37 | Kingdom Justice

God’s longing is to create His new family on earth. He’s working to reconcile everything through Jesus, to harmonise every relationship and to bring into being a kingdom marked by justice, mercy and love.

Jesus came to earth to bring God’s heart-desire into flesh and blood existence. He preached of this kingdom, in which:

“he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:52-53)

Now through us, his church, he extends an invitation to the world. Just like Jesus we are to embody the good news, offering to the world a taster of his harmonious family, of his kingdom’s justice, of mercy put into practical action.

There’s a common quote attributed to St Francis, which reads: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” However this is most likely a misquote. What he is known for saying is that “it is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”

While it’s always important to back up right words with right action, neither replaces the other, they reinforce each other. Our work in the world isn’t simply to reform society while leaving hearts unreconciled toward God, nor is it to get people to believe the right things while remaining sick and hungry.

Our joy is to join God in His work of reconciling everyone in Himself and finding His mercy, wholeness and healing. This has practical implications with how we live with our Christian friends, our neighbours and even our enemies.

 

Discussion:

It’s been said “Nobody gets into heaven without a letter of reference from the poor.” How would your letter read?

Are you a “friend of sinners”, like Jesus? Are you known for mercy?

In the first church in Jerusalem there were “no needy people among them”. Is that true for us? If not, what could you do?

 

Scriptures:

Isaiah 11:6, Amos 5:15-30, Matthew 9:13, Luke 19:1-10, James 1:27-2:1-7

 

Wednesday 7 to Tuesday 13 December 2016 | © Jesus Fellowship 
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36 | New Creation Culture

We live in a society that values newness very highly. People spend vast amounts of money on the most up-to-date iPhone, the newest car, and the most popular fashion labels. As Christians, we know that we follow a God who is “making all things new”, and that includes us, as His creation. He works in us through the Holy Spirit to form us and change us from the inside out. It’s sometimes easier to notice the difference in people around us than to recognise how much God has also done in our lives.

Part of Jesus’ new creation work in us is to join us together in unity and so as a church, we can demonstrate what following Jesus looks like in day-to-day life. New creation culture isn’t something we strive for or make happen by our good ideas – it’s God’s work in us. However, culture doesn’t happen by accident. If we don’t seek to know God’s will, to choose to go deeper with Him rather than follow our own desires, there will still be a culture created among us, but it won’t be the new culture God’s creating.

Let’s continue to find the balance of resting in the knowledge that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, the new has come” and actively seeking to build a culture of unity and honouring Jesus above everything else.

 

Discussion:
If you didn’t grow up in this church – what were the cultural things that stood out to you when you first met us?

What has been distinctive about our church culture in the past? And what about now?

What in our church culture is Jesus wanting to make new, or fresh, to us again?

 

Action:
Take note of the culture in your local church congregation, your household, even among your close friends/family. Is there anything you can do to create more of a new creation culture in these
places?

 

Scriptures:
Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Ephesians 2:22, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 21:5

 

Wednesday 30 Nov to Tuesday 6 Dec 2016 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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35 | Perseverance

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus knew the suffering ahead of him when he spoke these words. He’d warned his disciples of their coming persecution, that they’d be spat at, chased, excluded and killed for him. He knew the weight of the suffering he was going to face.

He was living in no fairyland, but while he faced the harrowing reality of suffering (ours and his) he had an eternal perspective. He endured the cross because of the joy that was in laid out front of him, and through it he opened the way to eternal life for us.

There’s not even a sparrow that falls to the ground without God’s knowledge and care. Our God heals our brokenness and pulls us from the pit, but even so God’s more concerned with changing you than He is in changing your circumstances.

We cannot understand all suffering in this life, but we can trust God’s wisdom and faithfulness. Anyone who desires to live a godly life will suffer, and if we turn to Jesus in it, he’ll refine us like gold in a fire. Faith in Jesus believes that holding on to him in our temporary ordeals will produce immeasurably more character, hope and goodness in eternity.

“If children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”
(Romans 8:17-18)

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
(Romans 8:36-37)

 

Discussion:

Paul wrote about how we can train ourselves in Godliness like a disciplined soldier, hardworking farmer or well-trained athlete. What can we do to practically train one another up to follow Jesus with endurance and stamina?

What are the biggest things that knock the wind out of you, that make it hard to stand firm?

Life has its ups and downs but sometimes we face a battle with directly spiritual evil power. What tools has God given us to face this, and how can we help one another to withstand spiritual opposition?

Scriptures:

Romans 5:3-5, 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Ephesians 6:13-17, Philippians 1:27-28, 2 Timothy 2:3-7, Hebrews 12:3-11

 

Wednesday 23 to Tuesday 29 November 2016 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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