Winter Survival Guide: “The Map”

Passage: Excerpts from Psalm 119
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

To flourish in the midst of what is likely to be a challenging winter, we’ll need to engage in regular practices of spiritual formation. One such practice is immersing ourselves in God’s word. God’s word helps us survive, and even flourish in the “winter seasons” of our lives because it first gives us a relational map. In Psalm 119, which is an extended meditation on scripture, we see that God’s word is more than simply a collection of stories or a list of commands. God’s word, rather, is a map to his own character and heart—revealing the very person of God and helping us to “walk in his ways” (119:3). It’s crucial, therefore, that we immerse ourselves this winter in the book that reveals God’s character and heart, as God becomes our own “personal guide” through the season.

God’s word also helps us flourish in winter because it reveals to us a purpose in our suffering. God refines our character most in times of affliction, and yetit can be hard to remember this in the midst of our trials. God’s word reminds us that “in faithfulness, God has afflicted us” (119:75), and that all discipline comes from his gracious, fatherly hand.

Finally, God’s word helps us flourish in winter because it reveals his promise to us. A promise is a way of binding yourself to another person. Many other “gods” require promises, but only our God makes promises! Throughout Psalm 119, the Psalmist finds solace in and hopes in God’s promise: “Let your steadfast love come to me, your salvation according to your promise” (119:41). In Jesus, God has literally “given us his word.” Jesus, God’s word “made flesh”, is the evidence that God has made good on all of his promises to save us, rescue us, and help us. God’s word is the map we need in this season—a map to personally guide us through the winter, remind us of the purpose of hardship, and assure us with God’s promises.

Sermon Outline

  • God’s Word gives us a relational map (Psalm 119:1-3; 68)
  • God’s Word reveals a purpose in suffering (Psalm 119:67; 71; 75; 92)
  • God’s Word reveals God’s promise (Psalm 119:41; 50; 140)

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (Daniel 9:1-23)

God’s Word gives us a relational map (Psalm 119:1-3; 68)

Q) INTRO QUESTION: Take a few minutes and think about some of the challenges we’ll likely face this winter, both individually and as a whole church. List some of them as a group. Now, brainstorm how you’d imagine you’d respond to those challenges if you spend this winter immersed in Scripture versus if you don’t. (Note: the point of this question is to help people imagine in advance the types of people they’d likely become if they were immersed in scripture—or not).

Q) Read Psalm 119:1-3 and Psalm 119:68. What do these verses communicate about the personal nature of God’s word?

Q) How does knowing that God’s word is a map to his personal nature and character change the way you read his word? What tends to happen when you forget this?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that walking in God’s “ways,” or paths, is like walking on a trail in the woods, in that it is a natural pattern formed by repetition. In what ways have you seen God form you in the past through the repetition of walking in his word, day after day? What has your life been like in seasons not characterized by walking in God’s word?

Q)What are some other repetitive practices you currently engage in daily—healthy or unhealthy—that are forming you into a different kind of person? Share some practices and their effects. (Note: the point of this question is to help people see how even the little rhythms of their lives—like checking their phone first thing in the AM, or calling their sibling on the way to work, have a formative effect).

Q) Practically speaking, how do you want to immerse yourself in God’s word this winter? What would get in the way of this? How can your small group help you?

God’s Word reveals a purpose in suffering (Psalm 119:67; 71; 75; 92)

Q) Read these selections from Psalm 119: verses 67, 71, 75, and 92. What do these verses say teach about suffering and affliction? What is the relationship between God’s word and our affliction?

Q) Psalm 119:71 says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statues.” Have you ever experienced a time when affliction helped you to “learn God’s statues”? When was it, and what did you learn? What aspect of God’s “statutes” (i.e. his word, which reveals his character and ways) do you think God might be wanting you to learn right now?

Q) Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep your word.” Has a time of affliction ever taught you greater obedience to God? Where might that be happening in your life right now, and what obedience do you think God is forming in you?

God’s Word reveals God’s promise (Psalm 119:41; 50; 140)

Q) Read Psalm 119:41, 50, and 140. What role do God’s promises play in the Psalmist’s life?

Q)Are there any particular promises of God that you’ve clung to in challenging seasons in the past? What were they? What specific promises do you need to remember right now, or what specific promises can you encourage the small group with?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that in Jesus, God has literally “given us his word”! How does the coming of Jesus give us confidence that God keeps his promises?

Q) CASE STUDY: Think of a specific person you know who is close to you but who is not a Christian. How, using language they can understand, might you share with them one truth from this sermon that you think they would find encouraging? Practice, as if you’re actually sharing it with them. (And then if you’re bold…go do it!)

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?

Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and
outside of the church?


Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.