Vision & Giving Review Sunday 13th March 2016

14/03/2016

Matt 28.16-20 Vision & Giving Sunday

Introduction: “Question 37”

The most recent National Census (2011) Q37 asked, ‘At your workplace, what is the main activity of your employer?’ In other words, what is made at your place of work?

  • if you’re a parent, the answer might be, ‘A mess!’
  • if you’re in manufacturing, you’d say, ‘Widgets’ (or whatever)
  • if you’re a jaded teacher, it might be [in bored voice] ’We make progress towards nationally-determined Key Stage targets’.

How would you answer for the Church? Yes we make tea and coffee but is that our main business? Yes we make appeals for money, but is that our main business?

The main business of the Church is to make disciples. Making disciples means making – introducing people to Jesus Christ so that they may know him and follow him – and maturing – encouraging one another to live fruitfully and walk faithfully with Jesus Christ).

We know it’s the main business of the church because it’s what Jesus tells his disciples and us to be doing:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:18–20)

Making Disciples – Matthew 28.16-20

Let me very quickly draw out four themes from his command that explains how he wants us to go about it:

All Nations

Jesus commands us to make disciples of all nations. At this stage he’s speaking to Jewish disciples in Jerusalem. Jesus’ disciples are to take the news about Jesus to all nations, to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The good news is for all nations.

For some Christians, the command to go to all nations means leaving their home and working in another culture, so-called ‘missionaries’.

For everyone else, the command to go to all nations means welcoming all nations. That is our challenge: Bridgwater is only going to become more diverse. That is God bringing the mission field to us. It’s not a question of whether St George’s is to welcome and reach other nationalities, but how.

Baptising

Baptism is how we mark the beginning of the Christian life. We baptise the children of believers on the basis that they will be brought up within the church, and in time will make their own faith public. Those who haven’t been baptised as children and then come to a personal faith in Christ are baptised as adults. Next month we hope to see 2 or 3 people being baptised in this way.

Baptisms are always accompanied by an explanation of the Christian faith, because Jesus’ command is to make Christian disciples. That is why we ask, either through questions, or by hearing a testimony, have you come to know God personally, and is He the God of the Bible, that is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Making disciples, or evangelism, must mean talking about Jesus and what he has done. It is impossible to carry out God’s mission by staying silent. It’s not whether we will speak of Jesus, but how.

Teaching

God wants his church to grow up as well as to grow numerically larger. Growing up means growing to maturity in Christ, and that comes by hearing and obeying Jesus’ teaching:

… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:20)

If you want to grow to maturity, the first step is to ask God to give you a hunger for his word. Then pray for those whose duty and joy it is to help you hear it – preachers, Bible Study leaders, people who write your Bile notes. Then pray for grace to accept what God is saying to you.

Sometimes (often maybe) we’re not receptive to what God wants to say to us. We have selective spiritual hearing.

As a father I developed selective hearing when my infant children woke in the night. It’s been very helpful. A couple of weeks ago I stayed with some friends who are fostering a baby. Sam was up in the night a couple of times. Did he disturb me? No – and even if I had heard him, I would have ignored him. He’s not my baby!

Spiritually, we have times of being deaf. That is why God in his love and mercy gives us every circumstance as an opportunity to hear and to grow: when we enjoy good things from God’s hand, do we thank him for them, or say, ‘well done me?’; when we are at the end of our resources, do we dig deeper, or do we turn to God? When we struggle or suffer, or when we despair at the depth of our sin and coldness of heart, do we draw away from God or draw nearer?

Growing in maturity means facing every circumstance as a Christian. One of the most frustrating experiences for me as a pastor is to see Christians facing a challenge withdraw from Christian fellowship until they are sorted. It’s like saying, ‘I’ll go to the dentist when my toothache has abated’, or ‘I’ll go to school when I have learned to read’. It’s precisely when we’re stretched that we grow – if we turn to God’s word and hear what he says.

Therefore the diet of Sunday church as a priority, midweek groups and seminars, and then meeting with others either for one to one Bible reading, and prayer, or as a prayer triplet, are the basics of being equipped to grow to maturity.

I am with you always

Finally note Jesus’ promise that he is with me. We have seen this more clearly in our studies in the Upper Room (John 13-17, our current morning sermon series):

  • Jesus has returned to the Father, where he is an advocate for us. Whenever God looks at you and me, Jesus speaks up and says, “This person has come to me: I have died to cover their sin.” He is our advocate with the Father.
  • Jesus sends the Spirit who is Another Advocate, to speak to us: “Jesus has chosen you to bear fruit. You are adopted into God’s family by faith in Jesus. You have a new relationship: you really can call on God as your Father.”

