Jesus has called us all to make disciples - but many of us find it so hard! We need to break through barriers that stand between us and our glorious destiny:
- We need a personal vision: to recognise the enormous impact that WE can have - even by making one disciple each year.
- We need confidence in Jesus: that he is perfectly capable of using the least of us - in spite of our past failures and our present weaknesses.
- We need to make a start: as we take practical steps in building friendships, discipling opportunities will result!
Let's "step up and step out" - and see the amazing things that Jesus will do as we obey his great commission!
Matthew 28:18-20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6, 1 Timothy 1:15-16, 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
We can suffer from sickness (or lack of wholeness) of the spirit and soul as well as the body. Some causes of "soul sickness" are sin (ours or others), suffering and abuse. We can find healing when we:
- ask God to reveal the true state of our soul
- submit our soul to the Holy Spirit
- submit our life the rule of Jesus
- believe God's words
- seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit
- seek the counsel of trustworthy people
John 3:6, 1 Corinthians 2:14, Galatians 5:16-26, Romans 8:6, Psalm 107:19-20, Isaiah 61:1, John 14:26, Proverbs 24:6, Psalm 139:23-24, Matthew 11:29
God is concerned about our whole being - spirit, soul and body - and our wholeness as humans involves all three. Sometimes our true need (or root problem) is hard to see - so we would be wise to submit spirit, soul and body to God.
The condition of our spirit affects our soul and body as well. When we trust in the work of Jesus, our spirits are made "alive to God" - and this new life and relationship brings new life to our soul and body as well. As we "keep in step" with the Holy Spirit, we enjoy wonderful fruit in every part of our lives!
1 Thessalonians 5:23, Hebrews 4:12, Acts 9:1-2, Matthew 9:1-2, John 3:6, Romans 8:16, Galatians 5:22-25, James 4:7, John 10:10
The Bible teaches us that we may go through trials that are beyond our own ability to "cope" - but these trials produce the most amazing fruit:
- we go from being self-reliant and self-confident to God-reliant and God-confident
- we learn to partner with others in prayer, sharing both trials and victories together
- we become a greater blessing to others, able to help them through their trials.
Furthermore, we will outlive our trials - with a glory that far outweighs them!
2 Corinthians 1:3-11, John 16:33, Matthew 24:9, 1 Corinthians 10:13, John 9:1-3, 1 Peter 1:6-7, James 1:2-4, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The Holy Spirit gives gifts to the church that enable us to do what Jesus wants us to do. He does this in each one of us - but he works in different ways in different people.
These gifts are primarily for the common good: for the glory of Jesus, the advancement of his kingdom and the health of the Church.
Our particular gifts do not make us more or less significant than others; we are all vital parts of the Body of Christ.
You are invited to go on a journey of discovery, finding your gifts and setting them to work!
Text: 1 Corinthians chapter 12
In order to be spiritually fruitful, we need two things:
- a close relationship with Jesus (we looked at this last Sunday) and
- the Holy Spirit at work in us.
Jesus assured his disciples that God will give the Holy Spirit to his children when they ask him. The apostle Paul taught that we then need to "keep in step" with the Holy Spirit in order to enjoy the life of God working in us and through us. When we live in step with the Holy Spirit we will experience the power and love of God and live fruitful, effective lives.
John 1:5, John 14:15-18, Acts 1:4-8, Acts 2:1-6 & 37-47, Luke 11:11-13, Acts 4:29-31, Galatians 5:19-25
It is God's will for us that we live fruitful lives - and he has taught us how to do so.
Firstly, we need to live in a consistently close relationship with Jesus. Just as a branch draws life from its vine and a tree draws life from its soil, we cannot be fruitful without the life of Jesus flowing into us.
Secondly, we need to cooperate with God when he "prunes" us, taking good things away so that even better things can grow.
Thirdly, we need to make every effort to grow into "spiritual maturity" so that we have the character required to do great things.
John 15:1-5, Psalm 1:1-3, Philippians 3:8-9, Ephesians 1:16-17, John 5:39-40, John 15:16-17, Hebrews 12:5-7, 2 Timothy 2:20-21, John 12:24, 2 Peter 1:3-11
Who do we think we are that we can make disciples of Jesus?
- We are not the master that others must follow - Jesus is. So we don't have to feel inadequate.
- We are not the people we used to be - we are now new creations. So we don't have to feel disqualified by our past.
- We are ambassadors of Jesus - we have been appointed by him to represent him.
- And we are demonstrations of God's amazing grace and his transforming power!
The more we know who we really are, the more confident we will be to make disciples of Jesus. He has called us to do this - and he has made us the right people to do this!
