Week 1 Sermon Questions For Groups
Hope In Action
Your ways are how you live, and the ways you let in become the ways you are set in. We want things to be better. But what we want is hope, but hope in and of itself changes nothing. Actions do. Hope can be the catalyst for the change, but actions are what gets us there.
Something To Talk About:
Hope will point you in the right direction, but there’s only one way to reach your goal. To reach your goal you must first:
- Define the problem: The first step in problem solving is to accurately define the problem. Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” Einstein believed the quality of the solution you generate is in direct proportion to your ability to identify the problem you hope to solve. In other words, invest some time in defining the problem rather than jumping straight into solutions. Nehemiah certainly demonstrated that capability. He defined the problem. After 70 years of exile the Jews were returning to their homeland. Nehemiah had some friends that just returned from Jerusalem and they told him that “the wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” (Nehemiah 1:3) The wall was their protection from enemies so the people were vulnerable and at risk. They were susceptible to attack. That was the problem. And defining the problem is the first step in finding a solution. In the same way, we must first define the problems in our lives before we try to correct them.
- Diligently seek God: If you had to pick a single word to describe our society, perhaps the most accurate word would be pressure. We live in a day marked by pressure in almost every area of life. World problems, economic problems, our own personal problems, and the problems of friends and loved ones all press upon us. That is why we should diligently seek God when facing problems and when things are going good. But what does that mean exactly. It is setting the mind and heart on God. 1 Chronicles 22:19 says, “Now seek the Lord your God with all your heart and soul…“ Colossians 3:1-2 adds, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” This is the opposite of mental coasting. It is a conscious choice to direct our life toward God. This is what seeking God means.
- Do the work: Most of us acknowledge the need for change, but more often than not we want other people to change. We, ourselves, do not want to really change. We want things to be better but making the changes in our lives to be better can be a difficult challenge. Real change is a change of heart. It is a change in the way you feel about things and a change in the way you see yourself and your life. It is a change not only in perception, but in what you choose to do as a result. To make that type of change you have to do the work. Year after year, January comes and goes, and you find yourself in the same place with the same status quo. Real change in 2019 means putting hope in action empowered by the Spirit of God to change the trajectory of your life from this day forward. Nehemiah did this when he got to Jerusalem. After inspecting the damage to the wall personally and acknowledging the extent of the damage, he gathered all the leaders of Jerusalem, the priests, nobles, officials and said to them: “But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king. They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.” Nehemiah 2:17-18. The good news is, you are going to do the work, but the better news is you are not doing it alone, God is with you.
- What do you think most often keeps you from accomplishing your hopes?
- Fill in the blanks with a few scenarios you face regularly. I want ______ now, but I want ______ most.
- You can’t defeat what you don’t define. Agree or disagree and why?
- Why is it is important to define the problem before looking for solutions? Can you give an example for your group of a recent incident or challenge where defining the problem makes the solution easier?
- How does an individual’s life demonstrate the presence of God? What can we do to increase God’s presence in our lives?
- What responsibility do we have to be available for God to work through us? What responsibility do we have to take action when God moves us in that direction?
- Read 1 Peter 1:13-14. What are some old ways you plan to not slip back into this year?
- Share about a hope that by God’s grace you have seen become a reality. What did it take to get there?
- What specific actions do you need to take to diligently seek God and do the work to accomplish your hopes for this year?
- How can you prepare yourself for the future when God calls you to some step of faith or action or obedience? What habits or attitudes can you develop now that will help you when that time comes?
Take one thing home with you:
As we get ready to start a new year, our hope is that your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ will grow in 2019. Psalm 138:7-8 says, “Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me. The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.” I hope these powerful verses give you hope. These verses assure me and you that God is always actively watching over us and knows when “I am in the midst of trouble”; (2) that God will intervene for us and “reach out His hand” against those who want to harm us; (3) that God will “save me by the power of His right hand” from situations that are overwhelming us; and (4) that God will shower us with “faithful love that endures forever” in spite of how often we seem to get ourselves into hopeless situations.