward – a direct attack on Job’s health. Which attack do you think would have been more difficult to endure? Why?

Do you see any significance in the fact that Job “did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10)?

Do you agree with Job’s conclusions in 1:21 and 2:10?

APPLICATION

On Sunday, Aaron shared three steps to building a life of integrity:

  • It starts with an intentional decision. No one drifts towards integrity. Make an intentional decision to not cheat, cut corners, lie, gossip, etc.
  • It starts today, not tomorrow. Make an intentional decision to start today. If you don’t have integrity outside of suffering you won’t have integrity inside of suffering.
  • It starts with the small things. Make an intentional decision to begin small. When you do all the right things with all the small things, your integrity will grow and you will be able to thrive in the midst of suffering.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Merriam-Webster defines integrity as “1) firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility; 2) an unimpaired condition : soundness; and 3) the quality or state of being complete or undivided : completeness.” Biblestudytools.com defines integrity as “simplicity, soundness, completeness, upright….it is equivalent to being honest, sincere, genuine.” What do the following passages say about integrity?

  • Leviticus 19:35-36, Deuteronomy 25:15
  • Psalm 25:21, Proverbs 2:7-8, 10:9, 11:3, 13:6
  • 1 Chronicles 29:17, Psalm 7:8
  • Zechariah 8:16-17
  • Proverbs 29:10
  • 1 Kings 9:4-5, Nehemiah 7:2, Psalm 41:11-12
  • Titus 2:7-8

Read Genesis 39. Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob (Israel), was sold by his brothers as a slave. Imagine yourself in his position. Your brothers have betrayed you. You belong to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, and his wife is making advances to you. But Joseph, who was a man of integrity, resists temptation. Where does his integrity get him? If you were Joseph, what would you ask God at this point?

Read Genesis 50:15-21. Joseph suffered for many years because of the actions of his brothers, but ultimately reunites with his family. What was his perspective on the things that had happened to him? Do you have this perspective when suffering enters your life?

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SIFTED: WORSHIP IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

One thing that is consistent with the human experience is the fact that each of us will have times when we suffer. We feel pain. Sometimes our suffering and pain is from our own choices; other times, the pain comes through no fault of our own. The key question in our series is, “How do we respond rightly to the suffering that we experience?”

SCRIPTURE

13Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 17While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 20Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. Job 1:13-22

GROUP QUESTIONS

Share with your group a time that you received bad news and you either reacted badly or were able to see the situation through God’s eyes and reacted with worship.

Read Job 1:13-22. List all of the things that Satan took from Job in the order they occurred. Do you think there is any significance in the order that Satan chose to attack Job?

Read Job 1:6-12. In this passage, we are privy to the fact that God gave Satan permission to cause Job’s suffering. Yet in Job 1:20-21, Job’s response to his losses is to say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.” Discuss with your group whether you believe Job rightly places the cause of his suffering on God.

Job 1:20-21 tells us how Job responded to his losses. Look up the following verses and list who is being afflicted and what their response was:

WHO?                                   RESPONSE

  • Psalm 57
  • Jonah 2:1-10
  • Matthew 26:38-39
  • 2 Corinthians 12:6-10

Knowing that Satan only has powers which God allows him to have, will you look at your suffering as a way that God is sifting you for His purposes?

APPLICATION

Since God does all things for the good of those who trust in Him (Romans 8:28), this week, if/when you find yourself in a difficult situation or receive bad news, try praising God and worshiping Him instead of reacting in a negative way. Be prepared to share with your group how God showed up and worked in your life as a result.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Joe mentioned on Sunday that God’s presence is there even in your pain. Read the following passages and note what you learn about God’s presence.

  • Psalm 139:7-12
  • Psalm 11:4
  • Psalm 34:15
  • Proverbs 15:3
  • 1 Kings 8:27
  • Jeremiah 23:24

The topic of suffering can often lead to the question, “Why would a sovereign God allow suffering? Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines sovereignty as God’s “absolute right to do all things according to His own good pleasure”. How do you reconcile God’s sovereignty with the reality of suffering?