2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 2 Corinthians 5:20, 1 Timothy 1:15-16, 2 Corinthians 3:18
Starting a race can be easy; finishing well is more challenging!
When we decide to follow Jesus, it is like starting a long race, a marathon. Our goal is to finish our race well, strong in our faith.
The church has always been challenged by its opponents. As we are challenged and questioned, we need to seek God's answers - so we look to the Bible for his instructions. These instructions will help us to finish well. And those running with us will give us courage to "go the distance" - so let's not run this race alone!
2 Timothy 4 :1-7, 2 Timothy 2:2, Romans 10:17, Hebrews 10:23-25, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:35-39
Jesus called himself “The Lord of the harvest”. His harvest field is the whole world - every place and every person matters to Jesus! So he needs workers everywhere. This includes the places where we go normally and places we would not have thought of. Let’s ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers - and let’s go to the places he sends us! Let’s plough our fields: starting where we are right now… being present in our communities… passing on what we have learned… and showing by example what it means to follow Jesus.
If we will all do this, there will be an amazing harvest! So let’s do it!
Luke 9:62-10:2, Matthew 28:19, Acts 1:8, Ephesians 2:10, 2 Corinthians 3:4-5, Acts 2:46-47, 1 Peter 2:12, 2 Timothy 2:2, 1 Corinthians 11:1
Jesus likened following him to operating an ox-drawn plough. Just as you can't look back once the plough is moving (that would be disastrous!), you can't look back once you have started to follow him.
The decision to follow Jesus is a glorious one, but not one to be taken lightly. We need to "count the cost" first, understanding that the life of a disciple is not all glory! We must be ready to embrace things like hardship, criticism, rejection and persecution. We must expect some tough times as well as glorious times. But whatever the cost may be, Jesus promised that it will end in eternal glory - so let's not look back!
Luke 9:57-62, Philippians 2:6-8, John 6:38, John 4:34, John 5:30, Luke 14:28-30, 2 Timothy 2:3-4, Luke 16:13, Romans 12:1, John 4:23-24, Revelation 3:15-17
Easter remembers a series of events that were so amazing that the calendar was re-defined around them. The Son of God left heaven and came to earth as a man - Jesus. Jesus made God wonderfully known to all who would listen, but he was rejected and crucified. But death could not hold him and he rose from the dead! And this made a way for all who would believe in him to live a glorious, new, eternal life! A life free from both the condemnation of sin and the power of sin… a life reconciled to God who loves us so much that he did all of this!
Let’s respond to this! Let’s live this new life! Let’s share this amazing news with others!
Hebrews 10:11-17, Romans 6:3-8 , Romans 5:6-8, 1 John 3:16, John 3:16
In a time when almost everything is being challenged - including the church and its message - we may wonder if we are still relevant. But Jesus' words ring true today, just as they did when he first spoke them: we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Now more than ever, our community - and society in general - needs people who will preserve what is true and good, add life to their struggling communities, help people to see what is really happening and drive out the darkness around them!
Matthew 5:13-16, 1 John 1:7
To fulfil Jesus’ commission to us, we need to cross another bridge: from student to teacher (that is, from disciple to disciple-maker). This may sound intimidating, but it is simpler and easier than we may think!
We need to ask our Heavenly Father to fill us with the Holy Spirit - so that we have the spiritual power to perform this spiritual work.
We also need to embrace the challenge to grow mature spiritually - so that we are able to teach others.
Then we just need to start taking our first steps of disciple-making! Spending time with others, sharing what we have learned, and showing them how we are trying to live this out.
Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:4-8, Luke 11:11-13, Hebrews 5:11-14, Matthew 28:16-17, 1 Corinthians 1:26-27, 2 Timothy 2:2, 1 Corinthians 11:1
Jesus had many "fans", often drawing crowds who were excited by his miracles, love and grace. But he did not seek fans - fans walk away when you stop doing what they like! His call was "follow me", a call to discipleship - to faithful, selfless learning and obedience! And he still calls us like that today!
Many have settled for "half a gospel", correctly believing that Jesus is Saviour, but incorrectly failing to obey him as Master. Ironically, when we leave our selfish ways behind and follow Jesus as our master, we find the abundant life that he promised and we seek!
John 6:24-69, Luke 14:25-27, Ephesians 2:8-9, Luke 6:46-49
When we put our faith in Jesus as our Saviour and Master, he does something truly astounding. He takes us across an impossible bridge - we cross over from death to life. Our souls that were dead are made alive, and we begin a new life with a new identity! Our old life is cancelled - we leave it behind us and we begin a new life… an eternal life as God’s children… a life of ever-increasing glory as we become more and more like Jesus!
