For Small Group Discussion: Psalm 51 Part II Sermon Content Highlights

You might start small group discussions by simply asking, “What did anybody find helpful, confusing or enlightening from the teaching on Sunday?” For many small groups this will be enough to get things going and keep things going. When things slow down, then turning to the Scripture passage itself and working through it will usually more than fill the rest of the time you have for discussion that is, if you are taking time to do the other four purposes of small groups: community, missionary support, substantive prayer, organized service.

In case your discussion needs a little stimulation here are some things from the sermon you could bring up:

  1. Read Psalm 51:16 – 17 and say, “Let’s put into our own words exactly what we think a ‘broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart’ really means. Can you give an example of when you think that heart was operating in you – or when it wasn’t?”
  2. Nic showed a picture of a toaster and an eggplant. It was designed to illustrate that our character is constantly forming or deforming. Our character is something living that grows, not something static like a toaster that comes off the assembly line. Do we believe that or don’t we ? What evidence or examples can we give that we do or don’t believe it?
  3. Nic said: New Motivational Structure + Behavioral Discipline = Redemptive Formation. What is the new motivational structure?
  4. What behavioral disciplines can we employ? Examples in the sermon were (this is not a complete list):
    • Repentance is its own discipline – start actually apologizing well. This requires:
      • Absolute affirmation.
      • Taking the full guilt – no blame shifting.
      • Explicitly asking for forgiveness on the right basis from God – his unfailing love, great compassion and loving care – in the sacrifice of Christ’s death. (see verse 7)
      • Ask for restoration.
      • Begin to celebrate a redeemed future.
    • Repentant and Thanksgiving Prayer
      • When we come into the presence of God we should be sensible of our sin – but we should still be coming freely into his presence on the basis of Christ
      • We should take time to exercise the discipline of thankfulness
        • “Do you believe that the good things in your life are your doing and that God should have protected you from the bad things; or do you believe that everything good in your life comes from God, and the bad things in your life could be there for 100 reasons – one of them being you.”
      • Nic encouraged people to pray prayers of thanksgiving five times each day – for one minute when you wake up and one minute before you go to sleep. And for one minute at each meal. What could that simple discipline accomplish in our character?
    • Use Rituals Repetitively – a ritual is “any practice that helps you focus your attention on something worth focusing on and helps you eliminate distractions.”
      • Five of the rituals God has commanded are:
        • Baptism
        • Communion – the Lord’s supper
        • Fellowship/Community – being in the presence of real spiritual friendships with other Christians
        • Worship – celebrating God for who he is with other people who know him
        • Generosity – giving for the express purpose of the expansion of the kingdom of God. That his kingdom would grow, in that God himself would be known for who he is among all people. Along with this will always come some relief of suffering – but it is not the primary work of the church but an outcome of the church’s work.
      • People use rituals in sports all the time. Most common examples: Basketball players shoot their foul shot exactly the same every time. Volleyball servers serve the ball exactly the same way every time. Sports are all about repetition – training the mind, heart and body to function together seamlessly all the time.
    • Practice Reconciliation – be someone who forgives and seeks forgiveness
      • See Colossians 3:12 –16 and Matthew 6:14 – 15.
      • This requires learning to apologize well. Nic said, “you should always over apologize about 300% more than you think you should. Naturally, you will apologize only 70% of what you really should. Because of your self-righteousness, you will always under apologize at least that 30%. The 300% is because a little extra humiliation and affirmation of the other person is good for you and for them.”
    • Know God – when you really know who God is, you begin to learn who you are, and the dynamic between God and yourself. Once you know these three things – the only thing that makes sense is a life of repentance and trust.
      • Without knowing God we will not know when you’re wrong, how we’re wrong, what should change, how that change happens, on what basis were forgiven, how joy and thankfulness propel us with new motivation and everything else necessary for real Christian humble trusting repentant spirituality.
      • Psalm 1 – the righteous meditates on the law of God day and night.
      • See Psalm 19:7–11 and in virtually all of Psalm 119 – which we will get to in a couple of weeks
      • In the Psalms, the presence of God is mainly mediated through his written word and covenant promises. That’s not to say people don’t feel God’s presence – but when you read the Psalms, these songwriters are reviving themselves on the basis of God’s written word.
    • Being Together – you become like the people you are with and around.
      • At High Point we do this mainly through worship and small groups.
    • Leverage Life – everything in your life is an opportunity to be growing or shrinking and forming or deforming your character in Christ. Every decision can ultimately be brought down to a group of actions that are our faith and a group of actions that are not faith.
      • Life is like game day – we train at church and small groups, but the real test is life. But, the test of life isn’t just pass or fail. If you believe in Jesus, in some sense it isn’t even graded. Some tests are simply examinations. Other tests are ordeals: tests that forms the people taking them in the midst of the test itself. That’s what life is.

Lastly, at my small group, after we’ve discussed the passage, I always throw my hands up in the air and yell “so what?!?” Meaning, “we are now entering the application part of our meeting. If we don’t apply what we just talked about to our real lives, all we’re doing is being religious.”

This week, it would probably be helpful to determine some real actions you should take before the next week. Is there anything anyone needs to repent of? Is there anyone someone needs to reconcile with or apologize to? Does anyone need to make a new commitment to being together? Does life need to be looked at in a new way? Do some people need to embrace new beginner disciplines that will get them on the right track? Has some discipline fallen by the wayside for more experienced Christians? What are we going to do between now and next week?

Have great meetings!

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