Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. ~ Albert Einstein
Harry Houdini was one of the greatest escape artists the world has ever seen. One of the most famous tricks he loved to perform was to escape from jail cells across the world. Houdini would travel to a city and challenge the citizens to create a cell from which he could not escape. He would always free himself in record time, whether he was in handcuffs, or the cell was triple locked, or he had to scale a wall to escape.
Of course, Houdini had a lot tricks up his sleeve. He would ask to test the lock with the key and make an impression of it using a small box of wax that he kept in his palm. He would then hide the key in his hair or the heel of his slippers. Other times, he was able to have the key passed to him from a friend after reaching his hands through the bars to shake hands with the onlookers. If all else failed, he had a special lock pick made that he could hide in his belt.
However, as one story goes, there was one cell in a town in the British Isles that stumped the great illusionist. Houdini walked into the challenge with confidence. Once the jail was closed, he took off his coat and set to work with his key and lock pick. But there was something unusual about the lock. He worked for thirty minutes with no success. An hour passed, and still he was stuck behind the bars. After two hours had passed, an exhausted Houdini collapsed against the door in defeat… and it swung open.
The citizens of the town had played a trick on Houdini by not locking the cell in the first place! The solution was there in plain sight. It had only been locked in his mind.
Sometimes, we fall into the same trap. We fail to recognize the reality of our situation because what our eyes are telling us does not represent the whole story. We fail to see the solutions in plain sight or are blind to what is really taking place. In particular, as we will discuss in this first session, we fail to see that we are in an invisible war… and that the battlefield for the struggle is located in our own hearts and minds.
If you or any of your group members are just getting to know one another, take a few minutes to introduce yourselves. Then, to kick things off, discuss one of the following questions:
- When is a time in your life that you failed to see the solution to a problem that ended up being right in front of you?
— or —
- When is a time in your life that you failed to see that you were walking into a crisis? What was the situation and what happened as a result?
Invite someone to read aloud the following passage. Listen for fresh insights as you hear the verses being read, and then discuss the questions that follow.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ…
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal — 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
What is one insight that stands out to you from this passage?
What does the apostle Paul say about the two realms that exist in this world?
Play the video segment for session one. As you and your group watch, use the following outline to record any thoughts or concepts that stand out to you.
We cannot rely on what we see because our eyes do not tell us the whole story of what is happening in this world. There is also an invisible conflict raging in the spiritual realm.
What do we see when we look into the mirror? The Bible says we should see someone who is loved by God and created in His image. But that person is being opposed by an enemy who is seeking to defeat us from the inside out.
There are four movements in the story of Moses that reveal how these two realities play out.
In movement #1, the devil works in Pharaoh’s heart to destroy God’s people.
Moses is raised in the household of the person who was trying to kill him. He is brought up by Egyptians, though he is actually a Hebrew.
Satan had a plan of destroying God’s people, but he had bigger plan of destroying the Messiah, who would come as the “greater Moses” to save us from our sins.
In movement #2, Moses visits his people and takes vengeance against an Egyptian.
Moses realizes that God made him for a unique purpose. He starts to realize that he is a “genius.”
We all have God-given abilities that make us a genius at something. The problem is we also experience a pull from the enemy that tries to hold us back from greatness.
In movement #3, Moses goes on the run after killing the Egyptian.
Moses makes the mistake of doing the right thing at the wrong time and in the wrong way. He ends up as a fugitive because he operated out of God’s timing.
A blessing out of season can become a burden. What we thought would bring us happiness ends up bringing us difficulty and complexity.
In movement #4, Moses ultimately walks in God’s calling for his life. After forty years, God appears to Moses in the desert and reissues the call on his life.
Moses, with God’s power in his life, is able to tap into his inner genius and become a leader the likes of which the world has rarely seen.
As we fight through the battles we cannot see, we will we be able to do everything that God has called us to do.
Take a few minutes with your group members to discuss what you just watched and explore these concepts together.
- We are all involved in a spiritual war, and often the battlefield is our own hearts and minds. What are some of the ways these struggles play out in our lives?
- Read aloud Ephesians 6:10–13. What strategies does Paul put forward in these verses on how to win the battles taking place in your heart and mind?
- What do the movements in Moses’ story reveal about stepping into God’s plan for your life? How do you respond to the idea that you also have a special calling on your life?
- What does Moses’ story reveal about doing the right thing (following God’s plan) in the right way and right time? When has what was intended to be a blessing in your life turned out to be a burden because you didn’t follow God’s timing?
- What are some negative thoughts that have held you back in the past from stepping to God’s call on your life or using your God-given abilities?
- What are some practical steps you need to take today to take back your life when it comes to winning the war that is raging in your heart and mind?
Briefly review the outline for the video teaching and any notes you took. In the space below, write down the most significant point you took away from this session.
Wrap up your time together by taking a few minutes to talk with God. Here are a few ideas of what you could pray about based on what you discussed in this session:
- Ask God to provide insights into ways the enemy is distorting your vision of his plan and clarity as to what God has called you to do.
- Pray for God’s strength to overcome any fears that are holding you back.
- Thank God for his power to forgive sin in your life through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ, and for the gifts he has given you to use for his purposes.
- Declare that you will fix your eyes on God and follow his plan going forward.
Excerpted with permission from Take Back Your Life Study Guide: A 40-Day Interactive Journey to Thinking Right So You Can Live Right by Levi Lusko, copyright Levi Lusko.
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We’d love to hear your thoughts on Tack Back Your Life in the comments!