LIFE GROUP LEADER GUIDE
For the week of February 11, 2024
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion.
Need help with anything? We’re here to help! Don’t hesitate to contact your Life Group pastor if you need some extra help leading the discussion, or addressing a specific topic or personal issue that has surfaced in your group.
BEGIN TO FINALIZE PLANS FOR YOUR SOCIAL and/or SERVICE PROJECT
SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE IDEAS:
White Water Vacation Adventure for Leaders & Hosts (and friends in their Life Group)! June 22-26
ATTENTION LEADERS: We have a large section of scripture to be read or listened to this week. This is a good time to preemptively let your group know by sending a text or email so they can be prepared for the first part of the homework this week. We understand that not everyone loves to read, so listening is a great option. We have included the link to listen and the text in its entirety below. We do not want anyone to be overwhelmed by the amount. It is really 8-10 minutes max. You can also print the passage for your group to read through when you are together in the group.
Was there anything you heard from this week’s sermon that surprised you or challenged you?
1. Can you think of an example of someone who has acted in a loving way towards you? How did that act(s) impact you or change your relationship with that person as a result?
These answers will vary from small acts of kindness to great acts of sincere and sacrificial love.
Additional Question: You could flip this question around and ask the inverse. Can you think of a time when you acted loving towards someone, and your relationship with that person was changed as a result?
Additional Question: When you read the words “act in a loving way,” what comes to mind, or how would you define it?
2. In our relationships, knowing more of someone’s story often gives us insight into their personality, behaviors, and relationships with others. Have you ever learned or discovered something about someone that changed your view or understanding of why they are the way they are?
It is possible that not everyone will have an answer to this one. A good direction for this to go would be the route that everyone is going through something or has gone through something we do not know about or understand. The idea of believing the best in others and praying for insight into who others truly are is loving. It is easy to get caught up in assumptions about others, especially those whom we might find difficult, challenging, or unlovable.
1. We are almost halfway through John’s first letter. The chapters leading up to this week’s passage have given us important context to understand what it takes to carry out the challenge to love those who are unlovable.
Remind your group that it is helpful as we learn to look back and remember the context. This may be a good time to preemptively let your group know that there is a big chunk of scripture to read or listen to for the first part of the homework this week. We understand that not everyone loves to read, so listening is a great option. We have included the link to listen and the text in its entirety below.
Making yourself the intended recipient of this letter, read or listen to 1 John 1:1-3:18. This should only take you 8-10 minutes. bit.ly/listen1john
1 John 1:1-3:18 New International Version (NIV)
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.12 I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.14 I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.
3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Grab your favorite pen and highlighter, and in your Bible or on your note sheet,
Circle any word(s)about God’s love for us
Highlight any word(s) about us loving others
Underline any other instruction John gives us as children of God
Discussion Option: You may want to print the passage (or extra homework) for your group and bring it so you can do this exercise in real time. Bring pens, highlighters, and clipboards, and make this a fun exercise.
Additional Question: How many times does John mention each of the above themes? If someone re-read the past three years, at what level would others say they also saw these themes – high points, low points?
Are there any verses about God’s love for you that you find particularly encouraging?
The hope is that many verses are encouraging, and this can be a good time to camp out a bit in the wildness of God’s love for us as His children, as we have talked about over the last few weeks… The King’s kids, dear children, beloved, lavished, etc.
Do you see anything in a new or different way now that you have gone back over it?
With this question, we are hoping that people are pulling new or different concepts that maybe haven’t even been covered in the sermons. As we read scripture on our own, even a familiar passage, the Lord reveals things in fresh ways.
Do you get a sense that any of the instructions John gives might pertain to something you are currently going through? (or have gone through, wish you would have known)
Additional Question: We all at times evaluate the quality and strength of our friendships because they are important to us. The same is true with our commitment to following Jesus. When you think evaluating your commitment to Jesus what are one or two things that come to mind? How often do you evaluate it by how you love those that are difficult? Learning this week that both right living and right loving are inseparable and required to prove the claim that we are truly born again, how will you now gauge the health of your relationship with Jesus?
2. In the last half of Chris’ message, he gave us a helpful list of ways to love others when they hurt us or when they hurt someone we love. Which are the most helpful for you? Have you practiced any of these as you navigate challenging relationships? Is there anything you have done that Chris didn’t mention?
Break Into Smaller Groups: Discussing those who have hurt us has the potential to bring up a variety of responses from annoying coworkers to family members who have caused serious harm. This question is a great opportunity to break up your group into smaller discussion groups. You can separate male and female or gather in groups of 3-4 to discuss this. If you break into small groups, we suggest remaining in clusters with the same gender for optimal sharing. You can ask the above questions with the entire group then break up for the question below or split for all of question #2.
Everyone should have an answer to which tactic from Chris’ list is most helpful.
Additional Questions: From the list Chris provided, can you use any of these in a current situation you are facing? What are some prayers you have prayed for or about those who have hurt you? If anyone has prayed for insight regarding a particular person, have you received an answer and what did you do with the knowledge/insight? How did that new understanding affect your view of that person?
Additional Verses: Colossians 3:12-13, Matthew 6:14-15, 1 Peter 1:22-23
These all touch on how and why we are to love, forgive, and show kindness to those who have hurt us. There are many more verses in addition to those listed above that challenge us in the areas of love and forgiveness. You can ask your group if any verses come to mind that help them when they are angry or saddened because of the way someone has treated them.
If you choose to use any of the above verses, ask specific questions as to how they practically live those verses out. In certain situations, living out God’s word is easier said than done.
Additional Question: What do I do when I do not want to pray for someone, and I certainly do not want to love them? Can we start with an honest prayer to God? Can we ask Him to remind us of the truths that Chris listed in the second half of the sermon? What does that prayer sound like? If someone is struggling, challenge them to talk it out or even write it out.
Is there someone you are holding anger, bitterness, or resentment towards in your life? Is there a practical step you could take to move towards rightly loving that person?
This question is what you may have them discuss in small groups.
We do not need names to be shared for this one! Please emphasize that as we DO NOT want to go the route of gossip, knowing “it’s a small world” and this is an exercise for us to grow as loving, children of God.
Again, the answers you get to this question can be along the surface or go very deep. Be prepared to respond well and in love if there are some significant hurts shared. Also, keep in mind as group members share, that to them, these hurts are real and while you or others in the group may not feel the significance, the one sharing may be having a vulnerable moment. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you keen insight and sensitivity during this portion of group sharing. People may be stuck and not wanting to love this person who has wounded them. That is ok. Encourage them to pray and ask God for help if they are stuck and revisit the list Chris shared of ways we can love others amid feeling hurt and wronged.
Additional Question: Does anyone come to mind who may consider you the “unlovable” who has hurt them or someone they love? Now, consider the same question above. Is there a practical step you could take to move towards rightly loving that person?
Is there one thing you would like to focus on from this week’s teaching or need prayer for?
Depending on how question #2 goes in your group, you may need to pray for some specific situations as they are shared. This would be a great meeting to close in groups of men and women with prayer requests as well.