John 5:24, Ephesians 2:1-7, John 14:1-3, 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, 2 Corinthians 3:18
The work of the cross of Jesus is truly remarkable!
It meets us in a place of guilt, condemnation and hiding from God.
It takes us to a place forgiveness, reconciliation and an authentic personal relationship with God - that will continue into all eternity!
Hebrews 9:11-12, Isaiah 29:13, Romans 3:23-24, Hebrews 4:14-16, Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 John 1:8-9, Romans 8:1
When our nation is hurting, the people need hope and help. Followers of Jesus are perfectly positioned to do this - to be beacons of hope and bringers of blessing!
The world is waiting for the true sons and daughters of God to rise up - to demonstrate righteousness, peace and joy and to be a blessing to the hurting all around them. We have been empowered to live transformed lives that will do just that; let's do so!
Romans 8:19, 21, Matthew 6:10, Romans 14:17, Genesis 12:3, Ephesians 2:10, James 1:18, 19-25,1 Peter 2:12
God’s mission is to redeem mankind - to seek and to save the lost. This has been his mission since the fall of mankind and it will continue to be his mission until the end of this world. This mission is now being achieved through Christ’s followers. All who decide to follow Jesus are his disciples - and we are commanded to make more disciples, teaching them all that Jesus has commanded us. These commands include making more disciples. And so disciples will make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples… loving and seeking sinners wherever Jesus leads us.
Luke 19:1-10, Mark 1:15, Luke 5:31-32, John 3:16-17, Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew 24:14
Popular opinion and culture change constantly - so they are a shaky foundation to build our lives on. The rules keep changing and the goalposts keep moving!
But God’s word never changes! If we will build our lives on God’s unchanging, powerful, life-giving words, they will keep us steady! And they will lead us into an eternity with God himself!
Numbers 23:19, Psalms 119:89, Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 55:10-11, Matthew 5:17-18, Luke 6:46-49, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
In a world that is so uncertain and unstable, we may wonder if it is possible to have any sense of certainty and stability. It IS possible - if we take hold of things that do NOT change.
GOD does not change. He is always absolutely trustworthy. He is always absolutely good. If we try to hold onto the things of this chaotic world, we will find stress and frustration. If we hold on to Jesus, we will find peace and fulfilment.
Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, Numbers 23:19, John 3:16-18, John 7:37-39, James 1:17, Hebrews 12:7-11, John 16:33
Praise and thanksgiving are a vital part Christian life. We were made to praise God - and no-one is more worthy of praise! It is God's will that we consistently give him thanks and praise - even in difficult circumstances. And giving thanks and praise is good for us! It reminds us of God's greatness and goodness. It stirs gratitude for all God has already done. It shifts our focus from problems too big for us to the One who rules over them. It stirs faith to press on and hold on!
1 Peter 2:5, Hebrews 13:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Ephesians 5:20, Psalm 42:11, Psalm 47:7, Psalm 69:30, Psalm 96:4, Psalm 103:1-4, Psalm 113:3, Psalm 150:6
HELP is what we all need - and this is part of God's plan! He does not want us to walk through life alone. He is our ever-present help - and our example of how we should help each other.
Genesis 2:18, Psalm 33:20, Psalm 121:1-2, Deuteronomy 33:26-27, Psalm 46:1, John 8:28, 1 Corinthians 12:25, Proverbs 3:5&7, John 14:16, Isaiah 41:10
Life is more like a marathon than a sprint. It is possible to start really well, but then end badly.
King Solomon started really well. He was the son of the great King David and devoted to God. God blessed him with great wisdom, favour and wealth and gave him the privilege of building the first temple.
But Solomon began to compromise. He married women from other nations and embraced their gods. He ended badly.
Ironically, Solomon wrote the proverb "catch the little foxes that can ruin the vineyard". His "little foxes" certainly ruined his - and we would be wise to learn from his tragic example. We would be wise to keep God's rule and righteousness as our priority and to keep on pressing on - because God has a glorious future for us!
Colossians 3:1-14, 1 Kings 11:1-6, Song of Songs 2:15, Philippians 3:12-14, Matthew 6:33
2020 was a year of many tears - so Psalm 126 speaks powerfully to us as we face 2021. We have seen God's great mercy and grace in the past - and this gives us faith to ask for his blessing once again. As difficult as these days are, we choose to "sow with tears" - with the anticipation of "reaping with joy"!
We "sow" into our relationship with Jesus and our relationships with others, and we "sow" ourselves and our resources into the Kingdom of God.
