LIFE GROUP LEADER GUIDE
For the week of November 1, 2020
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion.
MANday Night Football – Guys Night Out – Monday, November 24 at the Vista Campus Plaza – Socially-distanced, and seating will be limited, so be sure to RSVP! Join us for Monday Night Football in the Plaza for fun, food and Chris Brown speaking at halftime. Must register in advance to attend. Bring your own chair. More details to come.
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS – We have some high needs projects. Check out our website for COVID-SAFE options to serve: northcoastcommunityservice.org
We do believe it is important for Jesus followers to think through and process how they are going to vote and engage in politics. But due to the polarizing nature of our current political climate, we want to keep our Life Group meetings free of politics and focused on relationships with each other and Jesus/God’s Word.
Presenting the Good News of Jesus’ saving grace to all, and the unity we have as believers is vitally important to us. In light of this, remember to keep politics completely out of your Life Group discussions. We exist to minister to everyone who wants to know Jesus. Every election cycle we have Christians who become divided over issues and can be deeply offended by comments, jokes, and even prayer requests. We do not want to send the message that people who vote a certain way or have differing political views are not welcome. If someone in your group starts to take things in a political direction (be it with humor, a rant or even a “prayer request” for a specific outcome), gently remind them that the body of Christ (and North Coast Church) is made up of followers of Jesus – some of whom are Republicans, Independents, Democrats, etc.
This week’s Study – We’re taking a deep dive into the book of Philippians this week to help us know how to thrive when that big or small miracle is not happening quite the way we hoped. More details below.
Looking back at your notes from this week’s teaching, was there anything you heard for the first time or something that caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
1. This weekend we looked at Acts 19 and processed what miracles are all about. As followers of Jesus, we know God can do the miraculous. The fact that a person can be forgiven through Jesus’ death and resurrection and spend eternity with Him is the greatest miracle any of us will ever experience. What miracles, if any, have you prayed for or seen others pray for? Are any of these miracles something you have seen happen? Are there any that didn’t happen and you struggled with why God did not cause it to come about?
This question is designed to get your group talking about miracles.
Do People Still Believe in Miracles? In a time in our history when there is more skepticism toward Christianity than in the past, most people still believe in miracles. churchleaders.com/news/289532-barna-healing-poll-josh-pease.html
2. Looking back at the “Five Things to Remember” about miracles in your sermon notes, which one catches your attention the most and why?
Good question to have everyone answer.
Discussion Suggestion / Deeper Dive into Philippians – This question is a dive into the book of Philippians. You can easily spend your entire Life Group time here. One option would be to start with the sub question at the end and poll your group, getting everyone’s top one or two verses that they find important to them, and then spend time digging into those verses using the additional questions below. Having them underline the words that stand out to them in those sections can create some great discussion.
Using your Bibles – You may want to encourage the people in your group to use their Bibles for this question, giving them the opportunity to highlight and underline those words and verses that stand out so they can refer to them in the future.
1. Perspective means a lot when we find ourselves in need of a miracle, big or small. Sometimes when we want God to give clear guidance, give us power to overcome an incredible difficulty or open a door of opportunity, it can seem like He doesn’t come through. The Apostle Paul found himself in similar situations. He asked God multiple times for a miracle to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” (2 Corinthians 1:3-10) but God said no. He also finds himself on house arrest, restricted from going out to share the Gospel the way you might think God would want (Acts 28). Yet, Paul managed to still thrive even in incredibly difficult circumstances without getting the miracle he hoped for.
This week we’re going to dive into the book of Philippians to help us understand how Paul was able to do this. As you read the verses below, imagine Paul writing these words to you. Jot down what Paul is saying and how it can give you hope even when you are not seeing miracles happen or life is seemingly not going the way you planned.
Philippians 1:6 New International Version (NIV)
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Our confidence – God is at work for good in our lives.
Additional question: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, at what level does this build your confidence that God is at work in your life? If God is at work, why do we at times think He isn’t (or might not be)?
Philippians 1:9-10 New International Version (NIV)
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ
Our prayer – Pray that my love may grow and also have insight and knowledge. Our insight and love for others is not just a result of how “we” work at it, but asking God’s Spirit to help us do that no matter what our circumstances are. Important to add: it’s not blind love unable to discern.
Additional Questions: What might be some examples of discerning love? …undiscerning love? Which direction might you need to be careful of falling toward: not being discerning in how you love, or needing to loosen up some and be willing to engage even though it may be messy?
