VISION SERIES PART 4 - COME TO ME...TOGETHER (20/10/19)
1. Vision introduction
2. Come to Jesus Daily devotional
Monday – “Come to me”… I desire mercy
Tuesday – “Come to me”… For new wine
Wednesday– “Come to me”… Proclaim the Kingdom
Thursday– “Come to me”… Become fruitful
Friday– “Come to me”… Don’t be offended
3. Community Group/Family Study
For links to the message go to our website,
1. VISION SERIES INTRODUCTION
Whilst praying about this vision series I felt led to the gospel of Matthew. Matthew wrote because he wanted to bring people to Jesus - the promised Saviour. Matthew wrote,
‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).’ (Matthew 1:21-23)
God’s wants us to know that in Jesus, forgiveness and His presence are available to you, me, to anyone! This gospel ends with Jesus’ direction to take this Good News to the whole world,
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
Jesus invites you, and through you, He wants to invite your friends to, “Come to me”.
LET’S OWN THIS VISION TOGETHER
Vision is something that we need to ‘own’ together. Therefore, I encourage you to commit to three things:
Make Sunday special by coming to church each week.Get along to a Community Group so as to learn with others. Use the ‘Come to Jesus Daily’ devotionals each day.
May we, like Matthew, respond to Jesus’ call,
‘He saw Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.’ (Matthew 9:9)
Let’s whole-heartedly respond to Jesus’ invitation to “come to me”.
Matt Beaney September 2019
VISION AND GOALS AT CCP
Our vision at CCP is, Bringing people to Jesus - Myself, One-another, Non-believers. Two key texts have shaped this,
John 7:37-38 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Matt.11:28-30“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Bringing people to Jesus is to share in God’s greatest ambition. This is a vision with eternal worth that invites us to give our lives for the worlds’ greatest need.
HOW DO WE BRING PEOPLE TO JESUS?
Bringing people to Jesus involves three different relationships:
Goal to help me to bring myself to Jesus: I 'come to Jesus daily' by setting aside quality time daily in prayer and worship out of the bible (20 minutes, using the ‘coming to Jesus daily’ blog is a good start)
Goal to help bring one-another to Jesus: Every member is in an amazing Community Group.
Goal to help us to bring our non-believing friends to Jesus: Hospitality Week – on the first week of each month, we ‘invest and invite’ through 'Hospitality Week'.
2. COME TO JESUS DAILY DEVOTIONAL
One of our goals as a church is to,
'Come to Jesus daily' by setting aside quality time daily in prayer and worship out of the bible (20 minutes, using the ‘coming to Jesus daily’ blog is a good start)’
Jesus promises rest for the weary and burdened (Matt. 11:28-30) and ‘living water’ (John 7:37-38) if we will come to Him. During our devotionals in this vision series, we will seek to learn from the Gospel of Matthew how, what it means, and what happens to those who come to Him.
MONDAY – COME TO ME…I DESIRE MERCY
Read and meditate on Matthew 9:1-12
Here we have the salvation of two very different people and these accounts should test our attitude to different sorts of people.
Jesus saves the suffering
In the first account, we read ‘Some men brought to him a paralysed man, lying on a mat.’ This act is inspired by faith, it says ‘When Jesus saw their faith’. Those who do the carrying, and the one being brought to Jesus reveal their faith by their actions.
Initially, their faith is in Jesus as a healer, however, as anyone who genuinely comes to Jesus will find, He reveals himself as God the Saviour.
Jesus deity is revealed in His forgiving his sin. Jesus doesn’t begin by healing but by forgiving; Jesus responds to their coming to Him with, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” For this, Jesus is accused of ‘blasphemy’ - misrepresenting God, which, of course, He would be if He were not God! No mere man can forgive sin! Sin is a failure to live for God as He deserves; it is God who has been offended and so it’s only God who can forgive those who have sinned against Him. In this account, Jesus reveals that He is God in the flesh, in the world. The one who has been sinned against has come into the world to offer forgiveness to any who will come to Him in faith.
