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Posts Tagged ‘Mission’

Welcome Home: The offer of Salvation

September 15th, 2011

It is Free

  •  Jesus removes the social, cultural and moral barriers to offer her salvation. Culturally, men and women didn’t speak to each other and morally, she had five husbands so would have been shunned by society.
  • If we want to see Brightonians saved, we need to leave barriers at the door – dress, career, intellect, education, sexual orientation…We can’t let them get in the way of the good news of Jesus that we have to share.
  • It’s important that we don’t enter into conversations with non-Christians by taking the moral high ground or speaking out of compulsion or to ‘look good’ to others. People also don’t want to be treated as a ‘project’ to be completed.
  • Sharing our faith with others should be sweet but challenging. Jesus’ salvation is a gift, but it also challenges our pride – we like to think that our efforts contribute towards our salvation.

It Satisfies

  •  As we need water to survive, Jesus says we need living water to be satisfied as well.
  • On the outside, people might look happy but often feel empty on the inside. People who have accepted Jesus into their lives will live with a well of living water inside and it will be like a flowing stream – no matter what you throw at it, it will keep on going.

It is a process

  •  We cross a line of faith to become a Christian but it is also a process over a period of time.
  • Nicodemus was morally incredible but Jesus is very direct with him in telling him that salvation is a free gift and that his morality counts for nothing but with the lady at the well, he knows she is already aware of her mistakes so he takes the opportunity to offer her salvation.
  • When someone is at the top of their game in looks, wealth etc., they are least likely to think about the meaning of life but when things start to crumble, friends start to disappear and they will be ready to hear the good news of the gospel.
  • We must look at ourselves as carriers of the good news of Jesus Christ. Are we amongst our neighbours and our community? We need to know them so that we can be there for them in crisis.
  • We need to bring about conviction as well as tell them of good news. Jesus asked the woman at the well to fetch her husband, knowing that she had five previous husbands. He showed her that she was putting her meaning of life into her relationships to bring about her conviction. This then highlighted her need for salvation in Jesus Christ.
  • John 4:14 – Only Jesus can quench our thirst
  • Jesus offers so much more that forgiveness – he can be our essence of life and our all in all

 How is Salvation received?

  •  Jesus says to us that He has seen us at our worst but He still loves us. He has died for us in our place so that we can be forgiven and have a relationship with God.
  • He has cleared our debt for us –something that no man can do for us, and he does it joyfully.
  • Salvation is only received when we respond. The woman at the well responded and her life was turned upside down. She went to tell people of Jesus, people that had hated and neglected her
  • We must feel confident to meaningfully invite people to church – if friends see how important Jesus is to us, they will take our invitations seriously.
  • John 4:13

 

 

 

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Welcome home: Commission, Community and Compassion

September 5th, 2011

Romans 15: 2-3, 5-7

The Biblical Principles.

  • God is community – in the community of the Trinity, God is never lonely. God did not create us so as to fulfill any need in himself. We were created in his likeness to reflect his glory, which includes reflecting his community.
  • It is not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18), we are created to be in community. Although this has been disrupted by the Fall, the gospel comes to us as a message of reconciliation.
  • Our main problem is our disconnection from God which leads to a disconnection with others. Jean Paul Sartre illustrated this with his comments “God is solitude, God is absence” and “hell is other people” – in our fallen world, this would be true had not Christ come to reconcile us to God and to each other.

 Hospitality – an attitude of heart

  • Although hospitality can be shown by anyone, even those who know nothing of Christ, we, of all people, should excel at welcoming others home.
  • John Calvin argued that the existence of restaurants and hotels is proof of the depravity of man. People earn money by providing that which human beings should freely give to each other.
  • Attitudes to hospitality vary across cultures. There is something very defensive about British culture, but, in Christ, we don’t need to be afraid but, instead, should reach out to the unloveable (Matthew 5:43-47)
  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 – We are called to be ministers of reconciliation, called to the mission of God and the commission of Christ to make disciples. We should affirm other people as important.
  • There is a danger of thinking that the current move to multi-site is, in itself, the answer. The answer is a church which genuinely loves people on mission and actively cares about the people in our communities.
  • The church family which God is building is one for all kinds of people. Martin Luther argued that the kingdom of God must be among enemies or else we are simply blaspheming and betraying Christ, who lived among his enemies!
  • We are not just to be receivers of hospitality or just givers of hospitality (spending all out time in the kitchen but barely talking to anyone).
  • But what about people living in tiny bedsits or flats, how can they invite people into their homes? We can be grateful to God that Brighton is full of other places (cafes, pubs, parks etc) where we can invite people.
  • When you do invite people in, care about them. Watch your language and the subjects that you talk about so as to include people.
  • A word on boundaries – The question “Who is my neighbour?” is answered by the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) where a man risks danger to help an enemy. However, note that the Samaritan is in danger from bandits not from the person he is helping. It is right to seek to protect our households when we invite people in. We should be both extravagent and wise in our hospitality. Christian leaders, in particular, are called to model hospitality (literally: “being fond of guests”)
  • 1 Peter 4:9 – Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:22 – to the weak we make ourselves weak to lead them to Christ.
  • Ephesians 4:28 – The point of not stealing but engaging in honest labour is to share with others.

