LIFE GROUP LEADER GUIDE
For the week of March 5, 2023
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion.
|PLEASE MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO FINALIZE YOUR GROUP PLANS AND ROSTERS FOR THE SPRING QUARTER AT YOUR MEETING THIS WEEK: Your timely response will help us know how many groups we need for Spring Sign-ups on March 25. If you have not already, please confirm changes to your group or indicate “NO CHANGES” when you submit your attendance this week. Thank you!
Spring Quarter Dates:
Goals for the Meeting:
New Leaders & Hosts: Do you know someone who would be great at leading or hosting a Life Group? If so, please let your Life Group Pastor know.
Life Group Leader / Hosts Community Gatherings / MID-QUARTER TRAINING
SERVE YOUR CITY – April 15-30 (Three-week focus – Give/Serve/Love)
This weekend we heard an incredible message about a woman whose most horrifying shame was brought to light and redeemed. Was there anything you heard for the first time or something that caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
1. Do you have an embarrassing story that, when it happened, was horrifying but you laugh about and share openly now?
This can be a really fun question to ask. Most of us have silly stories from our pasts and this can give us a better glimpse into our group members’ sense of humor and how we have grown as individuals. Laugh and share together.
2. Guilt and shame are identity thieves. Do you have a story from your life or a friend or family member whose identity was stolen, and what happened?
There may be some who don’t have a story and others who may have a wild one. It’s never fun to check your bank account and see purchases you never made. The point of this question can help us see that it’s never fun to have to deal with a stolen identity, and guilt and shame are ones we don’t always realize have stolen ours.
This weekend we looked further into the story of Jesus with the woman at the well. Chris took us into a deeper understanding of the freedom offered to us as Christians from the guilt and shame we carry with us through life. We will explore two passages written by two different men who experienced freedom from shame that could have haunted them throughout their lives but instead chose to trust in God’s redemption of them.
1. King David was a man who lived a shame-filled life in many ways, yet we see he was also a man who understood God’s grace and mercy. As we read through Psalm 25, David makes it clear that a relationship with God is a two-way street. Write down what David agrees to do and what God agrees to do.
Psalm 25 New International Version (NIV)
1 In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.4 Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.11 For the sake of your name, Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose. 13 They will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land.14 The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.15 My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.17 Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.18 Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.19 See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! 20 Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.21 May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.22 Deliver Israel, O God, from all their troubles!
As a leader, you’ve probably heard some of the messages from our David series and seen how shameful David was. As you walk through this part of the homework, it will be easier to pull out the things that God agrees to over what David does. There’s a point to that. God does the heavy lifting in pulling us out of our shame. David’s perspective is to be humble, trust, learn, and wait— this is an ever-present battle.
God agrees to: David agrees to:
Of the list that God agrees to do, which one or two spoke to you most about how God handles your past shame? Why were they significant to you over other things?
Additional Question: How have you seen God honor some of the things He agrees to already in your life? For example, have you seen God teach you? Have you felt Him guard your soul? What was that like?
Psalm 25 is a poem that David wrote trusting in God’s love for him despite his felt shame. If you were to write about God’s perspective of you, what five words would you make sure to include? Why?
Not everyone is a poet, but some may even go so far as to write their own poem. These five words can give us a better picture of how we believe God sees us. Offer encouragement, and if necessary, this can be an opportunity to speak truth over those in our group who are living in past shame.
2. Peter was a disciple who followed Jesus for three years, then denied ever knowing Him as He went to the cross, but Jesus went to him and not only forgave him but also freed him from his shame. This weekend we were challenged not to believe what our past says about us, but what God says about us now. As you read what Peter wrote to fellow Christians in 1 Peter 2:9-10, circle what God promises those who trust in Jesus.
1 Peter 2:9-10 New International Version (NIV)
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
You can read the story of Peter’s denial and how Jesus restores him in Luke 22:54-63 and John 21:15-17. Part of the power of these questions is grounded in the shame and guilt Peter experienced in his denial and the incredible grace and lifting of his head that Jesus extends to him. Peter gets what it is like to be stuck in that place and then calls us as Christians to embrace our new identity.
We all deal with shame and guilt differently, but God makes it clear that those who trust in Christ will never be put to shame. One of the ways this becomes clear is not by focusing on who we were but who we now are. Which new description of you from 1 Peter 2:9-10, if you trust in Christ, brings you the most comfort? Why?
One term that points us toward a new way of living in the passage above is “a royal priesthood”. A priest is someone who represents to others the awesomeness of God. When you think about living as a priest, how do you think it could play out?
Most people can tend to view living as a priest as meaning we are dull or boring even. It doesn’t have to be. For example, you as a leader are weekly inviting those in your group to consider the awesomeness of God. You can share from your experience as a leader that living in this way isn’t dull but actually incredibly rewarding.
What are some ways you think we overcomplicate what it means to live as a priest? In what ways do we not take it seriously enough?
The beauty of this question allows us to see both sides. In what ways may we be over the top and too rigid in how we expect “a priest” to live? On the other side, we are all called a royal priesthood and sometimes we assume that is other “more religious” Christians. We are free from our guilt and shame for a purpose and that is to make much of the awesomeness of God. If we lean too far one way or the other, we may not actually be reflecting well who He really is. Check out Galatians 5:13.
How has this week’s sermon or Life Group discussion strengthened and affirmed your understanding of your new identity in Christ?