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At The Movies 2018

At The Movies - The Impossible

At The Movies - The Impossible

Series Introduction

Grab a snack, find a seat...you're At the Movies! Each week we'll see how God uses characters and situations in our lives to move us along on our journey, so we may discover what He means for us to be and do.

  • What is the worst natural disaster you’ve experienced? Snowstorm? Hurricane? Tornado? Earthquake? Fire? Landslide?


Sermon Introduction

The Impossible reminds us why Jesus came. He came on a rescue mission to seek and save those who are lost, who’ve wandered far from God. We can be encouraged that no matter what we’re going through, God came to rescue us. He is the God of hope. He’s the rock we hold onto when everything around us is falling apart and life looks impossible.

Have someone read John 16:33 and John 8:12.

  • What do you think Jesus meant when he said, “I have overcome the world”?  What are the practical implications of that?

This movie is based on the true story of a husband and wife, Henry and Maria, and their three sons, Lucas, Thomas and Simon. What should have been a dream vacation in a tropical resort in Thailand turned into a nightmare when the world’s most deadly natural disaster in recorded history struck. On December 26, 2004, an enormous earthquake triggered a series of devastating tsunamis hurling massive waves almost 100 feet high, eventually taking the lives of over 230,000 people in 14 different countries.

At some point in life we are all going to be struck by an unexpected storm. Hopefully it won’t be a tsunami, but it could be devastating: the loss of a job, the unexpected death of a loved one, a rebellious son or daughter, a health issue, a struggling relationship, or other kinds of challenging and painful events. The truth is, storms are inevitable and much of our lives are spent entering a storm, engaging a storm, or emerging from a storm?

  • What storm do you currently find yourself entering, engaging or emerging from?

It is tempting to turn inward and become incredibly self-focused when we are facing a tough situation. One of the most important spiritual truths we can learn is that God wants to use us to help others, even when we are going through a difficult time. That is what we envision for our small groups, a gathering of real people, going through real life, holding each other up during difficult times. God wants to shine light into our darkness and then use us to be the light of the world to one another, to comfort and encourage others who need help.

  • Share briefly about a time you experienced Jesus’s light and provision during a personal storm. What did you learn?

In the movie, after the tsunami has hit, Maria and her son, Lucas, have a decision to make: to focus on their own needs or turn their focus outward and help others. Maria models compassion to Lucas explaining they need to help others, “even if it is the last thing we do.”

That is the passion and vision of Eastside. It’s why we’re committed to starting new campuses, creating more services and environments, unleashing compassion locally and globally, to do whatever it takes—even if it’s the last thing we do—to be the light of the world to those who are hurting and to those who have never heard about Jesus.

Have someone read Isaiah 58:9-12.

Everywhere you look there are people who need your help. Maria tells her son to go do something, anything to help others.

  • How is Lucas transformed as he starts helping others? How can the storms in our lives serve a purpose and have meaning?

There’s nothing else in the world quite like it when your Heavenly Father uses you to help someone find their way to Him. There’s nothing like leading someone into a relationship with Jesus.

Have someone read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

We need to remember that God wants to bring us through our storms, so we can help and comfort others through their storms.

  • Think of someone in your life who is going through a storm. What are some practical ways you can be a light to that person?

Have someone read Luke 15:8-10.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Last week we talked about the story of the lost sheep in Luke 15 and how the shepherd rejoiced when he found the one lost sheep. In the story of the lost coin, we learn that there is rejoicing in heaven every time one lost person finds his or her way home to the Lord.

God has called each of us to make a difference in this world, to be the lights of the world, to each let our light shine and to share the love of Jesus with people who desperately need to be found. The most important thing in life is not what we do but whose life we help change. You are the light of the world.

We all know someone who needs Jesus. At Eastside we know our Heavenly Father will never stop searching for us, and so we will never stop searching for others. He never stops looking, and He longs for everyone to come home to Him, no matter what we have done or where we have been.

Have someone read Galatians 6:9.

Whatever you do, whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re believing God for, don’t ever give up. We might not see the outcome we desire but we can be assured that God is with us and will guide us through, no matter what.

  • Share a situation when helping someone required perseverance, when you were tired and wanted to quit but experienced God’s help and strength.

