Rise Up Week 3 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

God created us to do His work—to BE His church—and stay as focused on Christ as when we first became Christ-followers.

ICEBREAKER:

Think back for a moment; when you were little, did your family make you the center of attention? Were you spoiled? Do you still (perhaps in your mind) expect to be the center of attention? Are you disappointed when all eyes are not on you?

INTRODUCTION:

We believers belong to Christ; God created us to live with our focus on Him and our purpose in Him. I Corinthians 3:16 says that each of us is a temple of God and that God’s Holy Spirit dwells within us. Verse 17 continues to say that the temple of God is holy and that is what we are. So God wants us to keep our focus on doing Christ’s good works. Some of us have gotten things mixed up. Christ is no longer the center of our lives. We discontinued putting our complete trust in him. We end up seeing God as someone everyone else needs while serving a God that makes very little difference in our own lives. It is so easy to get caught up with the church body’s work. We have particular tasks we are asked to complete. In the process of getting the work done, it is easy to let our focus become tasks and other people. Sometimes we see these people as problems instead of seekers. We forget our primary purpose is to be Christ-centered in all we do. Our task is to be available to God every minute of every day in every way.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Luke 15:1-2
1. Who were the church leaders of that day? Were they keeping their focus on God’s commands or on man’s laws? How do you know this?

Read Acts 19:9-12, 17, 20
2. Were the obstinate correct in publicly maligning Paul’s teaching? What was Paul’s response?
3. How do we know God approved of Paul’s work?

Read Ephesians 2:8-10
4. Why did God not make a way for us to work our way to heaven?
5. How do you feel knowing that you can’t work your way to heaven? Are you relieved? Are you sorry that all the good things you have done do not pay your way?
6. Although we are not saved by our good works, verse 10 says we were created to do good works. What good works do you feel that God is calling you to do?

Read Revelation 2:1-5
7. List the five specifics that Ephesians had done well? (v. 2b & 3)
8. What did God hold against the Ephesians?
9. What is required of that church to resume right standing with God?
10. What happens if they do not obey?
11. Do you ever feel like the Ephesians? Have you left your first love? Was there a time when you had more passion for Christ and being His church?

LEADER NOTES

1. Church leaders in that day were scribes (kept accounts and interpreted law) and Pharisees (highly influential, arrogant, sticklers for tradition and ceremonial purity, arrogant). The were focused on man’s laws and they were muttering (against) and criticizing Jesus.
2. Paul left and took disciples with him.
3. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul. v. 11
4. God didn’t want anyone to be able to boast about working his way to heaven, which is a free gift.
7. The Ephesians cannot tolerate wicked men, they have tested those who claimed to be apostles but are not, they persevered, they endured hardships, and they have not grown weary.
8. They left their first love.
9. They must repent and do the things they did at first.
10. God will remove their lampstand. (see Revelation 1:20)

Rise Up Week 2 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

Satan will attack us and drag us into spiritual warfare whether we like it or not. As Pastor Chris stated last week and Zac quoted this week “we saints can defy gravity and soar to heights the world thinks are impossible.” In order to accomplish this we must rise to the challenge and be the spiritual warriors God has called us to be.

ICEBREAKER:

What are the first images that come to mind when you hear the term spiritual warfare?

INTRODUCTION:

We are in a constant battle daily. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and powers of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places as we are reminded in Ephesians 6: 11-12. Our enemy wants to diminish the kingdom of God as much or sometimes even more than we want to advance it. Each day we must rise up and kill selfish desires in order to achieve the dreams God has for us.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Ephesians 6:11-12.
1. Do you think we sometimes get confused as to the identity of our enemy? Why?
2. Why is it more difficult to fight against a spiritual versus a physical enemy?
3. We are reminded to put on the armor of God in order to resist the attack of Satan. We WILL be attacked, so we must be prepared when the attack comes. Why do you think Satan is so aggressive in his fight?

Read Matthew 11:12
4. We know that God gives us a portion of the kingdom now, and this makes the devil mad! He wants nothing more than to take it away from us. How can toughness in prayer make a difference in this battle?

Read Ephesians 2:1-7
5. We were all dead in sin before becoming alive in Christ. What has to change for us to move from death to life?
6. In verses 1-2 what made us dead in our sins and trespasses?
7. The term “like the rest of mankind” in verse 3 has huge implications. Discuss some of these.
8. Selfish desires will kill God ordained dreams. Why?
9. How do we overcome these desires?
10. Verses 4-7 reminds us why we continue in this battle each day. We know we will defy the spiritual gravity and soar to impossible heights. Discuss what it means to be made alive together in Christ.

LEADER NOTES

Most of these questions are open ended this week, so allow the group to unpack any of the areas as they have need.

“Spiritual gravity” in this context is being controlled by Satan and the powers of darkness. This produces an intense battle for the kingdom of God.

