Prayer Focus for Serbia – Sunday, September 28

Serbia, Europe: The Serbian Orthodox Church seeks to regain great influence over national life – it has suppressed other Orthodox churches serving ethnic minorities (Romanians, Macedonians and Montenegrins) and pushed for a harsh and self-serving religion law that entrenches mono-ethnic religious groups. Pray for new life within this ancient Church, and that it may turn its back on totalitarian instincts and support true religious freedom.



Take One For the Team – Genesis 39

(LEADER) Garments have played a prominent role in the last three chapters of Genesis (Joseph’s coat, Tamar’s veil, and Joseph’s garment taken by Potiphar’s wife). Ask a few people to tell stories from their lives when clothing played a key role. (Ex. disagreements with parents about what to wear; the first time they tried to dress themselves; strange things they wore; clothes they had to wear for work that they wouldn’t be caught dead in; etc.)

(LEADER) What’s one thing from last weekend’s message that you hope to talk about as a group?

Invite someone to read Genesis 12:1-3

(LEADER) How is the LORD’s choosing, or electing, evident in this passage?

(LEADER) Keeping in mind Genesis 3-11, how is God’s choosing Abraham gracious? Was humanity interested in bearing God’s image throughout the earth? (Remember that Abraham was part of cultural project of Genesis 11:1-9).

Invite someone to read the following quote: “Israel, the people of Abraham, was conscious of a unique role and status among the nations given to them by God in his act of choosing and calling Abraham. Certain things were true of them that were not true of other peoples. God did certain things in relation to them that he did not do to others. Much was demanded of them that was not, in quite the same way, demanded of others. Great was their privilege. Greater still was their responsibility.” from The Mission of God by Christopher J. H. Wright

Invite someone to read Genesis 39:1-12

(LEADER) How did God work through Joseph, one of Abraham’s offspring, to fulfill his promise to bring blessing to the nations? How did Joseph bless Potiphar by refusing his wife?

(LEADER) How has God been using you to be a blessing to others, even if they are not part of the Church? Be concrete and specific. (examples include in-laws; friend at the water cooler; Panera; Christmas-time; tax season; etc)

Invite someone to read 1 Peter 2:19-25

(LEADER) How do the Apostle Peter’s words clarify that God’s gracious election of us means sometimes “taking one for the team”?

(LEADER) How is it most true in the life of our Christ our Savior?

(LEADER) Where have you experienced difficulty in relationship with others because of your commitment to God’s agenda?

(LEADER) How could God still use that to further help the Church or even those who caused you difficulty?

Prayer Focus for Senegal – Sunday, September 21

Senegal, Africa:

Evangelical believers are few. Their growth rate is slow, and only among the Serer (FLM, AoG), Bassari (AoG), Balanta (WEC, AoG, NTM) and Jola (WEC, IMB, CAPRO) has there been any significant church planting. But members of the fledgling Church are growing confident about their identity in Christ and as evangelicals in Senegal. Pray that the Church will take hold of its identity in Christ and powerfully demonstrate its outworking to the nation.



Geared for the Weak – Genesis 38

Jezebel Seal

Jezebel’s Royal Seal in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Dr. John Walton, of Wheaton University, writes, “Judah’s guarantee of payment for his act of prostitution is his seal, cord, and staff. The seal is most likely a stamp seal engraved with a design that would uniquely identify Judah. It would be used by him for any transaction or correspondence much as we use a signature today… Seals were often worn around the neck on a cord…his staff is a walking stick but may have been a symbol of authority in his clan. If so, Tamar holds in her possession symbols of his individual and corporate identity – in modern terms, items akin to someone’s driver’s license” (The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis, 669).

(LEADER) Enter into the story of Genesis 38 and get to know each other better by asking willing participants to pass their license around to the other participants. Ask them to tell a story about when they had their picture, what the DMV was like, or something like that.

