Small Group Curriculum

Is There A Way Back?

05.19.19 | Sermon Series: Here’s the Deal

PREPARATION

STUDY | Spend the week studying 2 Chronicles 7:11–22. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.

PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.

LANDING POINT | If you have been living your own way and missing God’s best, turn to Him today and be fully restored.

Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion

  1. Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
  2. No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
  3. No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
  4. Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group. 

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

GETTING BACK ON THE PATH

In this series your group has discussed God’s principles and commands that bring joy and blessing when obeyed, orhardship and frustration when ignored. Let’s be honest. There are times when we get off the path and lose our way. We end up on the wrong side of how God has told us to live. Sin takes us on paths away from God.

If you’ve gotten off the path, there’s hope. One of God’s greatest gifts is a second act. Because He is a God of grace, you can have a second chance. God knows that you’re prone to miss His best. That’s why He gives you a plan for finding your way back to Him when you’ve lost your way.

This week your group will discuss what blocks the path to God’s best for you and what it looks like to repent and turn back to God. There is always hope. Regardless of what you’ve done or how far you may feel from God, there is a path that leads back to God.

Q: What does it say about God that He makes the consequences for obedience and disobedience of His commands clear to you?

Q: How does sin take you on paths away from God?


LEARN

Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.

THE BUILDING OF THE TEMPLE

It had been nearly 20 years since God visited Solomon in a dream (2 Chronicles 1:7–13). In that dream, Solomon humbly asked for wisdom, and God gave it to him . . . and more. God gave the king riches, possessions and honor. From that point forward, King Solomon undertook an enormous project—building a temple for the Lord.

The temple was dedicated to the Lord once it was completed. Great feasts, sacrifices and music were part of the dedication. This was a big deal. The Israelites’ hearts were filled with joy and gladness over the prosperity that God had provided under the reigns of King David, and now under his son, Solomon.

Q: What was the purpose of the temple for the Israelites? How does the temple relate to the way we worship today?

A PROMISE AND A WARNING

When it was all said and done, the king retired to his palace. That night God came to Solomon in a dream. He had a message for the king: “I have heard your prayer, Solomon. Here’s the deal. If my people will humble themselves, pray to me, turn from evil and seek after me, I will hear them and forgive them. I will heal and restore them. But if they turn from me to seek after other gods, I will punish them for their disobedience.”

God’s message hadn’t changed. It was the same one delivered to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 28). The path is clear. Obedience leads to life and blessing. Disobedience leads to pain, frustration and death.

READ: 2 Chronicles 7:11–22. What does God command the Israelites to do? What does He command Solomon to do?

Q: Where do you see promise in this passage? Where do you see warning?

Q: Why is humility the first step in repentance?


LIVE

Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.

BEWARE OF IDOLS

God’s Word is straightforward. Obey God and experience joy, blessing and life. Disobey Him and experience pain, frustration and death. So why, then, do we still struggle in our obedience? Why are our hearts so often drawn away from God?

Here’s the deal. We are more like the Israelites than we realize. Their biggest obstacle to experiencing God’s blessing is also our biggest obstacle today. That problem is idolatry. Idolatry is putting anything—even good things—inthe place of God. Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God, your functional savior.” John Calvin said that the heart is an idol factory.

Idolatry is a big deal to God. It’s mentioned over 700 times in the Bible. God is a jealous God. He doesn’t want to compete for our love and devotion. He also knows that we are more vulnerable to idolatry than we realize.

The Israelites worshipped different idols because they thought different idols could meet their needs. It’s the same with us. Instead of going to the true God to meet our needs, we go to an idol. We go to idols for:

  • Protection, power and control – money, power, anger, strength, education
  • Fruitfulness and prosperity – possessions, productivity, marriage, shopping, Facebook likes, image
  • Stability and security – worship of planning and exercise, fear of change, insurance of the future, security and savings, holding on to what is known
  • Safety and relief – people-pleasing, avoidance of failure, lying to look good, worry, stress, motivating out of guilt or fear of man or the future
  • Comfort and pleasure – pornography, self-pleasuring, entertainment, alcohol, food, entertainment
  • Victory or release from oppression – power plays, a need to always win, a competitive spirit, comparison, rivalry, vengeance, pride and boasting
  • Identity and direction – good luck charms, superstitions, family traditions, generational sins1

Q: Where do you see idolatry in our culture today?

Q: Identifying idols is essential to removing them. Which of the above categories make you vulnerable to seeking idols?

