How Is It With Your Soul? Really? (Matthew 11:28-30) // Sunday, October 1, 2023

How Is It With Your Soul? Really? (Matthew 11:28-30) // Sunday, October 1, 2023

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Grace UMC prepares for Sunday worship by reading the scripture for the coming Sunday’s sermon. Below, you fill find questions that can be used for Bible Study, small groups or personal devotion. Let the scripture speak into your life! Expect great things!

Preparation for World Communion Sunday

Opening Prayer

Gracious and loving God, you are a God of new beginnings. You created us to be whole, unique, abundant-life-living children. Though we get too busy and disconnected before we even realize it, you are full of grace to offer a reset. You bring us back, refresh our spirits, and make us whole again. As we begin this journey to wholeness, prepare our hearts to let go of what is holding us back. Teach us again what it means to live lightly and freely, walking with you each and every day. Come and be present in our conversation and fellowship. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Scripture Focus: Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

28 Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Opening Reflection & Questions

Read the following excerpt from chapter 1 of Soul Reset

“When we do experience wholeness, we find capacity to handle difficult life situations and stress because we are connected to Jesus. It doesn’t mean we are free from trials, but it does mean that we have the capacity to handle them. It means that God’s love, mercy, and kindness sustain us through whatever we face. When we are growing in Christ and Christ is in us, we discover a joy that isn’t manufactured or dependent upon external circumstances. That joy is at our core and isn’t easily shaken” (page 25). 

  1. How would you define the word wholeness? What does that word mean to you? 
  2. Watch the Soul Reset video for Session 1: Soul Reset Assessment. 

Reflection & Discussion Questions

  1. What are some of your thoughts or reflections from the video and chapter 1 of the Soul Reset book? 
  2. Read aloud Matthew 11:28-30 from The Message translation. What does it mean to be “burned out on religion”? What are some of the possible causes of this? Is it surprising that the Bible would make such a statement or acknowledge such a possibility? Why or why not? 
  1. When was the last time you felt whole—in your body, mind, and spirit? 
  1. What personal habits or rhythms have you developed to stay spiritually grounded and close to Jesus? 
  1. “[Being connected to Jesus] doesn’t mean we are free from trials, but it does mean that we have the capacity to handle them” (page 25). What does that statement mean to you? 
  1. What is the difference in philosophy between focusing on what you can produce for Jesus and focusing on living an abundant life in Jesus? How are the two approaches different, and why might we sometimes confuse one of these for the other? 
  1. Pastor Dotson repeatedly touches on the idea and importance of whole- ness. What does a life of wholeness look like for a Christian believer? 
  1. How easy or how difficult is it for you to ask others, “How is it with your soul?” How difficult is it for you to answer that question when asked by others?
  1. What do you think about Pastor Dotson’s suggestion that “less is more” is the best approach to take toward church? How does it apply to you?

Spiritual Practice

This week we look at the spiritual practice of examen. The Prayer of Examen is a spiritual practice introduced by Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556 ce) that invites a deep inward reflection on each day as an exercise in noticing the movement of God, our connectedness to God throughout the day, and learning to discern the will of God. In the practice of examen, we seek and find God in all things of daily life. As we examine each day, we look for those moments when we felt close to God, which Ignatius describes as consolation. We then look for those moments in which we felt disconnected from God, defined by Ignatius as desolation. In both spaces, we can seek God and hear from God about God’s will for us, discover the truth about who we are, and be reminded that we are ever held by a good and loving God.

Meditation/Candle Lighting

I invite you now to a time of silent prayer together. Please light a candle as a symbol of the light of Christ in your midst. 

In the silence, assess the state of your soul before God—take your spiritual temperature. What is bringing you joy these days? (Pause one minute.) What is bringing you a sense of burden these days? (Pause one minute.) What is God saying to you about making a soul reset? (Pause one minute.) 

Closing Prayer

God, thank you for the invitation to really live. Free us from the ways we have made a burden out of your abundant life. Help us to reset, lay down our burdens, and step into your freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.