Session Date Sermon Title
1 23rd April Simply
2 30th April Caring for The Environment
3 7th May Justly
4 14th May Generously
5 2nd April Mercifully
A.A. Milne, begun his classic book, “Winnie the Pooh” with these words:
“Here is Edward Bear coming down the stairs now. Bump, bump, bump, bump on the back of his head. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming down the stairs but sometime he feels that there really is another way if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it.”
I wonder, over time, has your life in Jesus Christ, your understanding, your joy and response to his love deepened? Are you abiding ever more fully in His presence? Or, are you simply bumping down the stairs – as you have always done?
Wherever you may consider yourself to be in your life in Christ today, our new five-week teaching series is designed to help us individually and as a church to live more fully in the love of God. Entitled “Resurrection Living”, we’ll consider how the resurrection of Christ impacts selected aspects of our daily life so that we can know Christ more deeply and live more fully for Him.
As we do so, I pray that you will invite Lord to speak to you (and me) and help us to live more fully in Him, our risen Saviour. In this way, we will stop bumping down the stairs…..
Study 1: Simply
Sermon Date: April 23 2017
Readings: Matthew 6:19-34, Micah 6: 1-8
We live in an increasingly complex and changing world with many pressures and influences upon people. Here we are called to live and enjoy living as a follower of Jesus for his glory. To many, this may appear to be daunting.
Sadly, for some, it can appear to be so challenging that they choose not to try to follow Jesus, give up or live partially surrendered lives to Christ. This is not Jesus’ desire.
Although life for disciples today may be very different to earlier times, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. His presence and his power are available to all believers in every age and in every situation so that we may live in the fullness of Christ’s love.
We begin our series by considering the foundational characteristic of a disciple – what it is to live simply.
(Note: This is not a comprehensive consideration of what is a large topic. For this and particularly for help in practical application, can I encourage you to consult the suggested reading in the Preaching Card, participate in our continuing programme of initiatives to assist spiritual formation (see weekly ‘Church Matters’) and/or speak to a member of the ministry team.
For this study, you may also like to read “A Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster.)
What was the first mobile phone that you owned?
Do you remember how you may have felt when you bought it?
What functions did it perform?
What functions can a mobile phone perform today
Questions: (see “Helpful Hints” at the end of this section)
Our study and discussion stems from a passage of teaching given by Jesus in the “Sermon on the Mount.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reveals his manifesto and explains the nature of life as a beloved member of the kingdom of God.
Read Matthew 6: 19-34:
1. What does the word ‘simplicity’ conjure up in your minds?
2. As the perfect man, Christ is the embodiment of the life, life with God, that is available to all believers. This life of peace is the simple life. Jesus described this as “...life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10)
How can we understand Christ’s life as being ‘simple’?
3. To understand what it is to live simply as a Christian, verse 33 is key:
a) what do you understand by the phrase, “his kingdom”?
b) what do you understand by the phrase, “righteousness”?
c) What does it mean to “seek” and to “seek first…..”?
How might this be realised in your day to day living as a disciple?
4. What are the results of living in this way (i.e. simply)?
5. The message of verses 25-34 is that we are to trust God and His provision in all things and should avoid being consumed by worry. These verses are particularly challenging when we know that many people do not have enough to meet their basic needs. How do we understand and respond to these verses in the context of our society?
(Look at verse 33 and Micah 6 verse 8 to aid your consideration and response. Note: we will return to this question in future weeks…)
The Christian discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in a way of living that enables and reveals kingdom living.
Simplicity is about recognising and removing the clutter, the obstacles that threaten to weigh us down and restrict us from truly knowing, abiding and flourishing in the presence of God and also investing in all that builds up our common life in Christ – bringing his rule and reign to earth.
Reflecting on our study and particularly verses 19-22, take some time to consider your motivation, allocation of time, talents and treasure in how you live each day.
What changes may the Holy Spirit be inviting you to make so that you can live more fully in the presence of God for his glory (i.e. simply)?
Consider sharing this to support each other in prayer and in practical ways.
Helpful Hints for discussion questions:
1 Simplicity for me speaks about what is essential, what is core, what is good, healthy, beautiful and attractive. Simple things tend also to last through the years.
2 Christ lived a simple life in the sense that His life was devoted to loving and honouring God the Father and the people where he was present. As a result, he was known as the man of peace.
3 Verse 33 reveals that the Christian life is simple but not simplistic.
It is simple in the sense that as Pastor Rick Warren begins his international best-selling book, ‘The Purpose Driven Life’, our lives are not about me but God. Jesus’ life was surrendered to loving God the Father and honouring Him in his daily life and loving others as God the Father does – for God’s glory not his. This was/is living in and for the kingdom of God. This is the way of peace – wholeness in Christ – that Jesus uniquely gives.
a) “the kingdom” or “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven: Introduced in the Old Testament, this was the favourite expression of Jesus. He used it 157 times in the gospels and the majority of his parables are about “the kingdom”.
The kingdom is where God is sovereign. It is the rule and saving reign of God. Through personal faith in the crucified, risen and ascended Christ, believers are welcomed into the kingdom of God – into his family. This is the place of love, belonging, growth and service.
The kingdom of God is past, present and future. The rule and reign of God will be completed following Christ’s return, judgement and the reversal of the curse of Eden.
In summary, the kingdom of God is God’s people fulfilling God’s purposes in God’s creation for God’s glory in God’s time and ways through God’s power.
b) “righteousness”: This is a theological term that has two meanings according to its context.
Firstly, it refers to being right with God i.e. salvation. This is through personal faith in Jesus Christ. (e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Secondly, it means living in the way that honours God – right living for God (e.g. Matthew 1:19; 2 Timothy 3:16). This is the meaning in the context of this passage.
In this verse, Jesus commands his followers to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…”. This is to be our priority.
c) Examples may include:
Looking at treasures in heaven…
1. Involving God in our daily rhythm of life
2. Commit to growing in your relationship with Him and through his body on earth, the church through
3. Serving God with our time and talents
4. Regular financial giving to support the mission of God through his church
Looking at the treasures of this world….
5. Buy things based on their usefulness rather than their status (e.g. clothes, mobile phone, car)
6. Reject anything that produces an addiction in you.
7. Develop a habit of giving things away. De-accumulate.
8. Practice generosity.
Our God is a generous God. If his love indwells us, we shall relate what we “have” (possessions) to what we “see” (others needs) and take action. For example, we read in 1 John 3:17 that “if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him.”
9. Be aware of and resist the seduction of advertising and peer pressure.
10. Learn to enjoy things without owning them. (e.g. share items with others; use the library; use streaming services for films and music etc.)
11. Live within your means. Be aware of the temptation of credit.
12. Reject anything that enables the oppression of others. Look at source of origin of manufacture. Be informed.
13. Develop an appreciation of creation. Walk. Simplicity involves discovering again and enjoying that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” (Psalm 24:1.)
4 Referring back to the earlier teaching, disciples will live in the increasing fullness of God’s presence and peace through which the kingdom of God will deepen and extend.