In the movie we see Henry talking to his family back home, believing Maria and Lucas are gone. He hangs up, broken and without hope. The group of survivors reach out and encourage him to call back, to reconnect and not to give up hope. It gives Henry what he needs to keep going. That is true for us. Jesus brings people into our lives at the right moment to be a light. We get to do that when we bravely allow God to use us.


Application

Some of us are in the middle of a storm. Remember you are not alone. Share with the group your fears about the situation. Take time to pray for these situations. Think of ways to pray for and encourage each other throughout the week.

Some of us need to be the ones to bring help to those in a storm. We have been comforted so we can comfort others. We can be the light of the world to others through our actions. Commit to taking the steps you mentioned earlier to be a light to the person in your life who is going through a storm.

 

At The Movies - Hacksaw Ridge

At The Movies - Hacksaw Ridge

Series Introduction

Grab a snack, find a seat... you're At the Movies! Each week we'll see how God uses characters and situations in our lives to move us along on our journey, so we can discover what He has for us.

  • What sacrifices do you make for others in your life?


Sermon Introduction

Hacksaw Ridge is based on the true story of Desmond Doss and his part in a World War 2 Battle in Okinawa. While the movie is graphic, it contains a tremendous life lesson. Desmond and his brother Hal weren’t always on the same page.  But just like conflict in our own lives, those moments helped develop their deepest convictions.

We can allow our darkest, most challenging moments in life to haunt us forever, or we can use them as a pivot point.  Some people are forever stuck, discouraged and beaten up by a tragic moment in their lives.   Others take the detours of life and use them as an opportunity to discover something new about themselves. That’s what Desmond Doss did.  He discovered a new God opportunity that came out of his darkest hour.

  • Do challenges cause you to get stuck and discouraged, or do you see them as an opportunity to grow and move forward?

  • How do you form your own convictions? Is your process informed by your understanding of the Bible? If so, how do you resolve the tensions of professional responsibilities and your beliefs?

Queen Esther was faced with her pivotal moment when she found out her people, the Jews, were to be killed under the King’s orders. Challenged by her uncle Mordecai that she might have been made queen for a time like this when her people were in peril, she is faced with a decision. Esther must decide if she will intervene for her people. She could have stayed in the palace, led her privileged life and let them be killed, but she didn’t. She chose to have courage and says ultimately, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

If we’re going to accomplish great things in our life and to live the life God has called us to, there are undoubtedly going to be moments when everyone else says do the easy thing and take the easy route, moments when we are forced to decide whether we will do what God would have us do.

  • Share a moment in your life where everyone told you take the easy route, but you felt God was calling you to make a different choice.

  • Pressures from others always test our convictions at work, in school, and even in a family, but following God’s call on your life sometimes means holding on to a conviction regardless of what others are saying.

Have someone read Proverbs 29:35. 

Some of us struggle more with standing firm than other people. If we have people pleasing tendencies or hate to rock the boat if can be easy to let what others think of us matter more than God. We might not even realize that is what we are doing.

  • To what degree do you struggle with allowing the opinions of others to have more influence on your decisions than what you know to be right?  What are some ways we can combat this tendency towards people-pleasing?

God’s ways are not the world’s ways.  Just because they may not make sense in the moment or aren’t always easy doesn’t mean they’re not worth doing. Convictions are things we live by regardless of the situation.  A conviction is something you just hold onto even when the world is saying, “Hey, just let it go.” Desmond’s decision to join the military was going to test his convictions.  Desmond faced intense ridicule, abuse, and was even being threatened with prison for his convictions.  But it was time to see what he really stood for.

Like Desmond our convictions will be tested.  Often, we think because God led us to do something, everything is going to go easy and smooth and all the difficulties will be removed.  Rarely is that the case.

Have someone read Ephesians 6:13-14.

Maybe you’re on the verge of giving up on a dream, or maybe a conviction that you’ve been holding onto has come at a higher cost than you ever dreamed.  Don’t give up!  Keep standing.  There are practical ways we can prepare for the battles we have or are to come. We can pray and seek God daily in prayer and through the Bible. Desmond’s faith and convictions weren’t formed in the war; those were built in his times alone with God.

