Nov 26

At the Movies: I Can Only Image Unpack Notes

Big Idea

For this week’s At the Movies message, Pastor Tracy examined the heartfelt story in this year’s blockbuster, I Can Only Imagine, a movie based on the real life story of Bart Millard, a singer-songwriter in the band, MercyMe. The plot follows the life of Bart, who grew up with an abusive father, was abandoned by his mother, and was constantly told he would amount to nothing if he continued to chase his dreams of being a musician. As Bart faced the struggle of carrying his childhood burdens into his adult life, he found freedom and peace from the scars of his past when he witnessed the transformation God produced in his father’s heart. It’s when Bart’s father battled pancreatic cancer and asked for forgiveness did Bart face his past and allow it to propel him into his purpose, resulting in the all time record winning song, I Can Only Imagine. In this week’s message, Pastor Tracy examines how God’s desire is for us is to not simply get through our struggles, but to turn our struggles into triumphs while giving us key principles to help us win our wars.  

When Jesus was preparing to leave the disciples before His crucifixion He assured them they would face trials and trouble in this life, making the same statement true for our lives, today (John 16:33). Yet our biggest struggle in life is not that we endure trouble, but rather how we react to it. Our greatest defeat comes when we believe because we may have been born into situations or are influenced by things out of our control, we are unable to be set free and live a triumphant life in Christ. The shame and disqualifying thoughts spoken over our lives become the familiar voice in our situations, causing us to strive in our own strength and forget all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27). The negative voices we hear support what has already been established on the inside of us, and in our anger and disappointment we become so focused on the struggle that we are blinded to the truth that in the middle of our mess God is always trying to bring redemption back into our lives (Hebrews 7:25). 

Jesus assured us of our trouble not so we would have a disheartened spirit, but so we would have greater assurance that our peace is found in Him – for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). The peace which God gives us is unlike that which the world gives, and it is this peace which enables us to see God turn our mess into miracles (John 14:27). Still, experiencing God’s peace is not passively received. It takes an activation of faith which invites God to join us in our struggles. By giving God access to our trials we position ourselves in a posture attentive to God’s voice. God’s voice quickly drowns out the disqualifying voices of our past, and His thoughts of power victory and worth start to reign in our hearts, allowing His peace which surpasses all understanding to reside in us (Philippians 4:7). Not only do we gain trust in that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, but the kindness and love of God becomes a part of our nature, strengthening us to forgive those who may have hurt us in the past (Romans 8:28). Our hearts are softened and we find freedom in forgiveness while God supernaturally turns our trials into triumphs. 

Discussion Questions

  • When you face a trial in life are you quick to complain, let it rule your life, or bring it before God?
  • What may stop you from letting God get involved in your trials?
  • Do you look at your trials as a way for God to stretch you so you can sustain more of His blessings?
  • What are some disqualifying thoughts you have allowed to take residence in your life? Who were they planted by?
  • Are you holding onto any resentment and/or unforgiveness towards someone because of something that was done to you that you couldn’t control? If so, are you ready to forgive them?
  • How can you spend more time listening to God’s voice and allowing it to take shape in your live? 
  • When you find yourself facing a struggle what are things you can do differently which will allow God’s peace to guard and rule your heart?

Prayer Focus

Thank God for His peace which surpasses all understanding. Pray that you would hear God’s voice with more clarity and assurance. Ask God to make His way into your current struggles. Thank God for the promise that is to come as He turns your struggle into a triumph. Ask God to soften your heart to those who may have planted seeds of disqualification in your life and strength to forgive them. Pray that God’s peace would continue to guard your heart from anything else the enemy may want to use against you. 

Leader Tips

Encourage your team that regardless of how strong their storm may seem, they have full authority to tell it to be still. Remind your team that their past does not define them, but has the power to propel them into purpose. Encourage your team to stretch themselves to doing what may be uncomfortable in their situations. Lead your group to scripture that reveals the promise that is on the other side of their current struggle.