Sunday, May 20, 2018

Are You Kidding Me?! - It's Your Own Fault

Genesis 42–44


This text is about how God used a series of tests to get Joseph's brothers' attention. The brothers never mentioned God, never thought about God, so God allows some things to happen in their lives to get them to focus on Him.

Who's got a funny story about how someone blamed someone else for something they did wrong?

What makes it difficult to accept responsibility for your actions?
(Because no one likes to fail.)

What feelings do people avoid when they constantly blame other people for their actions?
(Guilt, shame, attention, insecurity, etc.)

What does our tendency to blame others reveal about the human heart?
(We're selfish, and would rather someone else face the consequences of our failures.)

Why is it so important to take full responsibility for our sin, failures or shortcomings?
(When you blame others, you give up your power to change.)

God will test us to see if we are actually learning, growing, and moving forward from the things we admitted and took responsibility for. He wants us to grow up! Are there any tests you're in the midst of right now? How are you doing?

God doesn't test us because He doesn't know how weak/strong we are. He tests us because WE don't know how weak/strong we are. Have you ever gone through a test, and then realized how spiritually weak or strong you were? What was that like?

What test does God seem to be giving you over and over again? Why do you think he wants you to retake it?

Testing should make us spiritually stronger (James 1:2, 4). What do you need to do, and what do you need to ask God for help with in order to become stronger and pass your test(s)?
(The only way you're really going to know what you will do is to go through some things and be faithful to God. Stick with things, don't give up and run away, and don't blame everyone else for your problems.)


Next Steps:


Accepting responsibilities can be difficult, but this builds character and confidence, earns respect, and can motivate us to complete our work. What responsibility do you need to accept in order to accomplish the work God has for you?

Moving forward requires faithful actions. What area do you need to be faithful with in order to move forward in your walk with God?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day: Desperate Housewives

Matthew 15:21-28


v 21-22 - The Gentile woman came to Jesus with her plea the first chance she got. When you're desperate for something from God, how do you typically go about that? For instance, how quickly do you go to God? How often? How long? How desperate do you get with Him? etc.

The woman came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter. Who is someone that you have desperately or constantly gone to God for?

v 23a - This woman was panicked, begging and pleading Jesus to respond, but Jesus was silent. How was Jesus not really ignoring her, but already involved in His work?

v 23b - Jesus' disciples got annoyed with her begging and tried to get her to go away. What kind of obstacles have deterred you from pursuing your faith? How can you overcome them?

v 24 - What happens when God says no to you?

v 25 - This woman shows great persistence in her faith and pursuit of Jesus. What's an area in your life where you need to become more persistent and not give up on pursuing God?

v 26 - Jesus says no to her request again. How can (or do) you worship God when you don't feel "blessed"?

v 27 - She's willing to take the little scraps from Jesus. How far will you go just to see God do one "little" thing in your life?

v 28 - Jesus says, "your faith is great." Describe what you believe it will take for God to say the same about you.

How do you think God is testing your faith right now? (or) What did this story teach you about your faith?


Next Steps:

Read Hebrews 11:6. How can you apply this verse to your life?

Write a brief prayer asking God to nurture in your life the kind of faith and persistence demonstrated by the Gentile woman.

Write down and commit to one step of great (persistent) faith you can take this week.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Are You Kidding Me?! - What's Taking So Long?

Genesis 41:1–46


1. Genesis 41:1 tells us that Joseph has been sitting in prison for two long years since he helped the cupbearer and baker.

  • When have you had to wait a really long time for God to move you forward in challenging circumstances?
  • How did God move you forward?
  • What is the most important thing you've learned about waiting?

2. Training for greater things always takes place in lesser things. We all have dreams and desire for "greater things" in all areas of our lives.
  • How are you being faithful today with the "lesser things"?
  • What are the smaller platforms and opportunities that you have right now that are preparing you for what's next?

3. When we complain about things in our lives, it often is rooted in areas where we need to grow spiritually.
  • What are the big areas in your life that you complain about most often?
  • How can you avoid the complaining trap by "waiting well"?
  • How would your life be different if you stopped complaining and started looking for ways to be faithful and obedient to God now?

4. Genesis 41:16 shows that despite everything that has happened to Joseph, he is still holding on and trusting in God.
  • Is it hard for you to keep trusting God when you have to wait?
  • What parts of life end up testing your ability to trust and wait on God the most?

