A soul reset is an invitation to slow down—to take stock of what you have given your heart to, of how hard you are working, and whether or not you are working hard at the right things. This new series will serve as an opportunity invitation for our congregation to lay down our collective burdens and fall into the grace of God, learning together to follow Jesus’ unforced rhythms of grace day by day. My prayer is that we, will grow deeper in God’s love and deeper as community as we reset and recalibrate, so we can get back to the most important things, such as time with God and being in relationship with each other.
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 the 19th Sunday After Pentecost
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 walk 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.
Opening Reflection & Discussion
Read the following excerpt from chapter 2 of Soul Reset:
“We were created with a longing for relationship with the Creator. We long to feel God moving in our lives”
- Do you agree that we are all created with a longing for relationship with God? Why or why not?
- Have you ever felt a longing to feel God moving in your life during a particular season? Share about that time.
Soul Reset Video
Watch the Soul Reset video for Session 2: Feel the Feelings. What are some of your thoughts or reflections from the video and chapter 2 of the Soul Reset book?
Scripture Focus: Psalm 42 (New International Version)
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One[d] with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore, I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.8 By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life. 9 I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” 10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
- What is David talking about in this psalm? What do you think is the condition of his soul? What does this psalm teach us about prayer?
- In chapter 2, Pastor Dotson shares his story of battling depression. He tells the story of a friend asking him what it is that he has to be depressed about. Have you ever had a season in which by all outward appearances you seemed successful and confident, but inside you were fighting a battle? Share about that time.
- Depression and taking medication for it can sometimes carry a stigma, especially in the church. What is the stigma? Why do you think there is a stigma? What do you think is the remedy to allow more space for people to be honest about how they are feeling and what they are struggling with?
- Pastor Dotson writes that David was fixated on what was wrong, that he was looking horizontally instead of vertically to God for a new beginning. Would you say that in a crisis you fixate on the problems or fixate on God’s power to work in and through them?
- Why do you think it’s so easy to get stuck complaining about what’s wrong instead of seeking God?
- What does Pastor Dotson mean when he says that David was experiencing “spiritual dehydration”? Have you ever experienced such a thing? Share about that time.
- “Part of breaking the chains of depression is reconnecting to God. . .. voices of doubt and discord get more power in our lives when we are not connected to God” (page 44). Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
- What practices help us keep God’s voice turned up in our lives so that voices of doubt and discord lose their power?
- David feels all the feelings and brings them all to God. He lays out his raw emotions and gut-level feelings; he does not hold back. But David gets to the end and finds a “yet praise” moment. He remembers and decides that he will keep on praising God and trusting God, no matter what comes at him. What are your “yet praise” moments?
- Do you feel like you can bring all your raw emotions and gut feelings to God? Why or why not?
- “When you’re surrounded by a set of circumstances that threatens your faith, it’s time to worship. Worship is a lifestyle that reminds us of our ability to ‘yet praise’ in the midst of difficulties” (page 46). What does it mean to have a worship lifestyle? How does a worship lifestyle help us in our difficulties?
Group Spiritual Practice
Each week of our soul reset experience; we will learn about a spiritual practice that will help us to seek wholeness. This week, we look at the spiritual practice of praying the scriptures. Right now, on a sheet of paper or in a note on your phone, write Psalm 42 in your own words. If the idea of rewriting the whole psalm feels too long and difficult, choose a passage that jumps out at you. Make David’s words your own and bring all your feelings to God. End your psalm with words of praise, just as David taught us to do. When you are finished writing, spend a few minutes in silent prayer, praying your paraphrased psalm over and over to God. Invite those who want to, to read aloud their psalm.
Close your gathering by inviting group members to spend some quiet moments in silent prayer together. Light a candle as a symbol of the light of Christ in your midst. Read aloud: In the silence, assess the state of your soul before God. 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.)
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 reset, lay down our burdens, and step into your freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.