4. Our enemy is powerful and our most powerful weapon is prayer. Through prayer and the word (scripture) we tap into the power of God. We have to be forceful and tough in our spiritual battle, we cannot defeat Satan and his forces through our own human power. We need the power of Christ to face this battle.
5. We must overcome or kill the selfish desires. This is most likely not a one time event, but a daily battle of dying to self.
7. Here allow the group to explore the dangers of Christ-followers not being any different from the rest of the world.
10. More open discussion on how and why grace through Jesus makes all the difference in our lives.

Rise Up Week 1 – Discussion Questions

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MAIN POINT:

Who is in control of your life – you or God?

ICEBREAKER:

Think back to your first year of something (high school, college, marriage, or first job for example). How did you react when you made mistakes? Did you react with humility or with anger?

INTRODUCTION:

This Father’s Day weekend Pastor Chris preached on Ephesians 6:1-4. He spent considerable time on verse 4, speaking on how fathers should not provoke their children to anger. Anger is an emotion that can overpower and control us. When we are filled with anger we are not being led by the Holy Spirit, but instead we are led by the flesh. We get angry because we realize that what we want is not happening (selfishness) or we realize that we are not in control. In order to battle the flesh, we must accept that we are not in control and consistently remind ourselves that God is in control.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Ephesians 2: 1-6
1. According to verse 2, what makes people disobey?
2. Even while we were sinners, why did God make us alive with Christ?
3. How are we saved?
4. What is grace?

Ephesians 6: 1-4
5. Why are children to obey their parents? Notice that there aren’t any “opt-out” scenarios. It does not say “obey your parents if they are honorable/if they deserve it.” Discuss.
6. What promise accompanies this command?
7. What are fathers to do? How does this work in practice?

Romans 12: 1-2
8. Why did God tell us not to conform to this world? How do we change?

Galatians 2: 20
9. How can we allow Christ to live within us?

LEADER NOTES

1. ruler of power of air; spirit of Satan
2. because of His great love for us
4. Grace is unmerited favor. God’s riches at Christ’s expense = GRACE
5. We should obey our parents because God commands it and because it is right.
8. Plugging into this world leads to self-centeredness, anger and sin. We can be transformed (changed) by renewing our minds (gaining new knowledge and understanding) by studying His words.
9. We ask God into our hearts and believe in Him by faith. We will mess up and continue to sin (Romans 3:23), but we know that God will forgive us when we repent (Romans 5:8).

Questions 8 and 9 are natural springboards to the plan of salvation.

#nofilter week 5 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

How we label ourselves and our lives (our past) changes how we act in the present and the future.

ICEBREAKER:

Did you have a nickname as a child? What was it and why were you called that?

INTRODUCTION:

Genesis 35:16-20 recounts the story of the birth of Jacob’s 12th son and Rachel’s death during childbirth. Rachel asked that her son be named Ben-oni, but Jacob named him Benjamin. What’s in a name? Does it really matter what we call things or people?

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Genesis 30:22-24
1. Rachel had just had a prayer answered and finally born a son. What does she immediately pray for?

2. As humans we always seem to want more. When have you asked God for more?

Read Genesis 35:16-20

3. Again, God answers Rachel’s prayer. There was a cost for Rachel having this second son. What was the cost?

4. Have you ever had a prayer answered, but realized later that there was a cost? Please share with the group.

5. Look again at verse 17. The midwife encourages Rachel during her difficult childbirth and death. Do you have an encourager? How can this group encourage you through life’s difficulties? How can you be an encourager to the people God has put in your life?

6. Before she died, Rachel asked that her son be named Ben-oni. This Hebrew name can mean either “son of my sorrow” or “son of my strength.” What is the relationship between sorrow and strength? Can you share a time when you gained great strength through sorrow?

7. Jacob did not honor Rachel’s request, and instead called his son Benjamin (son of my right hand). How might Jacob’s own name and story have influenced his decision?

8. Have you ever been given a name or label that continues to influence you to this day?

9. In Jacob and Rachel’s time, the father had the final say in the naming of a child. If you have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for you and become God’s child, only your Father God can label you! What old labels do you need to remove and what new labels do you think God has given you?

LEADER NOTES

1. Rachel asks for another son.
3. Rachel died in childbirth.
7. See Genesis 25. Jacob is translated “he takes by the heel” or “he cheats.”

#nofilter week 4 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

Achievement vs. Approval: Jesus’ perfection will shine through our imperfection. We can do nothing in our own power to gain His approval. Righteousness is not achieved through works but by grace through faith alone. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

ICEBREAKER:

For what worthwhile thing in your life did you have to wait patiently?

INTRODUCTION:

This weekend, FP’s Creative Director, Micah, continued our #nofilter series with a sermon addressing Achievement vs. Approval. Sin causes shame and guilt, which drives us to isolation and causes us to build a dollhouse around our lives to shroud the truth from others. We desperately desire to project a facade of perfection for others to see. Like Adam and Eve, we hide. We compare our ordinary lives to edited and perfected “highlighted” reels of others and are drawn to desire a standard of life that scripture does not require of us. We as Christ followers often are tempted to seek the approval of this world by achieving what it has to offer, but what truly satisfies is the joy knowing the One true God and walking in His freedom and victory. He alone satisfies. Micah passionately compelled us to break the chains of shame and guilt of our sin. He approves of us when we confess, repent and then become heirs of righteousness. In our imperfection, He is perfect!

