Leader’s Guide to Growth Group Homework

For the week of January 21, 2018
(This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

BEGIN TO MAKE PLANS FOR A SOCIAL OR SERVICE PROJECT
Begin to think about what project you would like to do. Check our website for some options: www.northcoastchurch.com/service

LEADERS NOTES

⇛ COVENANTS
Go over the Covenant with anyone who missed the first week. Remind anyone that hasn’t signed the Covenant to do so. Turn it in at the Growth Group drop box at the Information Booth by Sunday, January 28.

⇛ NAME TAGS
Remember if you have anyone new in your group use name tags for at least the first 3 weeks.

⇛ GO OVER TIPS ON TOPICAL PRAYER with your group – see the end of this guide.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

Special Note: Remember we’re on week #2 with your group. People are still acclimating, especially new people. Lead your group through the questions according to how well everyone knows each other. We’ve included two "Getting to Know You" questions that new groups and groups with new people can use as an ice breaker. Next week these questions will tie in more with the sermon. You may not have time to answer all these questions. Make sure you ask question #3.

 1. Would you rather get one free round-trip international plane ticket every year or be able to fly domestic anytime for free?

Have fun with this question. Good one to have everyone answer.

 

2. In 30 seconds or less, write down five words you would use to describe God?

Good question to have everyone answer. It will be good to see how these responses tie into the "Digging Deeper" questions.

 

If you were asked this same question five years ago do you think your answer would have been any different?

 

3. Looking back at your notes from this week’s teaching, was there anything you heard for the first time or that caught your attention, challenged or confused you?

Good question to give everyone a chance to ask questions or make comments about topics that caught their attention or weren’t addressed in the homework.

DIGGING DEEPER

Discussion Reminder: You typically won’t have time to discuss all three of these questions. Start with the one you definitely want to focus on, and then depending on time, decide if you want to go to another question or move to the "Taking It Home" Section.

1. This weekend we heard that because of God’s wrath towards sin, everyone is under the judgment of God. There’s no question that the topic of judgment can be uncomfortable or confusing to many people, and these days it’s hardly politically correct. That’s why it’s important for us to take a look at what Jesus and the Bible actually say about it. How does the Bible describe the reality and consequences of judgment in each of the following verses?

 

Ephesians 5:6 - Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

Wrath against the disobedient.

 

Matthew 25:41 - “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Separated and cursed.

 

Ezekiel 7:8 - I am about to pour out my wrath on you
    and spend my anger against you.
I will judge you according to your conduct
    and repay you for all your detestable practices.

Wrath and anger toward wrong doings.

 

Revelation 14:9-12 - A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” 12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

God’s fury and wrath in full strength.

 

 

If God forgives us as followers of Jesus, why might it be important to keep in mind God’s wrath and judgment?

Everyone may not have an answer. It helps keep our pride in check, it helps keep in perspective the accomplishment and power of what Jesus did for us, and it motivates us to live out our faith and reach others for Jesus.

 

Because of the severity of the biblical descriptions of judgment and hell, some people question how it fits in with God’s love.  Can you think of any ways a person can reconcile God’s love with the truth that he will also judge people? If so, explain.

There could be some good discussion and even debate. Be careful it does not carry on too long. 

Here is a summary from In Touch Ministries:
“This question often perplexes us, so we often try to soften the message of judgment and instead emphasize His warmer, fatherly qualities. But love and justice are not contradictory terms. In fact, you can’t have one without the other.

God’s love brings good into our lives. But if there is no justice, sin runs rampant and causes untold pain and suffering. No one thinks a judge is loving when he or she refuses to punish guilty criminals. To set them loose in society is not healthy for either the wrongdoer or the community. In the same way, our loving heavenly Father cannot allow sin to go unpunished.

But this presents an even bigger dilemma for mankind. We are all guilty before a holy God. That is why Christ came to earth. He bore divine wrath for all our sins so that the Father could be both just and forgiving. His justice was satisfied by the most loving act of all time—Christ’s death on the cross. Now those who by faith accept Jesus’ offer of salvation will not experience eternal punishment for sin."