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Are You Kidding Me?! - Detour Ahead!

Genesis 39:19 – 40:23



When a detour occurs in your life, how have you generally reacted toward it?

Why does God not take us on a direct route from where we are to where He wants us to be? Share a personal example of how God led you in a "roundabout way" toward a desired goal. What are some important lessons you learned on the path?

Joseph was born into a dysfunctional family, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, sent to jail unjustly, and forgotten by everyone he had helped and served. Have you ever had to bear negative consequences in your life as a result of your commitment to God?

Obviously, Joseph was not where he wanted to be (and not where God told him he would be yet), but while he was in prison, he was given an opportunity with the baker and the cupbearer. What opportunities are in front of you right now in the midst of your detour?

Has there been a time in your life where you were so focused on the final destination of your future that you were missing what God wanted to do in your life right in the present?

Have you ever tried to refuse taking a detour? What happened as a result?

Are you on a detour emotionally, relationally, career-wise, or in another way? Answer these questions concerning your situation:

1. How is this experience developing my relationship with God?
2. What am I learning about myself through the situation?
3. What opportunities do I have now that I otherwise would not have had if I wasn't on this detour?
4. What could God be preparing me for in the future through this experience?


Next Steps:


This week, some of your rGroup members ma have shared some struggles and pains associated with detours they find themselves on. Be sure to spend some time praying for them (and for each other) as a group before you dismiss.

On your own, take some time to identify ways you can improve your relationship with God in the midst of your detours and disappointments.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Are You Kidding Me?! - But I Did the Right Thing!

Genesis 39:1–23



Share a personal story about a time in your life in which it was very easy and seemingly innocent to cheat.

How would you define or explain integrity?
(The word 'integrity' evolved from the Latin adjective 'integer', meaning whole or complete. In this context, integrity is the sense of 'wholeness', and not a fraction. 8/8 is a whole number, 7/8 would be a fraction.)

What does the concept of "whole" and "complete" tell you about integrity?
(Integrity can not be something we have "some" or "most" of the time. It's something we must have "all" of the time. It's our character.)

What do "small" choices and "white lies" have to do with integrity?

What are some of the greatest tests of integrity that men/women/couples/moms/teens (whatever fits your rGroup) face today?

What types of situations test your integrity the most?

Do you think integrity is valued today in society? Why or why not?

How can you specifically follow Joseph's example to run from temptation (sexual temptation or other kinds)?

Was there anything that Joseph did to help him make a decision in response to Potiphar's wife's advances? How can you learn from him?

If it matters, guard it. What "guard rails" are in your life to protect your integrity? What guard rails do you need to add?

What happens to your relationship with God, with others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you refuse to have integrity?

Even though Joseph demonstrated his character of integrity, he still got blamed and thrown in prison. Has integrity ever cost you something?

Why do you think God allowed the situation with "Mrs. Potiphar" to end the way it did, especially in light of God's favor in other areas of Joseph's life?

Everything we do as a child of God and follower of Jesus must be in integrity, truthfulness, and honesty, as we are representing Him who is living in us. What are you tempted to pursue/follow more than Jesus?


Next Steps:


What do you need to confess of and turn away from in order to follow God with integrity?

Think through the steps you need to take to put integrity into action in a specific instance. For example, what can you do to be more consistent and proactive with integrity?

What action step will you take this week to build your character of integrity?



Pray:


God, we need your guidance every single step of the way. Help us to see those times when we have a decision to make about who we are and who we are not. Help us to follow you and not our own desires. And show us the way that we need to walk, talk and think to stay in step with you.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Are You Kidding Me?! - It's Not My Fault!

Genesis 37:18–35

Being a Christian does not mean we will not face extreme hardships in life. According to these verses (18-35), how does what's happening to Joseph remind you of what happened to Jesus?
• Joseph was hated by his brothers. Jesus was hated by his own.
• Joseph's brother's conspired against him. The Jews of Jesus' day conspired against Jesus
• Joseph was stripped of his coat. Jesus was stripped of His clothing.
• Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver. Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

What is a time you took the blame for something you did not do or when someone took the fall for you?

