Renewing our passion for growth. Why should we keep growing. We at Covenant Life must grow larger and smaller at the same time. So today we’re asking God to renew our passion for growth; everyone renew our commitment to wanting to see more and more people enjoy what Jesus has to offer. We want to grow deep and we want to grow wide.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6: 35-40
So Jesus is saying that he is here because God the Father wants him to be here. What is the Father’s will? The Father’s will is to draw people to me. And when the father is drawing people to me, I will not cast them out. I can see them, I can see the way they dress, they behave, I know what’s going on their life, I know how they behaved with their wife, their children or their spouse... I know what wrongs that they have done. I will not cast them out. If the father is drawing them to me... and if they look upon the Son and if they put their faith on the Son, the Son will deliver eternal life to them. I will give them eternal life. I will never cast them out and no one can take them out of my hand.
Are you getting where Jesus is coming from? He’s here to deliver the Father’s will. He’s here to make sure that God’s agenda is complete. ‘Whoever looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.’ Jesus takes the whole onus on Him to take care of the sheep. He’s the husband to the bride. He takes complete ownership to look after, to cherish, to cleanse, to sanctify, to protect the bride. “I will raise him up on the last day.”
I want us to peak into what God is feeling toward his people. - 1. He does not desire that any should perish. Do you know that? But haven’t we all sinned? But no one will perish because Jesus has covered all sin. And if he has covered all sin, he has made arrangement for all to be saved. Therefore, it is my desire that all should be saved. If Jesus’ blood has covered everyone, if Jesus’ blood has covered every sin, there is no sin left for condemnation.
So there is no place in this community, in this church, wherever you’re gathered, as you walk through that door, for condemnation and for judgment.
‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’ 2 Peter 3:9
God wants to see everyone in heaven. So you walk past a vegetable guy, God wants him, you walk passed a colleague in school or in office, in your company, God wants him or her. God wants that person more than you want that person. The one that you’re avoiding in the corridor is the one that God wants in His presence forevermore.
God has a deep relationship and a deep desire for every single one that He has paid a high price for. And we need to develop that passion for the lost – we say lost, that sounds terrible, it sounds judgmental – but we are saying that the Father has lost you, His son. And the Father is making every effort to get you back, to win you back. So, we are not judging people as being lost, we are saying that the Father has lost you because of sin and has made every arrangement to get you back. And we are in the process, we have been ushered in, partnered in the process of bringing people back to Him. We have come back and we are bringing people back to him. He does not desire that anybody should perish.
- 2 . God wants everyone to have a new beginning, a new birth and a fresh start. God wants second chances. He wants his family to be a place where people say “you know what, when everybody pointed fingers against me, when everybody condemned me, when everybody told me that I was lost and I have no hope – here in this community, here in this family, people put their arms around me and said there is hope, there is a second chance.’ And if you’re going to give a second chance, you’ve got to treat the person like they’ve never done anything before. And that’s the tricky part. God wants our community to be a place of second chances.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is anew creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
New creation. See that’s the miracle, right? Because only God can make something new. Nobody else can make anything new. It’s all remade, recycled, rehashed, renovated, refurbished –but God is the one who makes new. And if anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creation. Those who’ve lost their virginity, those who’ve lost their integrity, those who’ve lost their respect, those who’ve lost their reputation, those who’ve lost their trust in people, those who’ve lost their confidence in themselves – you come into Jesus, you’re a new creation. Things start again. Things are born again. You are born again. It becomes a place of new beginnings. You don’t restart because if you restart you’re starting the same old thing. But it’s a new start because it’s the beginning of something new. And God wants us to be a community. When you say come into Jesus – Jesus is in heaven – so when you come into Jesus, you’re coming into His family. You’re coming into His faith, you’re coming into His care. And He looks after you through his body. When I come to hug you, or when I come to help you up – I use my hand, I don’t use my head. As funny as that is – Jesus is the head and the church is the body. And the body follows through what the head is doing. When the body is not cooperating with the head, not giving the head what it wants, not representing or respecting the head – we call that disabled or paralytic or unstable.
