Sermon for New Years – It All Starts by Stopping - Hosea 6
1. What is your all time favorite game? Why do you think you like it so much?
2. A song popular in the 70’s was called ‘The Games People Play.’ One of the lines went: “Oh the games people play now, every night and every day now, never meaning what they say, now, never saying what they mean.” What do you think the lyric writer meant? Contrast this meaning of “games” with the kind of “games” mentioned in question number 1.
3. Read Hosea 6. Starting in verse 4, God was addressing the nation of Israel and their tendency to “play games” with Him. What are some common “games” people play with God?
4. At the heart of the issue was a sense of loyalty. God stayed completely loyal to His people and continually tried to draw them to Himself. Sometimes He did this by giving times of blessing. Other times when they strayed He would discipline them in order to bring them to their senses and cause them to return to Him. Compare God’s relationship to the people of Israel with His relationship to you. When do you purposely seek God more – in seasons of blessing or times of trouble?
5. How has God used trouble in your life to draw you to Himself for restoration and spiritual healing?
6. What does it mean to ‘just get by’ in your relationship to the Lord? Describe what bare minimum Christianity looks like in your own words.
7. Read Psalm 62:7-8. Human beings tend to have mixed motives in one’s relationship to God. The purity of wanting to please the Lord out of a sense of gratefulness for His sacrifice tends to get tainted by our own human desires. Stop and think back to a time when your heart was in the best place that you can remember. What was it that preceded that time of love and commitment to the Lord? What did you read in these verses that helps you in your relationship with the Lord right now?
8. Read I Samuel 7:3-6. The prophet Samuel was addressing the nation of Israel and instructing them what to do if they were really serious about returning to the Lord. He talked about giving up things that had become more important to God than God Himself, obeying the Lord, praying, fasting and confessing their sins. For group discussion, consider how engaging in some of these “spiritual disciplines” is quite different than a simple “New Year’s Resolution.” In the quietness of your heart determine in what area God is speaking to you and what your response will be at this time.
9. How would you describe someone whom you respect (without naming names) that is totally devoted and loyal to God? What commitment would it take on your part to become more like that person?