Everyone loves a good wedding. The moment the bride walks down the aisle. The face of the groom as he sees his bride. The joy is infectious. But beyond the pageantry or the spectacle, is the enormous promise that they make to each other - "as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow." These vows are huge. They are also hard. For anything we set our lives on “until death parts us” is just going to test us, stretch us and expose the strengths and especially the weaknesses of our hearts. Today we hear God's vow to us - a vow he is faithful to day after day and a promise that not even death can separate us from. So come, as the Holy God invites us to relate to him as a Bride to a Groom. Hear him renew his vow of love for you; to forgive, to protect, to preserve and to be intimately with us forever. There is no more beautiful moment
#4 in series: I can relate to that
I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. Hosea 2:19-20 (NLT)
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
God is emotionally, mightily, passionately and whole heartedly into you. He woos you tenderly for all he desires is to have the most intimate and pleasure-filled relationship with you eternally. Today, he renews his vow and gives you again his Son, saying 'Receive my Son as proof of my promise of love and faithfulness.'
1. Other than your own if you are married, 'What the best wedding you’ve ever been to? Why was that one “the best”?"
2. When is the last time you simply delighted in God? Describe it. If you can't remember, why do you think that is?
3. How would your relationship with God change if you loved him warmly as a husband rather than just served him dutifully as your Lord?
Remember how easy it was to make friends as a kid? Just show up at the playground, bond over your shared love of football, cricket or chasey and bam! Instant connection. But today it seems you need an App for that. From Facebook to Instagram, WeChat to WhatsApp, LinkedIn to Bizzabo, there are hundreds of Apps designed to connect us with others all over the world. But what does it mean to be connected? Social media may have given us the promise of a connected world but it seems that everyone is feeling a little more isolated. Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist developed a hypothesis, known as "Dunbar's number", that says human brains can’t healthily maintain more than 150 genuine relationships at a time. Not every connection is equal so what connections are you investing in? Jesus said there is one pivotal connection that can help our lives grow and flourish and the community thrive – the connection of a branch to the vine. We hope you can relate to that!
#3 in series: "I can relate to that"
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
There is only one connection that is life-giving in every season. One connection that will not fail you in any circumstance. A connection with Jesus. He is with you, holding onto you, loving you and will not let you go. Even when it feels like you are cut down by life, hang in there, for growth is ahead, and new life will come. That's his promise.
BIBLE READING: John 15:1-8
1. How many close friends do you have that you could go and share the deepest parts of your life with?
2 Other than a family member, who is the person in this Church community that you feel most connected to and why?
3 Is your connection with Jesus in a season of fruit bearing, growth, dormancy or pruning at this present time. Explain
Dumb, Defenceless, Directionless, Dirty. Sheep often get a bad rap. Sheep are vulnerable. They’re helpless. They have no depth perception. They’re fearful and panic easily. They tend to flock together. They are prone to wander and their reactions to situations are predictable. Who would want to be compared to a sheep? Who wants to be seen as useless? Stupid? Vulnerable? But maybe that's the point. For inside, we often feel worthless, stupid, and directionless. At times we are full of self-loathing and hate; we go along with the crowd when we know it is not the best way. We cry out (bleat) but no-one seems to hear or care. To anyone who has felt that way, Jesus today wants to tell you that sheep to a shepherd is the most beautiful, comforting, secure, life-affirming relationship that you can receive. So today we explore sheep to the Shepherd.
#2 in series: I can relate to that
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Dumb, Defenceless, Directionless, Dirty? Not in the presence of Jesus, your Good Shepherd. You are gifted, valuable, cherished, protected, led and clean! In his presence there is a place of welcome, community, security and rest where you are intimately known, loved and cared for all the days of your life.
1. If you were to rate animals on their level of intelligence (1 = lowest level of intelligence and 10 = highest level of intelligence), where would you rate sheep? Why?
2. If someone were to refer to you as sheepish or sheep-like, would you view that as a compliment or an insult? Why?
3. In what ways have you experienced the care, compassion or leading of the Good Shepherd?
What makes us who we are? Is it our genes, the traits and characteristics we inherit from our parents? Or is it the environment around us and the everyday experiences we have that form and shape us? Science calls this the question of 'nature versus nurture'. Children are often like their parents, a fact that can be embarrassing or encouraging depending on the circumstances. But what about adopted children - who do they resemble? God's answer is clear - as adopted children of the Heavenly Father, created in his image, you are a full heir of his and called to resemble him completely. He wants you to fully live in the intimacy, freedom, spontaneity and affection of the relationship he has given you and to relate to him that way. So today we explore the beauty and love of living as a son and daughter to the Father.
And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Nothing of the relationship Jesus had with the Father has been withheld from you. Nothing! You are an heir of his power, his authority, his character, his rule. You are a full heir of his affection and intimacy. God is your loving, caring, all-embracing Father who delights in you and feels enormous pride whe he sees his character reflected in you.
- What is one thing, characteristic, or trait, you inherited from your father?
- How does your experience of your father influence the way you see God as a Father?
- "All I have is yours?" That's what the Father says to you. To what degree do you live believing that this is true?
Some words can change your life forever: I do. You’ve got the job. We’re pregnant. Blow into the little tube until I say “stop.” Those test results don’t look good.
