#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.

#nofilter – Discussion Questions

#NoFilter-720

MAIN POINT:

The “Me first” mentality is unfulfilling and NOT God’s plan for our lives.

ICEBREAKER:

Who is the hairiest person you know?

INTRODUCTION:

This weekend, Pastor Zac kicked off our new series, #nofilter, with the first sermon entitled, “Just Call Me Jacob”. He reassured us this was not a campaign to stop us from taking selfies or pictures of our cats. Rather, it is an opportunity to examine the conflict between the real us and the person we project to others. In the book of Genesis, Jacob demonstrates the “Me First” mentality in several situations early on in his life. From his heel-grabbing at birth to masquerading as his older brother in order to grab his blessing, Jacob shows his motives were self-centered. It was not until he wrestled with the pre-incarnate Christ that Jacob revealed his true identity and was renamed, Israel, which means “triumphant with God.” REMEMBER, God cannot bless who we pretend to be. Jesus calls us as we are, weary, heavy laden, without a filter, and He will give us rest and victory. We are reminded of this in Exodus 3:13-15 when the Lord referred to Himself as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob”. He did not call Jacob “Israel” because He is the God of our failures! Amen!

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Genesis 25:21-26

1. Where did Rebekah turn when she was having “difficulties” with her pregnancy?

2. What information is contained in verse 23?

3. T or F? The Lord chose Jacob over Esau because Jacob was the “better” brother.

Read Genesis 27:15-21

4. Although Jacob got the blessing he wanted, deceiving his father cost him dearly. What are some of the consequences of his deceit?

5. What could Jacob’s life have been like if he and his mother had waited for God to work His way and in His time?

6. You, too, have a spiritual birthright and a choice about what to do with God’s generous gifts. Would God describe you as a person who “despises his or her birthright”? What do your desires and pursuits reveal about you and the “inheritance” that can be yours?

Read Genesis 32:22-29

7. Who was “the man” that wrestled with Jacob? How did the man overcome Jacob?

8. Jacob “set a condition” to end the wrestling match. What was it?

9. Jacob struggled with his true identity. When he surrendered all to Christ that night, he was forever changed and had a new identity. What does the Lord need to wrestle out of you? What do you need to surrender?

10. Share with your group who you once were before you became a “new creation in Christ”. (See Mark 8:35, 2 Cor 5:17)

Read Matthew 19:30

11. Who will be first? Who will be last?

12. Consider successful people you know or know of. Did they get that way by being humble?

13. Are you willing to forfeit eternal rewards for temporary benefits? Share with your group which temporary benefits tempt you the most. How can your group pray for you to overcome these temptations? Whose approval should you seek?

Read Luke 9:25

14. This question seems obvious – who would want to lose their soul?!? However, if this present life is most important to you, you will do everything to protect it. Christ followers understand that total commitment to Him may lead unsafe and uncomfortable situations. Can you think of examples in the news where Christ followers risk it all? Have you suffered persecution or other negative consequences because of your identity Christ? Share with your group.

Read Romans 10:9

15. T or F? Becoming a Christian is a very complicated process.

LEADER NOTES

1. The Lord
2. Twins, prophecy of 2 separate nations, one stronger, and reversal of tradition where the firstborn inherited the birthright.
3. F. God’s choice of Jacob for the position of leadership had nothing to do with the comparative goodness of the two sons (Romans 9:12). Though God’s choice was absolutely sovereign, his choice of Jacob was reflected in Jacob’s attitude as well as Esau’s. The younger Jacob deeply valued the birthright. The older Esau despised it.
4. He never saw his mother again, his brother wanted to kill him, he was deceived by his uncle Laban, his family became torn by strife, Esau became the founder of an enemy nation, he was exiled from his family for years.
5. God is sovereign. Jacob would have been the leader and the father of the nation of Israel anyway.
7. Christophany- the pre-incarnate Christ. He “touched” his hip socket. Jabob must have realized that his opponent could take him at any time.
8. “I will not let go unless you bless me.” Jacob begged for God’s favor. We do not earn or grab His blessings; He gives them when we are surrendered.
9-10. True encounters with God bring obvious life transformations and great blessings. These processes are painful, but in His sovereingty, the Lord allows them. He shines the best through broken/cracked pots.
11. Jesus turned the world’s values upside down.
12. Very few powerful and well-known people achieve their success through humble, self-effacing and gentle ways. It is not impossible, however!
13. We should have an audience of one- our Lord!.
14. Pastor Sayeed, Christians in the Arab world being martyred, among others.
15. False! It is not! If we believe in our hearts and say with our mouths that Christ is the risen Lord, we will be saved!

Easter – Discussion Questions

Easter Week is Here!

MAIN POINT:

Each of is guilty of sin and we work hard to overcome that. But, no matter how hard we work we can never be good enough. The good news is that Jesus chose to take our sin upon himself so that we could have eternal life.

ICEBREAKER:

When you were in high school, you probably had times when you were covered up with things to do and deadlines. So, one morning you realize that you have forgotten your math homework. You run into one of your best buddies and tell him about your problem. He tells you that you can copy his math. What happens from here?

INTRODUCTION:

On Good Friday both Jesus and Barabbas were in chains in prison. It was no accident; they were both there for a reason. Barabbas was a victim of Roman rule; Jesus was there by design. These two represented heaven and hell; Barabbas represented each of us. He was a perfect picture of a man trying to work his way to heaven. Barabbas was trying to overthrow Roman rule in his own strength. None of us asked Jesus to take our place; he offers this as a gift. God treated Jesus like Barabbas so he could treat Barabbas like Jesus. We’ve all been slaves to something. And then there is grace: God’s unmerited favor. “It is by grace we are saved…” (Ephesians 2:8). We don’t deserve this gift. Even though we continue to sin, our position of saved does not change. Every time we fall and then ask for forgiveness, God forgives because Jesus’ blood covers it all. Now, what will you do with Jesus? After you have confessed your sin, asked God to forgive you and received salvation, you are ready for the next step of obedience: baptism.

ENCOUNTERING GOD THROUGH BIBLE STUDY:

Read Romans 5:8
1. How do we know that God loves us?
2. When did Jesus die for us?

Read Ephesians 2:8-9
3. Explain “grace.”
4. Why does the scripture stress that grace is a gift?

Read Romans 10:9-10, 13
5. Why can we not just think to ourselves that “Jesus is Lord” instead of having to say it aloud?
6. What does it mean to be “justified?”
7. Which individuals can be saved?
8. Who did Barabbas represent?
9. It’s been said that “religion” is “man trying to work his way to heaven.” How is Christianity different than this definition of religion?
10. How can a child sex abuser and/or an alcoholic be forgiven?

LEADER NOTES

1. He sent his Son to die.
2. While we were still sinners.
3. God’s unearned favor.
4. So we’ll know that grace cannot be earned by works
5. Be willing to say to the world what God has done.
6. declared in right standing, acceptable to God
7. all
8. us, all sinners
9. Jesus died to pay for our sins because we could never be good enough or work hard enough.
10. same way as anyone else.