Perception is a funny thing. I discovered this week that Richmond is really quite close to where I live – only 15 minutes by bus. In my mind it was significantly further away. But since realising it was only just there, served by no less than three different buses, I’ve been twice in two days and it’s like a whole new world has opened up before me, full of possibilities. Where Putney is lacking shops, in Richmond they are plentiful. There’s greenery to sit on for picnics, a river to walk beside, and it’s even got sunshine. Of course, a lot of these things are available elsewhere, but at the moment I’m revelling in the novelty of the new discovery.
In a similar way, I thought I knew the gospel of Luke before we started this new series, and there are certainly some parts of it I know very well. But I’m seeing new connections within it (do stop to have a look at the window in the foyer at some point and you’ll see what I mean, and that’s not even half of what could have gone on there) and I feel a bit more invigorated by the series than I thought I might (just keeping it real!). Sometimes we can be desperate to find something new, something fresh in passages that we are very familiar with. We cling to the same fundamental truths about our faith for such a long time that we can feel like we’re repeating ourselves. It can feel like we’re lacking in inspiration, and even that we’re a little bit bored. But the fact is, God’s truth is the same yesterday, today and forever, and sometimes there’s no way to jazz it up or say it differently.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. - Hebrews 4:12.
When our words are stagnant, God’s words are active. When we are feeling dull, God is sharp. Newness and revelation doesn’t have to come every time we read the Bible – when we’re feeling “stuck”, perhaps it’s time to look around ourselves. We can be encouraged by one another when we pray together or hear prophesy and testimony from others. Even when there has been nothing “new” for a while, we must remember that God will use us, and what may seem perfectly obvious and basic to us can be inspiring and revolutionary for those we talk to.
Sometimes, we need someone who can state the obvious - unashamedly and passionately. As Matt’s preach said this week, we need to store God’s words in our hearts so that the Holy Spirit can bring them forth. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you’re going over old ground. The ground is God’s. Perfect and glorious, forever fertile and life-giving.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week and how has this helped you / affected your life?
3. STUDY AND PRAY TOGETHER
Please read Luke 1:39-80
On Sunday, we saw that when the Holy Spirit is working in someone, this will, as with Elizabeth, Mary and Zechariah, result in praise and joy which overflows in encouragement for others.
Did anything particularly strike you from Sunday's message?
In Luke 1:39-45, how does Elizabeth encourage Mary and what does this result in?
When we are filled with the Spirit, we will encourage others, why is this so and why is this important?
In Luke 1:46-45, we overhear Mary's song of worship as she is inspired by the Spirit. How could you develop your personal and corporate worship?
In Luke 1:67-80, we overhear Zechariah's 'prophetic' song of worship as he, like Mary, is filled with the Spirit. What does this 'prophetic' song teach us about God and hope?
SIV - This section is full of the work of the Spirit. If we are full of the Spirit, what will happen regarding our witness?
SIV - How could you serve, invest and invite this week and let’s pray about this.
Prayer - How would you like prayer as a result of today’s study?