For the last few weeks, I’ve been writing a Bible study discussion guide series for my local church following the weekend message series called “Brave.” Since I haven’t been able to update much here, I thought I’d copy the discussion guides here for you to read. Links to the original sermon messages for wax week’s discussion are given, as well as follow up tips to help in applying the message to your daily practices.
Link to that weekend’s message: http://vineyardchristian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Brave-Week-1.mp3
Worship suggestion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UglO7SGUWk
Opening Prayer: Lord God, as we move into the evening, we ask that you let us set aside our fears and concerns and open our minds and hearts to what you may have for us to learn. Give us peace in the knowledge that you are in control. Give us strength in knowing that so long as we follow the direction you have placed in our hearts, you will walk with us. Amen.
Opening Question/Food for thought (as applicable, matching the theme of the message)
This past weekend, we heard the story of Rahab the Prostitute, who hid the Israelite spies in Jericho before God’s people entered the Promised Land. We were encouraged to remember that she had moved beyond her past to take a risk.
Icebreaker: Who is someone you respect –either famous or not- who had to overcome their past?
Discussion/Bible Verses/Activities (writing, acting, or prayer)
Rahab was a prostitute who acted bravely to hide spies sent by Joshua to explore Jericho. Despite her past, she’s remembered long after her death as someone of faith. Someone I think she’s get along with is Nicolas Herman, who was born in 1614 in what’s now modern day France. Due to being poor, he joined the army and went to fight in the 30 Year War. After fighting in the army, where he was injured, Nicolas became a servant. He worked in obscurity for a while before he decided to dedicate his entire life to God. He joined the Discalced Carmelite Priory in Paris as a lay brother. He did not have enough education to become a priest. There he worked washing dishes and fixing shoes for the monks. He took the name “Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection.” He served for the rest of his life doing menial chores and praying.
Despite his past as a poor soldier, despite his weakness as an uneducated man, and despite his low position as a servant to monks, Brother Lawrence became known by the other men in the Priory as someone of character who knew God. Think about that, becoming known as someone who especially knows God when you LIVE WITH MONKS. Several men, priests and scholars, would come to Brother Lawrence where he worked in the kitchen and talk to him about prayer and God, seeking guidance. After his death, several of his teachings were collected and published as a book, The Practice of the Presence of God. Now, almost a thousand years later, this is listed by many, including AW Tozer and John Wesley, as one of the most influential teachings on prayer ever written down. Despite his low past, and even his low station, Brother Lawrence had the bravery to dedicate himself to Jesus and has had an effect on others long after his death.
Discussion Questions: Rahab is known in the Bible as “The Prostitute.” How do you think it feels to be known for your sin everywhere you go?
Do you think this makes it harder or easier to be brave in Jesus?
Paul in the Bible was first known as Saul. Before he became a Christian, Saul oversaw the execution of Stephen, an early leader in the church. He then lead one of the first major efforts to persecute Christians until he was met with a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus. For the rest of his life, Paul remembered his past as a murderer, but lead so many to Christ. In Philippians 3, Paul begins by telling the story of his past, both as a rabid follower of the law and self-righteousness and as a persecutor of Christians. But then he says this:
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:13b-14
Discussion Question How hard do you think it was for Paul to set aside his past? What does it mean to you to “forget what is behind and strain forward toward what is ahead”?
When we take these risks of faith, it can sometimes be easy to assume that because we are acting in faith, things will immediately work out for us. If this doesn’t happen, we can then fall into the danger of losing faith. It’s important to remember though that when we step out in faith, things may not work out the way we’re expecting them to. While God is certainly behind us, the world is not yet perfect and we may not always have the position to see how everything really ends. In Hebrews 11 it also mentions Abraham, who by faith trusted that God would make him into an entire nation. When Abraham died, however, he only had one son and that one born late in his life. Abraham would have been justified to believe that God’s promise wasn’t working out the way he’d expected, but he held onto his faith.
Discussion Question: What are some ways you’ve stepped out in faith, but haven’t seen things work out the way you expected?
In the services this weekend, we were each given a bit of red thread. Keep this thread somewhere you will see it every day and use it as a reminder each day to pray and consider what is something you can be doing to step out in bravery in your life?
Read through Hebrews 11 and pray about what the faith described in each of the people in that passage looks like in your life. Read on to Chapter 12, where the writer begins to discuss how this faith is to be applied in daily life
Ending Prayer: Lord Jesus, walk with us this week and be a voice in our ear nudging us to bravery when it is called for. Remind us that our past is behind us and our future can be written by you. Amen.
Additional Resources: The book “A Lineage of Grace” by Francine Rivers tells the story of several women from the Bible, including Rahab