Jesus is with us as we seek to go out to make disciples, and to speak of Jesus to a world that is often hostile (but sometimes open). Jesus is with us as we face life’s ups and downs, the circumstances God has allowed for our growth, maturity and progress in Christ. Jesus is with us as we battle to keep the priority of making disciples amid many competing calls. The business of the church is making disciples.

This may all seem familiar to you. Good! It’s meant to be a refresher because the mission of the church and the vision for our church hasn’t changed. This is a refresher. I would normally dig deeper still into the passage but I want to move on to some very practical implications of Jesus’ call. I have put a previous sermon on the journeyman preacher blog which says more about the passage.

I want to think about some practical implications of this mission.

A Task for the whole church

First is that Making Disciples is a task for the whole church. We are all involved and we all have a part to play. We have different gifts and play a different role in detail. But everyone’s role must contribute toward the goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

The Vine and the Trellis

One helpful tool for discerning how the parts of church life fit together is the idea of the Vine and the Trellis. We have also met this before. It’s an idea taken from gardening.

The point of gardening is to grow a harvest. The Vine is the basic work of Christian ministry: preaching the gospel in the power of the Spirit; seeing people changed and converted by God through his word and by his Spirit; and seeing them grow to maturity and service in Christ. That’s the vine that we are planting, growing and watering.

And just as a plant needs a trellis or framework (especially a vine), so the work of ministry has a structure that supports it: somewhere to meet, some Bibles to read, a programme so we know what we’re doing, some staff, and some finances to support them and so on. The trellis is everything that supports the vine of the ministry.

If the vine dies, the church dies. A Church with just trellis and no vine is a dead church. If the vine grows, the trellis can either support the vine (because it remembers that the main business of the church is making disciples), or it can stifle the vine (because it thinks the main business of the church something else).

A Task for the whole church

The vine and the trellis help us to see how everyone is involved in the ministry of the church.

Let me use Holiday Club as an example. The main purpose of the Holiday Club is to teach the children about Jesus: Who he is (his identity), What he came to do (his mission) and How he wants us to respond (his call).

The Vine work is the teaching ministry – the so-called ‘pastoral’ workers: telling the story through Bible reading, music, drama, questions, crafts, memory verses. It is backed up by the love and care we show. It is enabled by our prayers to God that he would open blind eyes. A Holiday Club without this work is not a Christian holiday club. It’s not mission.

The Trellis work is everything that supports the teaching ministry: food & drink; venue; administration; insurance; Tee-shirts, setting out crafts and tidying up crafts. These are practical tasks done in a godly way and to support the vine work.

It’s the same with the whole church. The Vine work is the ministry of the word; to make disciples of all our neighbours (to all nations) by introducing them to Jesus Christ (Baptising), maturing them (teaching them to obey), and doing it in cooperation with Jesus (I am with you). That is the Vine work. A Church without this priority is not a Christian church. It’s not doing God’s mission.

The Trellis work is everything that supports the teaching ministry: food & drink; venue; administration; insurance; Tee-shirts, setting out crafts and tidying up crafts. These are practical tasks done in a godly way and to support the vine work.

Which is why I want to think about finance and giving. It’s not the main purpose of the church (and sometimes we need to forgo opportunities to take a collection just to make the point that we’re more interested in people themselves than in their money). But it’s a trellis that supports the vine work. If you care about God’s mission, then you and I need to show that care by our financial and prayerful support.

In a moment I want to share with you some data about our Church’s finances, including the Parish Centre

It is good for believers to give

First I want to say something about the place of giving in the Christian life.

It is good for Christians to give. God loves a cheerful giver.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor 9:6–8)

So it is good for believers to give according to their means.

It is good for givers to review their giving

It s also good for believers to review their giving. It is understood that committed disciples will give in a committed way:

Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  (1 Cor 16:1–3)

Some of us will have an envelope or jam jar every week: others have a bank standing order every month but the principle is the same.

That is why we’re inviting everyone to review their giving and return a pledge form that gives an indication of your response. We’re doing it because it is good for believers to give (and to give regularly). And it is good for givers to review their giving.

