LIFE GROUP LEADER GUIDE
For the week of November 8, 2020
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion.
MANday NIGHT FOOTBALL – Guys Night Out Postponed – Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID restrictions, we are postponing this event.
NO LIFE GROUPS OVER THANKSGIVING
END OF THE QUARTER PLANNING – Last Week of Life Group is November 29 – December 5. Begin talking to your group about end of the quarter and confirming who is returning.
FEEDBACK FORMS COMING NEXT WEEK
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS – We have some high needs projects. Check out our website for COVID-SAFE options to serve: northcoastcommunityservice.org
WINTER QUARTER DATES
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.
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 learned about fear. When you were growing up, did you have any childhood fears (i.e. heights, clowns, being lost, monsters, the dark, weather, bugs, snakes)?
Discussion Note: This is a great question to help get to know the members of your group better. The more times we can learn something new and slightly vulnerable about each other, the more likely our relationships will form stronger long-term.
2. The enemy can’t create; he can only counterfeit. Oftentimes we see the enemy tempting us with good things that are counterfeits of God’s truth. The enemy can use many things to counterfeit the good gifts from God. As a group, make a list of some common counterfeits you see today (i.e. love and lust, holiness and happiness, generosity and greed).
Note: This list can be made together or individually. You could compare counterfeits against the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Discussion Note: Using your Bibles – You may want to encourage the people in your group to use their Bibles for the questions below, 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. Reflecting back to an earlier story in the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira made fatal decisions that were rooted in their fear of the wrong source. Read Acts 5:1-11 and make note of the different sources of fear.
Acts 5:1-11 New International Version (NIV)
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
Note: We have previously covered this passage in our Acts series. You can view Chris Brown’s message (Acts series #10) here: www.northcoastchurch.com/messages/10-ananias-sapphira-how-to-live-a-great-life-during-bad-times/
Discussion Note: Read the passage above through the lens of “fear.” Look for where it is stated and how each person(s) responded to fear.
- What verse(s) or phrases help us understand the importance of keeping the fear of God at the center of our lives?
- How does knowing who to fear influence a situation?
In the passage above, there are three groups of people (Ananias and Sapphira, the Church at large and Peter). Indicate what they feared and what the result of their fear was.
|People||Source of their fear? God or Man||Result|
|Ananias & Sapphira||Fear of man|
|The Church||Fear of God|
|Peter||Fear of man|
Discussion Note: The chart is a tool to help group members better break down what they are reading in the passage. The phrase ‘seized with fear’ is used in the passage above (Acts 5:5,11) and in the passage from the sermon this week (Acts 19:17). Reflect back on how Peter denied Jesus (see additional sub-question below) and how that impacted his confidence in confronting Ananias and Sapphira.
Reflecting on Ananias and Sapphira’s story, why do you think caring about how others see us plays such a major role in our decision making?
Discussion Note: This question is focused on the fear of man versus the fear of God. Feel free to reference back to Chris Brown’s message above.
- Can you think of a time when you made a decision based on the fear of man? How did that play out?
- Can you think of a time when you made a decision based on the fear of God? How did that play out?
- Can you think of a time when you made a decision based on the fear of man? Another where you made it based on the fear of God? Compare and contrast the two.
- How might someone know if they made a decision rooted in fear of man or God?
- Let’s brainstorm together a list of ways to keep the fear of God (instead of man) at the center of our minds. (i.e. accountability, praying for each other, vulnerability and sharing with my group/spouse/friend/mentor, reading and practicing scripture, being slow to respond when making decisions)
- How does knowing who to fear influence a situation?
What impact did the power of God have on the fear of God in the Church?
Discussion Note: See the “great fear seized” phrase. Compare this to the passage from this week (Acts 19:17-20). The power of God displayed often causes the people of God to remember to fear God and continue in obedience.
Additional Question: How would you have responded if you witnessed what happened to Ananias and Sapphira?
Can you think of a time when your fear of God increased because of someone else’s misfortune?
Discussion Note: Reflect on a cautionary tale (i.e. moral failure, loss of money, drug/sex/physical abuse, gambling, relationships ending, getting fired from a job, chasing power/fame/status). This can be from someone we know or a celebrity, athlete or politician.
- When we see the misfortune and consequence of a sinful decision of another person, what impact can that have on us? How do we know if the influence on us is a fear of man or a fear of God?
- How do the natural consequences of sin that God has in place help us to have a healthy fear of God?
- Do you think the fear of man and fear of God work together, or are they completely opposite? How so?
Peter was no stranger to denying God. His fear of approval from people, caused him to deny he knew Jesus on three separate occasions. How might Peter’s own personal denials of Jesus have influenced his response to Ananias and Sapphira (John 18:12-14, 25-27)?
John 18:12-14, 25-27 New International Version (NIV)
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people. 25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” 26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
Discussion Note: Reflecting back on Peter’s denial can be helpful (a pretty popular Biblical story for long-time Christians).
- Do you think Peter should have been more graceful knowing his own experience with denying Jesus?
- How would you have responded in Peter’s situation?
- Has fear ever positively been used in your life?
- Has fear ever negatively been used in your life?
- Has an unhealthy fear of God negatively influenced you in a decision?
Can you think of any ways the fear of God has equipped you, changed you or helped you?
Discussion Note: This can be healthy or unhealthy. Sometimes people have a paralyzing fear of God. If an unhealthy fear of God is influencing your group, look at Digging Deeper question #3.
2. This weekend Chris defined true faith, not as just trusting God with our eternity, but giving God our tomorrow. In the verses below, make note of anything pointing us toward a daily trust and obedience in God.
James 1:22-25 New International Version (NIV)
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Luke 9:23-24 New International Version (NIV)
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
Psalm 128:1 New International Version (NIV)
1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.
As you look at the three verses above, what three phrases are most helpful for you to be able to live for tomorrow and not just eternity?
The people of Ephesus realized the power of God and brought their old way of life (scrolls of sorcery) out and burned it. Can you think of any place in your life where you struggle with the “old you” because you are viewing God like a cosmic consultant or magic genie (i.e. a dating relationship, how you view money, anger, lust, pride, tone of voice, power)?
Discussion Note: See the three stages of faith from Chris’ sermon. This could be something people share together. On a more personal level, another method could be to have everyone take a moment to reflect and write it down. This could be used for the “Taking It Home” section or for a focal point of prayer.
3. The enemy would love to use fear to keep us from moving toward God. How does Romans 5:1-5 help us remain confident and experience God’s love?
Romans 5:1-5 New International Version (NIV)
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Discussion Note: This question is geared to generate discussion from the perspective that some people have an unhealthy fear of God. This verse reminds us that we are at peace with God based on what He has done for us.
- Which perspective might you get caught focusing on – too little fear of God, too much fear of God, too much fear of people?
- What would it look like to put too much emphasis on the fear of God?
- What would it look like to put too much emphasis on love and acceptance versus fear of God? How do we balance the two? Is it a balance of the two?
Which point from this weekend’s message or Life Group study is most important for you to remember?