Breathing life into small groups

  • We should not merely have two or three front doors (with the new sites) but hundreds of front doors across the city to welcome people in.

Seven points for small groups:
(1) Ensure that you are on God’s mission (i.e. that mission is not a “bolt-on” activity but the spine of the small group).
(2) See yourselves as God’s immediate provision for one another (gathering around the gospel and showing Christ to each other).
(3) Build one another up for mission. (We also need to open and honest when inviting others).
(4) Transcend “small group night” (the small group is the people not the meeting).
(5) Pray for individuals and localities (we want the city to be blessed by our being here).
(6) Pray and strategise for the area (be proactive and seize opportunities).
(7) Preceive and receive (asking God to show you what he is doing and whom he is sending to you).
Is there a family who will welcome people in?

 

Hannah’s God

February 2nd, 2011
  • Hannah was a giant in prayer – she learnt how to pray successfully.
  • There is a pressure to be “normal” as defined by society and not take prayer – or God – seriously. But one day we will find out what was truly “normal”.
  • In Hannah’s day Israel was far from God and was a mess, and so Hannah stood out just as much then as she would do now.
  • God has a habit of choosing people and things that society rejects. Psalm 118:22. Build your life on Christ.
  • Hannah makes a remarkable vow to give her son back to God – but she probably didn’t start off praying like this.
  • We usually start off praying asking God to perform tasks for us – to have this thing or get rid of that thing – like God is some kind of cosmic butler, not to have a relationship with but to serve us. Most religion works like this – with God at arm’s length. But the God of the Bible is different – He saved us for relationship and to be known.
  • God does do things for us but He also knows He is the only thing that will ultimately satisfy us, and through answers to pray He wants to get our attention and draw us to Himself.
  • Luke 17:11-19 – all 10 lepers were healed by Jesus but only 1 came back – the other 9 didn’t want to know the real God; their god was healthy skin. Oftentimes we use God to get our real gods – the things we desire the most, more than God.
  • Answered prayers are sometimes like crumbs from the table to get us to come up and feast with the real God.
  • In the process of her affliction and praying, Hannah finds the real treasure, more precious than a child – God Himself.
  • John 15:4-7 – when we abide in Jesus, when we are aligned with Him and His desires, we begin to pray and see it come to pass. We are branches of the Vine – we are supposed to be extensions of Jesus. We can’t be independent branches.
  • We get pruned as being part of the Vine. We submit our life to God and give up claim over it, and God works in us and prunes us.
  • Our heart needs to be that our life exists for God – then we will see our prayer life explode.
  • Jeremiah 33:3.
  • Hannah had to learn this.
  • Hannah starts praying in a different way, calling on God as “O Lord of Hosts”, meaning “God of heaven’s armies” – because in her heart it is more about just having a child but a longing for God’s name being vindicated, and to have a son to dedicate to that cause. Her vision grows so much bigger than just having a baby.
  • It’s not about us but about God’s mission – it’s His battle.
  • We need to meet the God of the armies of heaven.
  • Real obedience comes from trust in a good God. And we know God is good because He gave us HIS Son. Yield to Him.
  • ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ (Matt. 6:33)

1 Corinthians 16 – Life on God’s Mission

September 27th, 2010

Some passages of Scripture are ordinary, administrative and practical – but they are still God’s word and they will do us good if we really receive what they have to give to us. The theme of this passage is mission – God’s mission. When we meet Jesus and become a Christian, we join in on God’s mission. Every day of Paul’s was spent on mission and ensuring that the churches were sharing in the global mission, playing their part. We too want Jesus to be famous everywhere and for all nations to be excited about Him. God wants to bless our church so that we can bless the city around us and other nations.

