"Every story whispers His name"

Join us for this 9 week journey as walk through the Bible and discover how these stories relate to each other and ultimately point to Jesus.


Dive into the week's message in your community groups. Each week, we'll post the group discussions here and in the RH App.

Adam & Eve

Genesis 1-3; 4:1-12, 6:5-8, 11:1-9; Romans 5:12, Galatians 3:16, 4:4-7

Welcome to our new alignment series The Greatest Story Ever Told!  Over these next nine weeks, we will be exploring the essential storyline of the entire Bible, looking at key events and a few of the people whose lives showed that “every story whispers His name.”

This weekend, we opened the series where the Bible starts: at the beginning of everything in Genesis 1-3.  In this section, we see God’s creative work of bringing the world as we know it into existence and how that idyllic world was wrecked by human sin.  We watched the devastating effects of that sin on human beings and on life in the world He had made for us.  And just when things looked bleak, we learned that God was already moving to implement a plan to redeem humanity with His promise to send the future Messiah and Savior. 

ICE BREAKER (optional)
Share about a time that you created something of special value to you.  What was it about that item, or the experience of making the item, that made it special to you?

1)  Read Genesis 1:1-28 -  While reading, notice the author’s extensive use of repetition.  What are the elements that are repeated in each day of creation?  What kinds of truths do these repetitive statements seem to communicate about God’s creative handiwork?  What do you appreciate most about God’s creation?

2) Read Genesis 3:1-13  - What key things do you notice about the story of the fall of man?  What kind of mistakes or miscalculations did the man and the woman make that contributed to their fateful decision?  How do you experience similar parallels when you are tempted to disobey God or do something that doesn’t honor Him? 

3)  Read Genesis 3:14-19 - This section details the effects of man’s sin upon the serpent, the woman, the man, and the world at large.  What do you see as the primary effects of sin upon each of them in this section?  How do you see this ring true today?

4)  Read Genesis 4:1-12, 6:5-8, 11:1-9 - What similarities do you see in the stories of Cain and Abel, the Great Flood, and the Tower of Babel that parallel the fall of the man and woman in Genesis 3? How do people behave similarly today?

5)  Read Romans 5:12 - What does this verse tell us about the contagious and infectious nature of sin introduced by Adam?  Who is responsible for the evil, sin, and death we see manifested in the world today? How are we faced with a choice similar to Adam and Eve’s?

6)  Read Genesis 3:15 - What does it mean that God “put enmity between” the woman and the serpent and between their respective offspring?  Read also: Galatians 3:16 and Galatians 4:4-7 - How do these New Testament passages connect to the promise God makes to the man and the woman in Genesis 3:15? What does it communicate to us as we realize that God had a plan from the beginning to redeem people from sin and make us His sons, daughters, and heirs through Christ? 

What is the most powerful or helpful truth for you from this week’s study? What is the most challenging or most difficult idea for you to get your head around?
The Greatest Questions Ever Asked (this week): Where does the brokenness of your own sin still have an effect in your life? What is one step of faith you sense God leading you to take this week as you wrestle with this area of brokenness?  How can our Community Group pray for you about this?
The Greatest Challenge Ever Given: Who can you talk with about this series who isn’t part of your group but may be open to learning more about faith? This could be a family member, friend, co-worker, or someone else.  Be bold and ask.   

LEADER’S DIGEST: Brief Notes and Insights for RH Community Group Leaders
The author of Genesis 1 utilizes repetition in relating the events of each day of the creation narrative.  In days 1-4, God forms the structural foundation of the world, and in days 5-6, He fills it with life. The author also uses a climactic progression of the least important things to the most important things to position man (male and female) as the ultimate expression of God’s creative genius. Human beings are God’s opus - His creative masterpiece. The world was created to be the optimum environment in which human beings could flourish and thrive under God’s personal leadership.

The words “without form and void” in Genesis 1:2 in Hebrew are tohu v'bohu and do not mean the absence of matter, but rather, that what was there was a hot mess. The term phonically is like our term “higgledy-piggledy” and was used in the Old Testament to describe desert environments that were considered disordered or were inhospitable and unable to support human life. 

The repeated phrase “… it was good” is the Hebrew term tob. It carries less of the moral idea of goodness or perfection, that our Western minds invest it with, and leans more toward the idea of “well-ordered” - indicating an assessment of something that is functioning and working exactly as it was intended to work.  Order was a big deal to people in the Ancient Near East (ANE) at that time. 

The people of the ANE were not really interested in the mechanics of how the world was created but Who was responsible for creating it. Genesis 1 would have starkly contrasted the other narratives about supposed gods of the cultures surrounding Israel - people who worshipped natural forces that were often symbolized in animals and natural elements: the sun, moon, stars, beasts of the earth, etc. Genesis was written to counteract those ideas and declare unequivocally that there was one God who created all of these things and was bigger than all of them, and who loved people personally. 

The point of the Genesis creation accounts then is to show that Yahweh (the name of God revealed to Moses), personally made a highly ordered, fine-tuned universe with precision, symmetry, complexity, diversity, color, beauty and life - and created human beings to be his co-managers and creative partners in the world He made and in which He placed them. This is what it means that human beings are created in the “image” of God.


Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-20, Hebrews 11:6-12, 17-19; Romans 4:13-22; 2 Corinthians 5:6-7

In this week’s message, we focused on outlining the second phase of God’s plan to redeem us as fallen human beings.  We heard how God called and made a covenant with a man named Abram (Abraham) to begin the process of establishing a family and model nation (Israel) that would serve to draw lost and scattered people back to Himself.  Amongst this, Abraham shows the challenge of trusting God and His promises when the answer and fulfillment is delayed and even appears unlikely. 

ICE BREAKER (optional)
What is something in your life that you had to wait for much longer than you expected? What helped to bring you hope or encouragement while you waited?

