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?

#nofilter week 2 – Discussion Questions

MAIN POINT:

Beware of sacrificing what you want most in the future for what you want right now.

ICEBREAKER:

What is your favorite meal?

INTRODUCTION:

Genesis 25 tells the story of Jacob and Esau’s birth, as well as Esau trading his birthright to Jacob. Though many of us today won’t have the opportunity to trade millions of dollars of wealth for a bowl of beans, we all make impulsive decisions from time to time which keep us from living out God’s best plan for our lives. Let’s heed some warnings that Esau might give us in light of his mistake:

1. Beware of mistaking age for maturity.
2. Beware of unsatisfied appetites that become exaggerated emotions.
3. Beware of the temptation to give up what you want most for what you think you want right now.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Genesis 25:24-28
1. How were the brothers different?
2. What potential family drama do you see in verse 28?
3. Have you experienced favoritism in your family or work relationships?
4. How can we guard against favoritism in our families?

Read Genesis 25:29-34
5. According to verse 27, the boys were grown up at this point. What is the difference between age and maturity?
6. Growing older does not necessarily mean growing wiser. What steps can we take to grow in maturity and not just in years?
7. Notice verse 29. What was Esau’s state when he arrived at home?
8. Have you ever made a poor decision when you were tired and hungry?
9. Esau traded his birthright to fill his physical hunger, but other unsatisfied appetites can be just as dangerous. What other human appetites can get us in trouble?
10. Don’t be spiritually hungry! How can you fill up your tank so that you are not spiritually empty?

Read 1 Peter 1:3-4
11. Every believer has a birthright and inheritance. The devil can’t steal your birthright, but he can tempt you to give it away. How can this group help you to fight temptation?

LEADER NOTES

4. It is natural to have more in common or get along better with some people than others, but we must guard against giving preferential treatment-especially among children.
5. Age is just a measure of the time that has passed; maturity indicates wisdom or experience.
6. Discuss spiritual growth plans. Does everyone in your group have one?
9. Appetites for affection, attention, power, etc.
10. Bible study, quiet time, spiritual disciplines like fasting, listening to sermons or worship music, praise, etc.
11. Your group may want to split into groups of men and women to discuss temptation. Some people find it helpful to have partners within the group to hold each other accountable.