12-29 & 30-2018
Rev. Trevor Johnston & Eric Stewart, Director of Student Ministry
Series: Home for Christmas
Week 4: A New Ear for a New Year
- Review our memory verse for this series one more time together: John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
- Many people make New Year’s Resolutions each year at this time. Share some New Year’s Resolutions you may have made in the past. Talk about your success (or lack of success) you’ve experienced with New Year’s Resolutions.
- New Year’s Resolutions, or any kind of goal setting, can be great motivators for positive change. Talk about why New Year’s Resolutions often fail, and why they do fail so often. What happens?
- In Luke’s gospel, right after the story of Jesus’ birth, we learn about Simeon and Anna. Read about them in Luke 2:25-38 – Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
5.As you read this scripture, noting the underlined portions, what was special about Simeon and Anna? How can you tell that they had an ongoing resolution to be led by the Holy Spirit?
To make a 2019 New Year’s Resolution: I want the Holy Spirit to lead me and my life more, here are 3 basic adjustments you need to make:
Adjust Your Perspective – Many people believe that as their journey with Christ lengthens, they are hearing less, or feeling less emotionally charged by the Holy Spirit.
6. Read 1 Kings 19:11-13 – The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Why do you suppose God spoke to Elijah with a gentle whisper? Do you believe he speaks to you in a gentle whisper? Can you hear him? Why or why not?
7. Now read Psalm 32:8-9 – I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Would you rather be led by the Spirit with a gentle whisper or by a bit and bridle? Have you experienced a time when you were led by either? Share your experiences of being led by the Spirit in either of these ways.
Adjust Your Practice – Rather than “attacking” your resolution with unrealistic, harsh or immeasurable goals, consider adjusting your practice so that it is: Measurable, Realistic, Gracious
8. Have you ever attempted to create rigid over-achieving standards for yourself in your goal-setting only to have it backfire on you?
9. How would adjusting your ‘Chair Time’ (or your Personal Devotion time) practice so that it is Measurable, Realistic and Gracious help in maintaining your resolution to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you more in your life?
10. Share your own Measurable, Realistic and Gracious goals with your small group if you are willing. Perhaps you can even decide on ways to hold each other accountable, or to check in on your ‘progress’ with your goals.
Adjust Your Conversation – Sometimes we are in the habit of handing over a grocery list of prayer requests to God and then forget to stop and listen for what he may want from us.
11. Read 1 Samuel 3:9-10 – So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
12. How do you suppose the Holy Spirit might respond if you simply said “Speak, for your servant is listening”?
13. What would it be like to ask more questions in your prayers? Questions such as: “Who, Lord?”, “What, Lord?”, “When, Lord?”, “Where, Lord?”, “How, Lord?”
Here are some more questions to ask and to listen for the answer as you begin to live into your New Year’s Resolution to listen and be led more by the Holy Spirit:
Holy Spirit, where do you want to lead me more in my life?
Holy Spirit, what next step in my spiritual life practices do you want me to take?
Holy Spirit, where am I doing a good job in following you right now?
Share your answers from the Holy Spirit with your small group in the coming weeks, if you are willing.