Jesus also saves the ‘strong’
The second account is of the salvation of Matthew the tax collector. This is set in contrast to the previous account. Here, no friends are involved in bringing him, it’s Jesus who comes to Him. Matthew, unlike the paralysed man, elicits no compassion from us - He is a despised, wealthy, tax collector who lives off of the work of others (he probably collects taxes for Herod Antipas, on goods that cross the border into his territory). Even Jesus reveals the popular attitude when He says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matt. 5:46). However, Jesus comes to Him and calls Him, “Follow me”.
Does Jesus offend us?
Jesus offended people. If you were poor and abused by the wealthy, He offended you by calling wealthy abusers; if you were successful, be it materially or as a spiritual leader, he offended you as he called those you might see as failures. Our offence at the sorts of people that become Christians reveals our legalism - a belief that good people (as we define them) deserve salvation.
Jesus responds to those who are offended by His mercy, ‘On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Only sinners (the ‘sick’) are called to follow Jesus because they are the only kinds of people that exist. To follow Jesus requires that we recognise Him as Lord and Saviour, that we recognise that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, and that we leave our sin (repent) and follow Him; After all, we come to a ‘doctor’ for healing and we would be greatly disturbed if they simply told us to embrace and live with our sickness!
Who are we most offended by? A good test is to look at one’s friends - who have you gathered to and who have you excluded?
Jesus challenges the judgemental, and maybe you and I, with the words of Hosea 6:6, “go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” In Hosea’s day, God’s people continued to worship - that’s sacrifice – whilst failing to show ‘mercy’ (Hesed - steadfast love); worship is important, but worship without love for people is empty. No-one who comes to Jesus, who worships Him, will be left with a cold heart toward others who need God’s love and healing no matter what their background.
TUESDAY – “COME TO ME”….FOR NEW WINE
Please read and meditate on Matthew 9:14-17
Oftentimes people want Jesus to serve them. They say, “I believe this…I live this way…I feel this…my tradition is….and Jesus (and Christianity) will have to conform to me.”
This account is about people doing just that, they come to Him concerned that He is not ‘towing the line’ - not doing things as they see fit. Jesus responds with a short parable,
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
In other words, Jesus is saying, “I’ve not come to join you in teaching your religion; I’ve come to bring in a new era regarding how to know and live for God”.
Too often we attempt what I’m calling ‘patch-up religion’. This is taking our existing beliefs and add a ‘bit of Jesus’ in some way to try to make it work better. However, Jesus, radically, teaches that the ‘old garment’ cannot be fixed - implying that it needs to be disposed of; Jesus teaches that He gives ‘new wine’ that is to be poured into ‘new wineskins’, again, implying that our old approach to religion needs to be thrown out. Jesus doesn’t do a patch–up job, He is not a restorer, He is a destroyer of the old and giver of a new approach to knowing God.
Examples of patch-up religion
Here are a few examples that are attempting to add Jesus to their existing faith:
i) Jesus added to Judaism – The people in our text, John’s disciples and the religious teachers, were saying - “Let’s work really hard to obey the Law, add additional works such as fasts, so as to warrant God’s blessing on the nation.”
ii) “Jesus commands my hard work – I want things to change so I’ll fast, pray, do religious duties to earn God’s love and favour…” - that is legalism, that’s patch-up religion.”
iii) “I think that Jesus was a good guy – I’m an atheist or agnostic, I’m not sure, but I think Jesus was a good guy. Of course, I don’t think I believe in God but a bit more kindness and some emotion-creating rituals are a good thing…” This is ‘patch-up’ religion - it’s refusing to listen to what Jesus actually said but is ‘patching’ him onto your chosen framework.
iv) “Jesus is my great example – This world needs improving and Jesus is the greatest example of love. Let’s all, look at the cross, let’s live sacrificially, let’s make the world a better place…” This is ‘patch-up’ religion - it won’t work and it’s not what the bible teaches.
v) “I don’t feel that Jesus judges - Look at the cross, look at his acceptance of everyone. Jesus shows us that God will never judge anyone. God forgives all not matter what they believe…” - this is a ‘patch-up’, it’s adding a simplistic reading of the gospels to one’s desired belief that all religions are equally important and equally redundant!
v) “It doesn’t matter how I live – Following Jesus doesn’t mean seeking a righteous life. I can sin as much as I want. I can be as committed as I want to be.” Contrary to this our text tells us that although the old wineskin is thrown out, there is a new wineskin and new wine. This speaks of Christianity having content that one must learn to understand and obey.