Psalm 126, John 15:5, Matthew 28:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, John 16:33, Galatians 6:9-10
The covid-19 pandemic brought with it an epidemic of isolation that resulted in widespread anxiety and depression. But we were all born into a far more severe isolation - separation from God. Christmas celebrates God resolving this isolation: man was unable to live in God's presence, so God came and lived in man's presence! Jesus came to open the way for all of us to re-connect with God - and to become part of the family of God! The isolation is over!
Genesis 2-3, Matthew 1:18-23, John 1:9-13, Revelation 21:3-4, Romans 8:35-39, Psalms 68:5-6
At Christmas time, some are privileged to receive gifts - and others are not. But regardless of what we receive (or don't receive) from other people, we can ALL receive the greatest Christmas gift ever given - Jesus! God loves us all so much that he gave his son so that we may not spend eternity separated from him, but in his glorious presence!
John 3:16, Ephesians 3:16-21
The desire to know God is embedded deep within every person - the creation instinctively seeks their Creator. As we behold the glory of creation, our spirits within us recognise that we have a glorious Creator!
Yet some choose to live without seeking or worshipping God. Some choose to worship a variety of more visible - or more understandable - “gods”. Some seek to know how to GET things from God rather thank seeking to KNOW him.
The good news is that God wants us to know him - and Jesus came to make God known to us. And as we grow in relationship with God, we will find ourselves enjoying many blessings from our Heavenly Father!
Romans 1:16-23, Colossians 2:8, Mark 7:8, Matthew 22:36-38, 2 Peter 1:2-4, Hebrews 1:2-3, John 14:9
When we decide to follow Jesus, we will soon be confronted with the harsh reality of our weakness. But we will also discover God's power, which is vastly greater than our weakness!
When we depend on our own strength:
- our own capabilities limit what we can achieve
- we are tempted to glorify ourselves instead of God
When we depend on God's power:
- we experience (and learn to trust in) God’s all-sufficient grace and power
- we remain humble
- God is glorified
We mature into the people God wants us to be - so that we can do the things that God wants us to do.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Acts 14:19, Peter 5:10-11
As we seek to do what Jesus did, we'll find that things don’t always turn out the way we'd hoped they would. We shouldn't let that discourage us or stop us.
- Even the best seed won't thrive in bad soil. God’s word is perfect, but some don’t receive it well. Let’s not blame the seed, or the sower, for bad soil! But some seeds will be fruitful; this is why we keep sowing.
Jesus may give us tasks that seem insignificant. Don't focus on the size of the seed; focus on the potential; small seeds can become trees!
If we will faithfully and persistently sow and water, God will bring about growth. Let’s keep on trusting and obeying Jesus!
John 14:12, 2 Timothy 2:20-24, Mark 4:3-8, Romans 1:16, Mark 4:30-32, Mark 4:26-29, 1 Corinthians 3:6, Galatians 6:9
Jesus promised that whoever believes in him will do the things that he did. So we must BELIEVE.
Paul taught that we must cleanse ourselves from the things that make us unfit for Jesus' use. We must PREPARE.
Having believed and prepared, we must now ACT - POSITIONING ourselves for ministry. We can do this by:
- spending time with people
- listening for God's promptings
- obeying these promptings
- faithfully serving in the places God puts us
Let’s adjust our lifestyles so that we can be positioned for ministry!
John 14:12, 2 Timothy 2:20-24, Mark 2:1-4, Acts 9:32-35, Acts 10:9-13, Acts 8:26-30, Acts 6:1-5, Acts 8:4-8
YouTube link https://youtu.be/368nHnGbBl4
The apostle Paul described his journey of faith in Jesus as a fight, a race and a competition. Jude urged the church to "contend for the faith". Following Jesus will inevitably require us to fight some battles, such as:
- refusing to compromise on Christ's values and ethos
- enduring trials and persecution
- challenging false teaching
- maintaining a sound, peaceful and productive mindset
But know this: when we finish the race we will enjoy eternal rewards!
2 Timothy 4:7-8, Jude 1:3, 1 Peter 3:15, Daniel 1:3-6, Job 2:9-10, 1 Timothy 6:11-12, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, 2 Timothy 4:7-9
YouTube link https://youtu.be/KgyfJpvrtlI
Jesus said that if we believe in him, we will do the things that he did. As we trust in Jesus to do what he wants to do through us, we also need to cleanse ourselves of what is ungodly - so that we are suitable vessels for him to work through.
We do this by fleeing from evil desires… by avoiding unhelpful arguments and controversies… by whole-heartedly pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace… by being kind to others… and by learning Jesus’ words and ways.
As we do these things, we will become suitable vessels for Jesus to minister through - useful to our Master. We will find ourselves doing and saying what Jesus did and said!
