We've all seen it. The chain reaction caused by dropping a rock in a body of water. We call it the ripple effect, waves that lead outward growing bigger and bigger. You are part of God’s chain reaction; a ripple effect that is bigger and more epic by cosmic proportions. Because Jesus Christ died and was raised from the grave for you, you are at the epicentre of God’s loving, saving, recreating plan for the universe. He is now throwing you into the world and calling you to make a splash and create ripples, waves of influence that lead outward, growing bigger and bigger, touching more people and lives with each concentric ring.
For the ends of the earth, All the World, is where God desires his saving love to reach. His mission isn’t fulfilled until all the world encounters the good news of a life that is more powerful than death, a joy more eternal than the tears, a hope that lights up the darkness of despair, and a healing that restores every brokenness and loss. We are his witnesses, fulfilling that command. So let's go and make a splash and see the ripple effects as they grow into all the world.
#5 in series: Three Big Words
Who are you following? What people or information sources are influencing your thoughts and your actions right now? We all choose to follow someone...whether itis the craft person who inspires us with new projects, the person who entertains us or makes us laugh, who confirms the information we hold or provides value to our life. Maybe what we are looking for is the person who engages with their followers and has conversation with them. What are you looking for, hoping for, wanting desperately for in your life? Today Jesus doesn't give the disciples or us an answer to that question, but rather issues an invitation to seek something more fulfilling than the world and our culture can offer and more life transforming than we can ever imagine. We'll discover that invitation again today as we hear three big words, "Come follow me.
#4 in seres: Three Big Words.'
The Table – nearly every home has one. It’s where we eat, connect, laugh, cry, pray…just be us. It may be the most important place of human connection, belonging and acceptance. Throughout the Bible, God shows up around meals at tables. In fact, the centre of the spiritual lives of God's people in both the Old & New Testaments is a meal at a table: Passover & Communion. In the meal at God’s table God anchors our identity in him. In the meal at God’s table God creates community for his purpose. In the meal at God’s table God gives security and promises eternity. In the meal at God’s table Jesus embraces each of us personally. In the meal at God’s table Jesus speaks three big words - given for you; and those words transform the lives and destiny of all humanity. In those words Jesus not only announces the saving love of God, but embodies it and gives it freely to us. Wherever our lives have taken us, Jesus invites us to himself in his meal at his table to be filled with his presence; a presence that floods our lives with unending grace and life abundant to share. It's given for you.
#3 in series: Three Big Words
'Show and Tell" - is one of the first opportunities young children have to stand up in front of a small group and speak. It’s so simple…Take what’s precious to you. Tell the story of “Why.” Show and demonstrate its importance in your life. Nothing could be easier: “Show & Tell”
HE IS RISEN!…are the most precious words in all of Scripture…the most crucial… The resurrection IS the central event of the Bible from “In the beginning…” to “Amen.” HE IS RISEN!…is the power of God that raises you to newness of life in Christ now and anchors your future with Christ for all eternity. These THREE BIG WORDS are the most important in the life of disciples like you and me. Without HE IS RISEN we have nothing.
From that first morning when the tomb was found empty to this very day, the sole work of Jesus’ followers has been…“Show & Tell” Take what’s precious to you. Tell the story of “Why.” Show/demonstrate its importance in your life. Nothing could be easier: He is risen and in Him so are you! These three big words change everything, every day. As the Psalmist says, I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the LORD has done. Today is your turn to ‘Show and Tell.’
#2 in seres: Three Big Words
From artwork to architecture -- home renovations to the “I always thought I’d have time for…” bucket list… The human story is often told like an essay where the pen ran out of ink…unfinished. Not just the projects, or the work, the little visits or grand adventures you just didn’t find time for…but the work of our own lives & hearts…the conversations that never came…the habits we sought or the ones we hoped to drop…We call ourselves “work in progress,” but it seems at times there’s not much ‘work’ or ‘progress.”
Only in Christ, is the work of our lives complete. Only in Christ are the words, “It is finished” true. Christ came. Christ died. Christ restored us to the Father. It is finished.