 – Taken from “In Touch Ministries” Reconciling God's Love and Justice, intouch.org

Additional Verses: John 3:16-17; Romans 5:6-8; Ephesians 2:4-9; 1 John 4:9

2. It can be humbling when we realize Jesus’ life, death and resurrection satisfies God’s wrath against us. He then takes us, flaws and all, and gives us a new identity. This truth impacts everyone differently, but can be hard to embrace if you feel undeserving. How do Paul’s words to the Colossians describe a person’s new identity in Christ as a Jesus follower?

 

Colossians 1:13-14 - 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Alive in Christ, forgiven, taken my sin away.

 

Colossians 1:21-22 - 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation…

Reconciled, without blemish, free from accusation.

 

Colossians 2:9-14 - For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

Some versions say we are “complete” in Christ. We lack nothing of who Jesus was and what he has accomplished. Paul says that this is a fact to be enjoyed, not a status to be achieved.

 

Additional Question: You may want to ask if anyone has other verses they would like to add.

Additional Verses: 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; John 15:15

 

Which description is most meaningful to you? 

Good question to have everyone answer.

3. This week we heard how Jesus’ sufferings accomplished so much more beyond his immediate situation. The same can be true for our own hardships and challenges. What insight does Paul give us in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 when life’s challenges heat up?

 

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

 

God is a God of compassion and comfort. He does not want to leave us alone and in anguish. Our difficulty will enable us to help others, and empathize with their pain.

Note: This does not mean the difficulty a person is experiencing is from God, or good. But it does speak of how God can use those type of situations. 

Additional Questions: Have you ever seen God do this in your own life after a hardship?  How could this verse be interpreted in the wrong way? (Instead of coming alongside of someone experiencing something similar, you get into fix it mode; advice giving and relating their situation back to yourself instead of staying focused on them).

Some questions to think about to evaluate your ability to come alongside and help / comfort others:

  • How are you at listening and not giving advice before asked?
  • How are you at asking questions about others, not focusing on your story, but rather theirs?
  • How often do you look to see how you can go out of your way to serve and help others?

Extra Commentary on this Passage:

“The words “all comfort” in this passage come from the ancient Greek word paraklesis. The idea behind this word for comfort in the New Testament is always more than soothing sympathy. It has the idea of strengthening, of helping, of making strong. The idea behind this word is communicated by the Latin word for comfort (fortis), which also means “brave.”

God of all comfort: Paul considers the Father a comforter, a Paraclete (paraklesis). We also know that the Holy Spirit is our Paraclete (John 14:1614:2615:2616:7) and that God the Son is our Paraclete (1 John 2:1Hebrews 2:18Luke 2:25). God, in every aspect of His being, is full of comfort, strength, and help for us.

That we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble: One great purpose of God in comforting us is to enable us to bring comfort to others. God’s comfort can be given and received through others.”

David Guzik - Enduring Word Bible Commentary 2 Corinthians Chapter 1, enduringword.com

 

Which part of what Paul says is most encouraging for you? What is most challenging?

Good question to have everyone answer.

TAKING IT HOME

1. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, is there one thing you’d especially like to remember this week?

 

 

2. Do you have any prayer requests for your group?

TIPS ON GROUP PRAYER

Prayer is an important part of being in Growth Group. Over the years we've found that group prayer goes better when we follow three simple guidelines.

WE PRAY FOR ONE TOPIC AT A TIME - Anyone in the group is free to introduce a prayer request either before prayer begins or during the prayer time. Once a topic is introduced, the group focuses on that request alone. Once it's covered, the group moves on to the next topic.

PRAY MORE THAN ONCE - Because the group is focusing on one topic at a time, each person is encouraged to pray several times during the prayer time for those topics they feel most led to pray about. No one is required to pray.

WE KEEP OUR PRAYERS SHORT AND SIMPLE - Group prayer goes better when members keep their prayers short and to the point. When someone prays for a long time, it's hard for the other members to stay focused and long prayers tend to intimidate those who are just learning to pray out loud in a group. No one’s required to pray out loud. 

COMMUNITY SERVICE IMPACT

Community Service is a ministry of North Coast Church dedicated to being the hands and feet of Jesus and showing God’s love in tangible ways through service to the community. There are many options for you to serve. For ideas, check out NorthCoastCommunityService.org