The last words of the Lord’s Prayer…while not part of the original prayer in the Bible...are just as life changing. For the kingdom, the power, & the glory are yours now & forever. Amen. This final shout of praise and acclamation takes us back to where it began, the Father in heaven who inspires us for living on this earth. Here we surrender our lives to the God who is in control, who has the power to do what he wants and whose power we need for our living. Here we recognise that we are inheirtors of the highest gifts of heaven and there is only one whose name is worthy of all the applause and glory we can muster. Here we celebrate the Father’s worthiness and make the prayer our own as we say “Amen” – let it all be so.
#7 and final in series: Prayer - From his Fullness
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all. 1 Chronicles 29:11
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
God’s worthiness doesn’t change. It’s eternal. Perfect love, perfect forgiveness, perfect life. All the power of these priceless, ‘one of a kind’ gifts from your Heavenly Father are yours when you yield your life to his calling and plan. All the glory and honour is his, when the fullness of his life is revealed in and through you.
1 When you want to praise God what is your favourite 'go to' song that declares who God is?
2. What does "Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory" mean to you?
3. What is one insight/truth that sticks with you from this series that is worth sharing? (ie - what's one thought that has really impacted you or changed the way that you pray the Lord's prayer?)
It's the question that Star Wars and the Superhero films deal with every time. Who will win the cosmic battle? Will good or evil prevail? Will darkness or light prove stronger in the end? Who will rescue and protect people from the forces of evil? It’s no movie blockbuster but the Bible affirms that there is a cosmic battle that spans both the heavenly and earthly realms, the effects of which are still present today as God’s Kingdom advances in the world and our lives. In the last petition of the Lord's Prayer, we recognise the presence of evil in the world and we find strength in the one who alone has definitively won the battle over evil to give us a victory and future that no-one can snatch away. So today we pray for and find comfort in the Father’s Protection.
#6 in series: Prayer- From his Fullness
Our Father…devil us from the evil one. Matthew 6:13b
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
It’s true. The devil is a powerful enemy. Every time we live in our identity as God’s children and seek to live out his purpose for our lives – to advance God’s kingdom of grace and forgiveness in this world - we will be involved in a dangerous battle. But in the midst of that battle know this truth: The devil is a defeated enemy. Christ has overcome and given you the final victory.
1 When you pray, “Deliver us from evil,” what do you have in mind?
2. What's the most 'evil' thing you have witnessed in your life or where do you see the evil one at work today?
3. In what ways has life been a battle against the evil one for you?
Like a stalker, it harasses you and your identity with unwanted and obsessive attention. It never leaves you alone, following you wherever you go - at home, in the schoolyard, at your workplace, in shops, restaurants, even your car. It knows your history, your routines and where you are most vulnerable. Every step you take there is an orchestrated and calculated attempt to deceive you and shift your allegiance, trust, and confidence away from God and toward some substitute that promises a more secure identity. The only way through is to pray for the Father's Guidance, and that's what Jesus invites us to do today.
#5 in series: Prayer: From his Fullness
Our Father…lead us not into temptation. Matthew 6:13a
REMEMBER THIS WEEK:
Satan constantly inserts question marks where God has put a full stop. When doubts arise and questions abound, remember who you are – a beloved child of God. For that final word is the grip of grace that holds you securely and will never let you go.
1 What are the times when you are most vulnerable to temptation?
2 What is one thing you are finding hard to trust God with at this time?
You owe me! They will pay for that! Ever heard those words? Ever uttered those words? Ever wished that someone would pay for the hurt, the pain, the suffering that you have experienced? Jesus knows how exceptionally difficult forgiving those whose words or deeds have marked you deeply and painfully can be. That's why he invites us to ask the Father to forgive us; to give us freedom, freedom from the past, freedom for the future, a freedom that reconciles, builds community and brings life to all relationships. The Father specialises in removing any indebtedness so that we can truly embrace others with love. That's what we'll explore today as we experience the Father's forgiveness.
#4 in series: Prayer - from his Fullness
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Forgiveness is the ultimate miracle of God's grace and a gift that rehumanises us. It opens doors that we thought were closed forever, transforming relationships and making the kingdom of God visible for others to see. It builds community enabling us to offer comfort, tenderness, love, forgiveness and joy to each other.
1. What are you most thankful to God for when you think of your Father?
2. How has your dad shown you what forgiveness is all about?
3. On a scale of 1 to 10, how forgiving are you in your life (1 = “one strike and you’re out” and 10 = “forgiving is as easy as breathing for me”)?
'The Hungry Mile' was a colloquial name that workers gave to a docklands stretch of road in Darling Harbour during the Great Depression. Maritime workers would walk from wharf to wharf in search of casual, low-paid day work. Success in gaining work meant money for food and shelter, failure meant going hungry. For 85% of Australians, food insecurity is not something we think about but for 15% it is a daily reality where praying 'Give us this day our daily bread' is a prayer for survival. Globally,1 in 9 people live in hunger; 60% of those are women. A child dies from hunger related diseases every 10 seconds and 22,000 children die each day due to conditions of poverty. But what does it mean to pray this prayer for the majority of Australians who live in relative affluence? Today in the third part of this series 'Prayer - from His fullness' we come face to face with "The Father's provision" and discover the promise, faith, invitation and challenge that praying these six little words brings to our lives.
#3 in series on the Lord's Prayer: 'Prayer: From his Fullness'
Give us today our daily bread. Matthew 6:11
REMEMBER THIS WEEK:
Living and believing the truth of this prayer will bring a gratitude, contentment, confidence and generosity that will transform your own life and impact the lives of others in amazing ways.
- If a genie in a bottle, gave you three wishes, what three things would you ask for?
- Share three things from the last week that you are thankful for.