We know that going home after such an amazing week can be tough. All your mates have gone on holiday. You are desperately missing school work (I jest). Perhaps you have only just given your life to Jesus and you aren’t quite sure what you are supposed to do next? Well, have no fear – we are here to help. This blog will cover the basics of what it means now you have decided to follow Jesus. Everyday there is a bit of the bible for you to read and a little explanation. We have tried to include a question for you to think about or something to do. You might also find it helpful to make a note of your thoughts, questions or prayers.
This week we are looking at what it means to become a Christian. Maybe you did the Just Looking seminar stream, perhaps you responded at the end of an incredible preach or just prayed with your youth leader – it’s all good. But what exactly has happened to you? Let’s find out.
John 3:16-18 says this “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
And 1 John 4:9-10 tells us; “This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Did you know that God loved you that much? So much that He sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to take the punishment that we deserved for all the things we have done wrong (our sin). Jesus didn’t come to tell us off and make us pay – He came to rescue us. When we believe in Him then we are completely forgiven and free to know God’s incredible love. How amazing is that?!
How did you first hear the good news about Jesus?
In Mark 1:15 we read Jesus’ words; “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.”
Jesus was talking about God’s kingdom – a kingdom is a place that is under the rule of a king. Jesus came to earth to bring God’s rule and reign. What did that look like? Well everywhere Jesus went where there was sin and death and sickness – the kingdom of God brought forgiveness and life and healing. When we become a Christian, our lives become part of this kingdom, we make Jesus our King. How do we do that? Well Jesus says we must “repent and believe”. To repent means that we turn around… we stop going our own way, stop being king of our own lives, and we go God’s way – believing Him, following Him and making Him our King.
Are there any parts of your life that you might find it hard to let Jesus be king?
Read John 14:16 and Acts 4:12;
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’”
There are loads of religions in the world – Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Jedi-ism…. It would seem like there are loads of ways to find God. But no – the Bible is very clear – there is only one way that we can find God, there is only one way we can be forgiven, made right and brought back into friendship with our Creator – that is through Jesus. There is no one else – not Buda, not Muhmmed, not Yoda. Christianity is not a belief system you can add onto the other things you believe – Jesus claimed to be God and He claimed to be the only way to be saved. He was either crazy or lying or He was telling the truth. If he was crazy then He would have stayed dead. If He was lying then His body would still be in the tomb. But if He was telling the truth and He proved it by rising from the dead then we must reject all other “paths” and acknowledge Him as the only way. Before you met Jesus, what did you believe? What do you believe now?
Today’s reading is from Romans 3:21-25a
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith…”
In the Old Testament (the first part of the bible) God gave His people (the Israelites) a list of rules to live by. When they broke one of God’s rules they would have to make a sacrifice, to kill an animal, to take the punishment for the things they had done wrong. The trouble was no-one was good enough. No-one could keep all of God’s rules. Everyone broke them. Everyone that is until Jesus. Jesus became a man and lived His life without ever breaking any of God’s rules, without ever sinning. When He died, just like the animals sacrificed in the Old Testament, He shed His blood and paid the cost of our sin. ALL of us, just like the Israelites, fall short of God’s perfect standard. It is only by faith (trusting in Jesus) that we can receive His right-ness as a gift in exchange for our sin. Isn’t that just the best news ever? Prayer is talking to God. You can just speak to Him where you are or you might like to write it down like a letter. Why don’t you pray now and say thank you to Jesus for dying for you?
Romans 10:9-11 tells us this; “if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’”
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Is it really that easy? Yep. We don’t have to impress God with our good behaviour. We don’t have to pray big prayers full of big fancy words. We don’t have to spend hours studying our Bible and telling our friends about Him. We just believe that Jesus died for us and rose again, and say it out loud. Simples. This verse says that is all it takes for us to be saved. We can receive God’s forgiveness and love and live forever with Him just like that! No strings attached. It’s called grace. God gives us salvation as a free gift, all we have to do is receive it. Your challenge today is to speak out loud, confess what Jesus has done.
This from John 3:3; “Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’
2 Corinthians 5:17-19; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”
Okay, so I know I said yesterday that being saved is as simple as ‘saying and believing’ but here’s the thing… when you do that, the bible tells us, we are “born again”. The word here translated from Greek as “again” can also mean “from above”. When we were born the first time round it was a physical birth but when we believe in Jesus we are born again! This time it’s a spiritual birth – we are born from above. This reading from 2 Corinthians tells us that when this happens we are made completely new – we are new people. Our old selves with our love of sin and selfishness are dead and we are created brand, shiny and new. When we receive all of God’s love and grace we can’t stay the same – we find ourselves loving Him back. Just like Jesus made a way for us to be friends with God (reconciled), we now become God’s friend-makers. Our new selves are designed to live with God and for God – not because we have to but because we can’t help it.