For some of you, that might be a word from God for you today.  Maybe you’re facing a pivotal moment, thinking of to giving up and everything is pressing against you.  Let this be an encouragement to you to keep standing.  Desmond decided to keep trusting God and standing firm. His road to get there was not easy.  And once he arrived it was not going to be any easier, but he decided to live with conviction, to live for a greater purpose.

Don’t we all want to be unstoppable, for God to use us to make a difference?  It was Desmond’s conviction that fueled him to accomplish his purpose.  All of the difficulties, the problems that lead him to this moment, none of those challenges in his life were pleasant at the time. Without those life shaping challenges, he would never have reached this moment.

You don’t truly know the depth of your convictions until they’re tested. In those moments of testing you will have a choice to run or to stand firm. Life is filled with curveballs that will humble you and break you down. The reason most people never achieve their dreams is because they simply just give up.  Remember, the times when it’s most difficult to persevere are the times that will ultimately lead us to fulfill God’s purpose. 

  • When is a time recently when your convictions were tested? What happened, and what did you do?

Have someone read 1 Samuel 17:48.

Perhaps Desmond was inspired by David in the Bible? When everyone else was heading for safe ground to get away from Goliath, David ran toward the danger. Desmond, like David ran toward the battle. There are moments when we must run towards the battle.  You’re never going to accomplish your purpose if you choose to run away.  Fight for your marriage. Fight for your kids. Fight for your health. Stand for your purpose, and don’t ever give up.  You’re not alone. God will provide strength when we need it the most. 

Have someone read Galatians 5:22-24. 

Desmond was ridiculed, attacked and laughed at, yet he held firm to his beliefs and didn’t attack back. That is so hard, especially in a social media world where there are no holds barred. In Galatians Paul talks about living out the fruit of the spirit. It stands in opposition to what the world tells us. There is that tension we wrestle with between knowing what to fight for and what to let go of, trusting God is in control. As we mature, grow in our faith, and seek God’s word the Spirit of God will guide us.

  • What battles are you facing currently? Which ones do you need to fight, and which ones can you let go of?

Desmond Doss arguably had the greatest impact on the Battle of Okinawa and he never carried a rifle or fired a single shot.  He was able to accomplish that not by asking, “Lord, why me?” but instead to say, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”  Instead of making it about him, he chose to focus on serving God and helping others.

When we live our lives fueled by purpose and committed to our convictions, not only will it benefit us, but those around us will be impacted as well.

Have someone read 2 Corinthians 4:16-17.

What would happen to your life if instead of running from your problems, you chose to stand with faith and committed to trusting God to handle the results and the outcome?  Perhaps God would take your present difficulties and the troubles that are around you right now and he would produce something.  Perhaps He would produce in you a glory that would outweigh them all.


Application

Break into small groups and spend time in prayer asking God to meet you in areas where your convictions need to be strengthened. Ask Him to help you stand firm and fight in areas you are battling.

 

At the Movies - Lion

At the Movies - Lion

Series Introduction

Grab a snack, find a seat... you're At the Movies! Each week we'll see how God uses characters and situations in our lives to move us along on our journey, so we can discover what He has for us.

  • Have you ever been on a quest for something?


Sermon Introduction

This movie is based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, a young boy born in an impoverished village in India. Saroo and his older brother Guddu often searched for food and coins on trains to help their struggling mother and siblings survive. Even though they didn’t have much in the way of wealth and possession, they had so much of what mattered most. These 2 brothers had each other until one day everything changed.

Searching for his missing brother Guddu, Saroo falls asleep on a train while waiting for his brother to hopefully return. When he wakes up hours later he is hundreds and hundreds of miles away from home. For three weeks he was completely by himself. This 5-year old boy was fighting to survive on the streets of Calcutta. He was hungry, lost and afraid. People are literally trying to abduct him, kidnap him, and sell him into a life of unimaginable trafficking. Little Saroo starts a search for home that would last for over 2 decades to come.

Chances are you’ve never had to survive all alone in a city of millions of people, but many of you are surviving in another way. Maybe a job you just can’t stand. Some of you are struggling to stay in a marriage that’s hanging on by a thread. Others are battling a diagnosis that has you scared out of your mind, or maybe you’re facing a financial mountain that just seem too big to climb. You are searching for anything, for an answer, for a solution, for a way out.

