Leader Guide: Winter Week 7


For the week of February 24, 2019
This guide is designed to give helpful hints in preparing & leading your group in discussion.

These notes are designed to be a resource as you lead your Life Group each week.

Things to Remember:

  • Drinks when people arrive
  • Spring Sign-Ups: Mar 23 – 31
  • Spring Quarter:  Apr 1 – Jun 1

Goals for the Evening:

  • Continue to build relationships
  • Discuss the study questions
  • Pray together


There are two meetings left in the quarter. Please let us know of any changes to your group or indicate “NO CHANGES” when you submit your attendance. Please let us know this information ASAP. Thank you!


  • Take prayer requests
  • If you haven’t divided into male/female groups already, you may want to do so for prayer.

Make sure you attend the Mid-Quarter Training session for Leaders and Hosts (Vista Campus based-groups only). Click the links below to RSVP.

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.

1. The list below contains some of the things we can do to grow spiritually. Which of these do you think could most easily become something where you just “go through the motions?”

  • Going to church
  • Serving/Volunteering
  • Communion
  • Life Group
  • Daily Bible reading/Bible studies
  • Giving/Generosity
  • Fasting
  • Prayer

Which 2 or 3 of the activities above have been most helpful or impactful in your relationship with God?

Keep in mind, we aren’t knocking rituals, we’re stressing the importance of relationship with God. Rituals can be an awesome thing if they help someone connect with God.

Additional Question: True or False – We tend to gravitate more to rituals than relationship with God. Can you think of anything else you do regularly to grow spiritually with God?

2. Fasting can be anything you give up for a period of time in order to focus more on your relationship with God. Can you think of anything you’ve fasted from? What was your experience with it?

Alternative Question: What’s something you’ve given or given up because of your relationship with God?

Fasting Resource: https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/fasting/7-steps-to-fasting.2.html

3. Looking back at your notes from this week’s teaching, what are some of the points, Bible verses, etc. that really stood out to you?

1. God wants a relationship with us. He isn’t interested when we turn things that are meant for growth into religious rituals. Matthew 6:1-18 does a great job illustrating the differences between a relationship with God and practicing rituals. As you read through the passage, what themes do you see?

Ritual Themes: Doing things to be noticed by others, self-focused and showing off.
Relationship Themes: Pure motive and intent, actions are focused on God and therefore can be done in secret.

Can you think of any modern day examples of focusing too much on rituals similar to what was mentioned in the passage above?


  • Giving: Posting a lot of pictures of your generosity on social media.
  • Prayer: Showing off with long winded prayers with big words during Life Group prayer time.
  • Forgiving: Telling people you forgive them more as an insult to them, forgiving select people and not others.
  • Fasting: Bragging about your fast to friends in attempt to glorify yourself.

2. Larry mentioned we are to “look at the fruit, not the watering schedule.” Fruit is a great analogy for growth and productivity because the fruit of a tree is an important indicator of its overall health. In several places in the Bible, a tree is used as a metaphor for spiritual growth. After reading the passages below, jot down what it takes for us to be like flourishing trees with abundant fruit.

Luke 6:43-4543 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Good fruit is the natural outpouring of someone who is a good person. Our words reveal what’s in our heart. When you talk about others, is it encouraging and uplifting, or gossip and slander? Watch what you say!

Psalm 1:1-3Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

“Walks not … nor stands … nor sits: The blessed man does not do certain things. There is a way he will not walk, a path he will not stand in, and a seat he will not sit in.” – Guzik

The passage speaks to the progression of sin which can keep us from fruit. We start with walking alongside unhealthy people (walk), which eventually stops our forward movement (stands), leading us to sit down and set up camp in bad situations (sit). The antidote is when we can practice relationship with God throughout our day by meditating on his Word and prayer. This will help us to grow and produce fruit.

Psalm 92:12-1512 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

Righteousness will continue producing fruit throughout our life.

Jeremiah 17:5-8This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

When we trust in God and put our confidence in him, we will never fail to produce fruit.

Additional Verses: Matthew 12:33-37, Proverbs 20:11, James 3:8-12

Have you ever been around a group of Christians that put an emphasis on a “watering schedule,” or a particular tool that caused you to feel less-than or not as spiritual?

Examples: Speaking in tongues, charismatic prayers, visions, dreams, Christians that do hours of Bible study every day.

While our “fruit” can be a sign of health, it could be tempting to think that we are better Christians because of the things we’re doing or not doing. What caution does Galatians 2:16 give on the dangers of thinking our “fruit” puts us in a better position with God?

We aren’t saved by the work we do, we’re saved by grace. Yes our works are a natural outpouring of our relationship with Jesus, but they are not something that changes our status.

Additional Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9

Additional Questions: If I were to ask your spouse or best friend what fruit they see in your life, what would they say? Can you think of any times where there was more fruit in your life? Less? What were the circumstances? If you could pick which type of fruit you’d want to produce most often in your life, what would it be?

Justified:It is a legal concept; the person who is ‘justified’ is the one who gets the verdict in a court of law. Used in a religious sense it means the getting of a favorable verdict before God on judgment day.” (Morris)

Was there ever a time in your life where you thought your fruit and good deeds made you more acceptable to God?

This may be hard for people to answer.

As you think about the spiritual growth practices we looked at in the sermon and discussion questions, are there any you may want to add, subtract or change in the next few weeks to help you grow in your relationship with God?

Mark Reading Challenge