That means the whole body is involved in this process. We don’t segregate this ministry to the Pastor, the clergy and to a few people in the church. This is the ministry of everybody in the church. So, when a broken person walks through the door, when a tired person walks through the door, when a hurting person walks through the door – whose ministry is it to reach out to that person? Everyone.
The answer to pain and suffering and rejection and death in this world is Jesus. Not religion, not philosophy, not hospitals, not counselling, but Jesus – the person of Jesus, the body of Jesus.
‘All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:27-29
All authority, all work, all commissions, all authority handed by the Father to Jesus –.And their relationship is really tight. And the Father has handed over to the Son all authority to bring people back to Himself. Whoever He chooses. So whoever He chooses, the Son chooses to reveal the Father to him. So there’s a sense of reconciliation with the Father and a sense of reconciliation through the Son.
‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ We quote this verse after work, every day when we come back all tired and say Jesus help me, Jesus take the wheel. He’s not talking about the nine hours of work, he’s talking about those who are striving in their religion, in their ceremony, in their faith – they’re striving to please God, striving to get back to God, striving to be holy, striving to be pleasing to God. They are sacrificing, they are working hard. And God the Father is saying, through God the Son – he says all who are striving in their religiosity to try and come to me. I choose for them to come to me. Let them come to me. If you’re weary, if you’re heavy laden, if you’re burdened with this guilt, if you’re burdened to be right with God “Come, I’ve got news for you. I can take you to the Father. My yoke is easy.” Religion’s yoke is difficult, philosophy’s yoke is difficult, ceremonial yoke is difficult, guilt’s yoke is difficult – but “my yoke is light. Come I will lead you into rest.” So what are you finding rest from? It’s not sleep. It’s rest from work for religiosity’s sake. It’s rest from trying to please God – as you step into Jesus, you learn how to be right with God. You learn that it’s not you working for God, it’s Jesus who has worked for you. And the church is a place where you constantly discover on a daily basis of what Jesus has already done for you.
-3. Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mathew 28: 18-20
Note how he always ties it back to him and who he is and his authority. …in heaven and on earth. Then he says he is authorising you to make disciples from every nation. And by baptising – bring them into the body of Christ – and teaching them – bring them into the character of Christ.
-4. God wants us to make more disciples. The difference between a follower and a disciple is that a follower is one that remains a follower and keeps following and constantly needs you, but a disciple is one who multiplies himself and makes more other followers. A disciple is one who understands the character of Jesus and brings other people to understand the character of Jesus. A disciple is one who has found rest in God, in the spirit of God, in the things of God, in the promises of God and teaches others to find that same rest.
So the church family is where Christ wants to meet these needs and make this happen. In the church family is where we make disciples. Discipleship has become a very theoretical thing, it’s become a very intellectual thing, it’s become about study and Bible study. And yes I know the word is discipline, but the word discipline actually means habits.
So when we’re talking about disciples, we’re not talking about fanatical people who are on an agenda. We’re talking about people who have so seriously taken the character of Christ that it has now become second nature and it is a part of their life. But they are also able to teach others. They’re also able to rub that off on to other people, to make disciples. And God wants that here, in this family. God wants – He’s given the mandate, that mandate to the church.
So, what does Jesus want?
1. Jesus wants us to. He wants us to grow up and be internally strong; He wants our roots deep; He wants our branches wide
2. He wants you to multiply yourselves. So the same freedom, strength and rest that you have found in Jesus, you yearn for others to find. That means right now you need to be able to think of three to five people that you wish for and that you’re praying for – that they find freedom, rest and strength. Jesus has promised this, you will deliver it.
Take it forward
We are about community. So larger and smaller at the same time. Small groups, meaningful, caring relationships, face-to- face, serving opportunities, looking into each other’s lives and being available for each other. We as a community need to become a place of healing, a place of new beginnings, a place of real relationships, a place of genuine worship.