RESPONSE - THROW OUT THE OLD, EMBRACE THE NEW
What is the new wine in new wineskins? To enjoy the ‘new wine and wineskins’ includes at least these two things:
i) The ‘new wine’ of justification by faith alone – Do you know that no-one is saved by fasting and legalistic efforts. No! One is saved by faith in Jesus’ atoning death. Are you enjoying this freedom?
ii) The ‘new wine’ of the Spirit – In essence this is a reference to the New Covenant in which through Jesus blood we are justified and receive New birth by the Holy Spirit. Subsequently, the Christian life is lived in dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Do you know that you have been born again by the Spirit? Are you seeking to be filled with His empowering presence each day?
Let’s not settle for patch-up religion. Have you thrown out your old religion and philosophy in exchange for coming to learn from Jesus? Are you relying completely on Jesus for forgiveness and transformation by the Spirit? Our old beliefs or false worldly beliefs often infect our thinking, therefore, let’s study God’s word so as to live in the good things that are ours in Jesus.
WEDNESDAY – “COME TO ME”…PROCLAIM THE KINGDOM
Please read and meditate on Matthew 9:35-10:7
The good news of the kingdom
Jesus’ ministry is summarised as ‘teaching … proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. ’. Beginning with the same summary in 4:23, this is exactly what we have seen on every page of this gospel. Jesus – and his disciples beginning in chapter 10 – proclaimed and demonstrated the Kingdom. To proclaim the kingdom means, firstly, to call people to Jesus - to receive Him as their king; secondly, to proclaim the Kingdom is to teach and ready people for the future coming of the Kingdom when there will be judgement and the restoration of creation; healings were, and are, a demonstration of the ‘healing’ of the cosmos that will happen at Jesus’ coming. People are invited to enter Jesus’ Kingdom now and in preparation for the fullness of its coming.
Jesus’ compassion on the crowds
Jesus was motivated by compassion. He sees the crowds as, “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” He is burdened for the welfare of people, and this burden drove him to pray for the sick, teach them how to live, get ready for the ‘kingdom coming’ (His return), and, ultimately, it was His love that caused Him to leave heaven and go to the cross.
Jesus wants His disciples to share His love for non-believers, and He links prayer to growth in such love. He asks them, ‘Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers’. Jesus knew that if we ask for workers, the Spirit will put Jesus-like compassion in people for those outside of the church.
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few
Jesus told His disciples that “The harvest is plentiful”. This means two things:
Firstly, it means that there are many who are ready to hear and respond to Jesus. God has chosen many and they will respond if we will go! (See John 4:35-39)
Secondly, I believe that Jesus is also referring to the ‘harvest of final judgement’, when all people will be judged. Such judgement is often called a harvest (See Matt. 3:10, 13:30, 13:39). Jesus sees these lost sheep as ‘ripe for judgment’ and in danger of hell; their spiritual leaders are not prepared to bring them to Him, and so He asks His disciples to pray for workers.
What authority do we have?
Jesus had authority over sickness and demonic oppression. However, in chapter 10 we read, ‘Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.’ What does this mean for us? Do all Christians have such awesome authority? Well, if we’re honest, our experience - mixed at best in my case anyway! – leads me to conclude that I don’t have such authority. Now, before you tell me to just have faith and walk in my authority, or something like that, let’s think about this text a bit more. Here are a few points:
We are not taught anywhere beyond the gospels that all Christians need to ‘grasp by faith’ their authority. The epistles point to certain people, because of the gifting of the Spirit, in whom ‘miracles, signs and wonders’ work more prominently rather than being a blanket enabling. However, one could argue that Jesus does seem to make such a blanket promise when He says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (Jn. 14:12). However, it’s simplistic and frustrating to say that the reason why every Christian is not ‘raising the dead, feeding five-thousand, walking on water…’ is because they simply are not grasping their authority! and, I’ve never met such an ‘encourager’ whose life lives up to this billing! Surely, this promise is for the church - His body. Jesus’ ascent to heaven, the pouring out of His Spirit, has multiplied the scale of His ministry as His church works, empowered by the Spirit, throughout the earth.
