This week's Small Group Guide is composed of questions from this week's GPS Guide. The questions relate to the Scripture for that particular day. You can download the full week's GPS as a printable document for the context of each question below (in the printable version, the recommended small group questions are marked with a special bullet point.)
This psalmist had apparently been through a hard time, likely a moral crisis that needed pardon, a severe illness or maybe both. The call (to himself) to “bless the LORD” (Yahweh) wasn’t a vague summons to act grateful even though he didn’t feel that way inwardly. It focused on God’s healing and forgiving as central reasons for gratitude. How can you, like this psalmist, learn at hard times to refocus your attention on the enduring reasons for gratitude to God?
Why do you believe Jesus prayed prayers of gratitude, and didn’t just say, “I’m the son of God—I can handle this on my own”? Do you think Jesus' reasons for expressing thanks were different from your reasons, or not? If you had been one of the first disciples, what difference, if any, do you imagine you would have noticed in Jesus after he had been praying and thanking God?
Artists and photographers know that often how we frame a picture alters what we focus on in it. Paul urged a kind of framing in verse 17. “When we bring the things that cause us stress into prayer, we put ourselves and our troubles inside a much bigger picture: the story of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ…. And that leads to thanksgiving.”* What helps you remember to look at God’s big picture of life more than the unpleasant little details?
The Message paraphrased verses 18-19 this way: “Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs!”** Can gratitude to God not just numb life’s hurts, but move you beyond them? Might gratitude even be habit-forming? Have you ever experienced gratitude’s life-enriching power? What are some benefits of replacing destructive behaviors with a “gratitude habit”?
* Cynthia M. Campbell, sidebar article “Stress” in The CEB Women’s Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2016, p. 1492.
** Peterson, Eugene H. The Message Numbered Edition Hardback. Navpress. Kindle Edition.
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