God of the Heavens and Earth

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March 31, 2019

  • Resources

    1: Jesus's Mission & Greater Things

    Jesus made some outlandish statements in his 3 years of public ministry. One of the most eye-popping is this prediction about his disciples: “… they will do even greater things than these …” (John 14:12).

    Let this sink in for a moment: Jesus empowers his followers to do greater things than he did on earth! The power of God and his Kingdom in and through vulnerable vessels like you and me! Wow!

    Now, take a few moments to read John chapter 14. This will give you the larger context for verses 12–14:

    “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

    REFLECT: What is one of the “greater things” that God has done in your life, either recently or in the past?

    What is on your heart and mind today that you are asking God to do?

    What is the “greater thing” you are trusting God for?

    The “greater things” that God is doing through Living Word Community Church is for the flourishing of people and of nations. Remember Jesus’ words in John 10:10, “I have come that they might have life and have it in abundance.”

    “Greater things” in mission are always centered on Jesus and his amazing work of salvation. Read The Message version of John 3:17 as a reminder: “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.”

    2: Blessed to Be a Blessing

    The first people called into God’s mission were Adam and Eve. They did not do so well! Eventually God calls Abram (Genesis 12) into his mission and Abram responds. Abram is the first “sent one” of God’s people.

    READ Genesis 12, especially verses 1–4 (excerpted here):

    The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

    “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;

    I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

    God’s intention is to have a “peculiar people” (so-called by author Rodney Clapp) as his agents of blessing in the world. It began with Abram, which led to the birth of the Israelites. Jesus later says that the Church will become those people of blessing others.

    READ Matthew 16:13–18 about the calling of the Church, and “the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

    God blesses his people: spiritually, sometimes materially, with community and many other resources. He has blessed Living Word Community Church for 40 years.

    As we are blessed, we are called to bless others over and over again. Why? So that people will personally know the grace of God!

    REFLECT: Who is God calling you to bless this week? A neighbor, a colleague, a stranger you hardly know?

    Remember, you are God’s agent to be a blessing to your world.

    3: The Jonah Challenge

    READ the Book of Jonah in the Old Testament. It is only four chapters, and the story is probably well known to you.

    Jonah was the most reluctant missionary in history, or at least the best known! God calls Jonah to a God-sized challenge: Jonah is to go to the great city of Nineveh (current Mosel in northern Iraq) to preach to the city and to call people to repentance.

    Jonah refuses, in part because Nineveh is a place full of sin and he is convinced people will not listen to him. And then Jonah is swallowed by a whale (Jonah 1:17) until he comes to his senses and pleads with God for his life (Jonah 2).

    God is merciful and Jonah eventually goes to Nineveh and preaches to the city (Jonah 3) and the people repent. And then the Bible says: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened” (Jonah 3:10).

    And how does Jonah respond? “But Jonah was greatly displeased and he became angry.”

    REFLECT & PRAY: Have you ever felt like Jonah? Honestly, have you ever encountered a person or a group of people who you thought did not “deserve” God’s mercy because they were too sinful?

    The “Jonah Challenge” is that we play God. We try to determine who deserves God’s mercy and who does not.

    What is your Nineveh? That is, the place or person you don’t want to share Jesus with? Will you take a step of faith and trust Jesus with that person or group or situation?

    Pray for the compassion of God to be given to you for lost and broken people who desperately need God’s grace and mercy.

    4: The Kingdom of God & the Church

    Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God a lot, and with rich and diverse images. In fact, the Kingdom was Jesus’ favorite topic! In the Gospel of Matthew the word “Kingdom” is used more than 50 times, almost always within the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven.”

    In Matthew chapter 13 Jesus tells six parables, all about what the Kingdom is like. He says the Kingdom of Heaven is like:

    • Seeds scattered along the path
    • A mustard seed
    • Yeast
    • Hidden treasure
    • Fine pearls
    • A net

    REFLECT: Why do you think Jesus uses so many varied descriptions of the Kingdom of God?

    What is Jesus’ main point? What is he telling us is most important about the Kingdom?

    So, how does the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven? Via the Church and local expressions of the Church. The Church is the primary agent of the Kingdom of God.

    The Church is the people of God for the world today.

    The Church is a messenger (evangel) of God’s good news to the world.

    The Church is people – US. Each and every follower of Jesus Christ is part of the Church (the body of Christ). And each of us has an important place in that body to serve others missionally.

    REFLECT: Read and think about the following passages:

    • Colossians 1:15–20 (referred to last Sunday)
    • Ephesians 4:1–13

    5: Your Place in God's Mission

    In Surprised by Hope, New Testament scholar N.T. Wright says this about our place in God’s mission:

    “What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.”

    You and I make commitments, decisions, choices every day. These commitments determine how our lives are lived out.

    What is your commitment to God’s mission in the world?

    REFLECT: How are you currently involved in mission?

    How passionate are you about the mission you are involved in?

    Are you challenged beyond your natural abilities in your mission?

    If you are not actively involved in a mission type of ministry (or if you are not sure), take a step of faith and check out opportunities at Living Word. Here is a place to start: LWCCyork.com/serve.

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