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TheGathering_Part1

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TITLE: WHAT LIFE COULD BE LIKE

A.                INTRO

a.       Last week we finished a series on the freedom we have when we choose to forgive.

b.      Jesus uses some really strong words, Forgive or your heavenly Father will not forgive you.

c.       And we asked the question, why would Jesus say such a strong statement?

d.      We found that Jesus’ mission was entirely based on God’s mercy, and that Jesus would go to great lengths to pay for our debt.

e.       Mission Mercy

f.       So, just as Jesus’ mission was acted out of mercy, so too, our mission is to be acted out of mercy.

g.      When we look at achieving this mission, not one person is incapable of being merciful. God’s mission is so much bigger than us, yet, every single follower of Jesus is necessary for his mission.

h.      This leads us to this week,

                                                              i.      We mentioned briefly last week that, within the average Australian Church, only a minority are active toward the mission of Christ.

                                                            ii.      The smaller the church, the more likely people will be involved.

                                                          iii.      So today, we are going to talk about our heart for Life Groups, and why we think this adds to the mission that we are called to as a church.

                                                          iv.      Life Group is simply made up of ten to fourteen people who meet regularly.

1.      You may have used different terms for this, such as Cell Group, Home Group, Small Group, or Connect Groups.

a.       I do like the term ‘cell’ by the way, because of it’s organic nature.

2.      Or perhaps, this is totally new to you.

3.      Either way, today, we want to express why we think this is for you.

B.                 ME

a.       Ill: My experience with Life Groups

                                                              i.      I love Life Group.

                                                            ii.      It is a place where the truth of God’s word is applied to life.

                                                          iii.      We have had some of the best Life Groups in the last few weeks where some great questions have come up and certain people have responded with their experience.

                                                          iv.      Hearing how people have applied the truth of God’s word to their life is so encouraging, and I grow every time I hear another faith story.

1.      Learned truth is simply someone better informed.

2.      But, applied truth is faith in action.

                                                            v.      Some of the questions that have come up over the last few weeks are:

1.      If Jesus says those who do not forgive will not be forgiven by our Father in heaven, then, does that mean we can loose our faith?

2.      If I keep on forgiving people then they may just walk all over me. Is that what I am meant to do? How do I stop someone from walking all over me?

                                                          vi.      Even hearing stories at the workplace where one of our guys got told that the quality of his work was really poor, he shared how he responded – different to how he would normally have responded.

                                                        vii.      I take notes when we are in Life Group, because I am so encouraged by how God is stretching and moulding others.

b.      One of the best Life Groups I was a part of was when Liz and I were in the young marrieds group.

                                                              i.      I distinctly remember one particular night when our Life Group leader was sharing how God wants to talk with us, and then he said, “So, we want you to take a piece of paper and a pen, find a quiet spot and ask God what he would want to say to the person on your right.”

                                                            ii.      What if I am the only one who doesn’t hear from God?

                                                          iii.      My faith was so stretched that night.

                                                          iv.      Taking seriously that Jesus wants to speak to me.

                                                            v.      When I look back, most of the guys who came out of that Life Group were fired up for Jesus and are making a kingdom impact right now.

C.                 WE

a.       I don’t know what your experience has been, but think for a minute what benefit a recovering alcoholic has in a group such as Alcohol Anonymous?

                                                              i.      AA helps admit that they have a problem.

                                                            ii.      It helps them to turn their life over to a higher power.

                                                          iii.      The support they look to with each other is not to kick their habit, because otherwise, they would need to hold hands 24-7. But the support they get from each other is in encouraging each other to look to that higher power that can help them kick the habit.

b.      Their goal is not to build community, although that happens.

                                                              i.      Their goal is not to grow their numbers, although as a person finds help they are quick to help others.

                                                            ii.      Their goal is not to grow in their knowledge of what to do to become free of addiction.

                                                          iii.      Their goal is to become free of their addiction.

c.       Life Group is very similar to AA in this respect.

                                                              i.      The goal is not community, growth or bible knowledge.

                                                            ii.      The goal is supporting each other toward the mission of Jesus.

d.      What would Jesus be like as your Life Group leader?

e.       Would he invite you to be a part of his Life Group?

f.       Who else may he invite?

                                                              i.      Well, he kind of puts the Life into Life Group.

g.      If you were Jesus, who would you invite to be a part of your very first Life Group? What would you want them to know? If you hoped they would lead another Life Group, how would you equip them? What would be the most important thing for them to do?

D.                GOD

a.       Jesus calls together a very diverse group of people to be his disciples.

b.      Ever stop to consider the diversity of those he chose?