1) Read Genesis 12:1-3 - Take time together as a group to discuss the elements of God’s  calling of Abram.  What in this call would have been the most attractive to you? What would have been difficult?

2) Read Genesis 15:1-6
- When God reiterated his promise to Abram, Abram questioned God about it.  When was a time in your own life when you really questioned or doubted God’s faithfulness to you?  Do you think God is surprised, offended, or unnerved by our doubts?  Why or why not?

3)  Read  Romans 4:13-22
- In Abraham’s eyes, what seemed so impossible about God delivering on what He had promised to him? What key response did Abraham and Sarah choose that allowed them to live in hope regarding God’s promises to them?  What is the relationship between faith and doubt?  How can we bring our doubts to God while still staying open to His response looking different than we might expect or hope?

4)  Read Genesis 15:7-20
- God confirmed and established His covenant promise with Abram.  What elements do you see that are part of this process of further defining and clarifying His covenant with Abraham?  What is Abram asked to do as part of this process? How does the specificity of God’s plan for Abraham help to reassure us that God cares about the details and has plans that are specific and intentional?

5)  Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-7
- What does the metaphor “walk” in this verse represent to you?  How does “walking” help describe what living in a relationship with God looks like?

What is the most powerful or helpful truth for you from this week’s study? What was the most challenging or most difficult idea for you to get your head around?

The Greatest Questions Ever Asked (this week): What is one step of faith you sense God leading you to take this week as you wrestle with doubts about God’s faithfulness to you?  How could your Community Group pray for you about this step?

The Greatest Challenge Ever Given: What is something that you are praying for right now? Put a reminder in your calendar to pray for this each day, asking God for His best for your life in His timing and according to His will.  Share what you are praying for with at least one other person.

LEADER’S DIGEST: Brief Notes and Insights for RH Community Group Leaders
Review:  In Genesis 1-3, God created a marvelous and extraordinary world that was rendered defective by the sin of the first man and woman.  In Genesis 1-11, the author used several different historic events to illustrate that the effects of this sin were cataclysmic and comprehensive, extending to the entire human race as recorded in the events of Cain and Abel and their descendants, the Great Flood, and finally in the Tower of Babel.  Throughout, God continued working with them in a universal approach as a whole.  Genesis 12 marks a turning point in the story: the initiation of the second phase of God’s plan to redeem a fallen human race.  At the end of chapter 11, God had confused the languages of human beings at the Tower of Babel, and the people were widely scattered into different people groups over the face of the earth. However, God’s great heart was to win humanity back to Himself by creating a community of people (a nation) thoroughly devoted to Him; a nation which would manifest His glory to the rest of the nations, drawing them like a magnet back to a relationship with God.

In order to have a legitimate nation, you need three elements: 1) a common people, 2) a common land, and 3) a common code of conduct.

Abraham is the inception point of God’s plan to build a nation by creating a common people.  Genesis 12-50 traces the development of that genetic line through four successive generations and the “Fathers” of the faith: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.     

Abraham is a picture of God’s sovereign calling.  The Lord made Himself known to Abraham and called him out of a thoroughly secular and pagan culture in the land of Ur (present day Iraq).  God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation - even though Abraham and his wife Sarah were infertile, both in their “vintage” years, and would become nomadic.  This promise of heirs and of future land took the form of a covenant - a contractual arrangement based on an intimate, authentic, two-way, give-and-take, relational devotion to God.  Abraham’s life as a nomad became a metaphorfor life as a journey of faith with God. Thus, Abraham was known as the “friend” of God (Isaiah 41:8)

There were actually two calls to Abraham - the first call found in Genesis 11:27-32 involving Abraham’s father, brother and extended family - which seems to have stalled out in Haran until his father’s death. God then re-engages Abraham and formally calls him to future promises of a genetic line and land - found in Genesis 12:1-3

Abraham’s life was marked by a tent (nomadic and flexible) and an altar (devoted to God). 

Notice how the promises to Abraham progressed from very vague in Genesis 12 and then became increasingly definitive each time God reiterated His covenant with Abraham.
Genesis 12:1-3 - general - promise of a genetic line becoming a nation, and of land. (The first 2 elements needed to be a legitimate nation)
Genesis 15:1-7 - more definitive:  a natural born son, descendants, and land
Genesis 17:1-19 - even more definitive: Sarah will bear the natural born son
Genesis 18:9-15 - message to Sarah: timing: it would happen within the year


Exodus 3:7-20, 7:1-7; 13:17-22; Nehemiah 9:9-15; Deuteronomy 18:15-19; 2 Peter 1:3-4 and Philippians 1:6

This past weekend, we learned about God’s provision for His people in delivering them from bondage in Egypt and leading them into the wilderness to solidify His renewed relationship with them. As they embarked on this extraordinary “road trip,” we watched as God provided for them in countless ways, both seen and unseen, just as He does for us today.

ICE BREAKER (optional)
Share about your best road trip. What was it about that trip that made it so memorable and meaningful?

1) Read Exodus 3:7-20 - What repeated ideas do you see in these verses? What elements in these verses would have inspired Moses to step into God’s commissioning? What elements did He seem to struggle with? What things inspire you most in wanting to pursue God’s calling in your own life? In what ways do you or have you struggled like Moses?

2) Read Exodus 7:1-7
- What details in this passage describe what God would provide for Moses as He stepped into God’s plan to free the Israelites from Egypt? What do you think the effect was on Moses?

3)  Read  Exodus 13:17-22
- How do you see God’s grace and provision at work in how He lead the people out of Egypt and into the wilderness? (Note: if they had gone straight from Egypt to Palestine it would have only been about a 200 mile trip. Moses lead them south into the Sinai Peninsula toward Mt. Sinai which takes them further away). Can you think of a time in your life when a longer journey actually brought about different opportunities or blessings than a “shortcut” might have?

