Small Group Curriculum

Enduring the Dark

06.07.20 | Sermon Series: Whole-Hearted

 
 

PREPARATION

STUDY | Spend the week studying Psalm 69:1-7 and John 15:1-11. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.

DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.

PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.

LANDING POINT | The journey through the Wall leads us to love, surrender and obey God as our "true selves" in Christ. 

Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion

  1. Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
  2. No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
  3. No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
  4. Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group. 

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

The dark night of the soul

Life with Christ is a journey. We’re on the move and headed somewhere. As we travel through life’s starts and stops, detours and delays, we eventually experience a crisis that rocks us to the core and turns our world upside down.1 We face a Wall (or the Dark Night of the Soul). Giving up leaves us stuck and unable to move forward. But breaking through the Wall puts us on the way toward growth and maturity.

Emotionally healthy spirituality gives us a way through the Wall and shows us what it’s like to live on the other side.

Q: Share about a time in your life where you felt stuck or were facing your own Wall.

 

deeper dive

Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.

defining moment

Journeys involve stepping out into the unknown, into mystery. God uses our Wall periods to call us out into the unknown and trust Him. A number of biblical characters faced Wall seasons, from Abraham (Sarah’s infertility and offering up his son, Isaac) to David (Psalm 69) to Jesus (the cross). As with these characters, God uses defining moments in our lives to prune and purify us to be healthy and fruitful.

Q: Have someone read Psalm 69:1–3 and 15–16. As the Scripture is read, consider how David relates to God.

Q: Why is it important to, as David did, remember the character of God when facing the Wall?

Q: Have someone read John 15:1–5. Pay attention to how Jesus describes the pruning process.

Q: How does pruning reflect the loving care of God the Father? Why is pruning necessary?

Q: What are some practical ways you can abide in Jesus? How does this lead to bearing fruit in your life?

 

 

reflection and next steps

Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.

bounce off or break through

The Wall is God’s gift meant to lead you into transformation. If you try to avoid the Wall by running from the pain or hiding behind your faith (bounce off), you’ll never see change. Being stuck at the Wall isn’t God’s best for you. But if you receive the Wall as a gift and face it (break through), you’ll experience growth and maturity on the other side.

Q: Describe what it means to run from the pain or hide behind your faith in order to avoid the Wall. Give examples.

blessings on the other side

Being on the other side of the Wall changes you. You no longer need to be defined by the world. On the other side of the Wall, being well-known or successful isn’t your main purpose in life. It’s knowing God and finding your greatest satisfaction in Him. It’s doing His will as your “true self.”

On the other side of the wall:
• You have a greater level of brokenness.
• You have a greater appreciation for the mystery of God.
• You have a deeper ability to wait for God.
• You have a greater detachment from the things of the world. The question isn’t
Am I happy? but Am I free?

Q: How might a greater awareness of your brokenness free you to be your “true self”?

CHALLENGE: Take a pen and paper and draw a wall. Ask God to reveal where you might be at a Wall in your life. Are you bouncing off it? If yes, write down reasons why. Write down what it would take for you to break through your Wall. Finish by writing a prayer of commitment to trust, obey and wait on God no matter what.


COMMENTARY

About Psalm 69 “This is an individual lament, geared especially to a situation in which a faithful Israelite is suffering for wrongs he has done (v. 5) but also finds attackers piling on, taking advantage of his suffering and making it worse (v. 26). The NT cites several passages from this psalm, applying them to the life of Christ. Some have argued that NT use shows that the right way to read the psalm is as David’s personal prayer, which believers sing in order to identify with him.”

Fruitfulness “No branch that is genuinely united to Christ, drawing nourishment from Him, can be wholly fruitless. Branches that belong to Christ and bear fruit must undergo the pruning necessary to increase. The lack of fruit described in Ps. 80; Is. 5:1; and Jer. 2:21 is failure to be obedient to God. These OT discussions of the vine and its fruit, combined with Christ’s command to love in this chapter, indicate that “fruit” refers to a Christlike life produced by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23), rather than to the number of people converted under a believer’s ministry.”


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ENDNOTES:

1. Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature, updated ed. (Grand Rap- ids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2017), 97.
2. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1019.
3. R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 1887.