If God Is For Us

Part One      Part Two (The Influence Project 2018)      Part Three      Part Four      Part Five     Part Six      Part Seven      Part Eight


Part 1

Pastor Dale opens the Word at Romans 5 with a passage that brings enormous hope to those who have chosen to accept Jesus into their lives. The passage reminds us that we are declared innocent through that decision and through the choice Jesus made on the cross. Our salvation is not earned, it has been given to us by Jesus; to find God’s grace in our lives we need only to follow Him. This grace brings us joy even in suffering – because suffering produces perseverance, character and hope – which in turn bring joy.

Engage with God’s Word

Consider Romans 5:1-11 & Ephesians 2:8-9.

Discuss

  1. Consider the difference between being ‘washed clean’, ‘born again’ and ‘declared innocent’. Which is new to you? Is one harder than another to accept?
  2. Do you consider yourself a ‘good person’? What do the words ‘sin’ or ‘sinner’ mean to you?
  3. If missing the bullseye, even by a minute amount, is sin, does this change your understanding?
  4. God’s grace is something we cannot earn and do not deserve. Is this hard for you to accept? Is it difficult to understand or apply in your life and in your relationships? Why?
  5. Have you ever experienced God’s grace? What did it feel like? How did it impact you and the lives of those around you?
  6. We each have something deep inside that we don’t like about ourselves or are even ashamed of. It might be something we are working on or something God is showing us today. This is where God wants us to let Him in. Where would you like to see God’s grace in your life?

Respond

Some of your innermost responses to these questions will be deeply personal and between you and God. Write them down. Others will be something God is prompting you to be vulnerable about. Listen to His voice regarding how and what to share.

Discuss the changes you want to see in yourself as a result of these observations. Consider how to change your thinking and language so that the way you live better reflects that you have been ‘declared innocent’.

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Part 3

Our passage today reminds followers of Christ what it means to live in the fullness of God’s grace – to know that grace is real, tangible and completely undeserved. We learn that our old way of sin has been crucified with Jesus. Our old way of living and thinking, putting ourselves ahead of others, is dead. By acknowledging Christ in this way we find a new way to live with Him. We are now under His grace and mercy; we are no longer driven by the slave driver that is sin, but instead we have life and have it abundantly.

Engage with God’s Word

Consider Romans 6:1-14.

Discuss

  1. Consider the door imagery. On one side is your self-will and ‘me first’ attitudes, and on the other side is God’s grace and mercy. One side represents short-term self-satisfaction, the other a different way of living, a new attitude of love and acceptance. Both sides have eternal consequences. Have you gone through the door?
  2. Walking through the door is a metaphor for choosing to die to self and live in Christ. Has your life changed since making that decision? Have you changed?
  3. If going through the door means allowing things in ourselves to die, what needs to die, or has died, in you? Is or was that hard for you? Why?
  4. How have you experienced God’s mercy or grace? How has the experience impacted you? Your family?
  5. Who in your life comes to mind when you consider people on the ‘self’ side of the door? Write their names down. Commit these people to regular prayer.
  6. Sometimes we forget which side of the door we live on. We may allow shame, unforgiveness, sin, etc. to try to grab us back. Is something trying to grab at you? Write it down.

Respond

Too often we can get busy, distracted or blinded to the fact that we are no longer slaves to fear or sin. Discuss what the picture of the door means to you.

God may have shown you people in your life on the ‘self’ side of the door. Take a moment now to share their names and pray for them.

We can forget we live with God; emotions, fear and unforgiveness can grip us seemingly out of nowhere. Take time now to pray and listen to God, ask Him to show you if there are reasons for these feelings. Ask for forgiveness, be as specific as possible, accept His unconditional love. This is grace.

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Part 4

Today we discuss what freedom looks like. Paul contrasts being a slave to sin with being a slave to obedience, with one option leading to death, the other to righteousness. Listening to Jesus and obeying him can bring liberty and freedom into our lives and the lives of others.

Engage with God’s Word

Consider Romans 6:15-21.

Discuss

  1. How have you found freedom in your life by choosing to listen to Jesus?
  2. Have you observed freedom in the lives of others close to you? What does it look like? What are the changes you have observed in them?
  3. How would you explain this freedom in listening to Jesus to someone who has not experienced it?
  4. Have there been ways you have felt chained in your life, even as a believer?
  5. How have you overcome that feeling in the past?
  6. Is there something weighing you down today? If you feel able to do so, share about it and pray together.

Respond

Sometimes we are so busy doing life that we don’t take time to consider aspects of our life that may be weighing us down. Sometimes it is only when we are impacted by anxiety, frustration or anger that we realise something is not right. These feelings can be symptoms of something we need to let Jesus break. We can do this by holding before him the matter, behaviour or concern, asking Him to break the chain and listening to what He is saying. By being obedient to Him, we can find the freedom of righteousness Paul refers to. Discuss how this has occurred in your life.