  • Share a current struggle in your life. What can you do to keep encouraged and not give up?

Have someone read Psalm 69:3

In the Message translation it reads King David said, “I’m hoarse from calling for help, bleary-eyed from searching the sky for God.”  In other words, I’m getting tired of the search. I’ve been searching for healing for my marriage, but we’re still at odds. I searched to get ahead in life, but I feel like I’m falling more behind. And no matter how hard I search, I still can’t find what I want.

Some of you are on a spiritual search. You’ve called out to God, and even God seems hard to find. I think there are scores of people who are realizing that there must be more to life. I think there may be some of you today who have said “Surely there must be a God, but how do I know what to believe?  If there is a God, how do I even find Him?”

  • Share a time in your life it seemed like God was silent or far away. 

Have someone read Proverbs 8:17.

The good news is when you seek God, you will find God.

Saroo kept on searching and didn’t give up. While on a desperate search for his family, thankfully Saroo was adopted by an amazing couple in Australia.

One thing that every adoptive person knows is that someone chose them. The very act of adoption requires that someone chose you.

One of the greatest things about God is that He chose you. He wants to adopt you. Sometimes difficult or strained relationships with our earthly parents affect how we see God. We end up viewing God through the lens of our parents.

  • Is the concept that God chose you easy to embrace or hard to accept?

Have someone read Ephesians 1:5.

If you don’t remember anything else, remember this, God chose you. No matter what happened to you in your past, no matter what bad choices you might have made in your life you do not need to be weight down with guilt, shame and embarrassment. If you’ve come to God through Jesus Christ, you’ve been adopted and chosen in His family. You are a child of God. And I want this to remind you today that God loves you. Maybe your earthly father let you down but God the Father chooses you every day.

The movie has a strong theme of home and the longing for it woven throughout the film. Going home is a key theme of our faith. Ultimately home is not a building or a body but found in God Himself.

Saroo is loved, but he also has a deep desire to find home, where he came from. Through the use of Google Earth he begins to try and find where he was born and where he comes from. He has vague memories – a water tower, a rock quarry, the train station. Every evening from about 5 p.m. till 2 in the morning he would search on the internet. He estimates that he spent close to 10,000 hours searching for the family that he had lost.

Each of us has something we are searching for. We want peace, healing, a new job, a relationship, restoration and there is a longing in our hearts. The key is to not give up. Do not let anything discourage you to quit.

  • How did Saroo’s friends encourage and support him on his search to find where he came from? Is there someone in your life searching for Jesus? How can you encourage and support them?

Have someone read Galatians 6:9 & Ezekiel 24:16.

One of the sweetest parts of the movie is that Saroo’s mother never gave up hope. The God you are searching for is actually searching for you. God is searching for you today.

Every year, Saroo celebrates his birthday on May 22nd, but that wasn’t the day he was born. That was the day he was found. Perhaps today is the day for you to be found by the God who has been searching for you.

  • The characters in the movie exhibited compassion, gratitude and perseverance. How have you seen those characteristics benefit you in your journey towards/with Jesus?


Application

Share either:

a.     A current search or struggle you need to see God

b.     Someone you are praying for to believe in Jesus

Spend time in small groups praying for each other.


Note to Leaders:

If you know someone who is searching and has questions Alpha is a great place to refer them. It launched this week but for the next two weeks people can still join. It meets Tuesday nights at 7:00 pm in Student Center or Wednesday at 11:30 in The Block.

 

 

At the Movies - Beauty and The Beast

At the Movies - Beauty and The Beast

Series Introduction

Grab a snack, find a seat... you're At the Movies! Each week we'll see how God uses characters and situations in our lives to move us along on our journey, so we can discover what He has for us.

·      Share your favorite movie of last year and why it stood out to you.


Sermon Introduction

On the surface Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is an unlikely love story. It begins with this handsome young prince, transformed into a beast because of his inability to look below the surface and see inner beauty, something many of us struggle with.

His only escape from this curse would be if he could learn to love another and earn their love in return by the time the last petal fell off the rose. Only then would the spell be broken. If not, he would be doomed to be a Beast for all time.

