Small Group Questions

You were made for this: When you need a fresh start  

Introduction:

God has given you a life vision and a purpose. But you can’t fulfill that vision until you clearly see it. In this series, we look at the transforming power of vision by describing the consequences of an unclear vision and revealing the antidote to fear in pursuing the future God has planned for you. 

Something To Talk About:

Do you ever feel like you need a fresh start? The good news is, God specializes in special chances, fresh starts, and new beginnings. In this message, we look at the five step process to a fresh start.  

  1. Stop making excuses: To start over, I have to stop making excuses for my failures. I’ve got to stop blaming people, using rationalizations, or seeing myself as the victim of my circumstances instead of owning up to my own mistakes. Let me be clear on this: Other people can hurt you, without a doubt, but nobody can ruin your life except you. You don’t know what’s going to happen in 2021 and beyond, but you can choose how to respond. And we respond by being honest and accepting responsibility for our part in the problem. Proverbs 28:13 (TLB) says, “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful.  But if he confesses and forsakes them he gets another chance.” Pride and ego stand in the way of seeking out much-needed advice to navigate through the problems of life. Basically, you’re never going to get anywhere if you think you’ve already arrived. We give up too soon. Failure is the path of least persistence. 
  2. Take stock of what I have:  I need to evaluate all of my experiences.  If I’ve had a financial failure, I need to take stock of what finances I have left. If I’ve had a relational failure, I need to take stock of what relationships I have left.  If I’ve had a moral failure, I need to look and say, “What is God still doing in my life?”  As you take stock of your life in starting over, you need to ask yourself three questions:  What have I learned? If you don’t sit down and think it through, you’ll probably end up making the same mistake this year as you did last year. What are my assets? What have I got going for me? Friends? The Lord? A church family? What do I have that I can count on?  Who can help me?  When you need a fresh start, you need somebody by your side – a friend, an accountability partner, a support person, a support group. You need somebody to walk along with you. 
  3. Act in faith: If you want to change your circumstance, it takes faith.  If you want to change your personality, it takes faith. If you want to change anything in your life, you have to have some faith. The person who says, “I can!” and the person who says, “I can’t!” are both right. So, start expecting more of yourself, from God, and of life. That’s the principle of faith. Have you ever realized that when you set goals, you’re doing a faith activity?  Goals are statements of faith. A goal is simply a dream with a deadline put on it. It’s saying, “I believe God wants me to do this by a certain point in time.”  It’s a statement of faith.  You need to set some goals for your life in the remainder of 2021 and beyond: personal goals, family goals, every kind of goal in your life. Some people don’t like to set goals at all because they are afraid of failing them. But really, failure is not setting a goal in the first place. On top of that, fear of failure is far worse than failure because it is hard to get rid of because fear is inevitable. Faith is not the absence of fear. Faith is moving ahead in spite of your fear – it is doing the thing you fear the most. Where do you need to act in faith today?  
  4. Refocus my mind on God’s Word: The way you think determines the way you feel. And the way you feel determines the way you act. And if you change the way you think it will inevitably change the way you act.  Let go of the past by confessing your sins and experiencing forgiveness by God’s grace. And focus on God’s truth instead of the world. Meditate on it, grapple with God’s Word, maybe write it down on a card, memorize it, or think about it over and over. As you fill your mind with God’s Word, it begins to change your thoughts. You begin to stop seeing yourself as other people see you or how you see yourself and you start seeing yourself as God does.  That’s where the change takes place.  “Be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind, having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude.”  (Ephesians 4:23 AMP)
  5. Trust that God knows best: Trust God to help you succeed. Depend on Him and not on yourself.  You can’t change on your own.  You don’t get a fresh start by trying. You get a fresh start by trusting.   Zechariah 4:6 says, “…You will not succeed by your own strength or power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord All-Powerful.” Would you like to wipe the slate clean?  Have you ever thought, “I’d like to redesign my life from the ground up?”  When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. They are not the same anymore. God specializes in new beginnings. This year ask Christ to help you make a fresh start.

Discussion Questions:

  1. We deserve to be counted out but God gives us the opportunity for a fresh start, a do-over: How do you react to that? 
  2. What does a “fresh start” spiritually mean in your mind? What do we need to commit to starting fresh?
  3. Is possible to start fresh and finish strong? 
  4. Is starting fresh the best way to prepare for the troubles that come in life? 
  5. God specializes in giving people fresh starts. How has God given you a fresh start—in small ways or big?
  6. The story of life is often the story of excuses. What can we do to take the emphasis off excuses and instead moving forward as we listen to God and trust in Him?
  7. How do the scriptures above encourage us to take a personal inventory as an important step to a fresh start?  
  8. Why is setting goals a sign of having faith in God? Even in uncertain times, we can still make plans for things we want to do (scenario planning) and who we want to be (character goals). Agree to disagree and why?
  9. According to Psalm 1:1-3,  how can we renew our spirits by refocusing our minds?
  10. What point in this message was most impactful for you?
  11. What do you think? How did this message challenge, change, or affirm your thinking?
  12. What will you do? How will you or your group put into practice what you’ve learned today?

Take one thing home with you:

Making a fresh start and breaking with old ways is hard. Making that fresh start with a friend at your side makes the process so much easier. There is no better friend than Jesus for the journey of life. So many of us live life with Jesus as our Commander, our Master, our Judge, and our Savior. But how often do we just talk and laugh with Him as a friend? James 2:23 says, “And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: …Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. With Jesus as a friend, you’re simply never alone. You are always cared for, tended to, desired, wanted, fought for, and being rooted for. God roots for you every day; He delights when you’re joyous. He’s at peace for you when you are at peace with life. He delights when you trust your circumstances, all of it, into His hands.

When you need a fresh start remember that Jesus is reliable, trustworthy, faithful and able to work in your life in ways you couldn’t even imagine yourself. Having Jesus as a friend is one of the greatest gifts we can actually live out, and open daily.