Weekly Discussion Guide


The Genie in the Bottle

by Pastor Matt Manning on October 29, 2023


In our current series, Faith Misunderstood, we are looking at various incorrect ways we approach God as we move toward better understanding the type of relationship God longs to have with us.
This weekend we heard about what it means to treat God like a genie— as a supernatural source of blessings, with no regard for what’s important to Him.

What does unhealthy financial dependence look like? What usually happens to the relationship of the people involved?

And [Jesus] said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. (Luke 15:11-16)

By making this demand, the younger son was showing extreme disrespect to his father. In so many words, “I wish you were dead.”

How would it be obvious to anyone hearing this story that the younger son saw his father as nothing more than an human ATM?

What are those types of relationships like—where Person A stays connected to Person B only because of what Person B can finance?

What usually happens to those relationships when Person B finally says “enough”!

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:17-24)

What does it look like, these days, for someone to “come to their senses”?
[If you’re aware of an example, describe what happened (without identifying or embarrassing anyone).]

How much of his “coming to his senses” was his awareness of his selfish choices, and how much was misunderstanding the love, grace, and character of his father?

How did the younger son demonstrate humility in his remorse?

Why is genuine repentance impossible without humility?

Make a list of the Top-Three things with which God has blessed you—spectacular gifts you neither deserved nor earned.

Deep in your heart, what do you believe motivated God to do or provide these things for you?
Have you ever been tempted to make a deal with God along the lines of ... “If I do A, B, & C, then you’ll bless me”? If so, what does that pull feel like?
Why is it spiritually dangerous to think this way?

For what area of life, thought pattern, or habitual behavior do you need to “come to your senses” and just admit, “Hey, this just isn’t working—and it’s dishonoring to God, to others, and myself”?

Whether or not you share this with the group, take that thing to God and ask him to be as merciful to you as the Prodigal Son’s father was to the wayward young man.

Pursue genuine, humility-driven repentance this week.

Tags: habits, with, genie, from god, crossroads church, crossroadsabc, faith misunderstood, sky jethani, life from god

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