Community Group Leader’s Guide
For the week of October 6, 2018
- Update your group roster to allow for new sign-ups to join
- Be sure to complete your feedback form
- Separate men & women for the “Take It Home” section for confession and prayer time. Encourage members to pass out prayer requests and actively switch prayer partners so everyone is praying for someone
The book of Joel opens with the people of Judah completely devastated as an infestation of locusts obliterated their armies, crops, and economics. The prophet opens with essentially saying to the people, “If you think this is bad, you haven’t seen anything yet”, referring to the impending judgment by God for wicked ways and unrepentant hearts. Joel wanted the people of Judah to understand what God was saying to them through the plague that the Day of the Lord IS coming. Are you ready? Here’s a quick info/recap video on the Book of Joel: https://youtu.be/zQLazbgz90c
Looking back at your notes from this week’s teaching, was there anything you heard for the first time or that caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
1. What is the closest you’ve come to experiencing famine or plague conditions?
2. The joy of the people was linked to external circumstances. On a scale of 1 (Never) to 10 (Always) how often is that true of you?
(If this question is slow to answer, mention fleeting pleasures; wealth, winning year, good work review, etc)
3. What’s your first response when you hear about God’s justice, judgment and forgiveness?
(When we pray for God to dole out justice, that comes with judgment. There are always consequences to His justice, both good and bad. Most of us aren’t prepared for the judgment that comes with the justice we crave. Therefore, having His forgiveness outweighs any kind of justice we may want to see)
1. The prophets in the Old Testament spoke to their situation but also to the future. Some of the prophecies have come to pass but Joel is speaking to us too as the Day of the Lord has not yet happened (at least not while this lesson was being prepared). The prophets gave us clear warning that the Day of the Lord will bring justice and judgement. As you read the following passages; underline the descriptive phrases of how this Day will be and then circle how the people should respond in the passages below.
 Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light.[19 ]It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him [20 ]Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, no light—pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?[NIV]
 Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes—joy and gladness from the house of our God? The seeds are shriveled beneath the clods. The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. How the cattle moan! The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering.[NIV]
 The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command.The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.[NIV]
What is it meant to “rend your heart and not your garments” (Joel 2:13)?
Rend – to tear apart
Repent – to change
(Romans 2:4 -” Or do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to Him” This is the message of repentance. To turn. It has nothing to do with your emotions but it has everything to do with making a change – not to be broken, BE CHANGED. It only matters if you actually do it/repent. I’m sorry versus I changed. For further study, see Judges 10:6-16 & Proverbs 15:21-27)
What else should prompt us to return to God?
Romans 5:6-8 New International Version (NIV)
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
2. In Joel 2, we learn that the Lord gave us his Holy Spirit to empower us to do His will. How do the following verses help you know if the decisions you are making in your daily life is accurate or if it needs any adjusting?
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. [NIV]
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. [NIV]
Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. [NIV]
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. [NIV]
3. Whenever we hear about God’s judgment, a natural response is fear. The good news about this response is that scripture tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). As you read the passages below, which of the actions and benefits of wisdom do you find most important to remember?
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart,  for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. [NIV]
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. [NIV]
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. [NIV]
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. [NIV]
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops;  then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. [NIV]
4. God always prefers forgiveness over judgment. At the end of Joel 3, we read that the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem made the city holy. What does the Lord’s presence in your life mean? In view of this, and the other scriptures below, what comfort can you draw from the study of Joel?
(God will show mercy to His people, and grant them forgiveness. This prophecy of Joes, which began with the desperate plague of locusts, ends with a promise of restoration and redemption. Christ redeems us and His Holy Spirit dwells inside us, the indwelling of Christ among His people, see Romans 5:8-10)
Then you will know that I, the Lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.
 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
2 Peter 3:8-15
 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives  as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.  So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.  Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
TAKING IT HOME
(Read this and then break into same sex groups to reiterate there must be a time of true confession and repentance and that can be done alone but also one of the blessings of having a community group is that members are surrounded by prayerful and loving friends who will uphold one another for righteousness sake.)
1. The Day of the Lord IS coming. The purpose of studying the scripture is to help us learn about God, about us, and about how He responds. Take a couple minutes and ask God if there’s anything you need to confess to Him or others – or that you need to take the step of completely removing from your life? Is there a call from God in your life that you need to start?
Fall Women’s Conference
Ladies, be sure to calendar October 26-27 and plan to attend our Fall Women’s Conference! We are so thrilled to share that our speaker for the weekend will be Erin Straza, and Kellie & Kristen Fuselier will be leading us in worship. The conference will kick off Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. and conclude Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Tickets are $39 each. And if you find yourself in need of financial assistance or have any other questions regarding the conference, please contact Lauren Cordner at Lauren@stfchurch.com. Please be sure to purchase your ticket soon!
This upcoming Sunday, designate someone or go as a group to collect your bags to take out into the neighborhoods that your CG signed up to deliver the door hangers. The bags will be at the BP campus in the West Fellowship Hall. Look for Pastor Marc or one of his volunteers if you have any questions.
Trunk or Treat
Invite friends and neighbors to enjoy a fun & safe trick-or-treating experience October 31, 6-8pm at BP campus. You can register your vehicle by clicking the link: https://stfchurch.com/trunkortreat/
Operation Christmas Child
Take home a box for your family to collect simple gifts for a child in need this Christmas.