This week we launch our new series called “Encounters”. Over the coming weeks we will be exploring what it means to encounter God and why we need to seek encounters to grow as believers.
As we begin this series we look at the life of King David, described in scripture as a man after God’s own heart, who sort to live in the very presence of God. Like David this may be the desire of your heart, but as we see in David’s life sadly sin can often interrupt this desire. We must strive to keep encountering God because this is where we find peace, love, direction, hope and so much more! As we read in Psalm 27:4: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
When we look at encounters in scripture we see that:
1. Encountering God is the Start of Being Alive
You cannot ask Jesus into your life and have the Spirit dwell within you without encountering Jesus.
2. Encounters with God Grow Us
3. Encounters with God Are Necessary and Ongoing
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you.”
Listen along to the message this morning for some insight into how to seek God!
Over the next few weeks we will be looking at Encounters in the Word and will see how when we meet with God we come away changed, empowered and inspired to do mighty things!
Last week we looked at the importance of connect with our Christian beyond just a Sunday morning service. As we continue to examine this idea, we need to see the importance of investing more into the kingdom of God than one morning a week. To grow in our faith we need to invest our lives!
Imagine this - you are driving along a road into which winds down into a deep valley. The way into the valley is very narrow, steep and is a single lane road with no centre marking or verges. You cross a narrow timber paved bridge, which creaks and groans as you drive over. As you reach the bottom of the valley road, and the road starts to rise and changes. As you crossed the bridge, you crossed into a different council area. The road is now a smooth wide road with proper clear markings, run off areas and safety barriers on the corners.
Both sides to this valley are a steep journey through difficult country. While those responsible for each side of the road made an initial investment, one council has continued to invest, one has not. One has made the road a priority, the other has spent elsewhere.
The Bible tells us of the importance of investing in the things that matter. Matthew 6:19-21 says: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The question is have you continued to invest in your journey to eternity or are you just trying to do the minimum?
We are launching something new!
Over the last number of months the church leadership has been praying about how we could put our focus theme of Grow into action this year. One of the ways that we believe God is calling us into this as a church is to begin a number of 'Grow Groups' (or small groups if you prefer that title).
We believe this is a really important step for us as a church - but also for us as individuals as we seek to deepen our understanding of God and our connection with one another. For many of us our connection with the body of Christ is built around attending church on Sunday. This corporate time of worship is really important to us in our Christian growth and development and we mustn’t neglect making it a priority. Our time in worship together each Sunday, and the message during the service, on top of the time of fellowship, are really important. Some of us also regularly meet together, or by chance meet with other Christian for social engagement over the course of the week – and these things are good too. But I’d put to you that you can’t read the New Testament view of church and come away believing that a Sunday only involvement with church is the way it is supposed to be.
When we view church as a Sunday only activity, it is really easy for us to become spiritual spectators. To engage with church only to the point that we come and tick the box, with a complete reliance on those up the front to provide exactly what we need for our spiritual growth. When we take this approach the tendency to take a passive approach to our spiritual development is strong. When we connect only on Sunday’s - it is easy for us to hear but not to apply scripture to our lives. It is also easy to avoid accountability to our brothers and sisters in Christ. In missing the full value of the way that church looks – we actually prevent ourselves from the full richness of the body of Christ.
Instead when we delve into scripture it gives us insight into a number of things we are called to do! We are called to be connected, we are called to minister, we are called to protect one another, we are called to encourage one another and we are called to seek unity as a body of Christ!
Listen along to the message as we explore how we can connect and grow together! At the end of the message there is also some information on the way the groups will work.
This is the 4th message in our series on faith! I’d encourage you to scroll down and listen to some of our other messages in this series as they contain some encouraging teaching on the topic.
Our key verse for this series is from Hebrews 11:1:
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
If you haven’t already, try to commit this passage to memory!
Last week we looked at two examples of women in 2 Kings who showed courageous faith despite difficult circumstances. In ‘Faith to Follow’ we are winding back the clock a bit, back to the call of Elisha.
This passage is towards the end of Elijah’s ministry as a prophet. In the passages before this takes place – Elijah had reached the end of his capacity. He was exhausted. He cried out to God – and God answered his cry, providing him with a renewed purpose – his job now was to raise up a younger man to take over the role – and scripture tells us that in return Elisha ministered to him.
Remember that even in your fatigue, your fear or perhaps your later years that God always has a purpose for you. Just as when Elijah felt like he had nothing more to give, God gave him the renewed purpose of mentoring Elisha.
Let’s look at the passage in 1 Kings 19:19
19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the ploughing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
It has been suggested here that Elisha was from a reasonably wealthy family. The fact that he was ploughing a field with a dozen oxen suggests that his family was not poor. So not only did Elisha literally burn his plough and kill the oxen, he did it in another sense. You see when Elisha stepped into the calling of God on his life, he stepped away from the safety of everything he’d even known. He stepped away from the safety and security of home and family. He also swapped his inheritance for a life that contained no promises of wealth and fame.
Yet he had the faith to follow God’s plan for his life.
God has a plan for your life too! He has an incredible purpose! Do you have the faith to step into it?
Listen to the message to hear insight on knowing God’s will for your life – and encouragement to have the faith to follow Him!