Read Isaiah 45:1-7. How does God describe Himself in these verses? What is your response to His statement that He creates “calamity”?

Read Mark 15:27-34. Christ, in His suffering, asked His Father “Why?” Does knowing this give you comfort or cause you anxiety?

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SIFTED: THE BATTLE OF SUFFERING

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

“We are given a unique behind-the-scenes look at the battle that goes on for our loyalty and souls. The book of Job dramatically sets forth a colossal war between God and Satan, and we are the territory. Satan accuses. God defends. And in the outworking of this cosmic drama is the testing of man. We write our own ending. What shall it be? Shall we relinquish our faith as we suffer or shall our faith grow stronger with each test?” (Johnny Felker)  As we suffer, we struggle with the question of “Why has this happened?” “Why is life like this?” “Why would God allow this?” and “Why would God allow this to happen to ME?” God rarely answers the “Why” questions for us specifically; but in the book of Job He does give us a glimpse into this age-old question.

SCRIPTURE

1In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2He had seven sons and three daughters, 3and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East. 4His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. 6One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” 8Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 9“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10“Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 12The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Job 1:1-12

GROUP QUESTIONS

Do you believe that good or bad behavior should have an impact on what someone gets out of life?

Read Job 1:1-12. What do you learn about Job’s life and character in verses 1-5?

The word for “blameless” (tam) means complete, perfect, or morally whole. “Upright” (yashar) means straight, in the sense of not deviating from God’s standards. Aaron stated on Sunday that in terms of Job’s faith, he wasn’t a sinless man, but he was “blameless and upright” in the sense that if/when he sinned, he always dealt with his sin immediately and appropriately before God whom he feared. By this definition, would you consider yourself “blameless and upright”? Why or why not?

Job 1:6-12 is a fascinating look into the goings-on in Heaven. Does anything surprise you in this passage?

Read the following verses and list Satan’s activities/character. What do you learn from this about Satan?

  • 1 Chronicles 21:1
  • Job 1:7
  • Zechariah 3:1
  • Luke 22:31
  • John 8:44
  • John 10:10
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4
  • 1 Peter 5:8

 Who brings up the character of Job? How would you feel if you knew that God ‘bragged’ about you?

Satan accuses God of placing a hedge of protection around Job and suggests that Job worshipped God for only one reason – because of the benefits he received. Do you think that was true of Job? Is there any evidence that it is true in your life?

Though you don’t know all of the reasons behind suffering, at the very least (or most!) God intends one thing to come as a result. Read Romans 8:17-18, 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, 1 Peter 1:6-7, and 1 Peter 4:12-13. Discuss as a group what that one thing is.

APPLICATION

A pastor once said that when suffering comes, we want to be like watermelon seeds, squirting out under pressure. But faith isn’t like that. Ephesians 6:14 and 1 Peter 5:9 tell us to stand firm! Make a plan to study God’s Word this week (start with Ephesians 6:10-18) so that you will be prepared to stand against the devil’s attacks. Surround yourself with Christian brothers and sisters who can be a source of strength and encouragement when Satan seeks to devour you.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

Read Luke 22:24-34. What was the argument the disciples were having? What does Jesus tell Peter? Do you find any significance that it is after this argument that Jesus stated that Satan wants to sift Peter (and all the disciples) like wheat?

The word “sift” has two meanings: 1) to shake in a sieve, and 2) by inward agitation to try one’s faith to the verge of overthrow (Strong’s Concordance). Satan was seeking to agitate, to see whether anything of faith would remain. For Peter, what was the specific instance of sifting Jesus was referencing (Luke 22:34, 54-62)?

Though Peter denied Christ, he was ultimately restored (John 21). And he certainly got the message concerning Satan. Read 1 Peter 5:8-10. What does Peter tell believers to do when facing Satan? How can you do this (James 4:7-10)?

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