Spiritual and Financial Health Check

I want to share with you some data about our Church’s finances, including the Parish Centre. Much of this is in the envelopes, and I have called it a Spiritual and Financial Health check because the two are intimately linked.

Note: the graphs are available in the members’ letter, available from Church. 

Planned Giving Increased in 2015 

Last year we saw that although the church has grown, the number of regular givers had stayed about the same. The good news is that the number of standing orders and other planned gifts (CAF, QCT etc) rose from 49 to 60. If we take account of households giving together, that probably equates to about 90 members. Thank you!

Our major cost is staffing. In growing churches, staff appointments lead church growth. Our assistant staff have mainly been trainees of one sort or another, and the peak was 3-4 years ago when we had a team of three besides me (the green line). Then a period of modest numerical growth followed.

By 2015 there was a complete reduction in staff until Todd joined us at the end of the year. With reduced staff numbers, we lost ground a little. We’re looking forward – under God of course – to changing the trend.

Because staff contribute to church growth (which God gives in the end), we needed to step out in faith to appoint Todd before the growth happened. That is the situation we’re in.

Cost of All Staff: Common Fund and Other Staff

Our main costs now are the Common Fund, and Todd’s salary and expenses.

Common Fund is directly related to the membership of the church. It pays for my stipend, housing and pension; the remainder (about £7,000) goes to the Diocese and the central Church of England.

The cost of Additional staff now pays only for Todd, but because he is full-time and fully trained, this is an increase on previous years.

This graph shows that there is still more ground to make up before we are fully funding Todd. Some of that gap is met by grants, the rest will come from our reserves until our income catches up. That is why, despite the good news from 2015, we still have further to go.

The Parish Centre

The project for the Parish Centre is to rebuild the three outside rooms: Coffee Shop, Youth and Community Room and the Brown Scout Hut. They have to be rebuilt.

Three years ago we had plans and planning permission for a project that would cost about £500,000 (in round figures). The funding would be from giving, grants and especially a major grant from Viridor Credits. We were very hopeful. About this time last year, we heard that the Viridor grant was refused.

How will the project go ahead? We can build only when the bottom line (money we have) and the top line (money we need) meet. The Funding Group have worked on raising the bottom line, the Building Group on lowering the top line.

A Task for the whole church

Remember that everything God allows is an opportunity to grow to maturity in Christ. I wonder if we were more reliant on Viridor than on God! The Viridor set-back is an opportunity for us to approach this project as a whole church. Which we thought we were doing.

How does a Christian church do a building project?

  • we pray. And having a big gap makes us pray earnestly
  • we work in the strength God provides. I confess that I spent too much of last year working in my own strength, and it was exhausting for me and probably for you. I think that is why it was only when we reached the end of our resources that the first chink of light began to shine.
  • we work as a team. This year it means that some will focus more on the project, and the rest of us have to set them free, and support them: either by filling in jobs around them, or accepting some things won’t be done.
  • we get it done in order to keep the focus on making disciples. In other words if the only thing we talk about for the next five years is the building project, this might cease to be a functioning Christian church. That is why the project needs to be done quickly.

The good news is that we have seen clear movement forwards:

  • We now have £242,000 in cash and grants.
  • We also have an option to use a cheaper system that might bring the price down to £350,000. That means the gap is down to £108,000 from £258,000. God can work any miracle, but £108,000 is the kind of miracle we can imagine!

I’m not asking for additional gifts to the Parish centre today: but I want you to know what is coming up, so that if there is a gift day it does not feel that it has been sprung on the church.

Paying for the Church’s staff is a regular expense which we need to fund by regular giving. Rebuilding the Parish Centre is a capital project, which we fund by a variety of means including one-off donations (ie from savings rather than from income). We are making good progress this year and there is likely to be a Gift Day later in the year. But that should not deter us from ensuring that our regular expenses, ie staff, are covered.

I hope that sets out the financial position. We have three main costs: Parish Centre, Common Fund, and Todd.

Two ways to give

I want to introduce two ways you can give to support the work of making disciples in Wembdon.

By giving to the PCC. This supports

  • General running costs, including Parish Centre
  • Common Fund (ie Ed plus central costs)
  • Todd (who is employed by the PCC).

Now you can also give through Wembdon Christian Ministry Trust. This is independent of the PCC and can only support biblical ministry. Everything given to the Trust will only go to ministry that is biblical. In our case, a grant from the Trust will only go to support Todd (at the moment).