(If anyone is interested in having a good reference book on the cultural background of the Old Testament they can purchase the IVP Bible Background Commentary edited by Walton, Matthews and Chavalas.)

Everybody quietly read Genesis 38:1-11.

(LEADER) Ask if anyone can explain how the powerful (Judah and his sons) in those verses are keeping the less powerful (Tamar) in a position of weakness. How are the powerful displayed as not giving the weak the benefit of the doubt?

Everybody quietly read Genesis 38:12-30.

(LEADER) Ask if anyone can recall how the passage displays God gearing his kingdom for the sake of the weak (Tamar).

(LEADER) Ask which systems today (work, family, society, church, economy, sports, etc.) are geared toward those in power? Which systems are geared toward those who are not in the positions of power?

(LEADER) Matthew 1:2-6 mentions that Tamar, as well as Gentile-women like Rahab and Ruth, are part of Jesus’ family line. What does this tell you about how God uses weakness and powerlessness in his kingdom? How does this give you hope?

(LEADER) As the Apostle Paul neared the end of his life, he wrote to his protégé Mom and DaughterTimothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Genesis 38 is a passage which refers to a variety of sexual activity. Explain why this is a good thing for the people of God to know. How is this a resource to families? Ask if any members have wisdom about how to discuss sexual activity to children and teens. Ask if any would like to share a story of how they learned about these things.

Genesis 37:2-36

This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied. 14 So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.

When Joseph arrived at Shechem, 15 a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” 16 He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?” 17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.

18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” 21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. 28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, “The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?” 31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” 33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Prayer Focus for Saudi Arabia – Sunday, September 14

SaudiSaudi Arabia, Asia:

Saudi Arabia is the birthplace and stronghold of Islam. From Mecca, Islam holds sway over billions and permeates many cultures. Pray that the Lord would shake this center of spiritual influence and make His Lordship known. If a spiritual breakthrough glorifying Jesus Christ would happen here, it would transform Islam and those subject to it.


Prayer Focus for Sao Tome & Principe – Sunday, September 7

São Tomé & Principe, Africa: Evangelicals are free to minister and do see significant growth. There are close links with several Portuguese and Brazilian groups, such as the Assemblies of God, the Nazarenes, Deeper Life (Nigeria), YWAM and several others. Pray that their missionaries might have a great impact on these islands. Pray for the development of locally led, culturally relevant congregations with effectively trained Christian leaders. Pray also for local support of national workers and for the launching of an interdenominational training center.


Sao Tome

Dynamically Living with God – Genesis 35:1-15

  • Name babyJacob’s name change to Israel is re-affirmed in Genesis 35. “What is the background of your name? Why were you given your name? Were you, for instance, named after a relative, family friend, biblical character, athlete, movie star?” (taken from Dan Allender’s To Be Told)


  • The Christian life is a dynamic one where we, as God’s people, are meant to interact with God in intimate covenant communion for the sake of the building of the Kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ. We saw this in the relationship between Jacob and God Almighty (El Shaddai) in Genesis 35. First God instructed Jacob how to relate to him, Jacob/Israel obeyed and then God met him again in a revealing of his promises to Israel for personal communion and kingdom building.


  • upper-room-discourseHow do we see the same dynamic relationship described by Jesus in John 14:21?
  • The promises made to Jacob/Israel in Genesis 35 contain references to many other places in the Bible. These promises have been referred to as the 4 “P”s. Does anyone remember what they are?


  • Have different members in the group turn to Genesis 1:26-28; 9:1; 12:1-3, 17:4-8 and 35:11-12 and show where they find the four “P”s of God’s covenant promises affirmed.


  • What is one thing from last week’s sermon that you hoped we would talk about and why?


  • eggshellPastor Tim pointed out that the Christian life is meant to be lived as a dynamic relationship where we are not “walking on eggshells” with God. What did he mean by “walking on eggshells”? Have you ever felt like you were “walking on eggshells” with God or somebody else? Explain.