Gather/Get Together


Review Your Time Since You Were Last Together


Open God’s Word


Understand & Apply One Thing


Pray For Each Other


Week One Group Guide

Throughout human history, there have been wars. Lasting days, months, even decades. But inside each of us a far more personal battle is raging. It’s one we’ll be fighting for the rest of our lives. And its impact will be eternal. This Means War is a multi-part series that will expose you to the real rules of engagement. And will equip you to fight and win the battle for your soul.


[1]Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. [2]We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. [3]Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. [4]After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.”      Hebrews 12:1-4 (NLT)

One of the great lessons of life is that we always have some problem that is either coming or going. Life seems like a battle that will never end. Sin entered the world through the actions of Adam and Eve, and the world is broken as a result. Nevertheless, some people are successful in life because they live lives of faith following God’s standards. The Bible summarizes many such successful lives in Hebrews chapter 11. But even for people of faith, not every earthly life ending is happy. Starting in Hebrews 11:35, the Bible describes successful people whose lives ended in torture, mistreatment, poverty, or even murder despite having lived in faith. Those people did not give up, and in this discussion we’ll learn from them about what we must do when we feel discouraged.

Open your group with a prayer. This is only a guide – select the points you want to discuss.

Leader Notes

• Name some things people are motivated to start, but can easily feel like giving up.
• Start your discussion by having group members read aloud Hebrews 11:35-12:4.
• Encourage members to apply the six points from this study guide when they feel like giving up.
• Give all members a chance to share something they felt like giving up on. Then pray for one another.
• Pray: “Lord, thank you for showing us right from wrong. Thank you for those who encourage us to do right and not give up. We pray for discernment to know the race you set before us. Grant us your wisdom and strength to let go of any weight or sin that hinders our progress. Holy Spirit, help us keep our eyes focused on Jesus, on eternal rewards, and all that our Savior has done for us.”
PRAY for insight as you begin to prepare for leading your group. Ask for God’s wisdom, that the Holy Spirit will be the teacher and that you will be God’s instrument to lead the group to greater understanding and a willingness to commit to becoming more like God. Prayer should be your primary source of personal preparation for leading your group.

PLAN where you want to take your group in the next 60-90 days. Is your group strong in some areas and weak in others? How can you challenge the members to live more balanced Christian lives? Consider God’s five purposes for the church: Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry, Mission and Worship, and make a plan to encourage your group members to growth and commitment in their weak areas.

PONDER YOUR PROGRESS after each session and at the end of a series. Reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Re-evaluation is key to your growth as a leader. Consider whether your plan is being effective in moving the group to greater understanding and commitment. How are you doing with leading the discussion: is it stimulating, challenging, and meaningful? Are you able to keep the group on track? Do you need to make some changes?

• This Sermon Discussion Guide is only a tool to aid you in meeting the needs of your group. For most groups there are too many questions to answer in one session together. After considering the needs of your group you may choose one of the following options:
• One section of questions;
• One or two questions from each section

• Feel free to adapt the format to meet the needs of your group. If your group is mature and wants to dig deeper, add Scripture and ask suitable questions. Remember that this is only a guide.

• The questions relating to the five purposes are helpful to develop balance and spiritual maturity in our lives. You can bring your group to an awareness of their needs in these areas by using these questions as a regular part of each discussion.

• Personal application is key to everyone’s growth and should be included in every discussion. When asked how he or she intends to apply a certain principle a group member may say, “I need to spend more time in the Bible and in prayer.” It is important for you to help group members make applications that are more specific and commit to a specific plan of action by asking, for example, “How are you going to begin?” An example is to get up 30 minutes earlier each morning, spending 15 minutes reading the Bible and 10 minutes in prayer. Encourage each group member to be accountable to the group for personal progress at the next meeting.

• As the leader your goal is to help bring the group into a stimulating discussion that helps the members recognize their need for personal life change. Ultimately you want them to be willing to commit to change with accountability to the group. Accountability helps us to persevere in our commitments and achieve the blessings of success.


According to Hebrews 12:1, who is watching our lives?
• Glance quickly through Hebrews 11. Name some of the people described there who are watching our lives.
• We know God watches us, but what feelings do you have when you consider that others in heaven are also observing every aspect of our lives?
Weights: Anything that slows you down.
Sins: Knowing the right thing to do and not doing it.

What does Hebrews 12:1 advise us to get rid of in our “race” of life?
How does the definition of “sin” in James 4:17 differ from conventional thinking about what sin is?
• What are some good things in life we might not have time for?
• What “weights” other than too many activities might slow us down in life?

Fellowship – Our relationships with one another in church and the benefits we receive from others in God’s family are all aspects of fellowship. Describe how you can use fellowship to help you remember that heaven is watching your life, or to help you eliminate what doesn’t matter in your life.

Read Hebrews 12:1. Who has set out the race before us?
• What are some differences between God’s race for us and a race defined by others?
• How can we know the race God sets for us?
• Which race can we find ourselves running instead of the race God has intended for us?

Ministry – We often experience discouragement and failure when we try to run a race God did not intend for us. It may be our own plan we set for ourselves or one set by a parent, by a peer, or by culture. Take some time to explore how God uniquely shaped you with your strengths, skills, and personality. Then see if there is a church ministry that fits your shape where you would like to serve. Next week share with your group where you chose to serve or are currently serving, and why.

What does Hebrews 12:2 say we should do while running the race?
• Why is focusing on Jesus important? How does this help? What could happen if we don’t?
• Since it is easy to be distracted by our circumstances, what are some ways we can refocus?
When did Jesus receive his joy, according to Hebrews 12:2?
• Why is it often easier to focus on the pain in our lives than the hope of eternal rewards?
• When will we reap a harvest according to Galatians 6:9?
• Why is our timing often different from God’s timing?

Discipleship – Walking in one direction with your head and eyes turned in a different direction is difficult. We tend to go where we are looking and focusing. So we should look where we want to go! If we focus not on our pain but on Jesus and the profit we’ll gain, we’ll find the pain less of a hindrance. This week, pay attention to when you’re feeling hurt or discouraged. Then refocus on your faith in Jesus. Report back to your group how this affected your feeling.

What motivation does Hebrews 12:3-4 suggest for not giving up in our struggle against sin?
• How are the struggles Jesus had on earth 2000 years ago relevant to us now?
• What makes it hard to apply lessons from the terrible things Jesus endured to our own life problems?

Worship – Worship includes recounting God’s goodness and focusing on our relationship with him instead of on ourselves. What role can worship play in your life to help you remember what Jesus did for you during his earthly struggles?