4)  Read Nehemiah 9:9-15
- As Nehemiah reviewed Israel’s spiritual history with God, what elements did he mention that demonstrated God’s provision for His people in the wilderness? Which one of these elements speaks most powerfully to you about God’s provision in your life?

5)  Read Deuteronomy 18:15-19
- Who do you think Moses is referring to here when He spoke of God raising up “a prophet like me” from among the Israelites? How does this time in Israel’s history seem to “whisper His name?”

6) Read 2 Peter 1:3-4 and Philippians 1:6 - How do these verses illuminate the way that God provides for us in our ongoing journey toward wholeness and completion?

What is the most powerful or helpful truth for you from this week’s study? What was the most challenging or most difficult idea for you to get your head around?

This Week’s Greatest Questions Asked: How does the wilderness wandering part of the Great- est Story inspire you to live a little differently in this coming week? What provision of God have taken for granted that you want to thank Him for now? How can you keep a grateful heart in this area?

This Week’s Greatest Challenge Given: Who is someone you could invite to church and help to start their faith journey? Pray for God to guide in the conversation and then ask them.

LEADER’S DIGEST: Brief Notes and Insights for RH Community Group Leaders
Key Events in The Exodus and Wilderness Wanderings
• The birth and calling of Moses - God always starts with a leader.
• God’s covenant name Yahweh is revealed to Moses in Exodus 3. Yahweh is the first person singular of the Hebrew verb hayah - “to be” (“I am”). Yahweh communicates the idea of closeness. Notice all of the senses used in Exodus 3:7-10 as God shared His identity: “I have seen...,” “I have heard their cry...,” “I know their sufferings...,” “so I have come down to deliver.”” He is a high-touch, personal, interested, and engaged God.
• The Ten Plagues - God broke Pharaoh’s will to get the people out of Egypt
• The Passover - The means by which and foreshadowing of how redemption would occur
• The Miraculous Crossing of the Red Sea - This was the Israelites’ moment of “crossing the line into faith.”
• Material Provision Through the Wilderness - God gave them all they needed
• The Giving of the Law, the Tabernacle (a portable worship center), the Ark of the Covenant, and a dedicated Priesthood

Implications: The time logged in the wilderness would be ...
• A Time of Great Intimacy and Bonding - in ancient cultures, and especially in Israel, the desert was often equated with deep intimacy - communicating deep connection and intimacy with God. In Hosea, God spoke romantically about calling his bride Israel back into the wilderness in order to woo her again (Hosea 2:14-15). Elijah prophesied from a base in the wilderness. David was a fugitive in the wilderness, where he penned some of the deepest psalms expressing the heart of God. John the Baptist came out of the wilderness baptizing (Mark 1:2-4). Jesus was taken into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, where He faced down Satan (Mark 1:12). In the wilderness, life is stripped down to the bare minimum. There is freedom from distraction and thus the time, energy, and need to focus on God alone.
• A Time of Great Provision - God provides for all of their basic needs: guidance, quail, manna, water, His presence (the pillar of cloud by day [the shekinah glory] and the pillar of fire by night), protection from their enemies, and forgiveness.
• A Time of Great Faith-Building - God’s people learned to trust God’s leadership through Moses as well as through the pillar of cloud and fire, and His leadership through the precepts spelled out in the Law itself.
• A Time of Great Learning - the Giving of the 10 Commandments and the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 19-24)
• REMEMBER: It takes 3 elements to make a nation: a common people, a common code of conduct, and a common land. It was in the wilderness that the Lord gave His people a common code of conduct, a common set of principles that would make them distinct from all other peoples of the earth. He then began leading them toward their promised land.

• The Wilderness Wanderings are a picture of progressive salvation (sanctification). Having been freed from their bondage to Egypt, they began their journey of faith toward the promised land. It would be filled with false starts, setbacks, derailments, and challenges. It would take them a long time. While it only took one night to get the Israelites out of Egypt, it took forty years to get Egypt out of the Israelites. But God is leading them and He will finish what He started. Their journey toward Canaan was a journey of faith development and it serves as an advance echo of our journey of faith development in relationship with Jesus.


Deuteronomy 7:1-6, Judges 1:19-21, 27-33; 2:1-3, 10-19; 6:11-27; 7:1-23; 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

In this weekend’s message, we discovered how the nation of Israel failed to follow through on God’s instructions to drive the Canaanites completely out of the land of Canaan.  This led to all kinds of problems as they were repeatedly harassed by these people groups and the nations around them.  Every time one of the tribes faced a new outside threat, God would raise up a political or military type of leader known as a “Judge.”  Sometimes these judges were more elite individuals and sometimes they were just ordinary people, like Gideon, who trusted God in an extraordinary way and relied on God’s extraordinary power. 

ICE BREAKER (optional)
What is a skill, gift, or ability that you have that has helped you and/or others throughout your life?

1) Read Deuteronomy 7:1-6 - While speaking with the new generation that had grown up during the wilderness wanderings, Moses gave them specific instructions on what they were to do when they entered the land of Canaan to possess it.  What are the major things they are instructed to do? What was God’s reasoning in asking this?

2) Read Judges 1:19-21, 27-31, 33
- What is consistent in the actions of the Israelites in these passages?  What is the relationship between these verses to the specific instructions Moses gave the Israelites in Deuteronomy 7:1-6? What did God say the consequences would be? Why do we sometimes do things that we know aren’t good or hold back from doing the good things that we should?

3)  Read Judges 2:1-3, 10-19
-  Did the outcome of their disobedience match what God had described?  In what ways does their experience often parallel our own struggles to follow through on God’s instructions for us?  Is partial obedience still obedience? Why or why not?

4)  Read Judges 6:11-27
- From this account, if you had to put together a resume for Gideon to be considered one of the Judges, what facts would you assemble about him to put on that resume?  In what ways do you see your resume as similar to Gideon’s resume?

5)  Read Judges 7:1-8
- What kind of questions would you have if you were Gideon in this situation?  What clues in the text lead you to believe Gideon felt similarly?