In conclusion, It’s as His body, working in concert, that we have authority to do the works of Jesus. It’s as the church uses the range of gifts given by the Spirit that we, like Christ will, proclaim and demonstrate the kingdom.
Ask for workers. Pray for God to raise up people who have compassion and will step out in word and deed in order to bring people to Jesus before His coming and final judgment. Jesus has commissioned His church to preach the gospel; God promises to empower us with the Spirit so as to be witnesses; Jesus has promised the gifts of the Holy Spirit so as to be a mature body and to continue doing ‘Jesus’ works’. Let’s pray for God to give all of us faith-filled and willing hearts.
THURSDAY – “COME TO ME”…BECOME FRUITFUL
Read and meditate on Matthew 13:1-23
The focus of this parable is not the identity of the sower (although it does encourage us to be sowers), its focus is on the four types of soil. We are to ask the questions: Which soil am I most like, which soil do I most want to be, which do I least want to be and how do I need to respond?”
The three soils types are:
1. Those who don’t try to understand the gospel
The path, where the birds ate up the seed. Such people can’t be bothered or won’t make any sacrifice to explore the claims of Jesus.
RESPONSE – Now, this can be those who are outside the church; however, this can be applied to many ‘church-goers’ who couldn’t tell you the gospel and are too lazy or distracted to learn anything from God - Are you allowing the seeds of truth that you learn to be stolen through complacency?
2. Those who refuse persecution for the gospel
This soul is rocky, the seed did not have enough soil for healthy growth. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Persecution is likened to the hot sun. Someone once said, “The same sun that melts ice, hardens clay.” The sun of persecution will cause a Christian to stand and grow, whilst those who are not, in the same ‘sun’, their confession of Jesus will wither away.
RESPONSE – Are you and I prepared to suffer for the gospel? If we won’t expose what we believe to the sun, has it already withered? We keep our soil healthy by purposefully sharing the gospel with people as the opportunity arises.
3. The worriers and lovers of wealth who won’t trust the gospel
This soil is infested with thorns, which grew up and choked the seed. These thorns are defined as ‘worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful’. Many of us have friends who were passionate for Jesus only to allow worry and the seeking financial security, status or pleasures to turn them into a shadow of their former selves.
RESPONSE – We are all prone to fear and trusting in money! A sure antidote is to build trust in Jesus through prayer and giving money away - financial generosity skills making money an idol.
4. Good soil – Those who hear the gospel with understanding
This is the Good soil. This parable contains warning and promise. A promise that there will be different kinds of responses as we share the gospel message; we are assured of fruitfulness if we will keep sowing! However, this parable is also, and is principally, a warning to take care that we hear well; we are to take care lest we become like the path or the fruitless soils.
RESPONSE – Are you seeking to be good soil? How would you know? Well, a simple test is to ask, “Am I living for Jesus today in a more trusting and open way that I did yesterday?”
FRIDAY – “COME TO ME”…DON’T BE OFFENDED
Please read and meditate on Matthew 13:53-58
Coming to His hometown…They were amazed.
Matthew records what happens when Jesus comes to his hometown of Nazareth. He begins to teach in the synagogue that he probably went to whilst growing up - He’s like a visiting speaker at the church he grew up in.
Let’s remember that the citizens of Nazareth would have known Jesus very well. Based upon archeological study, Nazareth had no more than 500 residence. Jesus had grown up and probably worked as a carpenter among them until He was around 34 years old. During that time there are no records of anything happening that would have marked Jesus out as anything special. Therefore, Initially, their reaction is very positive, we read, ‘they were amazed. Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?”’ This is like the local boy or girl whom no-one knows can sing, suddenly hitting the big-time. “Wow,” those in the town say, “We didn’t see that coming!” That’s a good place to end the film, however, it doesn’t end on a high! I’m reminded of the song by the Eagles, ‘A new kid in town’.
