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SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
Anyone who wishes to have a life of faith, anyone who wishes to seriously engage in all that a relationship with God means, is signing up for a wrestling match, as they will wrestle with God and His will for their life.
In Genesis 32 we read the story of Jacob wrestling with God. After working for his father-in-law for 20 years, Jacob is finally heading back home, to the Promised Land, yet even though he’s had great experiences with God, he still is not willing to fully surrender his life to God and is still committed to do life as an independent agent.
Yet, God, in His sovereignty, allows Esau, Jacob’s brother, to come with 400 armed men to meet him, and this becomes a source of great fear for Jacob. However, God allows this to happen so that Jacob would draw near to Him, and as Jacob cries out to God for protection, God wrestles with him to strip him of everything that was keeping him from completely surrendering to God. As a result, Jacob is finally broken before God, and yet, as he holds on to Him, he receives God’s blessing for his life.
God wants to bring us to the end of our self-help methods, to a place where we’re finally broken and utterly surrendered to Him so that He can bless and transform us.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1. Have you ever wrestled with anyone over a particular issue? A co-worker? A friend? God? Briefly share.
2. Are there areas of your life where you’ve been asking God to intervene but it seems he hasn’t? Share and discuss your experience.
3. Do you feel that you can interact honestly with God about things that you don’t understand or that frustrate you? Why or why not?
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. In 5 minutes or less, briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
2. Read 2 Corinthians: 12:2-10:
2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. 7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
• Most believe that by saying the “man in Christ”, Paul is referring to himself. Explain why you agree/disagree. (v.2)
• When Paul says “in the body” or “out of the body” experience what do you think he means? (vv. 3 – 5) Do you think such experiences happen today? Have you ever had such an experience? Please share.
• In vv. 3 -6, Paul appears to be preoccupied with not appearing boastful to others. Why do you think Paul was concerned about this? Can you think of any times where sharing your spiritual experience with others made you uncomfortable with how others would receive it? Why did you feel it was uncomfortable to share it?
• Would boasting about genuine experiences with God make people think more of you than is warranted (v. 6)? Where do you draw the line?
• Who is it that Paul says gave him a thorn in his flesh to torment him and keep him from being conceited (v. 7)? Many theologians are divided about what Paul’s thorn was. With this in mind, what do you believe Paul means by “thorn in my flesh?” Describe situations, if any, where you feel you may have had such a thorn.
• What has Paul tried to do about the thorn in his flesh (v. 8)? How did the Lord respond to Paul’s request (v. 9)? Can you think of times where you or a loved one asked the Lord for relief but the request was not granted? What effect did it have upon you? How did it affect your faith?
• What does it mean for Christ’s power to be made perfect? How do you feel our weakness relates to the “perfecting” of Christ’s power in us? Have you ever experienced Christ perfecting His Power in your weakness? Share.
• How does Paul’s attitude about hardships, weaknesses, insults, persecutions and difficulties differ from most Christians you know? Is his attitude different from yours? Why or why not?
3. In his sermon, Rich says that sometimes God allows Esau (huge problems) to go away; and sometimes he doesn’t… because He wants us to be broken and utterly surrendered to Him so He can bless and transform us.
• Encourage your small group to share any areas of their lives where they have been broken and experienced a blessing.
• In your prayer time, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the areas of life any other small group members may need to have broken in order to receive the blessing the Lord has for them.
• Pray for one another that any areas revealed are surrendered and offered to the Lord. Encourage one another in the journey toward transformation.