6)  Read Judges 7:9-23
- Outline Gideon’s God-given strategy for defeating the Midianites.  On a scale from 1-10, how crazy do you think this strategy was with 10 being “insanely outrageous” and 1 being “entirely rational and realistic.”  Why was it important that the Israelites didn’t think that victory was because of their own strength, power, or ability? 

7) Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
- How likely do you think it is that Gideon’s story was the backdrop for Paul’s words in these verses?  Regardless, how do these verses help us to step into the plans and promptings of God with obedience and trust?

What is the most powerful or helpful truth for you from this week’s study? What was the most challenging or most difficult idea for you to get your head around?

This Week’s Greatest Questions Asked: In your opinion, how does Gideon’s story “whisper God’s name” or represent the Gospel? What step of faith may God be asking you to take that might not make sense but would bring Him glory?

This Week’s Greatest Challenge Given: Who is someone you know, like Gideon, who lacks confidence in who they are as God’s workmanship or “masterpiece”(Ephesians 2:10)? How could you encourage them this week and speak life over how has God uniquely gifted them? Tell them.

LEADER’S DIGEST: Brief Notes and Insights for RH Community Group Leaders
After about 18 months, God’s people reached the border of Canaan but balked at entering the land because they felt overmatched.  In response, God initiated a course correction: He allowed them to wander around as nomads in the wilderness for another 38 years. While the older generation died off, a new generation was raised up. Eventually, this new generation was brought back and then invaded and conquered the land of Canaan.  Once they gained control of the land, they divided it up among the twelve tribes, and God tasked each tribe with the mop-up campaign to clear out groups of insurgents still remaining in their allotted territories.  However, the tribes failed to follow through on God’s instructions and faced a vicious cycle of harassment by the surrounding nations like the Midianites and Philistines.

- During this period, the people of Israel were essentially a theocracy under the rule of God as King.  But the reality was, they were a loose confederation of tribes much like our original thirteen colonies in the United States.  There was no centralized government and no human king in Israel.  They were a common people, with a common code of conduct, and they possessed a common land, but they still lacked cohesion.

- Vicious Cycle of Judges:  The book of Judges revolves around a repeated vicious cycle. The cycle began with 1) the failure of the people to follow God fully (sin), 2) the people being oppressed or harassed by a neighboring people group, 3) the Israelites crying out  to God, and 4) God raising up a deliverer in the form of a “Judge.”  Some of the more well-known Judges are Barak, Deborah, Gideon, Sampson, and the last Judge, Samuel. This cycle happens repeatedly throughout the book of Judges. Their failure would have significant consequences.

- End Result: Twice in the book of Judges we have this repeated phrase “In those days there was no king in Israel.  Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6, 21:25).

- One of the most renowned Judges was a man named Gideon.

Gideon’s call (Judges 6:11-16)
-“The” angel of the Lord, not “an” angel. When this designation is used in the Old Testament, most scholars believe it is not an ordinary angel who appears, but a pre-existent manifestation of Christ in the Old Testament.  While this is not ironclad, and other views do exist, this seems the most likely in light of the available evidence.

-Gideon is a picture of human weakness and inadequacy.  He was threshing wheat in a dried-out cistern to hide from the Midianites,  His clan was the weakest in the what was a “half-tribe” of Manasseh.  He was the youngest in his father’s house.  He needed constant affirmation and confirmation (Judges 6:19-22; also the fleece sign he requested in Judges 6:36-40), and yet defeated the Midianite and Amalekite force that vastly outnumbered his troops, doing so with only 300 men.  This was possibly on the Apostle Paul’s mind when he wrote 2 Corinthians 4:7-11.  


Deuteronomy 17:14-20; 1 Samuel 8:4-22; 16:1-13; 2 Samuel 7:10-16; 1 Kings 11:3-4, 9-13; Matthew 1:1-16

This weekend, we learned about God’s people making the transition from a tribal confederacy and theocracy to a monarchy (being ruled by a king).  We looked at the first three kings in the “united kingdom” period of Israel’s history and how their lives either aligned with or misaligned with what God desired for the kings that would rule His people.  God wanted them to be people of spiritual substance, depth, integrity and heart, as opposed to being people of pedigree, connections, image, or lineage. 

ICE BREAKER (optional)
If you were made king or queen, what would be your first official action? 

1) Read Deuteronomy  17:14-20 - As a group, make a list of all the qualities and values that God wanted in kings over His people.  What reasons do you think God might have had behind each of these qualities?

2) Read 1 Samuel 8:4-5 -
What kind of emotions do you think Samuel had when the people demanded his recall? Have you ever desired something that people around you had that ultimately brought you pain? If so, what was it? What could have helped you choose something different?

3) Read 1 Samuel 8:6-9 and 1 Samuel 8:19-22 - 
What do you think could have kept the people from listening to God’s warning? How does the people’s response to Samuel mirror your responses to God when you struggle with His leadership and Lordship in your life? 

4) Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13 -
What qualities do you think God saw in David that were not reflected in the lives of his brothers? What characteristics of a shepherd are also characteristics of a good leader?

5) Read 2 Samuel 7:10-16 and Matthew 1:1-16 -
What is the significance of the connection between these two sections of Scripture (God’s covenant with David and the lineage of Jesus)? How was Jesus’ kingship meant to be different than that of other kings?

6) Read 1 Kings 11:3-4, 9-13 -
What do you think the connection is between Solomon’s heart and the consequences the united kingdom suffered after his death? How do we keep our hearts close to the heart of God? How can the requirements of kings (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) help any of us to stay modest, humble, and close to God? 

What is the most powerful or helpful truth for you from this week’s study? What was the most challenging or most difficult idea for you to get your head around?

This Week’s Greatest Questions Asked: As you consider David as Israel’s greatest human and imperfect king, what quality do you most admire in him.  How could you go about developing that quality in yourself? 

