48 | Re-Generated!

In the beginning God formed a man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life, and he became a living being, Adam. There was nothing that lifeless pile of dust could have done to generate its own life. God did it.

Much later the religious leader Nicodemus approached Jesus one night. We don’t know what he was going to ask as Jesus cut him short. “Truly, truly, I say to you” Jesus started, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Jesus deliberately mixed up “spirit” and “wind”, and indeed the original Greek word is the same for both.

To see and enter the kingdom of God, we must be born a second time. After we respond to God with faith, this is something so totally out of our control. There’s a glorious, wild mystery to it.

Paul describes this truth by saying:

“‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit… And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”

Through water and Spirit baptism the Holy Spirit births us as “new creations”, making our spirits to be like Jesus, the man from heaven. This is a foretaste of our bodily resurrection when the rest of us will be gloriously changed to be immortal, perfect and free.

 

Discussion:
Are you born again? How do you know?

Describe your water and Spirit baptism.

Water baptism is a key part of new birth, but it’s possible to say all the right things at a water baptism with it being no better than a sudden warm bath. What makes a water baptism into something powerful?

Given how much new birth is an act of God, how can we help one another into new birth?

Action:
Read and ponder the scriptures below, especially Romans 6:1-11

Scriptures:
Genesis 2:7, John 3:1-8, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-111 Corinthians 15:45-49, Titus 3:4-7

 

Wednesday 22 to Tuesday 28 February 2017 | © Jesus Fellowship Church

47 | Growing the Church

Over the years many of us have lost sight of the adventure of growing the Church. Growth targets and a narrow definition of discipleship can make it seem like drudgery and distract us from the importance of ongoing discipleship, of maturing new believers.

However, there’s nothing more life-giving than giving life! It’s exciting winning new people for Jesus, building them into the church family and helping release them into their God-given potential.

What does it mean to “make a disciple”? Students sit in lectures and observe their instructor, whereas Jesus taught his disciples in the marketplace, in homes, out on the lake, in the fields… He taught them what he knew, but also to do what he did.

When we, the body of Christ, work together as a healthy body we’ll also do that job, helping one another grow to become more like Jesus.

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
(Ephesians 4:15-16)

Every ministry has a part to play in this work of winning and maturing the people we know to become more like Jesus.

Jesus told us to “go”, to get the good news out there. We are all witnesses and must always be ready to explain the hope we have in Jesus. Jesus met people with respect and compassion, and expects us to do the same, visiting the sick, welcoming the refugee, feeding the hungry etc. This is a natural expression of our faith.

As people respond to the good news God builds them into us, the Church, as we lead them through water baptism, Holy Spirit baptism and through new discipling relationships in which we encourage and train them.

 

Discussion:
Are you a disciple?

What ideas does the word “discipleship” bring to your mind, good or bad? Does that need to change?

Who would you describe as a good role-model disciple or discipler, and why? What are their qualities?

How can we help one another to be “built in” to the Church?

Scriptures:
Matthew 25:31-46, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, Romans 6:2-42 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:15-162 Timothy 2:21 Peter 3:15

 

Wednesday 15 to Tuesday 21 February 2017 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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46 | Good News

Throughout the book of Acts, we see the early apostles travelling long distances, sacrificing their comforts and risking their lives in order to tell people about Jesus. But why was there this urgency? Why did they feel a need to spread their message? Couldn’t they be more tolerant and simply accept that others have a different worldview?

Here are three of the factors that motivated them.

  1. They had been commissioned by Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations. Although there were (and still are) many religions on offer, Jesus had declared that he was the only way to the Father and so Paul’s longing was for all people everywhere to enter God’s kingdom.
  2. The gospel is good news. When people hear good news, they want to pass it on. For example, parents can’t wait to tell friends about the birth of their child. In the same way, there’s an excitement and a joy that comes from finding Jesus. When Peter and John were told to stop spreading the gospel, they responded, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” The gospel message was bursting out of them and they couldn’t hold it in!
  3. They were keenly aware of God’s heart for mankind. “The love of Christ compels us”, Paul wrote. God’s heart’s desire was for everyone to be saved, to be restored to a right relationship with Him. Paul described his work as that of an ambassador from the kingdom of heaven, offering a message of hope to the world, ‘Be reconciled to God’. He cared about people – not just their physical wellbeing and happiness but also their spiritual state and their eternal destiny.

 

Discussion:
What motivates you to tell others about Jesus?

How did you respond when you first heard the gospel?

What great variety of ways can we tell people the good news?

Scriptures:
Matthew 28:18-20, John 14:6, Acts 4:16-202 Corinthians 5:142 Corinthians 5:20, Romans 10:1

 

Wednesday 8 to Tuesday 14 February 2017 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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