Spend the week studying Genesis 22:1-19. 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 | for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | The best value you can teach others is to put God first in everything.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- 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.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Last week your group discussed the pressure of a blending family. You shared the many blessings of a blended family. You also looked at Abraham’s blended family and how sin caused stress and conflict in it. Abraham responded to these pressures by listening to God and obeying Him. Abraham’s example shows us that the key to experiencing the blessings of a blended family is honoring the Lord.
This week you will discuss the pressure of instilling values by reading one of the most challenging stories in the Bible. God gave Abraham the ultimate test and he responded in faith. And Abraham’s actions gave his son, Isaac, a godly example to follow.
God wants to have first place in our hearts and wants the kind of relationship where you put Him first in everything: in decisions big and small, in the way you do your job, in how you treat your neighbor or in how you raise your kids. The truth is, many things compete for our attention and love. Only when you put God first do you see what’s most valuable and worth focusing on. The best value you can teach others is to put God first in everything.
What values do you want to pass on your children? Why are these important to you?
Can you think of an example of someone who puts God first in everything? How do they live? What can you learn from them?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
The danger in love
The Bible says children are a gift from the Lord, but they can also test our faith. God calls parents to love their children as He loves us. He wants spouses to be devoted to their family and love them unconditionally. However, there is a danger that one’s love would cause them to put family before God. You can love to a fault when love for your family (or other relationships) takes first place in your heart.
What does this look like? Think of parents that are over protective, over indulgent and/or overly permissive with their children. They love their children, but it’s not a love that reflects God being first in the family. It also sends mixed messages to children about who’s most important in a parent’s life.
The Bible is clear: God wants to be first, because that’s the only way to experience life as it was meant to be lived. This is God’s design and the direct path to experiencing blessing and fruit in your life. Otherwise, you miss out on God’s blessing and fruit for you and your family.
What would it look like for you to put God first in your life and family? What would be different?
The ultimate test
God promised Abraham a son, and He delivered on His promise. When Abraham was 100 years old, his wife Sarah gave birth to Isaac. God had blessed Abraham, but He didn’t want that blessing to come between Him and Abraham. He wanted Abraham’s full devotion. So one day He asked Abraham to give Him what was most precious to him. God asked Him to sacrifice his only son—the son of promise—to Him.
God was testing Abraham’s faith. He knew this would tear him in two, because he loved his son dearly. The Bible doesn’t tell us what Abraham felt, but you can imagine the anguish he experienced when he heard God’s request.
Abraham obeyed God. He took his son to the region of Moriah and was prepared to offer him as a sacrifice. However, at the last moment, God stopped him from following through with the sacrifice. He stopped him and said, “Your son will live. Now I know that you have withheld nothing from me.”
Put yourself in Abraham’s shoes. What thoughts do you imagine went through his head after hearing God’s request?
Has God ever tested your devotion? In other words, has He ever called you give up something for Him? Share with the group.
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
Staying connected to the Source
Isaac saw that God was first in his father’s life. This must have made a big impression on Isaac to see Abraham’s faith in action. The question you might be asking yourself is, “How can I make that kind of impression on my kids (or friends)?” Let’s take a closer look at Abraham’s life for answers.
First, Abraham had faith in God. He trusted God, and expected that God would provide a way for Isaac not to die. Abraham had witnessed God come through time and time again. He believed this time it wouldn’t be any different. Abraham’s faith showed that God was trustworthy.
In what tangible ways can you show your children your faith in God?
Second, Abraham feared God. He knew God was to be the most important person in his life. He knew the consequences of disobedience and didn’t turn away from what God instructed him to do. Abraham’s fear showed that God was number one in everything.
What does it mean to “fear the Lord”? Where is the fear of the Lord present in your life? Where is it missing?
Third, Abraham knew he needed God to live a full life and be the best father possible. He understood that faith and obedience were the only way to achieving these things. Abraham’s humility showed a need for God.