This Week’s Greatest Challenge Given: God said that kings should write out the words of His Law and read it daily. How often do you read God’s Word? Try reading a Proverb each day for the next month.  Start with the one that matches today’s date (i.e. Proverbs 15 on the 15th) and continue each day until you read one per day for a month. Once you finish, start another book of the Bible.  

LEADER’S DIGEST: Brief Notes and Insights for RH Community Group Leaders
At the end of the Judges era, the people were weary of the judge-based system.  It was not working, and they wanted a change.  As a result, they lobbied Samuel, the final Judge, to anoint a king for them to be like all of the other nations around them.  The problem wasn’t their desire to have a king.  The problem was that as they were hoping for a human king who looked like other earthly kings, they were effectively rejecting God as King and the type of leaders He desired for them.

-Samuel - at first Samuel was personally hurt by their demand to recall him, but he went to the Lord and the Lord comforted him by declaring they were really rejecting Him as King and not Samuel.

--A Key Passage: Deuteronomy 17:14-20 - God was not against the people having a king, but He wanted them to have a king that would be unique from the kind of kings other nations around them had. All the way back during the wilderness wanderings, God had laid out for them what kind of king He wanted for them:

-Must be God’s clear choice - not dictated by the whims of men

-Must be a fellow Israelite. Often other countries had kings ruling them who were a
different nationality or ethnicity than the people.

-Must not acquire great numbers of horses (like Egypt, who was, as the most advanced culture of its day, was a picture throughout Scripture of the world system apart from God:
materialistic, secular, spectacular, opulent and opposed to God). Horses were a status
symbol for kings in the Ancient Near East.

-Must not take many wives. Polygamy was the norm for ancient kings as marriages to the daughters of foreign officials were used to solidify political alliances.
Must not accumulate large amounts of material wealth.

-On ascension to the throne, he was to handwrite a copy of the Law. It was to be with him, and he was to read it all the days of his life and to follow it humbly. Kings in the Ancient Near East were the Law. Israel was meant to be different. The king in Israel was to be fully submitted to God and His ways, leaving behind his own agenda.

-The Lord told Samuel to warn the people about what to expect with the kind of king they wanted and the consequences of their choices. But they went against Samuel’s counsel and demanded a king. Here we see that we must be careful what we ask God for, because God says to Samuel, “Give them what they want.”

-There were three kings in the united kingdom period:
Saul - who symbolizes the fleshly choice of a king: the people’s choice. He had all the externals you would want in a king, but he quickly slipped into operating purely out of his own natural strengths and this cost him dearly.

David - Saul was succeeded by his understudy David who symbolizes God’s choice for King. David’s defining mark was that he was a man after God’s own heart, seeking God in all things, expanding the kingdom to its furthest boundaries ever, and writing some of the most prolific psalms recorded. David was not without his own faults, sins and failures, but when confronted, he owned them and responded quickly with true repentance. Because of his heart, God made a perpetual covenant with David ensuring that one of David’s descendants would always rule on his throne. This meant that eventually, this is the genetic line from which the promised Messiah would someday come. The Messiah would be that singular human representative who would defeat sin, evil and death forever on the behalf of the human race (Genesis 3:15).

Solomon - David is succeeded by his son Solomon. Solomon is the picture of the worldly choice for king. Though Solomon started out well as a man of great faith and wisdom, he actually did three things that God warned the kings not to do: multiply horses, multiply wealth, and multiply wives (700 wives and 300 concubines). The religious practices of his wives eventually led Solomon astray as a man of divided loyalties. As a consequence, God told Solomon that after his death, the kingdom would become split and divided between his sons.

-These three kings are a study in contrast between the external qualities the world wants in its leaders, and the internal, spiritual qualities God values in His leaders.


2 Kings 17:1-8, 13-18, 21-23;  2 Chronicles 36:11-23; Isaiah 40:1-5, 27-33; Daniel 1:1-21, 6:1-28; Psalm 118:5-7; 1 John 1:9

This weekend, we learned that with the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel split into two rival kingdoms: Israel to the north and Judah to the south.  Both kingdoms ran on parallel tracks with one another, occasionally interacting with each other, but largely operating as independent nations.  Although there were periods of reform and revival, both kingdoms would eventually move away from God, spiral downward, and be crushed by world powers that had emerged on the scene, would forfeit their land to these foreign powers, and many of the people would be deported and taken away into exile for 70 years. But God did not give up on His people.  No matter how bad things got, God was able to redeem things and accomplish His purposes.  This was the period of the great prophets of Israel:  Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others of less renown.  The prophets were both megaphones to call the people to repent of their evil ways and return to Yahweh and also functioned as heralds of hope, offering the people whispers of comfort and future restoration.

ICE BREAKER (optional)
Describe a time when you weren’t making great decisions. What helped to get you on a better path?

1) Read 2 Kings 17:1-8, 13-18, 21-23 - What would be a good song title or movie title that would describe the main idea of these verses? What can we learn from the poor choices of the Northern Kingdom of Israel?

2) Read 2 Chronicles 36:11-21
- In the fate of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, what kind of parallels do you see with what happened to the Northern Kingdom of Israel?  What kind of differences do you see regarding the fate of these two kingdoms?

3)  Read 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Isaiah 40:1-5, 27-33
- When you read these verses, what is your initial, gut-level, emotional reaction?  Choose a word that would describe that reaction. What prompted you to choose that particular word? How do these verses demonstrate the faithfulness, grace, and redemptive nature of God?   

4) Read Daniel 1:1-21 and 6:1-5 -
What kind of adversity and opposition did Daniel have to deal with as a teenager and someone trying to be faithful in a land that didn’t know or worship God?  How did God use Daniel in Babylon during the Exile (you may need to pool your knowledge as a group to come up with a list)? How did Daniel’s intentional faith make it difficult for his enemies to find fault with him? How can we live “above reproach” so that people would have a hard time accusing us of wrong-doing or that they may even want to live a life like ours? 