Have someone read 1 Samuel 16:7.

Relationships are complicated because God made us so different from each other. The very first chapter of the Bible says God made us in his image. Male and female He created us. Men and women tend to be so different from each other.

Throughout life we are attracted by people who are opposites: extroverts and introverts, thinkers and feelers, structured and unstructured, savers and spenders. And of course, when these opposites meet, they fall in love and get married.

  • Are you attracted to opposites in relationships and friendships? Why do you think this happens?

Beauty and the Beast was definitely not a case of love at first sight. Belle’s father got lost and stumbled into the Beast’s castle. He’s creeped out by talking tea-cups and candlesticks unaware they’re all trapped under a curse. He rushes out of the castle. He pauses to pluck a rose for his daughter Belle, and when he does, the beast captures him and throws him in the dungeon. Belle comes to his rescue and finally this unlikely pair meets for the first time.

Belle switching places with her father gives us a powerful picture of sacrificial love.

Have someone read John 15:13

Belle took her father’s place. When Jesus went to the cross he took our place. He pushed us out of our prison cell and took upon himself our punishment, so we could go free. That’s what real love looks like. People think love is a feeling, based on emotions. Feelings fluctuate up and down, but love doesn’t stop when feelings stop.

  • Would you call yourself a loving person? What is your definition of love?

Have someone read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The word for love in this passage is the Greek word agape that speaks of an unconditional, self-sacrificing love. It is the love we should have for one another.

Love is willing to take the place of another, and when that kind of sacrificial love is present in a friendship, in a family, in a marriage – it changes things. It lifts others up. We move from selfish to selfless. When we experience life-changing love we want to share it, pass it on to others.

Have someone read Proverbs 18:31.

“You have to help me. You have to stand.”  Those are powerful words that gave the Beast the courage to stand, to not give up, but to realize his life still had a noble purpose.

You know, there’s something about the power of words from someone who believes in you, who speaks life into you. With the words that roll off our tongue we have the remarkable power of life and death in a marriage, in a family, in a friendship, even in a church. Words can wound, they can hurt, they can be vile, or they can build up, encourage, speak life and hope and blessing into someone else. Everything that comes out of our mouth either builds somebody up or tears them down. There are no neutral words.

Have someone read Ephesians 4:20.

  • Share a time someone spoke words of life into you or invested in and mentored you. What impact did it have on your life?

In the movie we see the Beast start to soften and transform. His focus shifts from himself to others. He starts thinking of others and starts reaching out in kindness. Belle shows him what love is, and his life is changed.

When we feel loved and valued, it frees us to be all that God calls us to be. Tell your loved ones what they mean to you. Share with them the potential you see in them. Let’s be people who speak life into each other. It’s amazing when you start speaking words of blessing into the lives of other people instead of cursing them, how you start to see things in them that you never saw before.

  • What are practical ways we can show others God loves them? Is there a situation or relationship in your life that could benefit from words of intentional encouragement and kindness?

Belle is learning you can’t judge a book by its cover, that you can’t judge someone by their outward appearance. This an important word for a teenagers and young adults growing up in a world of social media and selfies being taught that how you look on Instagram is more important than what’s in your heart.

Thank God that somehow, He looks past the beast in each of us to see the beauty that He put there. He sees all our ugliness and secret sins; He sees the shameful hurt, the selfish deeds, and regret lurking within. He knows everything about us and loves us anyways. He doesn’t see a beast. He sees beauty and says, “I choose you.”

You know it’s amazing how even opposites who are so different find a shared love. For Belle and the Beast it was literature, books, reading. And it just started to bring them together.

Those of you who aren’t married, but hope to be one day, if you have a faith in Jesus Christ, put that at the top of your non-negotiable list of traits to look for in a spouse.  Marriage is good, but it can be hard, and when you start from a different spiritual foundation than the person you’re married to, it makes everything far more difficult.

Some of you right now are in relationships where you’ve let a person’s flaws blind you to some amazing positive qualities. A change of perspective allows us to take a fresh look.

Something powerful happens in a relationship when you start to focus on the good things in another person, as opposed to their beastly qualities. You say, “Well I can’t see anything good in this person right now.” The Bible says that Satan is a liar and the father of all lies. This is one of his most effective tools in destroying our relationships, our focusing on the negative traits in someone’s personality rather than the positive ones.