                                                              i.      A tax-collector

                                                            ii.      A Zealot

                                                          iii.      Two were disciples of John the Baptist

                                                          iv.      Fishermen.

                                                            v.      All ordinary people.

c.       I can just imagine them getting to know each other, “You – were a fisherman hey; and you were a tax collector.”

                                                              i.      I need to enlarge my vision, because who would choose a team like this?

                                                            ii.      If Jesus was recruiting an army, I can understand a Zealot, but why a tax-collector.

                                                          iii.      If Jesus was selecting members of a political power, I can understand why he would pick a tax-collector, but why fishermen (Unless he was running for the Australian Fishing & Leisure Party).

                                                          iv.      What Jesus is calling us together for must be much greater than anything we can understand.

                                                             v.      Don’t you love being called to something greater than yourself.

 

                                                          vi.      Jesus’ vision is so big that he can select ordinary and diverse people.

                                                        vii.      Jesus’ vision is so big that the disciples would put aside their differences to see it accomplished.

d.      Jesus called together a pretty wild bunch to be in his Life Group?

e.       What was Jesus’ reason for calling the twelve disciples?

f.       Mark 3:13-15

g.      His desire was:

                                                              i.      For the disciples to be with Him

1.      The first step for us is to be with Jesus.

2.      Jesus’ first invitation is always, “Follow me”

3.      Nothing worthwhile can be achieved without having a relationship with Jesus.

4.      The great things that Jesus wants to do are always contingent on us drawing near to Jesus.

5.      Heb 6:7 “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.”

a.       Our calling always starts with Jesus.

6.      We are going to talk more about being a disciple of Jesus in a few weeks time.

                                                            ii.      Sent out to preach – missional

1.      Notice that the most important thing to Mark was not that they gathered to Jesus, rather there was a reason that they gathered to Jesus.

2.      Besides the hype surrounding Jesus, he needed the disciples.

3.      Each one of us is needed by Jesus.

4.      Each one was called to Jesus in order to be sent out again.

5.      The purpose of spending time with Jesus is to be sent out to call people to the kingdom of God.

6.      Our mission is huge and I don’t know about you, but if I am going to be called to this mission and be serious about Jesus’ mission then I want to be gaining all I can from Jesus to know what I need to do.

7.      They gathered together with Jesus in order to achieve the greater purpose – reaching people for Christ.

                                                          iii.      Sent out with authority:

1.      As we gather with Jesus, get the guts up to step out in faith and share the love and message of Jesus with others, we find that a promise is attached, that we will be sent out with the authority of Jesus.

2.      “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Mat 28:18-20.

3.      Because our mission is beyond this world, it carries weight in the heavenlies, Jesus has given us his authority in order to cast out demons, take new ground for the kingdom, be as shrewd as snakes.

4.      What a shame for a church that never ventures in to the mission for which Jesus died and rose again.

5.      “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Col 2:9-10

6.      We have been given fullness in Christ who’s name is above any name – and has complete authority over all authorities.

h.      So, when we gather together, it is in response to the mission of Jesus.

                                                              i.      It is to spend time with him

                                                            ii.      Be sent out to carry his mission

                                                          iii.      Sent with authority

i.        By the time Jesus had sent his Holy Spirit, left to be with the Father, the early church continued gathering together, encouraging one another in their relationship with Jesus, calling all people to be sent out with the authority of Jesus.

j.        Acts 2:42-43

                                                              i.      Devoted to the apostles teaching

                                                            ii.      Devoted to fellowship

                                                          iii.      Devoted to breaking of bread

                                                          iv.      Devoted to prayer

                                                            v.      As they gathered together, there is a sense of which they placed all their reliance and vision on Jesus.

                                                          vi.      Everyone was filled with awe

k.      V. 47

                                                              i.      The result was directly tied to the mission Jesus had sent them on.

l.        The spin off of all of this is:

                                                              i.      Diverse people working together for Christ’s vision; and in doing this together, we experience Community.

                                                            ii.      That is: People Coming together and United in purpose.

                                                          iii.      Come – Unity. (Community)

m.    The reason we want you in Life Group is not:

                                                              i.      To develop community (that will naturally happen with people coming together united for a purpose).

                                                            ii.      To develop your bible knowledge (that will naturally happen by wanting to become better acquainted with Jesus).