5)  Read Daniel 6:6-28
- How would you break down this story of Daniel in the lion’s den into smaller, bite-sized blocks?  What key things happen, and how does Daniel respond? How can we apply a similar approach that will help in good and difficult times?

6)  Read Psalm 118:5-7 and 1 John 1:9
- What is the main idea that each of these verses communicates? How are they similar? What comfort or encouragement do you take from these verses?

What is the most powerful or helpful truth for you from this week’s study? What was the most challenging or most difficult idea for you to get your head around? 

This Week’s Greatest Questions Asked: How are you doing at living a life that glorifies God like Daniel’s did? What might you need to start or stop doing?

This Week’s Greatest Challenge Given: The prophets entered into some of the darkest times in the history of God’s people. Many of our testimonies of God’s faithfulness start in dark times in our lives as well. Write out your story of how God came into the brokenness in your life and drew you towards Himself. Share this testimony with someone who doesn’t know this part of your story.

LEADER’S DIGEST: Brief Notes and Insights for RH Community Group Leaders
Because Solomon’s heart was divided, God allowed the kingdom to also divide. Two of Solomon’s sons, Rehoboam and Jeroboam had a falling out and split the kingdom into the Northern Kingdom that retained the name Israel and the Southern Kingdom which called itself Judah.

• This period is covered primarily in the books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles, as well as many of both the major and minor prophetic books.

• Israel: Composed of ten of the tribes who banded together under Solomon’s son, Jereboam. As a nation, they fell far away from God. The nation cycled through nineteen kings who were all described as evil and walked away from God. In 722 BCE, God removed His favor over them and allowed them to be conquered by the world power Assyria, who annihilated many of them, deported the survivors, and absorbed them into their own population. After this, they never emerged as a recognizable nation again.

• Judah: composed of the two southern tribes, Benjamin and Judah, this kingdom did slightly better. They ended up having nineteen kings and one queen mother in an alternating pattern of good and evil rulers. Some of the kings sought to honor God and bring reform, but others were wholly evil, leading the nation astray from God. Eventually, the Southern Kingdom also departed from God. In 606 BCE, God used the new world superpower Babylon to invade and crush Judah. The Babylonians leveled the Temple built by Solomon, broke down the walls of Jerusalem, and deported the brightest and best of the ruling class as well as other portions of the population to Babylon (the books of Daniel and Esther record events in this time period). The people of Judah were resettled in refugee camps around the city, living in exile from their land for seventy years. At the end of that time, they were allowed to return to their land.

• Daniel - Daniel was a teenager when he was deported to Babylon. He was thoroughly devoted to God and ended up serving in the royal court of five different kings of both the Babylonian and Median-Persian Empires during the period of Exile.

Jesus, The Savior of The World

John 1:1-5, 14, 18, 3:13-17, 5:39-46; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Galatians 4:4-7

We are exploring the essential storyline of the Bible and how “every story whispers His name.” This past weekend, we jumped from the Old Testament to the New Testament, where God fulfilled His promise to Adam and Eve all the way back in Genesis 3:15 to provide a singular individual who would represent the human race and redeem us from sin, evil, and death. His name was Jesus. His was the name whispered throughout the Old Testament in prophecies, types, events, characters, rituals, and roles. (John 5:39).

ICE BREAKER (optional)
What one word would you choose to describe the core of the Gospel? What is it that makes this word the stand out for you?

1) Read John 5:39-46 - In what ways did the Old Testament Scriptures function as foreshadowing announcements revealing the person and promise of Jesus? How would and should the prophecies and passages in the Old Testament have validated the identity of Jesus to the Jewish people of His time? How was the unwillingness of some people then like the unwillingness we see in some people today?

2) Read John 1:1-5
- The term “Word” is John’s preferred nickname for Jesus. What is it about the term “Word” that describes the person of Jesus? What are some of the truths about Jesus that these verses communicate to us?

3) Read John 1:14-18
- When you think about God taking on human flesh, what is significant about that reality for you? How important is it that verse 14 notes that Jesus was full of both grace and truth? How would you describe the connection between grace and truth? Why are both important?

4) Read John 3:13-17
- Who was and is this gift to? In what ways does God’s giving of His Son communicate His love to us? What does one have to do to receive this gift? Why is it sometimes difficult to receive an incredibly generous gift, especially if we cannot repay or reciprocate?

5) Read Galatians 4:4-7
- What stands out to you in these verses? How does it feel to be described as moving from slaves to sin to children of God? What is our inheritance as heirs?

6) Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
- From these verses, what are the significant pieces of the essential Gospel that Paul preached? What piece does he seem to spend the most time discussing? How do we hold fast to the word?

What was a new realization or important reminder about Jesus for you from this weekend’s message and study?

Is there anything that you struggle with in receiving the generous gift of Jesus? 

This Week’s Greatest Questions Asked: Is there anything that is keeping you from going all in with Jesus? How can our Community Group help you or pray with you as you receive and embrace this gift fully and hold fast to the Gospel?

This Week’s Greatest Challenge Given: Write out a summary of the Gospel (“good news”). Pray about who might need to hear this and ask God to show you if and when you should share this with them.

LEADER’S DIGEST: Brief Notes and Insights for RH Community Group Leaders
The Return from the Exile:
— Under Cyrus, King of Persia, the Israelites are allowed to return home
—They return in 3 waves: 1) the 1st wave under Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple, 2) the 2nd wave under Ezra the scribe to rebuild the spirit of the people and align them with God, and 3) the 3rd wave under Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

The Old Testament ends on a bittersweet note: the people are back in the land and more aligned with God than ever, but they are still under the control and influence of foreign nations who rule over them.

The Period of Silence Between the Testaments:
— With the book of Malachi, there is a 400 year period of biblical silence. No prophets of Israel emerge, no holy scriptures are written, and no significant events take place in the nation’s history. However, God was not inactive during this time, but was at work setting the stage for the arrival of His Son, the Messiah, Jesus.

