Day 2: My Squad (Getting into a Small Group) CHICAGO TRIBUNE writer Marla Paul took a risk recently when she wrote a self-revealing column confessing her sadness and frustration over her inability to build and sustain friendships. She didn't expect any response from the readers, but she was flooded by letters with people who felt the same thing. One person wrote, "I've often felt that I'm standing outside looking through the window of a party to which I was not invited." That's a vivid picture, isn't it? Ever feel that way? Another woman wrote, "I have this fear of becoming a very lonely old widow sitting around and listening to the clock tick." She writes, "This fear is probably well-founded because I have no sense of community, no family, no friendships, and no church." She feels that she's going to die alone, and she may well do that. Marla Paul ended her column about loneliness with these words, "Sometimes it seems easier to just give up and accept disconnectedness as a dark and unshakable companion. But that's not the companion I want," she writes, "So I will persevere. I will keep trying and hoping that someday, I will be able to discover and develop a community." In John 17:11, Jesus, in the most famous prayer recorded in the New Testament, spends time in the Garden of Gethsemane and prays for His disciples. He doesn't pray that their life will be easy.He doesn't pray that they will be rich or powerful or famous. "Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name—the name You gave Me—so that they may be one as We are one." May they be so close to one another, may they draw strength from one another that they might face the challenges and the difficulties of this life. Jesus prayed for His small group that they would continue together. You have chosen to be a part of a small group this semester. I hope that you will make some of the best friends that you have ever had. My prayer is that your small group will be a place where you can be honest with each other and share what is going on in your life. There is an old story. I don't know where it came from. One day, a kid comes running into the living room where his mom is. She's meeting with the pastor of the church, but because he's so excited, the boy doesn't see the pastor. He's holding a dead rat in his hand. He says, "Mom! You'll never believe it, but I was out behind the garage. This rat was running around, so I picked up a rock and threw it. And I hit the rat! It just dropped there, so I threw another rock at it, and then I kicked it, and then I stomped up and down on it, and then I picked that rat up, and I threw it against the garage as hard as I could. And then I threw it again." At this point, he looks up and sees the pastor there, and he knows that if looks could kill, he'd be a dead man. So, he holds the rat up by the tail and says in a very pious voice,"And then the dear Lord called him home." It's a funny thing, but sometimes in churches, we get good at hiding from each other. We put on masks and act like everything in our life is great, when in reality, everything is falling apart around us. I read a story about a little girl who had recently lost her mother, and she was crying in the middle of the night. Her dad came in, and she told him how afraid she was and how much she missed her mom. Her dad tried to comfort her with the fact that God was right there with her. After he said that, she looked at him and said, "I just need someone with skin to help me." I hope that semester you would find a group of friends who would have your back and that you would all help each other. I also hope your small group will be a place where you encourage each other. Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. (Hebrews 10: 24-25) Every person wants the best drawn out of them. Motivate me, believe in me, encourage me when I am tempted to quit. Help me achieve my greatest potential. Tell me again what God has called me to be. Let's face it. In the world we live in, we get beat up and beat down all the time. We get beaten down by our failures.We get beaten down at school.We get beaten down by our families.We get beaten down by the voice inside of us. We need a group of people who will encourage us to be the person we know we need to be and who God wants us to be. We need a group of people to lift us when we feel down and remind us that God is still in charge. For your small group to be the best experience you have ever had, you have to do a few things. 1. Pray for each person during the week.2. Talk. If all you guys do is look at each other while the leader is trying to get you to share your thoughts and feelings, you will never develop friendships, and you will be bored to death.3. Keep confidences. What happens in the group stays in the group.4. Reach out to each other. Hang out during the week, text each other, and do something fun together. If you do these things, you might find some of the best friends you have ever had. Jesus had a squad He did life with. You need one too. Time Out: 1. What are you looking forward to this semester in your small group?
2. How can you be a better friend and participant in your small group?
3. Why was it so important to Jesus that His squad stay together after He died and rose again?
4. I want you to pray that you will give your best to this semester's small group. Pray that you would be an encourager and that you would lean in and try your best to develop friendships.
“The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:11-12
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