Have you noticed any ways that you have changed since you said Yes to following Jesus?
Ephesians 1:3-5 says this; “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonshipthrough Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”
This Bible passage blows my mind! Did you know that before the world was made, before God had made a single star or blade of grass or ferret, He was thinking about you? He knew everything about you – how tall you would be, how many freckles you would have on your nose, whether you would be good at cricket or Spanish or doodling. He chose you to be part of His family and He had a plan for your life before a single day even existed. He loved you even though He knew everything you would do, all your worst bits, and He had a plan to adopt you and make you His child. Predestined is a fancy word that basically means that before you chose to follow God, He had already chosen you! You are wanted. And this bible verse tells us that the plan He has, to give you all the good things He has stored up, makes Him happy too.
How does it make you feel knowing that God chose you?
I hope this week has helped you understand a little better what happened when you asked Jesus to forgive you and come into your life. But this is just the beginning. Next week we are going to find out a bit more about Jesus.
Last month, a team from South Africa led by Gary Welsh, visited our friends in Livingstone, Zambia. One of the team members was Justice Mofokeng from Clarens. We caught up with Justice and asked him about the trip.
Question: When Gary first asked you to accompany him to Zambia, what was your first reaction?
Justice: I was very excited! I have been before and built some good friendships with the people in Livingston and so I was so glad to see them again and also find out how they are doing.
We had Our Big Launch with bunting, people flying in, collections and celebrations back in March and it already seems like years ago! Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who sent messages, prayed or visited over that time – it was incredible. Naturally we were a bit worried about the week afterwards – a bit like releasing ‘the difficult second album’ after a hit album. We needn’t have worried as God brought along visitors and the kids from the boarding school where we meet joined in with us dancing and celebrating. It felt like we really had momentum going.
‘Climb a mountain in flip flops and a vest, you’ll be fine’. Err, don’t think so.
‘Sure, you can borrow my car, son … and don’t worry about taking any lessons first, it will be more fun’,
said no parent, ever!
Paul, the great missionary church planter and apostle, taught that Jesus gave specific gifts to the church to ‘equip’ or ‘prepare’ God’s people for their own works of service. For us to try and engage in such works without being equipped or prepared could be as dangerous as scaling Everest in your summer gear, or driving without having any lessons … it’s incredibly risky.
The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. Gracechurch Bromsgrove demonstrate how church can look outside of it’s traditional walls.
Our vision in Gracechurch Bromsgrove is to be followers of Jesus, family on a mission and friends with the poor. We outwork this in so many different ways, but one of our most successful is our ‘Serving Sundays’.
The Jubilee+ team is excited about our seventh annual conference being held at City Church Cambridge on Saturday 28 October 2017. The seminars are listed here, along with introductions to the great speakers we have lined up…
Being invited to dinner at someone’s house used to cause me [Natalie Williams] great anxiety. Prior to becoming a Christian, I had never experienced different types of food being served in separate dishes. ‘After you’, my host would kindly say. Inside, I would panic. What if you were supposed to put the food on your plate in a specific order? How much were you supposed to take? I would try to insist the host went first, so that I would be able to copy them. But nice, polite middle class Christians in Britain would always insist the guest went first.
Amazingly God has opened up an opportunity for us to purchase an old Methodist church in the town centre and we’re hoping to raise enough money to buy it and develop it. We intend to revitalise the building and make it a place that families of all ages love to go, making it a place brimming with life once again; a place known for gospel-centred preaching and community. We see this as our ‘setting up home’ moment, which is the natural next step toward being a church fully engaged in serving the people of Seaford.
Fusi writes: Lesslie Newbigin once said “Foreign missions are not an extra; they are the acid test of whether or not the Church believes the Gospel.” and I have to say I fully agree with him. Having just sent a team from Cityhill to the Philippines to support Kim and Smile and the church in the advance of the gospel, we were so thrilled to hear their report of how God did some outstanding work through them. Below is a short report compiled by two of our young ladies who participated in this mission. See if it won’t excite you, and also add value to Newbigin’s statement.