We are a group of imperfect people pursuing a perfect God. We exist to help each other find and follow Christ. These are some things we want to be true of our group:
- We create a safe and honest environment, staying transparent and authentic.
- We keep it inside the circle. Confidentiality is necessary for a healthy group.
- We look together to the Bible for help and guidance, and keep out our own politics, sales, or agendas.
- We do not try to fix each other, preach sermons, or give unsolicited advice. We instead encourage, listen to, and celebrate each other.
- We handle conflict between us quickly and honestly by going to the person, owning our part, and practicing forgiveness.
- We respect each others’ time by starting and ending when we say we will.
- We trust that it is God’s role to change people, not ours.
- We believe that in Jesus Christ, there is hope for everyone.
Jen Oakes finished the Hills and Valleys series with the most important hill in the Bible - the one on which Jesus died. Jen told the story of Jesus' death and focused in on his last words from the cross. It's those words, and what happened two days later when he walked out of the tomb, that give us the hope that we rely on still today.
BREAKING THE ICE
- If you could choose your last words, what would they be?
- Jesus' last words
Were you surprised by any of Jesus' last words that were recorded in the Bible? Anything you wouldn't expect to be there? What kind of things would you have expected him to say from the cross?
Get imaginative to connect with the content
Critical and imaginative thinking is important to our growth. When we let our minds wander around important ideas, we get so much more out of what's really there and how we need to respond to them.
So push your group to think! Of all the things Jesus could've said in this pivotal moment of human history, and of all the things that the writers of the gospels could've recorded about this scene... they chose these words. WHY?!
Thinking critically and imaginatively can help us see the importance of what's there in a whole new way.
- Everybody needs a savior
Three of Jesus' last statements had to do with people:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
“Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26-27)
These last words tell us that everybody needs a savior. Those who are far from God and don't want anything to do with him. Those with seemingly no more second chances. Those who have followed him closely but still need a savior every moment.
- We all look for something to save us; something to rescue us, give us worth, value, and strength. So what is saving you? What besides Jesus do you rely on for that rescue and value?
- Where is God?
Matthew 27:46 says “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”--which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus taught us here that it is okay to wonder where God is. The difference here is that Jesus goes to God honestly with his doubts.
- Where do you go with your doubts?
- What do you think it would look like practically to go TO God with your doubts and questions about where He is in your life?
- It is finished
In John 19:28-30 Jesus says, "'I am thirsty.' A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.'"
Jesus' words here are an Easter egg! They reference the Jewish story of Passover when the angel of death passed over (read about it in Exodus 12!) the houses of those with sacrificial blood over their door. Jesus was saying that he was the final sacrifice, wiping away the sin and chains of humankind.
- Jesus left the grave behind and gave us the power to leave our own graves behind too - not just forever... but right now. Since following Jesus, what have you been DONE with because of the power that we have to be free? What do you still need to be DONE with?
- HOW to be done
Jesus gives us the power to be free, but we often find ourselves falling back into our old ways of thinking and acting. But Jesus' goal isn't to make us comfortable in our prison cell - it's to set us free.
- Jen said that to be DONE with our chains, it always includes asking a savior for help and asking others for help as well. Which is harder for you to do? What makes it so hard to ask for for real help?
- Go all in
Luke 23:46 says "Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last."
Going all in means believing that we are worth dying for FIRST. It means trusting that God forgives us and sets us free FIRST. It means surrendering before cleaning ourselves up or trying to be better.
- In what areas of your life do you get this out of order? Where do you hold onto your captivity, your doubts, or your shame instead of surrendering to God and believing what He has said is true about you?
Baptism is the public declaration of our surrender and trust in God's forgiveness and love. If you have been baptized, what brought you to that decision? If you haven't, what are you still waiting on before making that decision?
the baptism conversation
If everyone in your group has been baptized already... the conversation can morph! Ask your group what is different about them today compared to when they were baptized - more faith? more troubles? more doubts? less fear?
If some in your group haven't been baptized, make sure there's no pressure or shame! And, if someone seems interested, consider offering to attend the baptism class alongside them! It's a GREAT class that helps people understand baptism more and feel confident in their decision!
Continue the SYNC Challenge!
Hopefully, you've used the SYNC challenge to connect with your group members in significant ways outside of group time - don't let that end!
There are TONS of Bible reading plans on the YouVersion Bible app - keep the habit and conversation going by using one of those plans and encouraging others to do it alongside you!
READ. PRAY. DO.
During this series at Mission, we are all challenging each other to do the SYNC Bible Challenge! Head to missionventura.com/sync for more info!
- Pray this prayer on your own, or use it to kickstart your own personal prayer time.
Father, Thank you for the cross. Thank you for helping us find ourselves in your story, no matter where we are at on the journey. You meet all of us just as we are, wherever we are. Let me hear and believe you when you say that everybody needs a savior, that you are close when things are worst, and that it is finished. Help me surrender to you and commit myself, my whole self, into your hands and trust that what you say about me is true.
During this series, we did the SYNC Challenge together and encouraged each other to connect with God by reading the Bible consistently. This is the last week, but the habit doesn't have to end!
Download the YouVersion Bible app and check out the HUNDREDS of Bible reading plans that make it easy to engage with the Bible consistently and with help! You can even read alongside friends so you can continue sharing what you're reading!