Biblical Messages

Unity Amid Diversity

Continuing from last week’s message, we look in this service at John 17.13-26, which contains Jesus’ desires for his people.  We often think about what Jesus wants *from* us, but in this message, we look at what Jesus wants *for* his disciples of all time, as he offers a deep prayer to the Father.

You can watch the whole service, or catch the message, which begins at 25:09.

Encouragement From The Word

Position yourself for growth

If you’ve been a follower of Jesus for any length of time, you know the importance of growing in your faith.  So often, we get the notion in our minds that we have to work at it – and while there is some truth to that, we need to understand that it’s not our job.

I’m fond of the definition of spiritual formation given by the late Robert Mulholland, who taught New Testament at a seminary in the United States.  His definition of spiritual formation is that it is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.

When we come to faith in Jesus, it is not the end of a journey, but the beginning. When we begin our relationship with God, we submit ourselves to the process of being conformed – it’s not our job, but that of God the Holy Spirit living within us.

And we are being conformed to the image of Christ – as the apostle Paul tells the church in Corinth, “the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3.18, NLT).  That’s our goal – not to be “better people” or “more moral”, but to be more like Jesus.

Why?  For the sake of others.  We don’t grow in faith for our own sakes, but so that the world God made and the people God loves may benefit, and glimpse more of his goodness through us.

The work is God’s, but we are invited to be willing instruments.  Position yourself for growth this year.

Encouragement From The Word

Get growing!

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that the more I know, the more I know I don’t know:  it’s important always to be learning.

Like many of us, when I was younger, I thought I had it all figured out; I knew everything there was to know.  But one applicant at a company had a different slant on it.  When the human resources director asked him what he expected to be paid, she said, “You certainly expect to be compensated well for a beginner.”

The applicant replied, “Well, sure.  Work’s a lot harder when you don’t know what you’re doing.”

It’s true that work is harder when you don’t know what you’re doing.  And one of the challenges of being the church today is that every week, we aim to hit a target, only to find that it has moved.  Culture is changing more rapidly than the world has ever seen.  And if God’s people are going to be effective in reaching others for Jesus, we need to be aware of the culture into which we’re speaking.

The challenge, for some, is that they get so sucked in by the culture that they become indistinguishable from the culture, and lose their voice to speak into it. We can’t give up the truth of the gospel – which is, by nature, counter-cultural – in favour of popularity.

(Besides, churches can’t compete with other organizations in the popularity department. And they usually have better coffee.)

As the people of God, we are charged with the responsibility of steady growth, learning more each day about what it means to follow Jesus in our changing times. The question is, What are you doing to learn and grow?

Sunday morning alone won’t cut it; we need involvement in a small group (what we at St. Paul’s call LifeConnect Groups) and some sort of service outlet, whether it’s helping the youth group or in kids’ ministry or perhaps some community group – these help us grow in Christ.

What are you doing to learn and grow?

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God” (Hebrews 6.1, NLT).