LIFE GROUP LEADER GUIDE
For the week of October 17, 2021
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion.
NORTH COAST MEN’S CONFERENCE – OCTOBER 22 & 23 This is a great opportunity for the guys in your Life Group to get connected at a new level. See below for details. We’ll be raising money once again for one of the women’s resource centers in our community that helps women and families in distress. There will be multiple ways to contribute including raffles for prizes (Big Screen TV, BBQ’s, etc.) along with various tournaments and activities including poker, cornhole and disc golf tournaments. If you have something you would like to donate for the raffle, please contact Vikki at [email protected] See the bottom of the Study Questions for more details.
WOMEN’S GATHERING at North Coast Leadership Conference – October 18, 6-9pm at the Vista Campus. Visit northcoastchurch.com/womens-gathering-event/
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS – We have some high needs projects. Check out our website for a variety of options to serve: northcoastcommunityservice.org
- NEED HELP / SUPPORT? If you need support for your group, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Life Group Pastor – we’re here to help! Find a list of who to contact online at northcoastchurch.com/staff.
- It’s okay to have some weeks that focus more on discussion, and some that focus more on prayer! If you haven’t taken the opportunity to break into men-only/women-only groups, try it this week.
Make sure you attend the Mid-Quarter Training session for Leaders and Hosts for your Campus and Station in Life. Click the link for more info on dates / times: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/mid-quarter-training
Submit your group’s attendance online at northcoastchurch.com/attendance. If you’re not sure how to post attendance, you can check out the guide here: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/how-to-post-attendance
Check out our Tips and Tutorials for Online Groups here: lifegroups.northcoastchurch.com/pro-tips/
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. As we kick off our new series, “Wanted,” about the Old Testament legends that forged our faith, can you think of a “legend,” dead or alive, who has helped paved the way in your faith or your understanding of who God is?
In other words, can you think of a person who has impacted you or your journey with God? This could be anyone from a famous theologian to a pastor to a family member or friend. Is there a person who without their faith and influence you wouldn’t be where you are today?
2. As Chris mentioned, there are plenty of times in the Old Testament where people got ahead of God instead of letting Him go ahead of them. Have you ever had a time where you went ahead of God? If so, what might you have done differently?
In other words, is there a time where you took matters into your own hands instead of leaving things to God? Abraham and Sarah are a classic example of people who “got ahead” of God when they were trying to have the son God promised to them. Examples of getting ahead of God could include making decisions or planning for the future without waiting on or including God. Everyone may not have an answer for this.
Additional Question: Have you ever had a time where you didn’t go ahead of God, take matters into your own hands, etc., but you could have, and what was the result of letting God lead in that scenario?
1. Before Deborah told Barak that God would go before him to take on the Canaanites in Judges 4, the Israelites had a history of God going before them. What do you notice in the following verses about what happened when God went before His people?
Exodus 13:21-22 New International Version (NIV)
21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
God guides them, God is in front (via a pillar), God stays continually in front, does not leave from that place
Deuteronomy 1:29-33 New International Version (NIV)
29 Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” 32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.
When God is before them, they don’t need to be afraid; He will fight for them; God finishes the task completely (all the way); He searches out places and shows them where to go; there is safety in God guiding them.
Deuteronomy 31:7-8 New International Version (NIV)
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
God never leaves; again, no need to be afraid.
Psalm 77:16-20 New International Version (NIV)
16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
When God led His people, even the waters, clouds and weather submitted to Him. He led the people like a shepherd of a flock.
Despite being told the Lord goes before them, it seems it takes courage, strength and assurance for followers of God to trust and let God lead. What do you learn about the role and responsibility of the follower in the passages you just read?
The followers in the passages are to not be afraid; they are to trust, be strong and courageous; they are to go and do the task God gives them (i.e., travel day and night or go and divide the land); they are to be like a flock following a shepherd.
When is it hardest for you to take on this role of the follower and trust that God is out in front of you?
