Gene used several clips from “Saving Mr. Banks”. Which one did you connect with the most? Why?
As The Lion King shows, sometimes the past “still hurts,” but we can learn from it. More importantly, God actually can use everything in our past – good, bad, the things done to us or that we’ve done – and rework it all into something beautiful for His purpose.
1. The key text for this week is Isaiah 43:18-19. Have someone read it out loud. What reasons can you think of for why we’re instructed not to dwell on the past?
2. Think about the word pictures here. Discuss how you see “making a way in the desert”. What about “streams in a wasteland”? Is there anything in your life today where you can see these descriptions apply?
3. We are much more than whatever has happened to us. Read the following verses: John 15:15, 1 John 3:1, 2 Corinthians 6:18, 1 Peter 2:24, Ephesians 1:7-8, Romans 8:16-17.
Who does God say that we are?
4. It’s been said, “We can't erase what has already been written but we can always write a better ending.” Read Philippians 3:12-14. If Christ has taken hold of us, what are we to do? What words describe how we are to do it, and why is that important?
NOTE - Letting go of the past may mean a broad spectrum of things: from deep issues of abuse or molestation, to emotional abuse, addictions, or abandonment. Other examples might be a hot temper, losing a job, a break-up with a significant other, an argument you regret with a friend, spouse, or co-worker.
5. As we think about beginning a new year, read 2 Corinthians 5:17. Going forward – whatever your situation - what’s the best part about this promise?
CHECK THE MIRRORS
1. To put the past behind us means we need to let go of the hurt that others have done to us. It also means we may need to ask forgiveness of others whom we have hurt. Are there relationships in your life that need to be mended (family, friends, even co-workers)? What’s one step you could take in the next week towards putting things right?
2. What is one area in your life where you feel God may be doing “a new thing”? How can the group pray for you?
3. As we begin the New Year, pray for your each other – for each person to be able to let go of the past and trust God for the future.
For more resources and support for hurts, habits, or hang-ups from your past, we encourage you to visit Friday Night of Hope, every Friday night on the Eastside campus.
[Optional Expanded Discussion]
1. Mature believers may have reached a point in life where their past seems settled.
a. First, honestly evaluate whether past hurts have truly been given over to God, or merely put aside with the passing of time. It’s never too late to make things right with God.
b. Because a church is made up of imperfect human beings, it is possible to be deeply wounded in our ministry, leadership, or volunteer roles. And, it’s possible that we can deeply hurt others. Do you have situations here that need to be mended? What’s one step you could take in the next week towards putting things right?
2. Are there significant people in your ministry who struggle with a difficult past?
a. How could you use your experience to mentor and coach them toward the future God has for them?
b. If you don’t know them well enough to know their story, what’s one thing you could do to build your relationship in the next week or two?
3. Pray together for all the Eastside connection groups working through this study – for people to experience God’s direction, forgiveness, and healing, and hope for a future.