43 | The Common Life

Oneness is at the heart of the Christian faith; the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is an eternal picture of how God intends us to live. We are fallen humanity, but He longs for us to be in unity and harmony with each other. Jesus prayed:

“Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:11)

Throughout the bible, we see examples of how the kingdom draws people together in community. In the Old Testament, there was a Jubilee Year every 50th year, when debts were cancelled and capital redistributed. Jesus said that the prophecy about a coming ‘year of God’s favour’ (Jubilee), was fulfilled in Him.

Jesus warned against the power of money and materialism and told the rich young man to “Go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

The vision for community in this church was birthed out of what we saw in Acts, the example of the early church and the way they were “one heart and soul”. There have been many struggles over the past few years, but we need to remember the oneness that Jesus prayed for. However our expression of community works itself out, let’s keep the challenge close to our hearts of making our faith practical, of letting Jesus’ words speak to our daily lives and the choices we make. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:

“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community.”

We may wonder what the future of Christian community is, but community is close to God’s heart, so we can trust Him with it.

Discussion:
What everyday, costly choices is God speaking to you about?

Where do you think God is leading our vision of Christian community?

 

Action
Spend some time praying this week for God to show you what His heart is for community.

 

Scriptures:
Leviticus 25:25-30, Deuteronomy 15:4 & 11, Matthew 19:21, Luke 4:15-21, John 17:11, Acts 2:41-47, Acts 4:32-37, Hebrews 13:16

 

Wednesday 18 to Tuesday 24 January 2017 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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42 | Share Yourself

In the beginning God created the universe. Piece by piece he placed each sun, sea, plant and animal in its right place, until finally, He created man in His own image. The creator created us to be reflections of Himself, to be super-gardeners, creators ruling the earth in relational harmony with one another and Himself.

In some way He’s designed us, His church, to echo God’s beautiful plan and point toward how things will be on the new earth. The church should be a place where all of us are released to contribute who we are.

There is an innate need in us all to express something from inside, which everyday communication doesn’t allow. Art, music, film, writing, craftsmanship; human creativity is everywhere. When we reconnect with our creator this is released. In the New Testament, Paul sees music as one expression of being filled with the Spirit.

Now before you administrators feel left out thinking this is all just about painting and poetry, every gift and talent can be creative if it is used to build up the body. Paul lists gifts of helping and administration alongside healing and miracles! God is worshipped in the centre, and the members, out of gratitude for all He has given them, are keen to “give back” in service to anyone in need, and that creates something good.

There are so many openings for our talents: language skills, photography, mending clothes, visiting the sick, some ‘new creation’ art, a song or poem, but also a meal, a well-tended garden, or a hand-crafted table, washing cars, etc. And remember the gift of your time for others.

Be available, see needs and meet them, that’s real love in action.

 

Discussion:
What has God given you to give? Are there any talents you’ve buried?

Our talents sometimes need purging of self-strength and pride. Do you identify with this, and what can we do about it?

Who could you help to release what they have, whether their time or skills?

Action:
Have you buried any talents? Dig one of them up this week.

Scriptures:
Genesis 1:27, Luke 6:38, Romans 12:6-81 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:16, Ephesians 5:18-202 Timothy 2:20-211 John 3:16-18

 

Wednesday 11 to Tuesday 17 January 2017 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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41 | Simplicity

Most of us have access to money and own material possessions, some of us more than others. Some of that will be necessary to live and to bless others. But when is ‘too much’ actually too much? There’s an element to simplicity which is relative. What might be a frugal lifestyle in the UK could be luxury in other third world communities. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ stance you can take with simplicity, as everyone has different needs, but this world clearly has different ideas to God when it comes to what we own and what we do with our money.

Economic growth in our country is driven by consumption, which is where the idea that we can never have too much stuff comes in to play. This is why everywhere you go (through advertisement, social media, celebrity culture, etc) something will be convincing you that you are missing out, that you need something else. Our whole society is built on ‘getting’. Think about it – if everyone decided tomorrow they would make do with what they had, only purchasing for need, half the economy would collapse!

But there is another way. God’s kingdom ethos as seen in the early church shows us that as we give of ourselves, each person’s needs are met. In Luke 3, John the Baptist taught those wanting to repent, instructing them to share, to give from their excess, and to be content. Jesus taught his disciples we cannot serve both mammon and God. He showed them how to pray, asking the Father to provide for our daily needs. Provision should be met by a grateful heart. Just as Paul and Timothy commend the Philippian church to give thanks in everything, let us also be grateful to God and to one another, embracing a simple gospel as simple people.

Discussion:
Consider for a moment what ‘daily bread’ is to you.

How could you embrace simplicity in your context?

How can we make sure we cultivate a culture of gratitude?

Action:
Pray only prayers of thanks this week.

Scriptures:
Luke 3:10-14, Matthew 6:24, 1 Timothy 6:6, 1 John 2:15, James 4:2, Philippians 4:6

Wednesday 4 January to Tuesday 10 January 2017 | © Jesus Fellowship Church
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