Of course, there are some relationships that might be abusive or unhealthy. There are times when we have to remove ourselves from situations and draw healthy, protective boundaries. Sometimes loving someone is desiring good things for them but having to remove them from the opportunity to abuse others. We know they can still find or return to God, and we can pray for their wellbeing from afar.

Have someone read Philippians 4:8.

In a world that is quick to respond, when emotions are high, it is easy to blow a problem out of proportion. Before you start throwing stones take a breath and try to focus on the good in the person you’re dealing with. What is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? When you focus on those things you’ll stop believing the lies Satan is trying to tell you.

Before the last rose petal falls the Beast learns to love and is loved in return. They lived happily ever after. At least that’s what we’d like to believe or have been conditioned to believe. If you notice, we never see the day after happily ever after.

The truth about relationships is they are challenging because they are made up of deeply flawed, self-centered, sinful people who hope to produce one bliss-filled, problem-free relationship.

We all need to be transformed by Jesus to remake us into something new. We’re all beasts, until Jesus redeems us and makes us into something new, and even then, there’s a long process of growing to become more like Jesus, a process called sanctification, where our sins and flaws are gradually removed and transformed so that we more closely resemble Jesus, the only truly good person to ever live.

Belle says to the Beast, “Come back, I love you.”  That is the beauty and the message of the gospel, God saying to us, “Come back, I love you.”

  • Share a time in your life that you were in need of a lifeline and sensed God calling you back.


Application

Share with your group a relationship that needs tending to in your life. Identify action steps that could potentially turn the situation around. Spend time in prayer, inviting God to reveal lies you’re believing that are keeping your relationship from growing. Ask Him for wisdom and a willing heart.

At The Movies - Hidden Figures

At The Movies - Hidden Figures

Series Introduction

Grab a snack, find a seat... you're At the Movies! Each week we'll see how God uses characters and situations in our lives to move us along on our journey, so we can discover what He has for us.

  • What was the first movie you remember seeing?


Sermon Introduction

Hidden Figures is the incredible true story of three brilliant African American women working at NASA in the early 60’s.  These ladies – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson – served as the brains behind one of the greatest achievements in the last century, launching John Glenn into space and pushing our American space program into the future.

They courageously crossed gender, race, and professional lines. Their brilliance and big dreams firmly cemented them in history as true American heroes.

While there is much racism and bigotry to grieve in this movie, there are moments to feel proud. These women stepped up and used their God given talents and abilities – no matter what the people around them thought – to reach their destiny.  You find yourself cheering for them, wanting to see them succeed when everything seemed stacked against them.

This movie evokes many different emotions.  It’s hard to grasp that for many of us, in our own lifetimes, there have been places in our country where our black brothers and sisters would have to use a different bathroom, drink from a different water fountain or ride in the back of the bus just because of the color of their skin.  This is so contrary to the heart of God.  As Dorothy said to her boys in the back of the bus, “Just because it’s the way, doesn’t make it right.”

  • Consider the communities you live and work in. Where have you seen oppression or discrimination?  How have those involved been able to overcome that oppression or discrimination (or not)?  What impact did it have on you?

Have someone read James 1:2 and Galatians 3:26-28.

Racism, and classism, and sexism were crucified on the bloody cross of Jesus Christ and by His resurrection power.

We see the spirit of these three ladies, working at NASA, who weren’t going to be held back by small, petty thinking.  They decided they weren’t going to allow other people’s opinions define their destiny.  They stepped into the more that God had for them. Working as mathematicians and scientists, they were “computers” before there were computers.  Their faith in God is portrayed authentically throughout the movie, and their deep friendship with each other fueled their desire to overcome every obstacle in their path.

  • The ladies’ friendship and support gave them the grace to keep going and the courage to stand up. Share a time when your friends and family’s support encouraged you to step out in faith.

It is powerful to watch them decide to stand up and say enough! It encourages us to not sit back and allow injustice to continue.  We find ourselves cheering for Katherine as she tells her boss and the entire room what she’s been going through.  It’s wrong that she would have to use a different bathroom. It’s wrong that she would have to drink from a different coffee pot.  Racism in every shape or form is wrong.