John 14:12, 2 Timothy 2:20-24, James 4:1,7-8, 1 Timothy 1:3-4, 1 Timothy 4:1-3, 1 Timothy 6:4-5
Jesus said that whoever believes in him will do the works that he did - and more. When we look at ourselves, this is hard to believe! But Jesus did not tell us to believe in ourselves, he told us to believe in HIM!
WE can do nothing by ourselves, but HE can do anything that he wants to do - through us! This is possible because the Holy Spirit is now available to work in us and through us. Jesus is now continuing his work all over the world - wherever he has a willing, believing disciple!
John 14:10-12, John 5:19, Colossians 1:29, Philippians 2:13, John 16:7, Ephesians 3:20-21, Mark 9:24
In life we will face battles of many kinds.
- Some battles are ours to fight - but we don't fight the way many around us do. God's people have a different enemy and different weapons!
- Other battles are not ours to fight - we need to simply stand firm and trust God to win them for us!
2 Chronicles 20:12-17, Ephesians 6:10-20, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
As followers of Jesus, we are people of hope. We need to be ready to share the reasons for our hope with those who ask.
We first need to prepare ourselves in two ways: having the right attitude (gentleness and respect) and the right lifestyle - living lives that match our faith.
Then we can offer at least four great reasons for our hope:
- God’s great mercy
- Our transformed lives
- The resurrection of Jesus
- The endurance of the church.
Let’s co-operate with God as he corrects our attitudes and transforms our lives. And let’s be ready to share our hope with all who ask us!
1 Peter 3:15-16, Romans 2:21-24, 1 Peter 1:3-6, John 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 3:18, John 11:25, Matthew 16:18, John 16:33
The COVID19 pandemic has surrounded us with many threats: the disease itself, plus the many practical (eg lockdown), economic (eg unemployment), emotional (eg depression) and social (eg isolation, polarisation) effects. It is not surprising that some of us feel "surrounded" and overwhelmed!
The Bible teaches a different view. Even in the most overwhelming, life-threatening situation, God is present - and his invisible forces are far greater than the visible forces that are against us! If we look at the visible, we may be terrified, but if we look at God, we will find courage and peace!
2 Kings 6:15 -17, Exodus 14:6-14, 2 Chronicles 20:12, Romans 8:28-39
Jesus promised that he would build his Church - and the very forces of hell would not overcome it. And history has shown that the Church prevails through both persecutions and pandemics.
Lockdown has caused us to re-think our focus: instead of focusing on meetings ("going to church"), we would do better to focus on what Jesus had told us to do: to be his witnesses and to make disciples ("being the church"). The persecuted Church has wonderfully demonstrated that when we focus on these things, Jesus builds his Church!
Matthew 16:18, Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20, Ephesians 4:11-16, Acts 2:46-47, Acts 8:1-4
The Jesus of the Gospels was the Son of God, but he was also a human. Crowds knew him as a miracle worker, but his disciples saw behind the scenes - he was a man of prayer. If we can learn to pray like Jesus, we will learn to live more like Jesus - and we will experience more of the supernatural power of God.
Jesus taught some powerful lessons on prayer: Be authentic. Know that God hears his children and knows exactly what we need. Come confidently. Come worshipfully. Come reverently. Come submissively. Seek heaven's perspective and order. And ask for God's provision, grace and protection.
John 5:19, John 15:5, Luke 5:15-16, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Matthew 6:5-15, Mark 10:13-16, Ephesians 6:12
How do you recover from devastating loss? King David and his followers lost everything at the hands of a raiding army - but God led them into full recovery!
We can learn so much from David's walk of recovery:
- he expressed his pain before God and his men
- he found strength in God
- he sought and followed God's guidance
- he fought for his restoration - and won!
We don't have to stay in our places of devastation; let's walk God's road to recovery!
1 Samuel 30, Romans 8:37, Ephesians 2:10, James 1:4
God has an amazing plan for the future - and each one of us has a specific and significant part to play in this plan! The future that God has planned is GOOD, and he wants to lead us into it. For us to be READY for all that he has in store, we need to work with him, as he trains us, refines us, matures us and proves us. This preparation can be challenging, but if we persevere through it, we will find ourselves "future ready" - ready for all that he has planned!
Luke 1:17, 1 Samuel 9:20, 2 Peter 3:11-12, Hebrews 3:19, Jeremiah 29:11, 1:5, Psalm 16:5-6, Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 28:18-20, Exodus 5:22-6:2, James 1:2-4
When we can't see how - or when - a difficult season is going to end, it is vital that we TRUST and OBEY Jesus!