                                                          iii.      As a strategy for church growth (that will naturally happen as we are missional)

n.      The reason we want you in Life Group is to band together toward Jesus’ mission.

o.      There is no use doing something that wastes your time and others.

p.      I don’t want to waste my time or your time just programming church.

q.      The Sunday Service simply facilitates the real – on the ground things that are happening as a church, and points us to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, whose mission is greater than us.

r.        We have a mission that is bigger than ourselves that we have been called to, and it takes every single person, no matter how diverse they are, to achieve this mission.

s.       And here’s the good news:

                                                              i.      As you get to know Jesus and encourage one another along this path,

                                                            ii.      As you get up the courage together to reach people with the message and love of Jesus,

                                                          iii.      You will be given authority to carry out Jesus’ mission.

t.        How cool is that.

u.      Who wouldn’t want to be a part of his mission?

v.      I think of the possibilities, and we could be so effective as a church if we simply take this seriously, and move together in unity toward Jesus’ mission.

w.    There is not one person that God would say, “No, I’m afraid this person is too incapable. Unfortunately I’m not big enough to carry out my mission through this person.”

x.      If I believe that every single person can be fully equipped for Jesus’ mission, then by faith we ought to submit every single person to the greatest Life Group leader there is – Jesus Christ.

y.      Ever been in a class room where someone asked a dumb question? Everyone laughs, but deep inside you are so glad they asked because you would like to know the answer to.

                                                              i.      I imagine this happened amongst the disciples too.

                                                            ii.      Jesus said to his disciples, “Where I am going, you can not follow.”

                                                          iii.      One of the disciples asked, “Where are you going that we can not follow?”

z.       Aren’t you glad we get to do this together!

aa.   Despite their diversity, the gathering of the twelve was foundational to the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel.

bb.  They drew close to Jesus.

cc.   They were sent out with the message and love of Jesus.

dd. They found out that they even went with great authority.

E.                 YOU

a.       So, if you consider yourself an ordinary person, we want you to get involved in a Life Group.

                                                              i.      Not to facilitate growth,

                                                            ii.      Not to form greater community,

                                                          iii.      Not to grow in your bible knowledge.

                                                          iv.      These are all bi-products of gathering together to follow Jesus and see his will done here on earth as it is in heaven.

b.      We want you to get involved in a Life Group in order to carry out Jesus’ mission effectively, just as he has intended for us to do.

c.       Over the next two weeks we are going to be directing you in to a Life Group.

d.      You may even be thinking, that all sounds great, but I’m not even sure that I believe in Jesus, or, I’m not convinced that he would even use me.

e.       Well, Life Group is a great place to start and bring questions to the table.

f.       Jesus’ mission is so great that his mission is not exclusive to some, but is capable through ALL people.

g.      We strongly believe that Jesus would use you for his kingdom purpose.

F.                  WE

a.       Can you imagine a church where ordinary people realise that nothing holds them back from carrying out the mission of Jesus.

b.      Can you imagine a church where not just a few people push on the borders of the kingdom, but they are firing on all engines for Christ’s mission.

c.       I get excited about what God will do with a people that answer his call and say, I will follow you.

d.      Did you know that most Jesus Movements are begun by young people between the ages of 16 and 25! They don’t know where the boundaries exist and get exited that the boundaries may be endless – and as they test Jesus out for his promise, they find that his promise is true.

e.       Most ‘Jesus Movements’ start by saying, I believe you can use an ordinary person like me.

We believe that Life Groups facilitate the mission of Jesus.


“Preach for Life Change”

Structure:

i.                    ME (orientation). Dilemma have faced or facing - fellow traveller

ii.                  WE (identification). Identify ways in which the audience may also struggle with this issue. You don’t move from WE until almost everyone is looking for an answer to the dilemma, that is, you have raised tension in most listeners.

iii.                GOD (illumination). You delve into the text to see what God says about this issue. You spend enough time in the text to help the audience engage, but not enough to bog them down.

iv.                YOU (application). You show the audience how they should act in response to the truth and challenge them to do so. Stanley’s normal call is for specific action, usually for a limited time. He seldom asks people to do things for more than a month. It’s often for a day or a week. He thinks through a range of applications that apply to various aspects of life (from personal behaviour to work-place life). Unbelievers are also considered in the call.

v.                  WE (inspiration). You cast a vision of what could happen if everyone embraced this truth and the resultant behavioural change. This is dreaming on behalf of the audience in order to inspire them.

Shaping Questions to Answer:

a.                   What do they need to know? What is the central idea?

b.                  Why do they need to know it? Why should they be interested? What is at stake?

c.                   What do they need to do? What specific and creative action is God calling for?

d.                  Why do they need to do it? Why is this action vital?

e.                   What can I do to help them remember this?

f.                   What is God saying to me in this passage? What questions should I ask myself?

g.                  What judgement is being made in this passage? What hope is offered in this passage?

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