Without looking it up online, what is your definition of the word 'blame'?
('to assign responsibility for a fault of wrong')

Joseph's brothers were quick to devise a plan that would help them "get away with" their actions. What makes it difficult to accept responsibility for your actions?

Part of giving blame is that you also then accept innocence. This can lead to hypocrisy in our lives. What is the danger of a Christian hypocrite to others? What is the danger of a Christian hypocrite to themselves?

What feelings do people avoid when they constantly blame other people for their actions?

What role does pain or discomfort play in the issue of blame?
(Blame is pushing away pain and discomfort. We blame when we're uncomfortable, experiencing pain, when we're vulnerable, angry, hurt, in shame, and grieving. There's nothing productive about blame.)

In your opinion, does stubbornness reflect an open or closed mind? Does it matter? Why or why not?

Joseph might have wondered where God was while being thrown in a pit and sold as a slave. However, we can see God in the small details. Share a real example of how to look for God's hand in times of trouble. How does this help you trust God more?

Why can't blame and trusting God co-exist?

Why is it comforting to know God can fulfill His will despite our rock-bottom circumstances?

Next Steps:


• What responsibility have you pushed on someone else that you need to take on yourself?

• What would it look or feel like to release the blame you've put on yourself, and ask God to forgive you?

• Is there a circumstance in your life that you are unhappy with and blame God? How might you experience His love and grace in that?

• What difficulty are you facing that you will trust God to control?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Are You Kidding Me?! - Living the Dream

Genesis 37:1–14


Joseph had a dream from God about what his life's calling would be.

A phrase you may have heard before is, "I'm doing what God put me on this Earth to do" or "I was made to _______." People often equate their passions, profession, or skills to God's will and purpose for their lives. Do you have a "dream" (AKA purpose, calling, destiny) for your life?

How do you know it's from God and not just a desire of yours? How can you tell the difference between a God-dream and man's dreams?

(Let anyone answer, discuss and brainstorm. You don't have to have the "right" answer yet.)

Many times, people believe that since they are a Christian, that means that God will bless their business, their family, their decisions, and their finances out of obligation. They believe that God will (or at least should) bless the dreams of Christians. Is that really what the Bible says God will do? Explain.

Here are 4 ways that the dream from Joseph helps us to see what a dream (calling, purpose, destiny) from God looks like:

#1 - A dream from God will always bring glory to God. A dream of yours usually only focuses around making YOU look better.

What's a calling you have that is meant to bring glory to God?

What is a dream you are pursuing that has left God's purpose out of it?

(Joseph's dream was about elevating Joseph to a position of power because God wanted a powerful person to proclaim to the people the truth about God. Joseph's elevation wasn't about him at all, but about God giving him a platform designed to give God glory.)

#2 - A dream from God benefits others. A dream of yours is focused on benefiting you and your life. God may bless you in the process, but it's not designed to simply be for you.

What's one of your personal missions that is centered around the benefit of others?

What dream of yours needs to be readjusted so that it includes others?

(Joseph was elevated so that people would be provided for during a famine, so that Pharaoh could tie the success to God through Joseph, and so that many people would know God. It wasn't about giving Joseph money and power just for his sake.)

#3 - A dream from God won't go away (it will resonate and even intensify over time). A dream of yours changes with your stage of life, circumstances, economy, and surroundings.

What passion has God put in your heart that has never gone away? And what are you doing with it?

What's a temporal pursuit that you know is from yourself and will fade away soon? What are you going to do about it?

(Joseph's dream came to him multiple times. It wasn't a one-and-done.)

#4 - A dream from God will be completed by God. God will do the work, make the way, provide the means, and work in people's hearts. A dream of yours means it's all up to you. God doesn't promise to bless OUR dreams, He promises to bless HIS dream for our life.

How have you seen God provide you with everything necessary to complete His dream for your life?

(There is no way that Joseph could have orchestrated his story. Because his purpose was given by God, God took care of all the details. If it's God's will, it's God's bill.)


Next Steps:


So, how does your "dream" line up? Is it a persona desire, or is it your purpose and destiny from God? Remember, there's nothing wrong with personal desires. We just need to make sure we don't miss the purpose that God has for our lives because we are busy chasing our version of a dream for our lives.

What do you need to confess to God and repent of? What do you need to ask God's help for? What's one step you can take towards God's dream this week?