We have sound reasons to trust him: He has all authority everywhere. He has overcome the world with all its troubles. He came to give us life to the full. No-one can snatch us out of his hand! He is building his church and nothing can stop him!
We have sound reasons to obey him: he is the Lord of all and Master of his disciples. We cannot say “Jesus is Lord” and then refuse to obey him!
We may not see much, but Jesus sees all and knows exactly what he is doing! So let’s not shrink back and just wait for this season to end! Let’s trust Jesus and obey his commands - to be his witnesses and to make disciples! Let’s ask our Master to show us how he wants us to do this - right here and right now!
Matthew 16:13-18, Ephesians 2:19-22, Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-19, John 16:33, John 10:10, 27-28, Mark 2:14, Luke 6:46
The Gospel can sound "too good to be true". Instead of US needing to make our way to God, GOD has come to us in Jesus. Instead of US having to keep a set of rules to be declared righteous, GOD declares us righteous through our faith in Jesus. And instead of US trying to make peace with God, GOD reconciles us to himself when we believe in Jesus!
Since the birth of the church, people have tried to add things to the Gospel. Their message is "We need Jesus PLUS ..." - we must also perform rituals, follow traditions, obey rules, gain knowledge, etc.
But the Bible declares the death and resurrection of Jesus to be a complete work of redemption - we need Jesus plus NOTHING! So instead of engaging all manner of religious pursuits, let's rather pursue Jesus himself, growing in relationship with him and in obedience to him. HE is what we really need!
God calls us to live godly lives - not "religious" lives that LOOK godly, but lives that are powerfully full of God! If we want to live closer to God, experience more of his power and become more like him, we should:
- Pursue God himself (in prayer & worship)
- Pursue God's will (in Bible reading)
- Put God's opinion above man's opinion and always obey God
- Always "keep God in the equation"
1 Timothy 6:3-11, 1 Timothy 4:8, 2 Timothy 3:5, 1 Corinthians 10:2-7, 2 Timothy 2:16, Ephesians 2:1-2, 2 Peter 1:3, Philippians 2:13
The pandemic has separated many of us physically and kept us from church gatherings. This can make us feel isolated from each other - and even from God. The Bible teaches us to contend for one another, fighting in prayer for each other. We are united in Christ, regardless of distances and circumstances!
We may not be together in person... We may not even have met... Yet we are united in the Holy Spirit! So we contend for one another in prayer, united in covenant with Jesus. And we contend with confidence, because we know that Jesus has all authority!
Colossians 2:1-5, 1 Samuel 18:1-4, 2 Peter 1:3-4, Matthew 28:18, 1 Corinthians 11: 24-25
God has called us to live profoundly significant lives - as ambassadors for Christ. As ambassadors, we represent the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. We are diplomats, with a message of reconciliation - the good news that all may be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus. We have this position and purpose everywhere and all the time - our impact is not restricted to buildings or meetings. And ultimately, we teach people how to live in harmony with God by following Jesus - we make disciples.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:18-20, Philippians 3:17-20, Philippians 2:14-16, Colossians 4:5-6
When we put our faith in Jesus and decided to follow him, God gave us a brand new identity: we became children of God. And as children of God, our lives are now remarkably different! We can live with a healthy sense of value because God himself has chosen us to be his! We can live with a healthy sense of security because we are safe in the hand of Almighty God! We can live free from our past and pursue a glorious new future! We can live as innocent people, free from the guilt of our past life! And we can live significant lives - lives full of God-given purpose!
Romans 8:14-17, 1 Peter 2:9-10, John 10:28-29, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Colossians 2:13-14, Ephesians 2:10
In these difficult and sometimes confusing times, we can learn from the example of Joseph - a man who endured many severe hardships before he saw God's promises fulfilled. His hardships seemed contrary to God's promised blessings, yet Joseph stayed faithful to God, both as a slave and as a prisoner. And God used him in these dark times, so that he was a great blessing to those around him. God also blessed Joseph - with favour and promotion from his masters, and later with a wife and children. In the end, God's promises were fulfilled and God used Joseph to rescue both the nation of Egypt and his own nation, Israel.
Joseph's inspiring story is recorded in Genesis 37, 39-47
YouTube link https://youtu.be/-fOj6DkNi88
If ever there was a time when we had good reasons to worry, it is now! Yet Jesus tells us NOT to worry - after all, it doesn't fix anything! And he tells us HOW to "stop the worry" by correcting our focus:
- Don't deny your needs and problems. (God doesn't!)
- But don't deny God's goodness, power and Fatherhood either!
- DO engage heaven in prayer and in praise (this is "anti-worrying"!)
