Namesake: Women's Bible Study Leader Guide: When God Rewrites Your Story

Namesake: Women's Bible Study Leader Guide: When God Rewrites Your Story

by Jessica LaGrone
     
 

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Explore the roots of biblical character’s names as well as the transformation that God worked in the individual’s life.See more details below

Overview

Explore the roots of biblical character’s names as well as the transformation that God worked in the individual’s life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426761881
Publisher:
Abingdon Press
Publication date:
02/15/2013
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
7.80(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.20(d)

Meet the Author

Jessica LaGrone is Dean of the Chapel at Asbury Theological Seminary and an acclaimed pastor, teacher, author, and speaker who enjoys leading retreats and events at churches throughout the United States. She is the author of
Namesake: When God Rewrites Your Story, and Broken and Blessed: How God Changed the World Through One Imperfect Family. She and her husband, Jim, have two young children.

Read an Excerpt

Namesake

When God Rewrites Your Story


By Jessica LaGrone

Abingdon Women

Copyright © 2013 Abingdon Women
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-6188-1



CHAPTER 1

Week 1 Abraham and Sarah


Leader Prep

Bible Story Overview

Our first story is about Abraham and Sarah, named Abram and Sarai at birth. These names chosen by their parents meant "Exalted Father"—a father praised by his many children—and "Princess"—a name meant as a term of endearment. Abram's name must have seemed particularly ironic to him later in life since at age seventy-five, he and Sarai still had no children. It was at this advanced stage in life—a time when all of their friends had children and even grandchildren—that God promised they would become the parents of many offspring. In fact, God promised that Abram would become the father of many nations, having as many descendants as the stars. And to match the promise, God changed Abram's name to Abraham, meaning "Father of Many Nations," and Sarai's name to Sarah, meaning "A True Princess." Their name changes involved only one letter of the Hebrew alphabet, but this one letter represented monumental changes not only for them but also for generations to come.

Abraham and Sarah learned that trusting God and His promises meant a lot of waiting, hoping, and praying. The child they longed for would not come for another twenty-five years! Yet God was working even as they waited. And as a result, they had different hearts, a different marriage, and a different outlook on God's promises when their son, Isaac, arrived on the scene. In the process they came to know a patient, loving, and faithful God who delivers on His promises—a God who never gives up on His dreams for us.


Weekly Readings Recap

Review the key themes of the week:

Day 1: When we aren't afraid to step into the plans and dreams that God has for us, we find an even greater story than the one we began at birth. The God who gives new birth always has new plans for us, plans for a journey beyond anything we ever dared to dream.

Day 2: It takes time to become the person God wants us to be. As we listen for God's voice and follow His directions, little changes add up over time. Our God is a patient God who never gives up on His dreams for us.

Day 3: God will always keep His promises. Regardless of our actions or behavior, He is forever faithful.

Day 4: Waiting grows our trust and hope in God. Waiting means trusting that God is good, even when we can't see it; seeking God's help and comfort when we can't find it in our material world; and asking God to change us instead of expecting to change God.

Day 5: Rather than hoping God will come around to see things the way we do, or that He will acquiesce to our will and do things our way, we are to ask God to change our hearts and our character to be more like His.


What You Will Need

• iPod or MP3 player with speakers or CD player and CD (see Preparing Your Hearts and Minds)

• Namesake DVD and DVD player

• Stick-on nametags (or reusable nametags and a storage container)

• Extra stick-on nametags (Group Activity)

• Markers

• Stickers (optional)

• Baby-name books, or smart phones or tablet computers for accessing a baby-name website if wi-fi is available (Group Activity)

• Camera (or ask each woman to bring a photo of herself to the next session)


Session Objective

Today you'll help the women in your group discover that God's plans for us are beyond anything we ever dared to dream and that waiting is a purposeful part of the process. Yet we can trust Him, because He is always faithful.


Session Outline

Preparing Your Hearts and Minds

(2 minutes; Extended Option 5 minutes)

To help the women disconnect from the outside world and center their hearts on God, play a quiet, meaningful song as the women are gathering (see the Introduction for song suggestions). If you want, print out the words for the women to read and reflect on as they wait for the session to begin. Once everyone has arrived and the song has ended, pray the opening prayer below or a prayer of your own.


Extended Option

Wait until everyone has arrived to play the song. Ask the women to focus on the words as they listen. If you want, print out the words for the women to read silently while they listen, or invite them to sing along with the song. When the song ends, pray this opening prayer or a prayer of your own.


Dear God,

You know us so well. You know that we are one big mess of contradictions—hungering for change and resisting it at the same time. Change our hearts so that we willingly allow You to change us—to rewrite our stories and make us like Your Son, Jesus Christ. Give us hearts like His; shape our identities so that He becomes our true namesake—so people will recognize His likeness in us. Begin to whisper to us the dreams You have for us ... dreams far more wonderful than anything we could ever ask or imagine. As we begin this journey together, we ask for Your help. Help us to surrender, allowing You to transform us into the new creations we are meant to be in Christ. When the process of change is neither comfortable nor easy, help us to support and care for one another, and remind us that it will be worth it! Prepare our hearts and minds now for all that You have for us today. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.