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Genesis 29:1-13

1. Because of the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac and now Jacob at Bethel, Jacob knew he had to marry to build a family that would ultimately bring the Promised Redeemer into the world. With this confidence, he meets Rachel.

True or false? In the life of a trusting Christian, there are no coincidences only appointments. We are able to see the gracious leading hand of God in our lives.

2. Share with your group how you saw the hand of God in your life this past week.

Read Genesis 29:14-30

3. Jacob was enraged when he learned that Laban had tricked him. The deceiver of Esau and Isaac was now deceived himself. How natural it is for us to become upset at an injustice done to us while closing our eyes to the injustices we do to others. Sin has a way of coming back to haunt us.

Share with your group a recent time you observed either someone or yourself being offended at an injustice that either they or you have also committed. What does this realization compel you to do?

4. Jacob kept his part of the bargain because he had Rachel to think about as well as God’s plan for his life. Slowly, Jacob was learning to submit to God’s loving hand of discipline and was growing in faith and character.

Share a time in your life when you accepted the cards dealt to you and did not opt to either nurse your wounds or plot revenge. How did you see God working, and what was the outcome?

Read Genesis 29:31-30:24

5. This passage reviews Jacob’s children. It was very important to Jacob to raise his children in the ways of the Lord because of the promise from God that Jacob’s descendants would be as “numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.” (Gen 22:17). Unfortunately, there would be one problem after another given the divided and competitive nature of his home.

Are there divisions and competitions within your home and family? How do you wish it were different? How can your group pray for you as you work towards unity and peace within your family?

6. Rachel took matters into her own hands when she gave her maidservant to Jacob. Trusting God when nothing seems to happen is difficult. But it is harder still to live with the consequences of taking matters into your own hands.

Can you share a time when you took matters into your own hands? What were the consequences? What did you learn and possibly later apply?

7. Out of all of this mess, the 12 tribes of Israel were born. The Lord was ruling and overruling in the entire event. Proverbs 21:30 tells us that “there is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord”. Similarly, in the New Testament Romans 8:28 confirms the same promise to us, who love God and are called according to his purpose. God is sovereign over all. His purpose for us is to make us like Christ. This is our true identity.

How can you be conformed to Christ’s likeness on this earth?

LEADER NOTES

1. True
7. Reading and heeding the Word, by studying his life on earth through the Gospels, by being filled with His spirit, by spending quiet time with Him in prayer, by growing spiritually within a small group of believers and by doing His work in the world.

#nofilter week 3 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

God can show up any time, any place, even in the middle of nowhere!

ICEBREAKER:

Tell about a fond memory of when things turned out better than you expected. How do you feel each time you revisit that memory?

INTRODUCTION:

When our backs are against the wall, things are falling apart, and all hell seems to be breaking loose we must go back to where we encountered God. The place that He found us. Remembering where and how we were will cause us to rejoice after we realize God met us in the middle of nowhere. God won’t give up on us. God told Jacob to go back to Bethel, the place of his greatest encounter. Bethel represents a place of remembrance, a place of revelation, a place of response and a place of removal. God is always there, we are never alone even if we were not aware He was there.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Genesis 28:10-13.

Jacob receives one of the greatest revelations in all of the Bible. God meets Jacob in a dream.

1) Jacob was running from his brother and thought he had found a place to rest for the night. He didn’t realize God was about to find him. He was in transition, he owned nothing and was in the middle of nowhere. God made a great revelation to him through a dream. Discuss your view of this dream. How do you think Jacob felt?
2) Angels were both descending and ascending the ladder that bridged the earth and heaven. Why is it significant that angels were able to travel both directions?
3) God is at the top, He is above all that is happening. Why is this important?
4) God reveals who He is and His future blessing on Jacob’s offspring. Why do we need to know who God is? Why does He bless us?

Read Genesis 35:1-7
5) Jacob is almost 100 years old when God tells him to go back to Bethel. Before he goes there to build an altar to God He is asked to do something, what is that?
6) Why is it important to remember where we were when God found us?
7) Sometimes God shows up and we don’t even know it. Why do you think this is?
8) An encounter with God will result in a response. Think about your greatest encounter with God, how did this result in your responding?
9) God told Jacob to bring his family with him back to Bethel. Why is it important to introduce his family to God and show where he encountered God?
10) God tells Jacob to dwell there. God knows that as humans it is easy for us to forget. What do you think is the reason Jacob was instructed to dwell there?

LEADER NOTES

2) This can show that prayer (communication with God) is a two way street. We both talk and we both listen. Also it reveals that God is constantly sending His messengers to us. We are never alone! He never leaves us!!
3) God is the supreme authority, nothing or no one is above Him.
4) God states His authority. He blesses us to be a blessing to others.
5) Jacob has to bury the past and remove all idols and foreign gods.
9) We cannot keep God all to ourselves. We are to share Him with others, and family are the ones closest most important to us.
10) The writer uses the word dwell, we immediately think of a place to live or to stay a very long time. What better place to live than in the presence of God?