- DO focus on Jesus and the work he has given you to do (and you will find that he takes care of the rest!)
Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:4-7, James 1:5
The word "disciple" can be misunderstood, but if we look at what Jesus said about discipleship, we will learn what HE is looking for. According to Jesus' words, his disciples follow him as their master. They learn and obey his teachings. They have a close relationship with him. They live fruitful lives. They love each other. And they make more disciples.
The result is the most magnificent life! We are led by the one who always knows what is best! We learn to live the way that we were designed to live! We get to know Jesus personally! Our lives become more and more glorious! We learn to live in true love! And we are able to help others to live this magnificent life!
Matthew 16:24-25, John 8:31, John 15:5-8, John 13:34-35 & 15:12-13, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 11:1
Some decisions have little consequence, but others can be life-changing. There is a decision that will make every day different and transform our lives for the good: the decision to follow Jesus. This is much more than believing, this is a decision to surrender daily to his leadership - to live according to his words and his ways instead of ours. This can be difficult at times, but as we learn to do this, we find that our lives are being transformed - they become more and more the magnificent life that God designed!
Luke 9:23-25, 2 Corinthians 3:18, John 10:10, Proverbs 16:25, Ecclesiastes 5:10
When we put our faith in Jesus, we are "spiritually re-born" into the family of God. In a very real sense, we start this new life as "spiritual babies" - but just as physical babies must grow into adults, spiritual babies must also grow into maturity.
This challenging season is not a time for us to live as "spiritual babies", but a time to mature as "spiritual adults". Let's "dig our own wells", reading the Scriptures and engaging the Holy Spirit in prayer ourselves. Let's take responsibility for ourselves. Let's not seek to be helped as much as we seek to help others. Let's make this a rich season of growth!
1 Corinthians 13:11, Hebrews 5:12-14, Matthew 5:13-16
Our coronavirus/lock-down experience is not a season to merely survive; it is an opportunity to experience a deeper work of God. If we would seek his presence, his purposes and his Spirit in this time, we will come out of the season stronger and ready for our next! Let’s seek to see Jesus better, to know Jesus better and to serve Jesus more effectively!
Acts 9:1-22, Job 42:5, Ephesians 1:17-21, Acts 20:24
In many churches today, we find two groups of people: "ministers" and "members". But the New Testament teaches us that we are ALL "ministers"! We are PRIESTS, representing God to people and people to God. We are AMBASSADORS, representing Jesus and his Kingdom wherever we go. When each one of us does our part, the church will become strong - and the world will know the love of God through Jesus!
1 Peter 2:4-5, 9, Ephesians 4:11-16, 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
The COVID-19 pandemic has put us in a crisis situation. In this situation, there are many challenges and dangers that we are very aware of. There are also dangers that we are possibly unaware of, in particular, the condition of our souls. Jesus spoke to a church whose members were surviving physically, but they were dying spiritually. He called them to urgent action, before what remained of their life expired. We need to hear the same warning: let's not become so preoccupied with our physical situation that we forget our spiritual condition! We don't want to survive this crisis physically alive, yet spiritually dead!
Revelation 3:1-3, 1 Peter 5:8, Ecclesiastes 3:1, Judges 7:1-5
When we put our faith in Jesus, God gives us an eternal hope that acts as an anchor for our souls. The storms of life may rage, but this anchor holds firm! When we hold on to what Jesus has done - such as forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, sanctification, restoration, eternal life, the rule of God and his victory over evil - we can enjoy security in every storm of life. We hold onto our anchor by growing in our relationship with Jesus, growing in our obedience to Jesus, growing in wholeness and security as God's children and by maturing into disciple makers.
Hebrews 6:19, Colossians 1:23, Romans 10:17, Hebrews 2:1, Revelation 14:6, Galatians 1:6-9, Luke 16:16, 1 Peter 1:10-12, Hebrews 1:1-2, 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, John 17:3, Hebrews 2:10, 5:11-12
Jesus has given his Church a global mission - to represent him and to make disciples world-wide. This is humanly impossible... but the Holy Spirit makes it possible as he empowers and transforms ordinary people like us!
The Holy Spirit does amazing things like:
- enabling us to enjoy a personal, day-to-day relationship with God,
- teaching us and reminding us of Jesus ways, and
- empowering us to be effective witnesses for Jesus.
And the great news is that God delights to give this gift to all of his children!
Matthew 28:19-20, Matthew 28:17, Acts 1:4-9, Acts 4:13-16, Acts 17:6, 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, John 14:15-17, John 14:26, John 15:26, Luke 11:11-13
The COVID-19 pandemic has been dramatic and traumatic, and has led to widespread INSECURITY and CONFUSION. But JESUS IS STILL IN CHARGE! And because Jesus is always in charge, we can navigate these turbulent times with SECURITY and CLARITY.
