Talk It Out – Sunday Suggestion

Throughout this week, we have been thinking about the Great Commission as given to us by the Lord Himself and recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. I want this week’s Sunday Suggestion to carry on the theme.

Before I do, is there anything that has challenged you this week? If so, talk it out with a trusted friend at church. Perhaps you were moved by the fact that the Eleven disciples had doubts (see Matthew 28:16-17), or perhaps you felt a nudge from the Lord to “go”? Maybe the discussion about baptism prompted you to want to explore it for yourself, in which case why not take this chance to discuss with your pastor? Did the posts about making disciples or teaching challenge you to want to go deeper with the Lord, or help others do the same? Whatever it may be, grab a coffee after the service and sit down with someone. Share your thoughts and get their views.

If there was nothing in particular that stood out this week, then that is fine. Instead, take that same cup of coffee and talk to your home group leader or leadership team about how your church is fulfilling the Great Commission. Do not be critical of course, but look for ways you can get involved and support the church’s efforts. There are undoubtedly myriad ways you can get involved. You might like to help run the next baptism preparation class, or take the big step of offering to lead a small group and help make disciples? You could start a prayer programme for those who are going out and sharing the Gospel, or join them yourself.

Ask your pastor or trusted friend to help you figure out your gifts and unique contribution, together make a plan on how you can use those talents to preach the Gospel – directly or indirectly.

As you discuss the Great Commission, see if there are ways you can encourage others. Some may be cautious or even fearful about stepping out, so give them confidence by supporting them and reminding them of Christ’s presence with them. It might be that they have a God-ordained idea in their heart to reach people with the truth, but they cannot do it alone. You may be the person they need to help turn their idea into a reality.

There are countless ways in which we as individuals and as part of a church, can seek to fulfil Jesus’ commands here. Perhaps you are desperately seeking a way to do so, but just can’t seem to find the right avenue. Talk to someone about it, and listen not just to them, but to the Lord through them as well.

I do hope you have enjoyed what you have read this week, but do not allow it to just pass you by. Let it prompt you to action, and to “go” as Christ instructed. Don’t dive in without thought, but do take definite action. Take the counsel of fellow believers and work with them in whatever way God is directing you.

Together, we can take the Gospel to the world that needs it so very much.

As a reminder, here are the words we have read so many times this week. Read them once again, slowly, and pay particular attention to those elements you have not noticed before. Importantly, read that last sentence more than once. Jesus is with you! Praise the Lord!

But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had sent them. 17 When they saw him, they bowed down to him; but some doubted. 18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go[b] and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:16-20 (WEB)

If you missed any of the post on the Great Commission, here is a list:

  • Bowing and Doubting
  • Go!
  • Make Disciples
  • Baptise Them
  • Teach Them
  • I Am With You

Working Hard

Writing is a funny thing. Some days I sit down at the keyboard and in minutes have a thousand words down and a blog post ready to go. Some days not. Today was one of the latter days.

I’ve stared at a blank screen for some time, and done a few miles of pacing up and down the room. It might be because i’ve been working on other projects and my creative juices need replenishing, but who knows.

It got me thinking about the various gifts and talents those in the church have been given by God. Whether spiritual in nature, musical or administrative, God has liberally given us all gifts to use for His glory in supporting the Body of Christ.

Yet just because one has a gift in a certain area, does not mean its use comes easily to them. I hope I have some small gift of writing and teaching, and yet today neither has come easily. I’ve had to work hard at it to get the words out.

Having a gift in any area does not negate the need for hard work and practise.

I am reminded by this verse penned by the Apostle Paul:

So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Philippians 2:12 (WEB)

Paul is not telling his readers that they must work to achieve their salvation. Far from it. Paul went to great lengths to preach the Gospel of grace meaning that salvation is a gift from God and achieved by Christ’s work at the cross. We cannot earn salvation any more than the Old Testament believers could fulfil all aspects of the law. We all need a Saviour to be our substitute.

Paul is saying that we ought to work out our salvation, that is, live it out in our everyday lives. We have it already, it belongs to us because of Jesus, so now let’s live like a saved people.

From the moment we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we begin a journey. On the one hand, we are sanctified at that very moment, but on another, we must work towards sanctification through surrendering ourselves to God and His ways.

Similarly, Paul tells Timothy:

But refuse profane and old wives’ fables. Exercise yourself toward godliness.

1 Timothy 4:7 (WEB)

Another translation renders this verse as “train yourselves to be godly.” While we fully possess salvation, we must also train ourselves for godliness. It takes work to do this.

God makes us righteous in our spirits, exchanging our unrighteousness for Christ’s righteousness. That position will never change. But we are more than just our spirits, and our mind, will and emotions all need to be trained in line with God’s Word.

Romans 12:1-2 tells us to renew our minds that we might be transformed into Christ’s likeness. This is a process which takes time.

Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (WEB)

In the same way, we are given spiritual or natural gifts by God the Father who made us. These gifts must be trained and practised in order to grow strong and effective.

My teaching gift has been apparent for some time, and yet I still have much to learn to use it effectively. I must study to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word, and I must practise both writing and speaking, learning what works and what does not. There is no shortcut to doing this.

Perhaps you are a natural singer. Even so, you will still need to practise the songs you sing, harmonies and melodies, and different ways you can use that voice.

Perhaps your gifts are in church administration. Again, you too will need to practise those skills to deploy with great effect. You might need to learn how to use a new accounting system or piece of software, you might need to learn different organisational skills or you may simply need to give time to tidying, clearing and sorting.

Do not neglect your gift. It is a precious thing, and it needs to be nurtured to grow strong. How can you develop it for the Lord today?