Often our life takes a sudden turn when we meet God – although this doesn’t necessarily mean we will move; we may just be caught up in God’s mission in the place we’re already in. Is your life just about you or is it about Jesus’ mission for your life? His mission will change every aspect of your life. Yield your life to His mission without qualification.

Paul demonstrates the wisdom that godly leaders use to make decisions: although there is uncertainty about what to do, he just makes a decision and goes will it, and leaves the details to God. Maturity in godliness means more freedom to make choices and decisions through what we feel is wise and the best. We mature through childlike obedience to God and then He is able to trust us to make up our own minds – but only when our hearts are surrendered to God. God also wants us to seek wise counsel and use our brains, and we know that He can interrupt our course at any time and change our direction. Be attentive to where He wants you to go.

Often we get so anxious and caught up trying to discern the great specific “will of God” for our life, that we become paralysed and won’t do anything until we hear direct instruction from God – but God’s call on our life is already quite clear in the Bible: love God, love people and spread the gospel, to begin with. God gives you a compass rather than a detailed map. As you follow this call that has already been made clear in His word, God will give you more specifics. So do something! Start obeying and going where you believe you need to go – God can steer a moving ship but he can’t steer one that’s on the land.

Verse 2 – Paul talks about there being ‘a wide door’, a massive kingdom opportunity where God was clearly moving, and so he decides to stay. And then he says ‘and there are many adversaries’ – not ‘but’ but ‘and’. Paul knew pain, hardship, difficulty, disappointment and persecution is all part of the mission and the growth of the church – and it is part of our life and our ministry; it’s how we grow up. Just because things turn difficult, doesn’t mean that God is no longer in it or with us – sometimes it is a sign that God is in it. We are guaranteed trouble in this life because we have an enemy who hates God ans hates us. Be prepared for challenges.

Finally, verse 23 – Paul finishes the letter with grace and love. We need the grace of God to do all these things – to strengthen us for the fight and to live on His mission, finishing well at the end.

Exodus 33:7-23 My Presence Will Go With You

February 23rd, 2009

The presence of the Holy Spirit is a defining and distinguishing characteristic of the people of God.

The presence of the helper amongst us is compared to Jesus among us. He does the things Jesus does – but (unlike Jesus) does not draw attention to himself. Instead he draws attention to Jesus.

As the presence of God among us, the Holy Spirit anticipates a greater time of fulfilment when God’s presence will be universally known. In this era he actually comes upon us to press us into the ends of the earth (and our city). This creates a tension for us. The Spirit of mission (if we misunderstand him) will keep us from our mission.

There is an attractive ‘missiology’ that sees the church exclusively living for seasons of unusual manifestation – which will solve all our problems. (i.e. revival is when God takes over…). But New Testament missiology is a little different. The Holy Spirit is a missionary: always driving us onwards to the regions and the neighbourhoods beyond. Learning cultures, engaging those cultures and being ready for things to change accordingly.

Jonah 3 Warning

January 29th, 2009

Jonah 3:1 is beautiful. God heals us by sending us again. When we thought we were unsendable (and if you have not come to that point you are certainly unsendable).
 
Have you heard God’s word to you for Brighton? It’s ringing in our ears.
 
HE HAS SENT CCK TO BRIGHTON – AND HE IS SENDING US AGAIN…
 
Why has he sent us? It is (3.3 Hebrew) ‘a great city to God’. He is jealous to have a dwelling – a house – here in this ‘pagan’ place.
 
Our message, like Jonah’s, is one of warning – and has to be. In Jonah’s case it came with terseness. But God’s mercy can only roll down to wicked cities because of one who came to the city of his rightful throne, knowing it would utterly reject him – and still sobbed out his warnings without relent for their sakes and not for his own.
 
God will turn people. Some will be within our ‘reach’ and some will surprise us. Kings are destined to shut their mouths because of him (Isaiah 52:1-12). Some big pillars of the temples of our city will become pillars of the church. God has many in this city – in spite of how weak we are as messengers.
 
How did they respond to God? Be sure to give your heart in repentance and prayer – they ‘called out mightily to God’
 

You can watch or listen to this sermon here

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