This week, we’ve restarted our series and devotions from 1 Corinthians.
‘Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’ (1 Corinthians 13:8-13).
Summary: Faith (trusting God) or fear (trusting lies) is a choice that we will constantly have to make in this life.
i. SAVING FAITH
Firstly, faith is about salvation. we are saved by faith in the gospel. By believing in Jesus’ substitutionary death for us, we are ‘born again’ and receive justification, peace with God and eternal life.
‘Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Romans 5:1)
ii. DAILY FAITH
Secondly, faith is about how we live. We are saved by faith, and we also live by faith. A Christian is to walk with God and obey him in their lives. Like Abraham, our lives are to be marked by choices that are inspired by faith:
‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for…By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.’ (Hebrews 11:1-2, 8)
We come to know God’s will, principally, in His Word, the Bible. By faith, we do what the Bible teaches. However, we also receive convictions about specific things that God wants us to do as we pray, receive dreams, prophetic words, inner convictions… The experience of Hudson Taylor receive faith to do to China is inspiring:
‘Not many months after my conversion, having a leisure afternoon, I retired to my own chamber to spend it largely in communion with God. Well do I remember that occasion. How in the gladness of my heart I poured out my soul before God; and again and again confessing my grateful love to Him who had done everything for me—who had saved me when I had given up all hope and even desire for salvation—I besought Him to give me some work to do for Him, as an outlet for love and gratitude; some self-denying service, no matter what it might be, however trying or however trivial; something with which He would be pleased, and that I might do for Him who had done so much for me. Well do I remember, as in unreserved consecration I put myself, my life, my friends, my all, upon the altar, the deep solemnity that came over my soul with the assurance that my offering was accepted. The presence of God became unutterably real and blessed; and though but a child under sixteen, I remember stretching myself on the ground, and lying there silent before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy…Within a few months of this time of consecration the impression was wrought into my soul that it was in China the Lord wanted me. It seemed to me highly probable that the work to which I was thus called might cost my life; for China was not then open as it is now.’
iii. ETERNAL FAITH
Finally, faith is eternal, ‘it remains’. Faith is eternal in the sense that in eternal life, we will continue to trust God but perfectly. At no point in our eternal future will we forget or fail to express that we are saved by the blood of Christ. Forever, we will celebrate the gospel by which we are saved.
‘In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”’ (Revelation 5:12)
Are you choosing fear or faith? Daily, are you choosing faith that Jesus has saved you by grace over your feelings and failures? Are you listening to and putting your faith in the promises of God’s word? Are your actions governed by faith? What challenges, fears and concerns are you facing right now? What does faith say to this these things?
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
As this week is 'SIV week', perhaps we could start by sharing any encouraging conversations around the gospel and faith that we have had with people recently.
3. THIS WEEK IS SIV WEEK (SERVE INVEST AND INVITE)
After a very brief recap of Sunday's message, let's spend this time sharing, thinking and praying about how God wants to work through us to help our communities to come to Jesus. In this time together, I’d like us to specifically think about how we can prepare to invite our friends to our carol service on 11th December.
Please read 1 Corinthians 13:12-13
‘For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’ (1 Corinthians 13:12-13)
On Sunday, we looked at how Faith, hope and love are eternal principles on which we are to build all our thinking, activities and relationships. These character traits are also vital if we are to help to bring our communities to Jesus and share the gospel with them.
i. Faith - is trusting God. Trusting He exists. Trusting in the gospel to save us. Trusting in Him each day and in all that we do. Faith enables us to do hard things because we trust in God's promises.
ii. Hope - is believing for the glorious, eternal hope of heaven and a recreated universe.
iii. Love - is loving God and others like Christ has loved us. Love is laying our lives down for the good of others, particularly those who don’t deserve it.
This discussion and questions are designed to help us to plan and pray about who we could invite to our carol service.
Take a moment, firstly, to pray that God would lead you in your discussions, planning and inviting.
How do faith, hope and love help us to serve, invest and invite in our communities?
Discuss ideas of things that you could do personally, or as a group, in order to connect with your friends prior to the carol service.
Make a decision on the thing(s) you plan to do (as a group/personally).
Write a list of your friends that you would like to invite. Let’s pray for them now and every day leading up to the carol service.
Pray for what you plan to do.
Pray for the carol service.