So you can give to the PCC, or to the Trust, or both!

We would like everyone at St George’s to consider their response. If you want more information, speak to Sue Dempsey or to Terry or to me (but bear in mind I don’t who gives and in what amounts).

This trellis-work of giving is an indication of our financial health because it is good for believers to give and good for givers to review their giving. and we give to support the mission of the church which is to … make disciples.


Making Disciples – Matthew 28.16-20

13/03/2016

This Sunday’s Sermon draws on Matthew 28.16-20, the so-called Great Commission. Because of the amount of practical application in that talk, there was not space to unpack the text as much as I would have liked. Below is the text of a sermon I preached on this passage which explains the passage a little more fully. 

Introduction

Very few people enjoy filling in forms. It’s often tedious, and sometimes they ask questions that can’t be answered without saying, ‘it depends’ at some point.

For instance, in the most recent National Census (2011) Q37 asked, ‘At your workplace, what is the main activity of your employer?’ 

How did you answer for your place of work? ‘Making maps’, or ‘providing healthcare’, or ‘education’, ‘local government’. If you’re retired, your main employer may feel like your wife, in which case you may have put ‘her main activity is dreaming up jobs for me to do’. :) 

We clergy had fun with this question too. What is the main activity of our employer – which in our case is the local church?

  • Asking people for money?
  • Singing? Praying? Arguing? Dressing up?

The good news is that Jesus gives us the answer to this question, and it has been literally built in to this building since it was put up. Over the summer we have been working our way through the biblical texts behind each of the (stained-glass) windows in the nave. The window (by the door) reassures us that Jesus is with his church as we do what he commands: it reads, ‘I am with you always’. The quote is from the passage we had read, Matthew 28.16-20 (on p. 1001). He says

go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19)

The main activity of the church is to make disciples. If we had an assembly line, it’s disciples that roll along. Our business is to make disciples: that is your business and mine as the local church.

A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. The business of the church is both making disciples (introducing people to Jesus Christ so that they may know him and follow him), and maturing disciples (encouraging one another to live fruitfully and walk faithfully with Jesus Christ). Jesus tells us here that there are three key activities:

go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19–20)

A literal translation of this verse would be ‘make disciples, going, baptising and teaching’. Making disciples is about going, baptising, and teaching.

1. Going. We make disciples by going.

We make disciples by going because takes one disciple to grow another disciple. Going means taking your Christian faith and putting it to work in the world. So the first step in disciple-making is to be an active disciple. That is going. That happened to the disciples themselves:

  • Andrew and Peter heard about Jesus while they were running a fishing business. They left their nets to follow him. Now the risen Jesus tells them to leave their nets again and ‘go’.
  • Matthew was working as a tax-collector when Jesus came by and offered him a fresh start. He left his crookery behind, and now he serves Jesus Christ. He is going

You might ask, ‘where’ do we go? We ‘go’ anywhere and everywhere.

  • anywhere that Jesus Christ makes a difference to how we live: At home, at work, at school and college, on the bus, in the train, in the local area. If you are living as a Christian and making a difference in your community, others can see what Christian discipleship looks like. As you keep trying, we pray that God will reveal your gifts and heart-passions. As you serve, you will grow.
  • Everywhere because there are no ‘no-go’ areas. Jesus says “go and make disciples of all nations” (v19). God calls some to serve him away from home, to pioneer in cultures that have no disciples to learn from until you come there.

In practice

Here is what it looks like at home and in the family. Christian parents, our responsibility is to help our children become disciples. We work in partnership with the local church, but the responsibility is ours first of all. Paul tells fathers to “bring [our children] up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

And in order to make disciples, we need to be disciples. Your children will learn what discipleship means to you by watching what you do and don’t do, listening to what you say and don’t say. They can see you repent of wrong, and ask God to change your heart;

  • How living by God’s Spirit means that suffering, disappointment and hurt don’t have to break you;
  • They can see whether you organise your week around getting to church, or organise your church life around your week. In other words, when you ‘Go’, they watch and follow.

It’s the oxygen mask principle. In an aircraft, the safety briefing says, ‘first put on your own mask, then help others’. Parents, put on your spiritual mask, so that you can help your children.

It’s the same in the workplace. You spend a lot of time with your colleagues. They can see what Christian discipleship looks like by looking at you. When I looked at the lives of the Christians around me, I could see they were different and I wanted to know why. So you ‘go’ when you are living for Jesus Christ at work; or at college; or at university.