Getting to Know Each Other

(3–5 minutes; Extended Option 8–10 minutes)

Distribute markers and stick-on or reusable nametags and have each participant make a nametag to wear. (If using reusable nametags, store them in a container between the sessions.) Have each woman choose a partner—someone she does not know well—and discuss the following questions:

• What is your full name?

• Is there a story behind your name(s)?

• Do you like or dislike your name(s), and why? Have your feelings changed over time?


After a couple of minutes, come back together as a full group and have each pair quickly introduce each other to the group by their full names.


Extended Option

In addition to nametags, provide lots of colorful markers and stickers (optional) and invite each woman to decorate her nametag. If using stick-on nametags, give each woman two nametags to decorate—one to wear and one to place on the inside cover of her book to mark whose is whose.

After each woman has decorated a nametag, have her choose a partner—someone she does not know well—and discuss the questions listed above. After a couple of minutes, come back together as a full group and have each woman introduce her partner by her full name and tell the group the story behind the names.


Video (About 25 minutes)

Play the Week 1 video segment on the DVD. Invite participants to complete the Video Viewer Guide for Week 1 in the participant book as they watch.


Group Discussion (12–15 minutes; Extended Option 20 minutes)

Note that more discussion points and questions have been provided than you will have time to include. Before the session, select those you want to cover and put a checkmark beside them. Questions highlighted in bold are from the participant book.

1. Read or summarize the story of Little Mike found in Every Name Tells a Story for Week 1.

• Do you know someone who is a namesake—named for someone else (perhaps someone whose name has been passed down through the generations)?

• Why do you think people choose to name a child after someone—whether a family member or someone else?

2. God created you and cares about you intimately and personally.

• Have someone read aloud Isaiah 43:1. How does it feel to know God formed you and knows you by name? (Day 1)

3. Abram's and Sarai's parents wanted to tell a story with the names that they gave them.

• What do the names Abram and Sarai mean?

• Why do you think their parents gave them these names?

4. The promise of God's blessings in Abram's and Sarai's lives would be so overwhelming that they would be utterly transformed by God. Have three volunteers read aloud Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15:4-5, and Genesis 17:1-6, 15-16.

• What promises did God make to Abram and Sarai?

• Why did God change their names, and what did their new names mean?

How do you think these name changes, and the promises of God they reflected, might have affected Abraham and Sarah? (Day 2)

5. It takes time to become the persons God wants us to be. God knows that if everything about us were to change in an instant, we wouldn't need the help He offers on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis. He desires a relationship with us. And with His patient attention, changes in us become apparent over time.

What are some changes you've experienced over the years with God's help—whether small or large? How are you different now than five to ten years ago? (Day 2)

6. God is capable of fulfilling every promise He makes. His promises to Abraham and Sarah—and to us—can be summarized with three words: people, place, and presence.

• How do we see the fulfillment of these three promises in Abraham and Sarah's story?

How has God brought blessings into your life in these three categories? (Day 3)

7. Abraham and Sarah learned quickly that trusting God and His promises meant a lot of waiting, hoping, and praying. But their waiting resulted in growth in their faith, trust, and hope in God. Often something powerful happens within us while we are waiting. Waiting may be one of the few times in life when we are forced to be still long enough for God to do some of His most important work in us, molding us into whom He wants us to become. Waiting for the blessing can often be part of the blessing itself, since we have to rely on God in new and unexpected ways.

• When have you experienced a time of waiting on God? How did this time of waiting result in blessing or growth?

What can we learn about God as we trust Him in our waiting? (Day 4)

How has waiting changed you or your relationship with God? (Day 4)

8. True change is found in discovering who God is, how God reveals Himself and His love to us, and how it makes a difference in our own lives. Only when we begin to see God's unchanging character do we find ourselves wanting to change to be more like Him. God's name is a representation of His character, His promises, and His strength. When we call on God's name, we are asking God to change our character to be more like His.

When have you called on God's name for a specific purpose or circumstance? How did you see God reveal Himself to you through that situation? What did you learn about God's unchanging character? (Day 5)

In what ways has your character changed as a result? (Day 5)

9. Wrap up Group Discussion with these questions:

• What surprised you about Abraham and Sarah's story? What did you learn that was new?

• What did you learn this week about God? About yourself?


Act on It (8–10 minutes—Extended Option Only)


Ask everyone to turn to a neighbor and talk about the following challenges from the Act on It section of the weekly readings:

Day 1: Talk about the meaning of your name that you found in a baby-name book or baby-name website.

Day 2: Share the Hebrew equivalent of your name—if you found one.

Day 3: Share some of the signs of God's presence you noticed this week—ways you sensed or saw God at work around you.


If time allows, come back together as a full group and invite participants to briefly share one insight they learned from their waiting time this week (Day 4).


