SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
Though we are in the Thanksgiving season, everyday is a day of thanksgiving. The key to a thankful heart is a heart that is filled with joy. Such joy is actualized when we (1) offer reverence to God; (2) are in relationship with God; (3) and rely on God.
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1. Briefly share how you and your family celebrated Thanksgiving. Do you have Thanksgiving traditions that you engage in each year?
2. Is your family experiencing difficulties that made it difficult to be thankful this year? Share and discuss.
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.
2. Read 2 Chronicles 20:12-22:
12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD. 14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. 15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’ ” 18 Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.” 22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
• Briefly discuss the context of the passage. (2 Chronicles 20:1-12) Upon hearing distressing news, Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah seek God in prayer and fasting. What can we learn from their response to a seemingly impossible situation? What is your immediate response to discouraging news?
• After Jehoshaphat declares the power of God in his prayer, what does he admit to God? (v. 12) Do you ever find it difficult to admit your powerlessness to God, or to one another? Discuss and share.
• What instruction does the Holy Spirit give the people? (vv. 14-17) For what reasons are they instructed not to give in to fear and discouragement? (v. 17) Have you ever heard these words from the Lord during a troubling time? Is the promise of vs.17 real for you today? Read Romans 8:35 and discuss.
• Do you think it is significant that the Holy Spirit speaks through Jahaziel, rather than Jehoshaphat (v. 14)? Why or why not? What is the environment in which God provides direction to the people? Only in community do we see all the gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed – what gifts exist in your small group? How might this encourage you when we are waiting for direction or wisdom from God?
• How do Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah respond to God’s instruction? (vv. 18-19) Do the promises of God lead you toward worship like King Jehoshaphat? Why or why not? What impact does worship have on your relationship with God and your perspective on your own circumstances? How can you increase the quality and quantity of the practice of worship in your life?
3. Some of us find it hard to give thanks because we allow our circumstances to dictate our condition. But when we worship God, we recognize God’s presence in spite of our predicaments. Consider the following questions, and take time to seek the Holy Spirit. Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you as a group.
• Are there any places in your life where you need to hear the words, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.”?
• Pray that worship and thankfulness would increase in your lives despite life’s difficulties.