We can live with SECURITY because we know that Jesus is always in control.
We can live with CLARITY because we know that Jesus' ways are always right.
So we trust him - and obey him - and he will lead us through!
Matthew 28:18, Mark 4:35-41, John 6:16-21, Mark 6:34-44, John 16:33, Luke 6:46-49
Life is like a marathon. God has mapped a course for each of us to run, and it will not always be easy. We will need to persevere through difficult times, when we could grow weary and lose heart. It is important that we don't look to ourselves, to others, or to circumstances for hope, because they can fail us; we must look to God.
It is OK to admit it when we are struggling. There is no shame in this and we should ask others to pray for us.
We also need to look ahead to the finish line - eternal glory awaits us that will make these trials seem insignificant by comparison!
And if we are disciplined spiritually, our “spiritual fitness” will make us stronger to push through our trials.
Hebrews 12:1-3, 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, 2 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Our mission from Jesus is to go to others and help them to leave their old life behind and begin an apprentice-relationship with Jesus… to begin living a new way of life that will result in them becoming more and more like him.
We do this by showing them and teaching them how we are following Jesus.
We do this anywhere and everywhere in the world - wherever Jesus leads us!
This is our mission. Let’s do this!!
Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 4:43, Luke 19:10, Mark 8:34, 1 Corinthians 11:1
With all the fake news and faulty journalism about, we may wonder if we have heard the true message of Jesus! Here is the fact-checked message:
The "Gospel" is the good news of Jesus. Although we have rebelled against God and become alienated from him, God still loves us. He promised to send a Saviour and King who would die for our sins and then rise from the dead. And Jesus is this promised Saviour and King! He now calls us to come under his rule... to enter into the glorious Kingdom of Heaven... to live a new life reconciled to him!
Luke 1:1-4, Luke 4:43, Luke 9:2, Luke 19:38, John 18:36, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, Isaiah 53, John 3:16-17
Many things all around us have changed - and are changing. Things that we thought we could put our trust in have failed us. Very real dangers are all around us. We need FAITH. We need a confident assurance that looks beyond what is visible. To have this confident assurance, we need a reliable basis for faith - and that reliable basis is Jesus. If we would put our trust in him, earnestly seeking him, we will find him - and we will find a peace like no other… a peace with God, who we can trust with everything - and for all eternity!
Hebrews 11:1-2, Genesis 15:4-6, Hebrews 11:6, John 3:16-18
When lockdown was imposed, we lost many things, some very important to us. As churches, we are unable to gather for meetings, so "church as we know it" in many ways has been closed down. We have looked for new ways to do the things we usually do, but the crisis has also prompted a great question: "What REALLY matters?" Could God be correcting our focus: refocusing our faith on Christ alone, our message on Christ alone and our discipleship of Christ alone?
Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 8:28, James 1:2-5, Acts 8:1-8
The resurrection of Jesus is a really big deal! It proves that Jesus IS who he said he is. It proves that Jesus WILL DO what he said he will do. So we can believe his promises. We can trust him completely! We can believe in him as our saviour!
Matthew 12:38-40, John 2:18-22, Mark 10:33-34, Matthew 27:62-66, Matthew 28:1-7, John 11:25-26, John 14:1-6
Here are some links for those who wonder if the resurrection was not "fake news":
Lee Strobel - 4 compelling reasons
Historical evidence for the resurrection
Hippocrates wrote: "For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure... are most suitable." The human condition, called "sin" in the Bible, is a truly terrifying pandemic, far worse than COVID-19. Everyone is infected, and it always causes death - not to the body, but to the eternal soul. Dead people cannot save themselves or anyone else, so the plight of humankind is truly desperate. So God did the unthinkable: he came to earth as a perfect human, a fully alive human, one who could rescue us all. Good Friday remembers that Jesus came as our cure - our saviour - and it remembers his promise of eternal life to every soul who would believe in him!
Genesis 3, Romans 1:18-32, John 11:25-26, Romans 5:18-19, John 5:24
A common question in times of crisis is "Where is God in all this?" The Bible has encouraging news! God is present in power to help us! Crises do not mean that God has stopped loving us! And, although we may have no idea what God is doing, we can rest assured that he knows exactly what he is doing! I hope these truths encourage you today!
Romans 8 verse 28 tells us that God works for the good of his people in ALL situations - even in the most difficult ones. One could say that good things are hidden in bad situations. This message is about taking hold of the good in the midst of a pandemic and lock-down.