Small Group Sermon Series Discernment - Session 1
Speaker: Rich Villodas
Date: January 6, 2019
Psalm 40:1-8 [ESV]
1I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
4 Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told.
6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
Discernment can be especially challenging when we face deciding between two good options, rather than between alternatives that are good and evil: should I keep working or go back to school, should I homeschool my kids or put them in public school, should I stay in Queens or move to the suburbs, should I serve in this ministry or another ministry, etc. Today we will look at what the Word says about discovering God’s will for our lives.
- How do you currently discern God’s will in making decisions?
- Are there any important decisions you are facing now that need direction from the Lord?
- Which category do you most tend to fall into: a) always discerning but never deciding -or- b) always deciding but never discerning?
- How has your family of origin made it easy or difficult for you to discern God’s will for your life?
“In God’s will is our peace.” - Gregory of Nazianzus
Discernment: To distinguish between things. To separate things
according to their various natures.
What we need is a prayerful discernment.
Psalm 40:8 My delight is to do your will.
- How does delighting or not delighting in God affect how we hear from God?
“How can God give us an answer when we are still well supplied with all sorts of answers of our own?” - Karl Barth
- Pastor Rich speaks of his teenage years where he had a general trust in God to hold the world together but felt challenged to hold this faith in regards to a relationship that had ended. Is there any time in the present or past where it was difficult to delight in God’s will?
- At the core of discernment: Our images of God need to be healed. Which of these are true? What image of God do you hold that is untrue?
- God wants me to try harder.
- God blesses me when I’m good and punishes me when I’m bad.
- God is angry with me.
- God is disappointed with me.
- God wants me to suffer for my sins.
- God doesn't want to see me happy.
Take a moment to reflect on these truths that counter the false beliefs above.
- God wants you to rest in his love.
- God makes the rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous.
- God is in love with you.
- God joyfully claims you.
- God has taken on your sins on his son Jesus.
- God has endless joy for you in store.
- Have you had an experience where you trusted in God and it didn’t turn out the way you thought? What was that like?
- Has there been any good that God brought out of evil that came your way?
Leader’s Note: Jesus delighted in a will that sent him to the cross - crucifixion, death, separation from God, all the sins of humanity. Jesus saw the bigger picture.
- We are excellent at subtly manipulating our way through life. Is there anything in your life you are subtly (or not so subtly) manipulating so it can turn out the way you prefer (or you think is right)? - Financial decisions, emotional/relational/vocational decisions, family, living situations, ministry, career, etc.
(choose one to apply - each group member may choose something different):
- What are some things you’ve been puzzled or anxious about? What would it look like to live with “open hands” in the area you are most anxious about?
- What is a practical step you will take towards living with a posture of “open hands”?
Note: This may not apply to all or be something every person in the group can answer.
- What is something you want to remember this week from today’s lesson and how will you take time to integrate remembering it?
- Are there any life updates to pray for this week?
- What area(s) of anxiety or decision would you like to discern God’s will in?