We all have areas of our lives that need restoration. We’ve got to allow God to strip down all the years of grime and cheap paint piled on top of each other. He needs to get down to the bare original so He can begin to fill the cracks, sand the rough edges, and make our hearts beautiful again. He’s already looked beneath the layers and has determined that we’re all worth doing over.
We have all been stuck before and often don’t see just how stuck we were. People in our lives notice. Sometimes they even encourage us to get unstuck; but we might resist because we settle in and get very comfortable.
Have someone read Joel 2:25.
This verse is the key verse for the series and is a great promise for every person who has ever been stuck in the past.
Share a time you were stuck and oblivious, but friends and family tried to help and encouraged you to take action.
We have a God who can take the wasted years, the damaged years, the hurtful years, the unfaithful years, the abusive years, the addicted years, the broken years, and even the biggest failures of our lives that have us stuck and who restores and redeems to us the years that the locusts have eaten!
Have someone read John 1:29.
Palm Sunday fell on the Sunday before the Passover, and that was considered Lamb Selection Sunday. Lamb Selection Sunday was the day Jesus chose to ride into Jerusalem, and it foreshadowed what would happen five days later on Good Friday when the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world would die on the cross to pay for our wrongdoing and reconcile a broken world to God.
Have someone read Mark 14:12-13.
When the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?” We might have been aggravated if we were Jesus because he had just told them the day before that he was about to be handed over to be crucified. Couldn’t they just figure out a plan themselves? Do they really need Jesus’ input on how to host a meal they had all participated in since they were children? Instead, He gives them instructions about what to do, and off they went.
Just like these disciples, some of us become preoccupied, busy, and self-centered. We are moving so fast that we are oblivious to our brokenness. We fail to see the people around us and fail to recognize the God moment in our lives. We arrive at church after a whirlwind morning and heave a big sigh. Our bodies may be at church, but our minds and souls are often so many miles away.
What in your life keeps you from investing in the most important things: your relationship with God, your family, your close friends, and those who need to be shown God’s love?
Have someone read Luke 22:14-30.
On Thursday evening Jesus and His disciples meet up at the upper room. Jesus’ guests were people who greatly underestimated the extent of their own brokenness.
All 13 people at the meal that night arrived in the upper room with dirty feet—from the dust-filled, manure-littered roads of the day. It was the custom of the day for the first one to arrive to get a bowl of water, a towel, a basin, and then wash the dirty feet of the others.
Not a single one of them had been willing to play the role of the servant, getting down to wash the dirty, dusty feet and clean the sandals of the others.
Then, an argument broke out among them over which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom of God. Jesus, their friend and mentor, was about to die, and they’re concerned about their own importance.
Later that night, every single one of these disciples would abandon Jesus when He needed them the most
How would you have felt during this meal if you were Jesus? How would you have responded?
Have someone read Matthew 26:31-35.
That’s exactly what happened late that night when Jesus was brought into the courtyard of Caiaphas, the high priest. Three times Peter denied Jesus, declaring, “I don’t even know the guy.” And then, just as Jesus predicted, a rooster crowed, and Peter realized what he’d done. And from then on he was stuck with a broken past—something he could bitterly condemn himself for forever. The Message paraphrase of the Bible says, “He cried and he cried and he cried.”
Can you identify with Peter? Have you denied the obvious, knowing it breaks God’s heart, and then realized your failure? There is that deep sadness of pain and regret.
There is another guest who was not oblivious, but who was hiding his brokenness.
When Jesus told the disciples that night that one of them was about to betray Him, Judas was so quietly deceptive, so sneaky, so good at hiding his brokenness that none of the others even suspected it was him. Again, haven’t we all hidden something, sat there quietly, knowing the bad choice we had made?
What do you think was running through Judas’ mind during dinner?
We are all broken and stuck by our past, each of us for different reasons. At one time or another all of us are oblivious to our brokenness. We underestimate, deny, or just hide our brokenness. The message Jesus was communicating around the communion table that night was that we all come to the table broken, but we can leave the table restored.
There’s something about people eating together that can re-infuse hope even in the darkest of times.
Have you ever noticed at a funeral how often everyone is fighting back the tears, grieving, sobbing, having a difficult time, but then after the funeral there’s a meal and people are sitting around remembering fun times, reminiscing and laughing? It’s extremely healthy and healing. Just the ritual of eating together restores them.
This particular dinner in the upper room was a funeral meal before the funeral, but still it represented hope for those stuck and broken by their past. We all come to the communion table broken, but we can leave this table restored, renewed, and forgiven.
Share a time when you’ve experienced hope and healing in the midst of a difficult situation.
This weekend Gene asked two important questions for us to consider:
Have you received the payment that the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world made for you on Good Friday?
If you have received the payment, have you forgiven yourself?
No matter the mistakes you’ve made in your past, it’s time to let them go if you are forgiven by the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. When Jesus died on the cross, and said those last words, “It is finished!” he was saying, “As the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, it’s now paid in full.”
Gene shared the story of a young woman who had been rescued from sex trafficking and lived with Mike Breaux and his family for a time. The Breauxs would have 20-30 people for dinner every Sunday night. Her words:
I have sat around so many dining room tables here, and I have to say that is really where the gospel has come to life. All I ever wanted was a place to belong, people who would treat me as though I were their own—not an inconvenience, sacrifice, or a project. The gospel came to life for me watching dads teach their children to swim…. Men who refuse to dishonor their wives, instead serving them. Parents investing in loving discipline. Generations of family who don’t just see each other at church, but take time to acknowledge their love for each other by their presence, phone calls, food, stories of God’s amazing wonder…. Because of families who lived out the love of God, I was able to see and experience the gospel and not just read about it.
Each of us knows someone who needs to see and experience the gospel. Take a few moments to share about someone in your life who you needs the hope and healing Jesus offered and brainstorm as a group some ways to live out your faith like Mike and his family did. Consider inviting them to join you at one of our Easter services.
Is there any area you struggle to forgive yourself for? Set aside some time at the end of group for individuals to have a private conversation with God about this.