Note to leaders:
The spring semester ends on April 28th, and the summer semester will run June 2-July 28th. Consequently, there will be no further sermon discussion guides produced until the summer semester begins. However, if your group has been using them and is meeting during the break, here are a couple of short studies you can use in the interim.
Also, we have opened up group registration for the summer semester, so if you know what your group will be doing or have plans to start a new group, you can go ahead and register it now.
Last week we shared our favorite Easter tradition as a child. What about this Easter? Is this season unique for you in any way? How?
Hope In the Dark
You probably had it all planned in your mind how life was going to go. You hoped for the perfect house, the ideal spouse, the perfect 2.3 kids, the perfect job. No one grows up thinking that disappointment or heartbreak will consume them.
Some of you find yourself today in the dark; in financial darkness, health darkness, family darkness, mental darkness, marriage darkness, career darkness. You are wondering if God is good when life is not.
Is there a day in your life you remember discovering that life wasn’t turning out quite the way you’d hoped it would?
The story of Easter is not a one-day story or a two-day story, but the story of Easter is a three-day story. It’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; beginning, middle, and end. It’s trouble, silence, victory. It’s death, burial, resurrection.
Gene used three words to describe it: Distress, Darkness, Deliverance.
Good Friday had left the followers of Jesus shocked, angry, afraid, and confused. As they witnessed Jesus breathe His last breath, all their hopes and dreams died with Him. Just as yours would have if you had been eyewitnesses to what they had seen and experienced during the past three years with Jesus.
If Good Friday was a day of distress. Saturday was a day of darkness for all who knew and loved Him. Saturday was the day when hope was dead, and life was dark.
When people lose their hope, they lose their ability to dream for the future.
What has you feeling like you are in the dark in some area of your life today?
Where do you typically turn in times of great trouble? What does that indicate about your ultimate hope?
There are three causes to our darkness that cause us to lose hope. Our past, our present, and our future. Every one of us is wrestling to one degree or another with failure from our past. It is the guilt, regret, and shame that keeps us in the dark. The things we wished we hadn't said, the disappointment of a wrong choice—all of these things can consume us at times.
For some it’s the wounds of the past, the unspeakable things someone did to you verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually that have endlessly complicated your life.
Others have worked through their past but are done in by current challenging circumstances.
For others, it is a fear of the future, what lies ahead. Fear of death is the number two fear of most people, yet it is certain all of us will face it someday. The unknown and uncertainty of what lies ahead keep us from embracing the hope God has for us.
Have someone read Luke 24:1-7.
Jesus had told his followers and predicted this three-day story. He said to them that He would rise on the third day. When He said that, they had no idea what He was talking about. Imagine having followed Jesus, being front row to His miracles and sermons. Imagine doing life with Jesus, and then it comes to a horrible end that day on a cross. At that moment, none of it made sense.
Have someone read Luke 9:22
Did they remember He had told them? We don’t know but in the midst of darkness, it didn’t seem possible to them. Some of you are waiting for your three-day story, searching desperately for hope amid life's challenges. You can find hope in the message of Easter where God does some of His best work in the dark!
Have someone read Psalms 53:6
In great distress, David turned to his hope that God would deliver His people.
How might you submit to God, seeking to trust His faithfulness to you?
Easter Sunday morning hope broke through the darkness in the form of the risen Son of God. Whatever you are facing today, Jesus has a promise for you.
Have someone read John 8:12.
You can have light in your darkness. All you have to do is follow Jesus. Even in our challenging times, we can find hope because of Jesus.
Share a time you were facing a difficult situation, but God gave you hope in the midst of it.
Have someone read Acts 2:37-38
One the day of Pentecost, Peter addressed the crowd that had gathered. He quoted Joel and David, showing how this all foretold of Jesus’ coming. He called them to follow Jesus.
Is there anyone in your life right now who needs to hear a word of hope? What is the best way for you to offer that to them this week?
Spend time this week journaling and praying over the situations you shared. Pray God would bring you hope in the midst of darkness.
Break into pairs and spend time praying for each other. Spend time thanking Him for the living hope Easter. Pray that just as He brought life from death in His own body, He would bring life and hope to the specific situations your group mentioned.