At Eastside we strive to be a place that fully embraces, loves, and accepts everyone, no matter their ethnic background. Heaven will be a place where all nations are represented because Jesus died for people of every color, language, tribe and nation.

Have someone read Acts 10:34-35.

The apostle Peter wasn’t sure that the Gospel was for everyone, that it included anyone who wasn’t a Jew, a member of Peter’s race, but in Acts 10 God opens Peter’s eyes.  He comes away from that experience knowing God treats everyone the same, regardless of their ethnicity or the color of their skin.

  • We all struggle with bias. We don’t like certain people because of the jobs they have, the amount of money they make (too much or too little), the country they’re from, the color of their skin, the way they vote, or their gender.  What is one bias you struggle with, and what change can you make to begin viewing those people the way God does?

Mary’s challenge, “Be the first, your honor,” is a challenge to us today, to do what we know is right even when nobody else is doing it.

We all are in the position to “be first” for someone. It could be at work, at school, in your family, or in an organization. This is something that goes beyond race.  Maybe you could be the first in your family to break the cycle of divorce. Maybe you could be the first in your family to go the rest of your life sober, because alcohol has ruined your family.  Maybe you’re excited because you’re the first in your family to go to church, to find an authentic relationship with Jesus.   Maybe you were the first so you could lead some of the rest of your family to Jesus.  If not you, who?

At your work maybe you see injustice, or sexual harassment, or other inequities and you could be the first to write the memo, send the email, make the policy change, or fire the offender.

  • In Hidden Figures, when Katherine Johnson entered the Task Group, she was the only non-secretarial female as well as the only black person in the room. Some of us have experienced that level of discrimination.  Many of us have not, but we have been excluded or made to feel like an “other” on some level at some point.  When is a time when you felt excluded or discriminated against?  Has that experience shaped how you view and relate to people who have experienced significant discrimination?

Have someone read Proverbs 31:8

Be the first.  Some of you have the power and authority to leverage it for those who don’t.  You have the ability to open the door, to make someone else’s dream come true.

In the movie Katherine gets to be the first. Feeling the pressure of a looming launch date and the growing realization of all the obstacles, her boss has finally had enough and walks her into a meeting where no African American woman has ever been before.

  • Who are the hidden figures in your life who you could help show their talents, give an opportunity, or even rise to the top? 

We can all do this.  We can all look and take notice of the hidden figures in our lives and community.  We can all leverage whatever position and power we have to give opportunity to those who have a lot to offer the world but no way of getting it to them. You never know the eternal impact one simple act can make.

Have someone read Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

We know this works because at some point in our lives someone handed us the chalk.  Someone gave us a chance and helped us succeed. It could have been your parents, a teacher, a coach, or even a boss.  In Gene’s case it was a church who invited him to be their senior pastor when he was just 25 years old.

  • When is a time someone in your life gave you a chance and helped you succeed?

When you pass that on and give a chance to someone who needs that advantage, it’s a beautiful thing.


Application

Gene challenged us to pray in three different ways. As a group spend time together in prayer.

First, it could be today that some of you have been the object and the target of acts of racism or sexism or some other injustice in your life.  The Bible says to love and pray for your enemy and to do good to those who hate you.  It can be so hard.  Maybe today you just need to say, “Oh God, give me your grace not to fight back.  Help me to be known as a strong person of character, of love, joy, peace, and patience.  Help me not to become bitter by the pain, but better through your son Jesus Christ.”

Second, some of us need to pray for forgiveness for our own hidden racism or hidden attitudes toward people of different races. Like the apostle Peter some of us need a heart conversion moment where we say ‘I now realize God treats everyone on the same basis, no matter what race they belong to.  And I want to treat people like God.’  Just pray, “God, forgive me.  I’m sorry for demeaning people who you have made in your very image and who Jesus died for.”

Third, continue to pray for our church. Pray that one day Eastside will truly be a church where God’s kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven, a place of every tribe, nation, language, and race. Pray that a watching world will look with amazement at the hearts of the people who have been transformed by Jesus Christ here, and that they will say, “My how they love one another.”  Pray that we will be the ones who are the first in this world.