The Arrival of Messiah, Jesus:
— The Gospel Accounts - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are 4 different, insider, historical accounts of the life of Jesus and are considered primary source documents
Matthew - presents Jesus as the true Messiah (promised King of Israel)
Mark - presents Jesus as the ultimate Servant
Luke - presents Jesus as the consummate (ultimate, perfect) human being
John - presents Jesus as God in the flesh

— Major Events - All the gospel accounts trace most of the defining moments of Jesus’ life: His birth, baptism, temptation, three and a half year ministry, transfiguration, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and session (ruling now alongside of God the Father). It cannot be said too strongly: Jesus’ life and ministry rocked the world and have continued to have lasting impact on Western civilization. There is nobody else like Him in all of human history. This is why He stands head and shoulders above as supreme among all other religious leaders in history. More than that, His death and resurrection have secured our forgiveness, reconciled our broken relationship with God, provided for our redemption, and are the basis for our continued growth and development in righteousness and becoming more like Him.• Jesus is God’s Person and character revealed and given to us
• Jesus, as the Living Word, is God’s Word revealed and given to us
• Jesus is God’s presence revealed and given to us
• Jesus is the embodiment of perfect humanity revealed and given to us
• Jesus is the fullest expression of God’s love revealed and given to us
• Jesus is simply superior and supreme over every religious leader and system. He is the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time).

The Apostles, God Invites You to be a Part of His Story

Matthew 4:18-22, 16:15-18, 28:18-20; Acts 1:6-8, 2:42-47;Ephesians 1:7-10, 15-23; 2:19-22; 4:11-16

This weekend, we were challenged to see ourselves as participants in God’s grand project to use the new community of His people called the Church to take the message of Christ to the world. We saw that Jesus’ vision for His Church is that we would be an unstoppable force in the world and live as a community with a unified mission: reaching lost people and bringing them into a community of love, transformation, and purpose. As a part of His Church, we are individually and collectively the hope of the world!

ICE BREAKER (optional)
What was the best experience that you have ever had being part of a team or a group? What was it that made that experience so meaningful for you?

1) Read Matthew 4:18-22 - If you had been one of those called by Jesus, how would you have understood those words “make you fishers of men?” How did that decision to follow this movement of Jesus and accept this mission impact their personal lives and world? What might it look like to do your job “on mission?”

2) Read Matthew 16:15-18
- Some have said that Jesus’ question is the most important question ever asked and answered. Why is the answer to this question life-changing? Based on His response to Peter and the disciples, how would you describe Jesus’ vision for the impact His new community of people called the Church would have?

3) Read Acts 1:6-8 and Matthew 28:18-20
— These are some of Jesus’ last words to His disciples before He left them and ascended to the Father. How would you describe the main idea of each passage? How are they similar? How are they unique and distinctive from each other? How important is making disci- ples? How important is spreading the Gospel?

4) Read Acts 2:42-47
- When you read these verses, what most inspires you about the quality of life present in first church in Jerusalem? How can we be part of creating community like this today? How does our love and care within community help others to move towards salvation?

5) Read Ephesians 1:7-10, 15-23
— How would you describe God’s end game according to Ephesians 1:7-10? What essential insight does Paul’s prayer for the churches he was writing to in Ephesians 1:15-23 add to the accomplishment of God’s end game in Ephesians 1:7-10?

6) Read Ephesians 2:19-22
- According to these verses, what is this new community of people called the Church in the process of becoming? What does it mean to be a “temple?”

7) Read Ephesians 4:11-16
- What reasons do you see in these verses for God providing gifted leaders for His church? What is their primary task? According to the Apostle Paul here, what should be the chain of results that take place if they do their job right?

What was the most powerful learning for you from this weekend’s message and study?

This Week’s Greatest Questions Asked: What inspires you about being a part of Jesus' Church? Where are you challenged to become a difference maker in the world?

This Week’s Greatest Challenge Given: How would you describe your purpose and role in the Body of Christ? How can you take a step towards serving in a more sacrificial way this week? Take that step.

LEADER’S DIGEST: Brief Notes and Insights for RH Community Group Leaders
Jesus, the central character of God’s story arrived. He lived an extraordinary life, gathered agroup of devoted followers, spent three and a half years training them in how to reach out to others, was betrayed, was crucified for the sins of the world, and was buried. But just three days after his broken body was placed in that grave, Jesus’s body was resurrected never to die again. He spent the following forty days instructing His disciples about what was going to happen next. Then He ascended to the Father. He was no longer physically present and no longer had a human body as we know a human body.

But that didn’t mean His ministry had ended. Instead, through the arrival and power of the Holy Spirit, His presence and power came into His people. This new community of people being transformed by God’s Spirit in them was called the Church, which embodied and mediated His presence in the world.

• The term “church” in the New Testament is the word ekklesia, which literally means an “assembly” and can refer to any assembling of people, whether religious or secular. It is a compound of two Greek words: the preposition ek (“out of”) and the verb kaleo (“to call”). However, it’s not appropriate to use the word’s etymology to interpret the meaning of the word to make it mean “called out ones.” It simply means “assembly,” but when used in the right contexts, it refers to the assembling together of those who belong to Jesus.

• The Church is referred to in the New Testament using several word pictures: the bride of Christ, a flock, a building, and a family. But the most frequent image used is that of a body.

• The book of Ephesians is Paul’s magnificent manifesto on the the nature and purpose of the Church. Paul sees God’s final goal and purpose to be the “summing up of all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on the earth.” The word “summing up” means to put everything in order or a place for everything and everything in its place. The idea behind this is that God is in the process of introducing a new “reordering” into the world and ordering everything to Christ the way it should be.
— In Ephesians, Paul described the Church as God’s chosen vehicle for implementing this reordering process (1:21-22). Therefore, the Church is made up of reordered human beings (2:1-10), connected together in a reordered community manifesting radically inclusive love (2:11-22), living out reordered priorities, reordered morality (4-5:21), reordered core human relationships (5:22-6:9), and finally, a community that will push back the darkness in the world (6:10-20).

