LIFE GROUP LEADER GUIDE
For the week of October 31, 2021
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion.
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECTS – We have some high needs projects. Check out our website for a variety of options to serve: northcoastcommunityservice.org
- Drinks when people arrive
- Contact anyone that has missed a meeting to let them know you missed them
- Goal for the Evening: Hear from everyone every time you meet! Need help with that? Your Life Group Pastor is ready to help.
- 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. We heard this weekend how pervasive the pursuit of the American Dream is in our society and with many Christians. What was taught or modeled about pursuing the American Dream in your home growing up?
Was there any time in your life when you would say you were caught up in pursuing the American Dream?
- What’s the difference between enjoying the good things in life and having them become idols?
- Chris listed 5 contrasting characteristics between the American Dream and the Kingdom Dream. Which one of the contrasting characteristics do you struggle with the most? You could ask this question here or as an intro to Digging Deeper #1.
2. Chris talked about our choices affecting more people than just us. Can you think of a time in your life when you were greatly impacted by someone else’s choice? How about a time when a decision you made impacted people in a greater way than you thought it would?
1. In a very real sense, the pursuit of the American Dream is actually a worship of idols. An idol can be anything in life we’ve made more important than God. God’s warnings to Israel about worshiping idols made of wood, gold or silver also applies to our pursuit of the modern-day idols that make up the American Dream. As you read the passages below, jot down what they tell us some of the problems are with pursuing idols.
Note: Be careful that no one begins to equate the American Dream to a political party or ideology.
In a sermon Chris Brown did on modern-day idols a few years ago, he defined an idol as “usually a good thing that becomes a god thing and becomes what we love and pursue most with our heart and actions.”
He then provided four questions we can ask ourselves to determine if we are pursuing idols in our life:
- What is it that consumes my life?
- What do I manipulate God to get?
- What am I consumed about keeping?
- What would destroy me if I lost it?
Psalm 115:3-8 New International Version (NIV)
3 Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.
4 But their idols are silver and gold,
made by human hands.
5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but cannot see.
6 They have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but cannot smell.
7 They have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but cannot walk,
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
8 Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.
Habakkuk 2:18-19 New International Version (NIV)
18 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation;
he makes idols that cannot speak.
19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.”
Isaiah 40:18-25 New International Version (NIV)
18 With whom, then, will you compare God?
To what image will you liken him?
19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and fashions silver chains for it.
20 A person too poor to present such an offering
selects wood that will not rot;
they look for a skilled worker
to set up an idol that will not topple.
21 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
An idol can be anything in life we look to besides God to give us significance, security, safety or fulfillment. Can you think of one or two good things that have been an idol to you in the past or could become one if you’re not careful?
Additional Question: What are some things people in our society look to for significance, security, safety or fulfillment?
Why do you think good things can so easily become an idol in our lives?
- What has helped you keep good things from becoming an idol in your life?
- What can we do to avoid allowing good things to become an idol?
How might someone be able to determine the line between enjoying God’s blessings and having those blessings become idols in their life?
Additional Passage: Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
2. As we heard this weekend, our obedience doesn’t guarantee life on earth will go the way we want it to. The problem is not with our obedience, it’s with our expectations of what should happen because we are obedient. How do the following passages help you better understand what we can and can’t expect from our obedience?
Daniel 3:16-18 New International Version (NIV)
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
The three guys didn’t expect that obedience would protect them. They knew God could deliver them if He wanted to but weren’t about to presume that He was going to. They were good either way.
Acts 7:54-60 New International Version (NIV)
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen obeyed by preaching to the religious leaders, and he got stoned from it. In Acts 4, Peter is before the same religious leaders, and he explains what he was doing and they let him go. Why does Peter get a free pass and Stephen gets stoned?
Hebrews 11:32-40 New International Version (NIV)
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
The first 3.5 verses are all about people who accomplished great things because of their faith and obedience. The next 3.5 verses talk about people who had faith and obedience and got a raw deal from an earthly perspective. No explanation is given why some saw great success and others failure.
Note: God chooses to respond to our obedience however He sees fit. For some there is a reward for obedience, for others there is loss from an earthly perspective. Half the people in Hebrews saw a miracle and half didn’t. It was not the quality of their faith or the extent of their obedience that made the difference. In Acts 12, besides the miraculous escape of Peter from prison, there is this sentence in v. 2: King Herod “had James the brother of John, put to death with the sword.” Why was Peter rescued and James killed? If God could open the prison doors for Peter, He could easily do the same for James. But He chose not to.
Obedience and faith are not supposed to protect us from all of life’s trials and tribulations. According to James 1:2-4, the trials of life are what build our character and our faith.
What would you say to someone who was disappointed that their obedience hadn’t produced the results they wanted?
Facilitation Tip: This question is designed to get everyone to put into words what they’ve learned about this topic. You might want to split everyone up in pairs and have each person tell the other person what they would say.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you were obedient, but the results of your obedience didn’t match your expectations? How did you respond?
Not everyone will be able to answer this question.
- How would you like to respond when your obedience doesn’t produce the expected results?
- What can you do to stay trusting in God’s goodness even when your obedience doesn’t produce the expected results?
Looking back on this week’s sermon and study, what’s most important for you to remember?