Group Activity (5–8 minutes; Extended Option 10–15 minutes)

In advance of the session, collect a few baby-name books from participants or from a used bookstore or library. Or if wi-fi is available, plan to ask several participants with smart phones or tablet computers to connect to a baby-name website. Divide the women into small groups, making sure each group has a baby-name book or smart phone, stick-on nametags, and markers. Each woman is to look up the meaning of her name, write the meaning on a nametag, and put it on. Then have participants look up a few names of family members. Ask: Did you know your name had this meaning? Did you know your family members' names had these meanings?


Alternate Activity

Have the women scan the book or website for a meaning she likes (ignoring the name). Then have her consider the name that has this meaning. Would she like to be called by this name?


Closing Prayer (3–5 minutes)

Close the session by taking personal prayer requests from group members and leading the group in prayer. As you progress to later weeks in the study, encourage members to participate in the Closing Prayer by praying out loud for each other and the requests given. (See the guidelines in the Introduction.) Remind group members to pray for one another throughout the week.


For Next Week

In preparation for the Positive Names Center you will create for the remaining sessions (see pages 25–26), take a picture of each woman as she leaves. Or ask each woman to bring a photo of herself to the next session (be sure to send a reminder during the week).

CHAPTER 2

Week 2 Jacob


Leader Prep

Bible Story Overview

After years of infertility and a trying pregnancy (Scripture tells us that the babies "struggled" within her), Rebekah gave birth to twins. She and her husband, Isaac, named their firstborn Esau, which means "Hairy," because he was covered from head to toe with red hair. As Esau was born they noticed that a little hand was tightly gripping his heel, so they named their second born Jacob, which means "Grabby." Actually, Jacob means not only "Grabby" but also "Deceiver," "Taker of What Is Not His," and this unfortunate connotation had a deep impact on the person he would become.

The sibling rivalry between Esau and Jacob, which began in the womb, was fueled by their parents. Rebekah favored Jacob and Isaac favored Esau. This fostered competition and unhappiness between the brothers. Riddled with envy and discontent—and encouraged by his mother—Jacob deceived his father by pretending to be Esau, so he could receive both the birthright and blessing due the firstborn. In that moment he lost not only a brother but also any sense of goodness in himself. Jacob spent the first half of his life struggling to take what was not rightfully his and the second half running away from the mistakes he made.

Though Jacob found material success—wives, children, livestock, and wealth—none of it seemed to satisfy him. So, years after running away, he decided to face the consequences of his actions and return home. On the last leg of his journey, before he came upon Esau, he sent his entourage on ahead and sat down alone. That night he had a divine encounter that forced him to grab hold of God Himself. He was bold enough to ask his wrestling partner for a blessing. God told him that his name would no longer be Jacob but Israel—"He Who Wrestles with God."

Jacob became Israel—the namesake of the people of God. The nation once promised to Abraham and Sarah now had a name—the children of Israel, the ones who wrestle with God.


Weekly Readings Recap

Review the key themes of the week:

Day 1: Names have the power to brand us with hope and promise or discouragement and despair, yet God has the power to start us over on a better-named path, showering us with His grace.

Day 2: Putting relationships before personal gain is not something that comes naturally, but God urges us to break the easy pattern of putting ourselves first.

Day 3: Contentment comes when we take our eyes off the blessings of others and rest in the assurance that our heavenly Father provides all our needs.

Day 4: When we wrestle with the issues of life, God is right there wrestling with us, bringing us an outcome of blessing, even when we don't deserve it.

Day 5: God is constantly naming Himself by giving visible proof of His attributes, making a name for Himself through His actions in our lives and our world.


What You Will Need

• iPod or MP3 player with speakers or CD player and CD (see Preparing Your Hearts and Minds)

• Namesake DVD and DVD player

• Stick-on nametags (or reusable nametags and a storage container; you will need extra stick-on nametags for the Group Activity)

• Markers

• Trashcan


Session Objective

Today you'll help the women in your group discover that regardless of their pasts, God has the power to start them over on a better path, showering them with His grace and bringing an outcome of blessing—even when they don't deserve it.


Session Outline

Preparing Your Hearts and Minds

(2 minutes; Extended Option 5 minutes)

To help the women disconnect from the outside world and center their hearts on God, play a quiet, meaningful song as the women are gathering (see the Introduction for song suggestions). If you want, print out the words for the women to read and reflect on as they wait for the session to begin. Once everyone has arrived and the song has ended, pray the opening prayer below or a prayer of your own.


Extended Option

Wait until everyone has arrived to play the song. Ask the women to focus on the words as they listen. If you want, print out the words for the women to read silently while they listen, or invite them to sing along with the song. When the song ends, pray this opening prayer or a prayer of your own.


Dear God,

We give You thanks that You are a God of grace, mercy, and redemption. We praise You that You are a God of second chances, do-overs, and fresh starts. You know how much we need them! We have been hurt by the words and actions of others and by our own choices and mistakes. Yet You have the power to bring healing and to start us on a better path. Help us to remember that regardless of our pasts, You promise to shower us with grace, meet our needs, and bring blessing from every circumstance, even when we don't deserve it, because we are Your children. Lord, teach us humility, contentment, and surrender. We desire to trust You with all of our hearts. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Namesake by Jessica LaGrone. Copyright © 2013 Abingdon Women. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Women.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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