It’s true of the whole church congregation. Your discipleship is an encouragement to everyone else. That is one reason why coming to church is so important – it will help others as well as you. In that sense we are a family as we help each other, and as we help David and Ceri with Luna. Did you now that Godparents represent the church congregation in saying to every child in a Christian family: your parents are role models – and so are the other people in the church!

A promise and a warning

I don’t now about you, I find this daunting. And I need to look to Jesus’ promise at the end of verse 20:

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

That is the promise printed on our window. When we go, we are not alone: Jesus himself is with us. The older Bible versions have it as ‘Lo! I am with you’. When we go, then Lo! He is with us. But as someone said (maybe Watchman Nee), there is also a warning: No Go – No Lo!

Make disciples by going.

2. Baptising so that Disciples belong

The second part of disciplemaking is baptising, which means belonging:

go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19))

If going is about following God, Baptism is about being joined to God and is inseparable from being joined to his people the church. Discipleship is never something we do alone. We saw that if we go, God is with us; the second part is that if we go, we are always with others – the church.

Baptism is the picture God gives of how when we turn from sin and trust in Jesus Christ, we are also joined to the church.

The end and the beginning

Baptism and discipleship feed off each other:

  • Baptism is the public mark of discipleship. Baptised believers are to live as believers: that is you are to ‘go’.
  • As you ‘go’ others see, learn, and come to Christ themselves.
  • The mark of their personal faith in Jesus Christ is their own baptism. And then they ‘go’. Baptism – discipleship – Baptism.

=> Parents and Godparents, every Baptism we see reminds us of our duties, to pray for our children and god-children, and to encourage them by example, by conversation, and by teaching.

=> X’s Baptism as a child is on the basis of her Christian family. It is vital that at a later date she makes a personal and public profession of her own faith in Christ.

Help along the way

Just as with going there are responsibilities and privileges. With Baptism comes the responsibility of taking part in the family of God; but there is also the privilege of getting help from the family of God. Here’s a video clip (rather grainy) which illustrates how the church family can help you in your discipleship:

Battle in Kruger Park (edited) (2 mins)

Why did the water Buffalo come back for the calf? Because it was in distress, yes. But surely because it was one of them!

In a similar way, we are there for each other. The Bible says that

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, (1 Peter 5:8–9)

We resist him together and our work as a church community is to help and restore one another. Baptism means ‘welcome to the herd!’

3. Teaching: Disciples grow by Learning

The third way disciples grow is by learning to obey Jesus’ teaching.

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:20)

We need to be taught because we can’t guess what God is like and what he has said. We need to be taught because we often forget. I sometimes joke that our logo as a church should include a goldfish. Why? Because a goldfish is said to have a short memory span: they forget from one lap of the bowl to another where they. ‘Oh, you again! What a surprise!’

Whether or not that is true about goldfish, it has been my experience as a Christian that I forget who I am in Christ; I forget that God has found me rather than me finding him; I forget that God hangs on to me, and it’s not me clinging on to him; I forget that when the mask slips and the real me shows through, God knows the worst about me already and still he adopts me into his family; I need to know these things through and through, and so do you.

That is why what matures Christians is a deeper grasp of the same message that made us Christians:

  • That we need help because we are deeply flawed and broken people.
  • That Jesus Christ took those sins and brokenness in exchange for the gift of his holiness and wholeness.
  • Even though he knows the worst about us, he settles his grace on you and me when we come to Jesus Christ and throw ourselves on his mercy. As the saying goes, we are more sinful than we realised; and more loved than we ever imagine.

Different Learning styles

Christians are always learning. We learn in different ways: some of us love books, others don’t; some like to listen others like to question. All must be hungry for God’s word: it comes primarily through preaching which is a priority for everyone. It is supported by small groups which are more interactive; by our new series of monthly seminars which will involve presentation, discussion, questions; also monthly Café church looking at issues from a Biblical perspective, with discussion and donuts. Others also see huge benefit from one to one Bible reading.

The way we learn is up for grabs; but the love of learning is not. We are all to be people of the Word – however God gets it to you!

Look at the window:

What is our main activity?

I hope you see now that we can answer Question 37 in the Census: ‘At your workplace, what is the main activity of your employer?’  as far as the church is concerned, it is making disciples, which we do by

  • Going: that is living for Christ where we are
  • Joining: that is living as a community of believers, joining the herd and protecting one another.
  • Learning by dwelling ever deeper on the wonder of God’s grace.