Answers should vary, but could include:
- when the circumstances are daunting or surmounting and I am afraid
- when I have been waiting a long time for something and it seems like God is silent
- when God’s timeline is different than mine
- when I am comfortable and confident in my own abilities and forget that I need God
How do we have courage and better trust God to go ahead of us?
Scripture, prayer, remembering past experiences of God leading us and being trustworthy, having people in our lives who will remind us of His faithfulness when we struggle to remember. Sometimes, it takes practice and the assurance that we have trusted God before, and He was faithful and will be again.
- What does it take for you to “get behind” God and let Him go ahead of you?
- How do you remind yourself that God is ahead of you?
- How might a person possess or acquire the confidence and assurance of Deborah or the trust of Barak in a situation like the story from this weekend?
- Is there an important principle or truth you can apply or remember from this weekend or the passages above that may help you more readily walk in trust?
2. One of the biggest issues with those during the time of Judges was doing what was right in their own eyes and walking in partial obedience to God. Scripture makes it clear that partial obedience is disobedience. An example of this is Saul in 1 Samuel 15:1-26. What do you learn about compromise, good intentions and God in these verses?
1 Samuel 15:1-26 New International Version (NIV)
Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
4 So Saul summoned the men and mustered them at Telaim—two hundred thousand foot soldiers and ten thousand from Judah. 5 Saul went to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the ravine. 6 Then he said to the Kenites, “Go away, leave the Amalekites so that I do not destroy you along with them; for you showed kindness to all the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites moved away from the Amalekites.
7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword. 9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.
12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”
14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15 Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16 “Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”
20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”
22 But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. 25 Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”
26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”
- What are Saul’s good intentions in this passage?
- Why does God respond the way he does to Saul’s actions?
In what ways do we try to justify our actions like Saul does in this chapter?
- How do Saul’s actions demonstrate his half-hearted obedience?
- Can you think of any ways Christians might be tempted to partially obey God’s commands in their employment, finances, sexuality, or some other area of life?
Let’s be honest. We can often fall into the trap of thinking, like Saul, that if we are obeying God in most areas of our lives, we are doing well. Why do you think this is such a common misassumption Christians struggle with?
We can often think “I can’t be perfect,” “God has grace for me,” “God will forgive me,” and those things are TRUE. God does forgive us and have grace for us, and we can’t be perfect. We cling to parts of His word and forget other important parts.
Can you think of any dangers or consequences of thinking like this?
Missing out on the better way of living God has for us, remaining slave to sin, etc. Disobedience compromises our intimacy with God.
Additional Verses: Romans 6
Though we are called to obedience, we also know our sinful nature keeps us from being perfect on this side of Heaven. How does Romans 7:15-25 help you understand the difference between obedience and perfection?
Romans 7:15-25 New International Version (NIV)
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
- What’s the difference between struggling with sin, working on something and high-handed disobedience?
- How do you know if you are struggling with sin or if you have given up?
Note the intent, desire and heart posture of Paul in this passage.
Additional Verses on Confession of Sins and Forgiveness: If someone shares a sin they are struggling with in group, it might be a good idea to read these verses and discuss the power of confession and the forgiveness of Christ.
1. Chris mentioned that to clearly follow God and know He is ahead of you involves being obedient to what you’ve already been told to do. Is there an area of obedience you would like prayer for from your Life Group?
We never force people to confess an area of disobedience or sin in group, but of course welcome it if they feel comfortable. If someone feels convicted and led to share, be sure to thank them for sharing, pray for them, ask how you can support them and follow up again later.
2. Looking back on this week’s sermon and study, what’s most important for you to remember?
Join us Friday, October 22 & Saturday, October 23 for the first ever North Coast Church Men’s Conference held at the Vista Campus! Come ready to relax, recharge and refocus on God’s call for us with teaching led by pastors Chris Brown and Mark Clark, along with worship and games! Register at northcoastchurch.com/2021-mens-conference/.