What’s one change you could make this week to show more humility?
Blessing in obedience
God promises to bless our obedience. The story of Abraham and Isaac shows how God makes provision when we’re obedient to Him. The beauty of obedience is that it has a trickle down effect on our children. Your faith can create a firm foundation for your children. Abraham’s faith created a foundation, which became a nation. From this nation (Israel) came Jesus, the beloved Son God sent to be the provisional sacrifice for our sins.
What legacy do you want to leave your children? What would you want them to say of you and your faith?
Select 1 question from this section to answer.
Parents are farmers. From an early age they need to plant seeds of faith and obedience in their children. They do this be living out their faith, admitting their shortcomings and pointing their children to God as the ultimate Source of life and joy. When these things are cultivated, they create fertile ground for a child’s faith to grow and produce fruit.
The following are three ways you can be a better farmer in your children’s life:
Don’t pass of the responsibility of raising your child to a youth pastor, mentor or other person. A parent has enormous influence in their child’s life. Understand the role you play in your child’s faith. Your child’s spiritual development is your responsibility.
How could you take more responsibility in your child’s faith?
Set standards and limits
Exercise love and discipline in your child’s life by setting standards and limits. Utilize discipline as a tool to teach your children about God. Regularly show them Scriptures that reflect our need for God and how to live life His way. Like God, you can establish limits and give freedom at the same time.
Why is it important to set standards for children and also give them freedom?
Point them to Jesus
Always, always, always point your children to Jesus. He lived a perfectly obedient life to His Father and gives us the ultimate example to follow. And He shows us what a good life looks like and how it’s lived. When you fail as a parent, it’s important to point your children to Someone who never fails us.
What values do you see in the way Jesus lived? In what practical ways can you point your children to them in your family?
Thank God for examples of faith and obedience to follow. Praise Him that He has shown you how to raise a godly family. Admit that you need help to be the example you want your children (and others) to follow. Pray for wisdom to instill values in your children that will lead them to God, not sin.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read Proverbs 2 and reflect on how seeking wisdom can help you instill godly values in your children. If you aren’t a parent, consider how you can influence others through godly wisdom.
Ask the group to share anything the Lord has been teaching them this week in response to this week’s discussion.
Proverbs and the goal of parenting.
The Book of Proverbs provides godly wisdom for daily living. It tells us how to handle everyday life and relationships in a god-honoring way. The book begins with a father’s exhortation for his son to fear the Lord and His commandments. Proverbs covers a multitude of topics, including: “diligence and laziness (6:6–11); friendship (3:27–28; 18:24); speech (10:19–21); marriage (18:22; 19:14); child rearing (22:6); domestic peace (15:17; 17:1); work (11:1); getting along and good manners (23:1–2; 25:16–17; 26:17–19; 27:14); eternity (14:32; 23:17–18); and much more.”  These wide-ranging topics provide practical instruction for life. They also show us what kind of values we need to instill in our children. Remember that the goal of parenting is passing on godly wisdom. Proverbs—and the whole Bible—points us to the Source of wisdom and good living: God.
More on faith, fear and humility.
Faith is a reliance on God as the One who is most trustworthy. God shows Himself to be faithful as an example for us to follow. He follows through on His promises and is always true to His word. Because of this, we can rely on Him and believe what He says. Fear (or fear of the Lord) is understood as the awe someone has before God. Fear makes us confront the majesty and glory of God; that He is unlike us and worthy of our love and worship. Fear of God also acknowledges that He is first in our lives above all other competitors. Humility reminds us right perspective in life. It shows us that we need God and His instruction to live the life He intends for us.
A new commandment.
In His farewell address to his disciples Jesus said to them, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Jesus calls us to a new ethic: to love as He loves. How does He love? He loves unconditionally. He loves sacrificially. He loves as a reflection of the Father’s love for us. Jesus set a new standard of love. When you love your children this way, you image Christ’s love in profound, influential ways.
1. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1131.