The Reformation recaptured that simple truth…first as the power of God that saves & transforms human lives into agents of his redeeming love…but then as the power of God that equips & empowers the church to live that good news into our world everywhere we are every day we live.
Among all our works that end unfinished, only the work of God in Jesus is finished. Only he can & transform death to life, alienation to reconciliation, wrath to rejoicing. It is finished. That's what we will experience again today.
#1 in series: Three Big Words
“She’ll be right…no worries.” As a culture we pride ourselves on our laid back approach to life and our ability to go with the flow. We don’t get fussed if things are not perfect….she’ll be right. Whatever is wrong will right itself – no worries mate. But if only that was true. For the reality is that, as a nation, people are more anxious about things than ever before - globally, relationally and especially individually. There seems to be less resilience when things go wrong, more anger and dissatisfaction with what life deals, and more stress that burdens and robs people of joy. Paul knows the struggles of life, he knows the joy robbers better than most. Yet his call to the Church, then and now, is not to be anxious about anything. Paul has discovered the gift of Contented Joy and it’s this gift that he wants you to claim this weekend, whatever circumstance or situation you find yourself in.
#4 in series: A Pandemic of Joy
Life is a series of trade-off's You can't have it all. Every day we make choices. Choosing "this" thing will mean that we choose to not have "that" thing. We know that. You can't have all the advantages of married life and be single. You can't have children and have lots of time for yourself or your career . You can't take a lot of risks and enjoy a sense of safety. You can't have a busy weekend and get lots of rest. You can't be the "boss" and be free of responsibility. You can't speak up and remain anonymous. Some things just don't go together. Life is a series of trade-offs. Our path in life is determined by those choices…by what we value most highly and choose most deliberately. From his jail cell in Rome, Paul shares his highest value and most deliberate pursuit that leads to eternal joy. What he discovers is that there is only one priority, one value, one pursuit that is worth trading everything else for, every day of our lives. For only one pursuit, one choice will lead to eternal joy. We'll explore and discover that priority for ourselves today too.
#3 in series: The Pandemic of Joy
Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are one and free;
When we stand as one and sing one tune we’re supposed to do so as a united people. The National Anthem is intended for all Australians, lifelong or recent arrival, to sing as one. Yet as a nation we seem more divided; less tolerant and more polarised than ever. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer…less than 1 in 4 Australians would offer to help someone who disagreed with their worldview. About 1 in 5 would willingly live in the same neighbourhood and a bit less would want to work with those who differ in their view of the world. When that national division & personal avoidance is played out on the streets…it can get ugly. It appears we've lost our unified purpose and heart as a people.
You know too…Politics can’t speak to that. Votes and legislation can’t fix what’s broken among us. Only the good news of Jesus unites people and gives them a purposeful joy that transforms lives and communities. Only the gospel makes enemies friends and engages them as one in pursuing the highest good for their neighbours…whether or not they are alike in any way. Purposeful joy is grounded in Christ and grows to fulfilment as it is poured out for others. That’s the opportunity the Spirit gives to us everywhere we are, every day we live. It's that joyful purpose we will explore and experience today.
#2 in series: A Pandemic of Joy"
I’ve got the Joy, joy joy down in my heart…Where? That’s the question isn’t it? Where? Where is the joy? When…life happens...temptations attack...sickness comes...needs overwhelm...loneliness suffocates...friends betray. Where's the joy when decisions paralyse...worries strangle...finances disappear...careers stall. We would choose joy if we could and hang on to it with all our might. But what if joy isn’t a choice you make, but one that already chose you? What if joy was already yours and you now were able to be contagious & infectious in spreading that joy whatever you encounter in life?
In the midst of life's difficulties, it's easy for us to develop a selective memory that causes us to forget the grace we've been given, the love we've been shown and the blessings we've received. Paul in his letter from a Roman jail cell to the Philippian church invites us to embrace the pandemic of joy that is highly contagious, deeply infectious and leads to a thankful joy that is down in our hearts to stay. We'll explore and experience that today.
#1 in series: A Pandemic of Joy