Gratitude & Contentment (and a day off shopping)
Read this overview
In the OT, the Jews were commanded not to buy and sell on the Sabbath. All trade and commerce was shut down for the weekly day of rest and worship. Now, we’re no longer “under the law,” so we don’t have to obey these commands. But they still stand as wisdom, especially in our materialistic world that is geared at discontentment (you need more!) and entitlement (you deserve it!). So this week we'll focus on contentment and gratitude—our acts of discipleship to Jesus. For gratitude, we'll look for creative ways to realize how blessed we are, and express our thanks to God. For contentment, we’ll spend an entire day not buying or selling, but rather, deeply enjoying what we already have.
Begin with silence and prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Say a quick prayer to invite the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together. Then spend a few minutes in silence. Why silence? Because we live in a busy, noisy world, under a non-stop assault of distraction. In the midst of all the chaos, it’s hard at times to hear the voice of God, and that of our brothers and sisters. As we gather together as a family, we want to hear what the Father is saying to and through each of us, and respond in turn. A great way to do that is to begin each time with silence and prayer.
Debrief last week’s practice in small groups (10–15 minutes)
If you are in a community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life...
Then talk about 2–3 of the following debrief questions from last week’s practice:
- How did it go?
- What spiritual disciplines did you practice? · What was the best part?
- What was the hardest part?
- Were you able to connect with God?
Open to the Bible together (10 minutes)
Have somebody read Deuteronomy 5v12–15.
- What would the command to sabbath have sounded like to ex-slaves?
Have another person read Nehemiah 10v28–31.
- Notice that Nehemiah is chastising Israel for buying and selling on the Sabbath. Why is that a big deal?
Have another person Isaiah 58v13–14. Lots of reading tonight!
- Isaiah says the sabbath isn’t a day to “do as you please.” Isn’t that exactly what a day off is? What would it look like to “delight” in and “honor” the sabbath like Isaiah says?
Have another person read 1 Timothy 6v6-10
- You don’t need to talk about it. We just thought this passage was so good it was worth reading for this week’s practice.
Talk about the coming week’s practice as a community (10–15 minutes)
Practice for the coming week:
• Throughout the day, practice gratitude to God and each other. o Ideas for how to do that:
- Write down 5 things that you’re grateful for.
- If you have a family or roommates, go around the table and say what you’re grateful for.
- Sing a song, quote a poem, draw a picture - anything creative to express your gratitude.
- Just spend time in prayer, saying thank you to God.
• Don’t buy or sell anything. Yes, this means no shopping!
- This isn’t a legalistic rule. And it’s aimed more at “things,” than say, brunch or a cup of coffee.
• Actively enjoy things that you have.
• Don’t read/look at/think about/talk about stuff that you don’t have.
• Savor the simple pleasures: food, drink, a place to live, time with family and friends, etc. Really focus on living in the moment, practicing delight in your life and gratitude to God.
Discussion questions for the coming week (10–15 minutes)
What ideas do you have to intentionally incorporate gratitude into your sabbath? Anything worth sharing?
What activities increase your sense of contentment?
What activities decrease your sense of contentment?
Is buying food or coffee different than buying stuff?
What message do we send to the world by not buying or selling one day a week?