• The book of Acts details the efforts of the early apostles to spread the message of Jesus to every corner of the then-known world by planting new churches.

• Within fifty years of Jesus’ death, there were followers of Jesus meeting together and ministering together in every major city of the Roman Empire.

• The Church therefore, is not a building or an institution. The Church is the cumulative association of people who belong or ever have belonged to Jesus from every nation, tribe, language, ethnicity, gender, and generation.

The Hope of Heaven

John 14:1-3, Matthew 24:36-44-25:46, Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-8

This past weekend, we moved into the final chapter of the Greatest Story Every Told: the ending of the story. In the message this past weekend, we learned the comforting truth that Jesus did not just leave us here to fend for ourselves but is moving human history as we know it to an end and that He has prepared another existence for us. Nobody knows the timing or the exact sequence of events, but we do know the basic truths: Jesus is coming back to take us home to a glorious future with Him. When He does return, He will return personally. He will clean up the mess we have made, set everything right, and usher in eternity.

ICE BREAKER (optional)
When you read a good book, do you start at the beginning ... or are you the kind of individual who wants to know how the story ends first, before you start at chapter 1? What prompts you to read books the way you do?

1) Read John 14:1-3 - What promises does Jesus make to the disciples in these verses? Which promise means the most to you? What word would best describe your gut level reaction to what Jesus says?

2) Read Matthew 24:36-44
- What stands out in these verses? How do you think this passage should inform us regarding the schemes, timelines, and details of the end times? What does it look like to live faithfully now knowing that when He comes it will be somewhat unexpected?

3) Read Matthew 24:45-25:46
- Jesus tells a number of parables following His “Olivet Discourse” teach- ing in Matthew 24. What do these parables have in common with each other? What are the some of the differences between them? Which one of these parables speaks most powerfully to you? What is it about that parable that speaks to you?

4) Read Revelation 21-22—
What part of this figurative description of heaven inspires you the most? Which aspect is most challenging for you to get your head around?

Who are you praying for that doesn’t know Jesus yet?

What has been the most significant takeaway for you for The Greatest Story Ever Told?

This Week’s Greatest Questions Asked: In light of the fact that Jesus is returning at an unknown time and that part of our responsibility during this time is to share the Gospel with those who do not yet believe, how do you need to prioritize growing in and sharing your faith?

This Week’s Greatest Challenge Given: How would you live today if Jesus were coming next week? Why aren’t you living that way now? Tell someone else how you plan to live differently based on Jesus’ imminent return (regardless of when that is). Now let’s live out our faith!

LEADER’S DIGEST: Brief Notes and Insights for RH Community Group Leaders
Theories and Viewpoints About the End Times: These are generalizations of certain theological positions, all of which have variations of certain parts of them. However, all positions have been held by good, honest, Bible-believing followers of Jesus throughout the ages.

Pre-millennial - the belief that the world will experience increasing unrest followed by a “taking-out” (rapture) of believers before a period of great tribulation. Following that period of time, there will be a 1,000 year reign of Christ upon the earth (a sort of golden age of perfect human life on earth known as the millennium), followed by Satan being released again to wreak havoc upon those who have become believers after the rapture. Christ then returns to earth, defeats evil forever, and ushers in eternity.
Post-millennial - the belief system that we are actually living in the millennium and we, as followers of Jesus, are gradually ushering in a perfect world.
Amillennial - the belief system that the supposed 1,000 year reign of Christ is not literal, but figurative, and that we are actually in the time period where Jesus is currently reigning over the earth at the right hand of the Father and will return to usher in eternity some day.
Pan-millennial - the belief that schemes and timetables mentioned in End Times passages don’t matter. In essence, the things described will occur, but it will all pan out in the end.

What’s Not Clear: The timing, sequence, chronology, and the exact nature of events which will occur before Christ returns.
What is Clear:
• Jesus is coming back, and His return will be:
— Personal - John 14:3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16
— Imminent and unexpected - Matthew 24:36-44
— Utterly illuminating, absolutely revealing, and clear in discovering who belongs to Him and who does not really belong to Him - Matthew 24:45-25:46• His return is our “blessed hope” - 1 Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-8
• There will be a final resurrection: believers to life forever with God and unbelievers to eternal separation from God.
• There will be a final judgment, a final accounting for our life choice regarding Jesus and giving account for our entire lives.

• The Revelation to John: This is the most extensive treatment in the New Testament regarding the end times. While it is extensive, it is written in a style of literature known as Apocalyptic literature, which utilizes wild, surrealistic, and often shocking images and highly figurative language filled with Old Testament meanings and references in order to communicate literal ideas. Good, solid, thoughtful Bible commentators differ greatly in their opinion about the best way to interpret the scheme and details of this book. But the overarching message is the same: in the end, God wins. Someday, Jesus will return, close the door on this world and open the door into the next one. Ultimately, we are called to be faithful with and through our lives until our death, rapture, or the arrival of Jesus.

• In Matthew 24, Jesus teaches the Olivet Discourse and describes the end times. However, Jesus’ focus does not seem to be on the specific events or timing of when they will occur. Some scholars even debate exactly what Jesus was predicting. Some see what He described being the fall of Jerusalem to the Roman army in A.D. 70, and others view it as referring to the end times. Regardless, it’s the five parables of Matthew 24:44 through Matthew 25 that establish Jesus’ focus for the end times: how He wants His people to live in light of the future that is coming. He instructs them to live expectantly, with urgency, with holiness and moral excellence, to invest their gifts and talents in doing Kingdom business until He comes, to demonstrate compassion to the least, the last, the lost, and the lonely, and to reach as many people as possible with the Gospel.


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