Make A Difference Part 2: Fireworks
On Sunday 5th November at our morning service, we continued our series Make A Difference with the topic 'Fireworks'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to this, click here.
We are continuing our series called MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
This week we are going to look at making a difference inside of us.
Christianity is not about religion; it is about relationship. Jesus came to give access to, and create a relationship with, our heavenly father.
All relationships start at some point. They may start with an awareness of someone in the periphery of our lives. Then we meet properly and get know each other. As time passes we grow together, but all of our relationships all have the potential to grow or wither. We all know this don’t we?
It is the same with a relationship with God. I remember the beginning of my friendship with God. It began with Him on the periphery of my life. I eventually I realised that Jesus was real and I was aware of his presence in my life. I started my friendship with Him the relationship grew. But things went wrong and I started to feel very distant to God. I had let the relationship slide away from me. You may be able to identify with some of this. We need to nurture that relationship through the ups and downs. There came a time when I had enough of being a rubbish follower and decided to do something about it. Whether in our human relationships, or our relationship with God, it is important to realise when things start to slip. Sometimes we bite the bullet and try to put things right. At other times we just let things slide away from us. I decided to invest in this relationship
I did 3 things; I read a psalm every day for 2 weeks. It was Psalm 51 in the Old Testament part of the Bible and it was King David’s prayer of repentance. It changed me. I also started to read a book that addressed some of what I was feeling. I also started praying every morning to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit. My relationship with God was transformed. This made a real difference to my relationship with God and even my husband noticed the difference in me. Those 3 things made a difference for me. I recognised the need and took the initiative. We need to take responsibility to go forward and not to coast. If we are not going forward with our relationships we slip back. Coasting doesn’t help any relationship. The early church understood that they had to keep moving forward. The writing about the church in Acts chapter 2 verses 42 to 47 gives us insights about their life together.You can read this by clicking here.
Perhaps we would like to see more signs and wonders that point people to God. The church at that time was far from perfect but there was a commitment to God and to each other that resulted in People taking them seriously. They “enjoyed the favour of all the people” So what was the secret to this success?
It tells us that 42 They devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, to the breaking of bread, (probably communion) and prayer. The result was awe and signs of Gods activity amongst them. It also tells us that they expressed their faith through sacrificial action and financial support. This speaks of a real community. Every day they met together, they ate together and worshipped together. They were a strong close community. The key phrase in this is that; THEY DEVOTED THEMSELVES: this is not passive it is active.
Devotion is a strong word. These people took the initiative.
THEY devoted THEMSELVES. Coming each Sunday can only take us so far. We need to devote ourselves to these things as well. We need to take responsibility for our relationship with God. That means different things for different people. What makes a difference for me will be different to what will make a difference for you. For me recently struggling with the problem of apparently unanswered prayer found a book that really helped me. There are things that are there for us to take hold of but we need to take the initiative to do something that will make a difference for us.
Devoting ourselves to teaching, praising. Coming here EVERY SUNDAY. There are also conferences like New Wine, Spring Harvest or The Keswick Convention, for adults and families. There are other conferences, retreats, books, DVDs’ and CDs’ and the Internet. We have Life Groups here that help us to build relationships with each other and with God, Even choosing the right friends can help. If you recognise that you need to grow in an area, seek out someone or something that will make a difference for you. We need to take the initiative to do things that will make a difference for us.
When our human relationships get stale or stuck we need to recognise it and determine to take action that will make a difference. It is the same with our relationship with God. We need to DEVOTE OURSELVES if we are serious about our relationship with God
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. Read through the passage in Acts two or three times. What is it that first strikes you about this? Why do you think that is?
2. List the things that they devoted themselves to. Where do you see opportunities to do these in the church? Where are there gaps?
Which things on that list do you recognise that you are NOT devoting yourself to?
3. Do you see yourself as active or passive in pursuing your relationship with God at this time? Does this fluctuate? If so what are the factors that make the difference?
4. Have you used any of the things that I have listed to help you to grow? Which ones and how effective were they?
5. Are you stuck, or stale in your relationship with God? Are you coasting?
If so what would help you to grow?
6. Are there any changes that you would like to make that would make a difference for you? What initiative do you need to take?
What would be an achievable goal to set for yourself?