Philippians 1:12-14 New International Version (NIV)
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
The big result – Our perseverance in difficulty helps build others’ confidence to live out their faith.
- Do you have any examples of how others have been an encouragement to you in your life?
- Paul is a good example to us on this. How is Paul’s perspective in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 when God doesn’t heal him contrary to how most of us would normally think when facing physical or emotional challenges?
- What part of this Scripture is most encouraging for you? What part is most challenging?
- If you are facing a great difficulty or a time of suffering, what would you want someone to do (or not do) in their attempt to comfort you or share in your suffering?
Philippians 1:27-30 New International Version (NIV)
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
It’s worth it – Unity in our suffering or struggle can actually be an influence in being a witness to others. “The ancient Greek word translated ‘conduct’ means literally, ‘to live as a citizen.’ Paul told the Philippians to be good, patriotic citizens of the kingdom of God.” – Guzik
There is power in us being united and standing in integrity.
Additional Question: We all get challenged on this on some level. Can you think of any examples of when you are challenged to conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel at work, in your personal life, with your friends or in your marriage?
Philippians 2:12-16 New International Version (NIV)
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.
Getting real – It takes work to process and live out our faith. Fortunately, it’s God at work doing the transforming in us. Again, my attitude and how I live will determine if I’m a light or not.
Additional Question: Are you less of a complainer because you’re a follower of Jesus? If so, can you think of any examples of how or why? (Note – this doesn’t mean we can’t be real – see the next Digging Deeper question).
Philippians 3:7-8 New International Version (NIV)
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ
“Paul counted these things loss. It wasn’t so much that they were a loss by their very character, as much as he chose to regard them as loss.
- They were counted loss not so much because they were harmful to Paul, but because these things were ways in which Paul sought to please God in the energies of the flesh. Before Paul became a Christian, he thought all these things made him a success in the effort to please God by works.
- We can say that Paul’s attitude was the same that Jesus described in the parable of the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46).” – Guzik
Philippians 4:4-7 New International Version (NIV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It’s unexplainable – We can have joy and peace in the middle of the storm.
Additional Questions: Can you think any examples of this happening in your life? We often focus on the beginning of verse 7 when we read these verses. What other parts catch your attention in these verses and are important to pay attention to?
Philippians 4:8-9 New International Version (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Keep your focus aligned – The key question is: what am I filling my mind with?
Additional Question: Is there any input I need to add or subtract in my daily routines?
Which three passages above are most helpful to you?
Good question to hear from everyone. As mentioned above, you can poll your group and go back and focus on their top picks using the additional questions added.
2. When life is difficult and it seems we’re not getting the miracle or guidance we need from God, we can fall into the trap of thinking we have to be positive in order to show we’re remaining faithful. Psalm 73 shows how we can be real about what’s going on and what we think in the midst of a tough situation and still remain faithful. As you read the Psalm, jot down the thoughts and emotions Asaph, the writer, is speaking about, then answer the questions below.
Psalm 73 New International Version (NIV)
1 Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. 3 For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. 7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity, their evil imaginations have no limits. 8 They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. 9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. 10 Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. 11 They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” 12 This is what the wicked are like— always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. 14 All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments. 15 If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children. 16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. 18 Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. 19 How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! 20 They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. 21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 22 I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. 23 Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.
Which thoughts/emotions from the verses above do you relate to most? Which do you relate to least?
Good question to have everyone to answer.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar conversation with God? If so, explain.
Can you think of any reasons why being honest with God about what’s really going on could be better than just putting on a positive face?
Additional Question: How can you balance being honest with God with not feeling like you’re becoming a whiner or complainer?
How could you balance this with Philippians 4:4?
Philippians 4:4 New International Version (NIV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Previous Sermon Resource – on dealing with a crisis: What I do before the crisis determines how much strength I will have in the crisis.
Luke 22:39-40 & 46/ Colossians 3:2/ Matthew 6:13/ Matthew 7:24-27/ 1 Peter 5:6-10
Reminder on Staying Connected in Your Group – Make sure you are taking time to hear how everyone is doing. Your group time is not just about study, but also about connecting, checking in and praying for one another.
1. Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
2. Is there a miracle (large or small) you’d like your group to pray about?
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:3-7
COVID-safe community service projects have been created for your group. To see what our high needs projects are, visit our website at NorthCoastCommunityService.org
Video from our Community Service Pastor: northcoastcommunityservice.org/community-service-impact/