“There's talk on the street; it sounds so familiar.Great expectations, everybody's watching you. People you meet, they all seem to know you. Even your old friends treat you like you're something new. Johnny come lately, the new kid in town. Everybody loves you, so don't let them down.”
Jesus, initially is treated like the ‘new kid in town’, He’s the ‘local kid who has found fame returning’ and, as is often the case, this can provide an excitement, but it’s not lasting. These people are the the fruitless soils that we saw in yesterday’s devotional.
Where then did this man get all these things? They took offence
As is often the case, those we worship we often end up demonising – just look at the meteoric rise and fall of most celebrities; today she’s got the right look, dress, views, lifestyle… tomorrow they want to photograph her drunk and in a ditch!
After their initial positive reaction, they begin to recall Jesus’ humble background: He has no special ‘breeding’, He’s not been to the right schools, they know His family and they are just like them… This must mean, they conclude, that He is not to be trusted, maybe his ‘wisdom and powers’ are from the devil (this is not said but is surely implied) in the words, ‘And they took offence at him.’
‘Offence’ (skandalizó) means to be snared and stumble. They would not receive and honour Jesus based upon the evidence of his life; they were ’snared and tripped’ by their false expectations of the kind of package that God must come in.
Prophet without honour
Jesus responds to their judgment saying, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.” It was true then and it is true today – those closest to us can fail to see us; they fail to see one’s gifts and character, and success is often threatening and is to be sneered at. Well, if that’s your experience, you are in good company. Jesus (and many prophets in the bible) were rejected. Jesus warns us that this will be our experience,
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!” (Matt. 10:24-25).
He did not do many miracles
Again, as we saw when we considered chapter 8, faith plays a huge part in our experience of healing and doing the works of Jesus in general. In essence, if we don’t believe that Jesus can heal, we won’t pray and won’t see healing.
Are we offended by Jesus? “no, of course not” I hear you say. However, let’s not be so quick to acquit ourselves. Here are a few questions to consider,
Do you worship Jesus as Lord, God and Saviour? If you put any saviour, god or philosophy alongside Jesus, you have been offended by Him. Are we open to talking about who Jesus is in our home and hometown or are we embarrassed by Him? Do we judge Jesus - get angry with Him - for acting in ways that seem too normal? What I mean by this is, Jesus grew up in an everyday fashion and, whilst we should desire miracles and seasons of greater action, are we prepared to worship and be faithful in the day-in-day-out nature of life? Do you have faith that Jesus is God Almighty? Do you believe that He is (and remains heaven) as fully God and fully man? Do you trust that He can heal and is this expressed in your praying for sick people?
3. COMMUNITY GROUP/FAMILY STUDY
COME TO ME…TOGETHER PT. 2
Let’s begin by reminding ourselves of our vision which is… BRINGING PEOPLE TO JESUS. We do this in three relationships: Myself, One-another and Non-believers.
Please read Matthew 8:23-27
Let's continue to use this episode in the boat to teach us. This story compliments us of our vision very well – each was called to follow Jesus into the boat (Myself); they join Him with others (one-another); they were going over the lake to minister (non-believers). This week we continue focussing on bringing ‘one-another’ to Jesus.
How does Jesus encourage them in the storm? None of the others took a lead to impart faith, why was this?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 and Romans 12:5-8. Jesus continues to encourage His church through the various gifts that He gives to us. How does serving on a team and being in a Community Group help us to discover, grow and use our gifts?
A spiritual gift is anything you say or do that channels the Holy Spirit’s work. There are 3 main categories of gifts: 1. Word gifts- Using words that channel the Spirit’s work. 2. Service gifts - Acts of service that channel the Spirit’s work 3. Miracle gifts - healing, calming storms etc. Whilst seeking to serve in all three areas, we will discover our primary gifts. What will you do in order to grow in each of these 3 areas?
Notice - A vital part of being together is giving to the work of the church. On Sunday we encouraged the church to pray about giving or increasing their giving to the General and Building Funds. For details, please collect an envelope on Sunday or contact the office.