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REFLECT

So often, we want the benefits of our long-term goals…but we give into short-term appetites instead. We try to satisfy ourselves with things that bring instant gratification, and we give up too easily on what we’re really hoping for. But as we follow Jesus, the hard work we put in in the middle of our stories is the launchpad for the joy God promises us in the end. Join us this Sunday as we learn about the key to resting in our future joy in the here and now, no matter what’s going on.

REALIZE

1.  Starting something is always fun!

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Leader Notes

  • God is never passive or inactive. He’s always doing something new and inviting us into the work he’s doing in our lives and in the world. Sometimes the work he wants to do involves other people. Each of us have a specific sphere of influence already, and it’s the people God has surrounded us with right now. Sometimes the work God wants to do has more to do with our own hearts and standing before him.
  • Regardless of the nature of how God is inviting us into his work – whether it’s with other people or within our own hearts – it’s our choice whether we will respond or not. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us know something in our lives we need to start doing because God has put it on our hearts.

What is something God is asking you to start doing right now?

2. The middle is always the worst.

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Leader Notes

  • In life, there are so many things we go through that feel endless – as if the pain we’re going through will never be over. Or the questions we’re asking will never have answers. Or the suffering we’re enduring will always be unresolved…When we feel that way, we know we’re just in the middle of the story.
  • God has a good purpose and plan for our lives, but sometimes we just can’t see what that is. The middle of the story is always the worst. We like to call it “the messy middle.” But the mess we’re in the middle of doesn’t change who God is! It just means we have to do the hard work of choosing to trust who God is even when we don’t necessarily see or feel his goodness reflected in our circumstances.

What mess are you in the middle of that you need to invite Jesus into?

3. Finish what you start.

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Leader Notes

  • Finishing is always so much harder than starting. When we start walking with Jesus or pursuing the things he’s put in front of us to do, we usually are full of hope and expectancy, energy and courage to carry on. When we get frustrated and burned out, we avoid the things that we’re not good at…but the harsh reality is, none of us can walk the Christian life perfectly. But when we fear failure, we prevent ourselves from stepping out and finishing the race of Christ well and with endurance.
  • Something to remember when we’re “in the middle” is that if God instructed us to start something (and he hasn’t told us to stop), then probably we need to keep going. Whatever it is that God has put in front of us to do and be responsible stewards of – families, jobs, education, relationships – that’s what we need to focus on finishing well.

What is something you’ve already started that you know God wants you to finish?