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Part 5

In this passage, Paul articulates the inner turmoil experienced by believers. He explains that God does not want us to be enslaved again and that there is no condemnation for followers of Christ as we have been freed from the power of sin.

Engage with God’s Word

Consider Romans 7:14-25, Romans 8:1-2 and Matthew 6:13.

Discuss

  1. In what areas do you experienced inner turmoil in your life?
  2. Do you struggle with the contradiction of knowing what is right, and doing what is wrong?
  3. Does the inner turmoil happen in the way you think, the way you behave or maybe the way you instinctively react?
  4. Consider Matthew 6:13. Why does Jesus teach the disciples this in the Lord’s Prayer?
  5. Does the struggle inside you confirm or make you question the activity of the Holy Spirit?

Respond

The idea of inner conflict is not something new to most people but sometimes we can doubt our faith or even our salvation because of the turmoil we experience. Does Paul’s honest struggle help or encourage you?

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Part 6

This week’s passage in Romans talks of a hope so big that it is like taking all of the most amazing experiences of your life and multiplying them infinitely and eternally. In the midst of the passage are three groans: the groan of creation, the groaning of believers and the groan of the Holy Spirit. Each groan is a response to the gap between reality and the future hope.

Engage with God’s Word

Consider Romans 8:18-27, 2 Corinthians 12:3-4 and Revelation 21:1-4.

Discuss

  1. What in these passages stands out to you? Why?
  2. What does your future hope look like? Where do your daydreams go? Do you dream eternally? Take some time to write down your hopes.
  3. When you consider the groans of creation, why do you think creation groans? What are the frustrations experienced by creation between reality and what God intends?
  4. Have you been aware of the Holy Spirit groaning? How did you become aware of the Holy Spirit’s groans? What is it like for you to wait and listen for the Holy Spirit?
  5. Which of your hopes cause you the most frustration? Why?

Respond

Some of the things we are frustrated by, the gaps between reality and future hope, frustrate and cause concern for others also. By discussing the things which grieve us or cause us to groan we can choose to commit things to prayer, support one another or even take action to change a situation. Are there common areas, people, or issues you and those in your community are inwardly groaning about? Is God highlighting something in particular? How is He asking you to respond?

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Part 7

This week we consider the labels we inadvertently allow ourselves to be defined by. They may have been spoken over us and we may have taken them on; we may even have chosen them ourselves. Paul writes that as people led by the Spirit of God, we are no longer slaves to fear (or labels). Now that we have the Spirit in us we are children of God, adopted into sonship and heirs to the fullness that provides.

Engage with God’s Word

Consider Romans 8:14-17 and Mark 1:40.

Discuss

  1. How does the fact that you are a child of God and an heir with Christ impact your day to day life?
  2. Mark 1:40 tells of a person suffering from leprosy whose life was transformed, but the person is unnamed. As named and known children of God, we have both an inheritance and a position in God’s family. What does your position as part of God’s family mean to you?
  3. Have you ever been aware of a label you have worn or a label spoken over you? How has that label affected you in your life and relationships?
  4. Has there been a time when you have felt the freedom of release from a label or words spoken over you? How did the shift occur for you?

Respond

Our journey as believers has many twists and turns, and there are times when God wants to bring something to our attention. Are there words or labels you would like to be released from today? Invite the Holy Spirit to guide your prayers and bring release as you are a child of God and entitled to freedom in Christ.

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Part 8

Throughout life there are times that we feel as if we are knocked about by the challenges that we face. Like a ship in a storm we need to have an anchor point that secures us in place during turbulent times. In the book of Romans Paul encourages the believers who are facing severe persecution to lean into Jesus as their anchor and point of strength.

Engage with God’s Word

Consider Romans 8:28-39.

Discuss

  1.  Do you have a favourite “Fridge magnet” verse that you go to when you need encouraging? Share this verse with each other and why it is significant for you.
  2. Read Romans 8:28. This verse says that God used all things for our good – Not that all things are good. This is an important distinction. When has God used a tough situation that you have endured; that you have later seen was ultimately for his good?
  3. Read verse 31. What do you observe about this verse? How is this true in your life? How is this reflected in the life of the church?
  4. How has verse 31 been misused in Christian history? What can we learn from this?
  5. Read verse 37-39. What is Paul asking of believers when he calls for them to be “more than Conquerors”? How do we demonstrate this in our everyday life?
  6. What is your anchor point in life? How can we keep this secure? How might this be seen by others in you?”

Respond

We are all called to be anchored to God. As we are knocked down by the blows of life, this anchor for our soul holds us secure. What do you need to do this week to strengthen your anchor point to God? What is one practical way that you can do this? Share with each other and keep each other accountable to put this in place this week.

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