BOLD LOVE IN DISCIPLINE

God’s love is bold. He doesn’t tolerate the idols and sin that keep us from Him. He loves us too much to leave us where we are. God disciplines us in our disobedience in order to bring us out of idolatry and into true worship. He wants us to turn away from idols and turn to Him.

The pain we experience in God’s discipline is meant to lead us back to God. It’s only when we repent and turn back to God that we can experience restoration in our relationship with Him.

When God disciplines you for disobedience, you may feel:

  • Conviction – You are aware of the disobedience against God.
  • Reproof – You feel the consequences of disobedience, and/or others bring them to light.
  • Scourge – The consequences can leave a scar.
  • Death – Sometimes God takes the life of someone who is disobedient (1 Corinthians 11:30).

Q: Recall a time when you experienced the Lord’s discipline.

REPENT, REMOVE, REPLACE

The path back to God is through repentance and faith. God wants us to remove our idols and replace them with true worship of Him. True worship can’t happen until we stop worshipping idols. When an idol is removed, it results in release and blessing.

You can respond to God’s discipline with resignation, self-pity, anger and resentment, or you can accept it as God’s loving correction. Discipline is a good thing. His discipline is good news for you because He loves you and He is leading you to life and blessing—not death, pain and frustration.

The key to getting back on the path is to repent and believe. Repent of disobedience. Admit that you’ve gotten off the path. Acknowledge your sin and idols before God. Believe that God is able to put you back on the path. Believe the promise that He fully restores those that turn to Him in faith.

Q: Why is God’s discipline a good thing for you?

Q: What are some practical steps you could take in removing an idol?


LEAD

Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.

TRUE WORSHIP

God wants you to return to Him. He wants you to experience worship of the true God. What does that look like? It starts with humility. It starts with acknowledging that you are in the wrong, that you have not lived the life that He commanded you to live. Ask for God’s help through prayer. Repent by turning from the path you are on and walk a new path with Him. Turn to God and live in His ways.

You can rest in the promise that God fully restores those that turn to Him. He hears your prayers. When you confess your sins and the idols behind them, He hears you. He forgives you. Because of Jesus you can have confidence that God will not hold your sins against you. God the Father offers the free gift of grace and forgiveness of sins through the work of His Son, Jesus. Because of Jesus, God restores you, heals you and puts you on the path to joy and blessing.

Q: What’s one thing from which you need to repent?

Q: Where in your life do you need to remove an idol and replace it with true worship? How can you do that?


PRAY

Allow God to reveal any idols hidden in your heart. Pray for a heart to repent of any disobedience that’s keeping you from God’s best for you. Ask Him to remove the idol and replace it with awe for Him that leads to greater love and obedience.


FOLLOW UP

Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:

  • Read Hebrews 12:4–11 and reflect on what this passage says about the Lord’s discipline.
  • Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.

COMMENTARY

Idol Archetypes

When King Josiah led reforms in Israel, he removed a number of idols that were worshiped(2 Kings 23). These idols give us archetypes of the idols we are in danger of worshiping today.

  • Baal – storm god who gives power and protection
  • Asherah – goddess of fertility who gives fruitfulness and prosperity
  • The gods of the heavens (starry hosts, sun, moon and constellations) – give stability and security
  • Molech – god of destruction who gives safety and relief
  • Ashtoreth – goddess of love who gives comfort and pleasure
  • Chemosh – war god who gives victory or release from oppression
  • Mediums, household gods – family gods who give identity and direction2

Jeremiah and True Worship

Jeremiah 17 reveals signs of idolatry and shows us what true worship looks like. True worship is, ultimately, trust in God that results in blessing, refreshment, rootedness, lack of fear, resilience, lack of worry and fruitfulness.3

Honoring God

“If the dedication of the Temple teaches us anything it should be that God is honored when we hold Him in awe and bring before Him our prayers as well as our thanksgiving (Ps. 50:23; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2). And when we consider God’s admonition to Solomon to be faithful and not go after other gods, He spoke because He knew that there is within the human heart the tendency to become like the things he worships.”4

 


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ENDNOTES:
1. Dave Patty, No Other Gods (Frydlant nad Ostravici, Czech Republic: Josiah Venture Ministries, 2019), 115.
2. Ibid., 114–115.
3. Ibid., 114–115.
4. Cyril J. Barber, 2 Chronicles: The Faithfulness of God to His Word Illustrated in the Lives of the People of Judah, Focus on the Bible Commentary (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2004), 58–59.