That is making and maturing disciples. It’s not new. It’s what our mission statement says:

We see our work is to

  • Reach Wembdon and Bridgwater with the good news of Jesus Christ (to bring them into God’s Kingdom: Baptising)
  • Build up believers mature in Christ (Teaching)
  • Sending workers into God’s world (Going)

And remember Jesus’ promise: I am with you always. Go, and Lo!


God’s Big Story 23: Judgement Day

16/11/2015

SERMON NOTES: “Judgement Day” – Matthew 25:31-46 (page 995)PPP ICON7

1. WHEN? (The Time of Judgement) Vs 31

2. WHO? (The Extent of Judgement) Vs 32

See also Rev 20:11-12; Rom 14:10-12; Heb 9:27

3. HOW? (The Criterion for Judgement) Vv 34-36, 41-43

See also Matt 7:21-23; Eph 2:8-9; James 2:11

“…justified only by faith in Christ, yet we shall be judged by our works” (Stott)

4. WHAT? (The Result of Judgement) Vs 46

See Jn 5:24; Rom 8:1; 2 Cor 5:10; Matt 13:40-43

“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen 18:25 cf Ps 96:13)

 

Questions for Discussion

1. What should be our reaction to the certainty of Judgement Day?

2. How do we reconcile the teaching of this passage with the fact that we are saved by grace through faith alone?

3. How do you answer those who think that everyone will be saved?

4. Who are we especially called to care for? How and why?

5. What does the Bible teach re rewards & responsibilities in heaven?


God’s Big Story 22: Jesus’ Return

11/11/2015

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A sermon by Ben Burge. Audio is available here

SERMON NOTES: Jesus’ Return: Matthew 24: 29 – 44

Until Christ’s return we should be:

* Waiting (Matthew 24: 29 – 35)

* Watchful (Matthew 24: 36- 44)

* Well-Prepared (Matthew 24: 40-41, 44)

Questions:

1. What should a Christian’s attitude towards the return of Christ be? How does that fit with our own views? Why might this be?

2. What should we do when hear about predicted dates of Jesus’ return? Why is this important?

3. If we are to be well prepared, what might you personally need to make a priority rather than putting off?


God’s Big Story 21: A Letter to Encourage

11/11/2015

“A Letter to Encourage” – 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 (page 1186)

Sermon Audio available here

 

Background – see Acts 17:1-10.

How was Paul to encourage the Thessalonians? Reminded them of:

1. THE SOURCE OF BLESSING (vv 1-2,4)

“In God” (vs 1) and “Chosen” (vs 4) cf. Eph 1:4; 1 Pet 2:9-10

2. THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL (vv 3-6)

Faith, hope and love (vs 3) cf 5:8; 1 Cor 13:13; Heb 10:22-24

3. THE SPREAD OF FAITH (vv 7-9)

Cf Rom 1:8; 15:20

4. THE PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE (vs 10)

Cf 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11,23-24

 

Questions to consider

1. Christians are both in the world and in Christ. How should this both encourage us and challenge us? What should be seen in our lives?

2. How can we encourage other Christians, especially those with problems?

3. How did the Thessalonian Christians seek to spread their faith? What would you consider the most effective ways of spreading the Gospel today?

4. What “idols” do we face in the world today, & how can we deal with them?

5. How should we act knowing that one day the risen Jesus is going to return?

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God’s Big Story 20: Jesus’ Church – Acts 2

11/11/2015

PPP ICON6Sermon Audio is available here

 

SERMON NOTES: Jesus’ Church (Acts 2:36-47)

Receive (v 36, 39, 40)

 

Respond (v 37-38, 41)

Reorder (v 42-47)

 

Questions for Discussion

1. What does it mean to you that Jesus, who was crucified, is Lord and Christ? (v36)

2. Tell of your experience of the actions required in

verse 38.

3. Of the activities or characteristics of the early Church, what would you like to see in your life? (v42-47)?


God’s Big Story 19: Jesus – Risen

11/11/2015

SERMON NOTES: Luke 24: 1-12 – Jesus is Risen!

Costly devotion:

 

Misplaced devotion:

 

Redirected devotion:

 

Questions for Home Groups:PPP ICON6

Where and in what ways do people look for God?

Where do the women in Luke 24: 1-12 find confirmation of Jesus’ resurrection?

What is it that convinces them that he has risen from death?


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