4th Mar 2018
Vision 2018 Part 1
By Steve Bones
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Steve relays the Elder's vision for the church. Please see his notes, below, in conjunction with the recording
SUNDAY 4 MARCH 2018
A SAFE PLACE IN WHICH PEOPLE ARE INSPIRED…..
Question: Are you FAT?
Asked at Billy Graham's funeral on Friday by his youngest son - meaning are you Faithful, Available and Teachable, like his dad was to God.
Vision Statement for SMBC March 2018
Our aim is that South Molton Baptist Church becomes " a safe place in which people are inspired to grow closer to God, to each other and to the community ."
This vision statement, prepared with the assistance of Jim Ware, was to be presented at the Members meeting last Thursday, and then the three Elders were to unpack it in three distinct sections over the next 3 Sundays, starting today with me. Seems God has other ideas!
I understand Andy will still be presenting the vision statement at the Members meeting this Thursday (weather permitting), but we cannot postpone the unpacking for a week.
So, what are the three distinct sections we are to unpack:
· A safe place in which people are inspired…. Me!
· To grow closer to God and each other…. Steve Bedford
- To grow closer to the community. Andy
Three key words in my section, which I want to talk about:
- A 'safe place'
What is a 'safe place'?
Let me first of all start by stating that it does not only apply to Sunday morning! It can equally apply to a Life Group, prayer meetings, the seeking God meeting once a month, informal gatherings like with Mike Bryant last Monday at our house, coffee 'get togethers' like Julie and I did last Friday with Barry & Freda. So, any gathering of Christians, even when some are not from our church!
Matt 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. " (NIV)
But what about meetings with non-Christians? For example, mums and tots, film 'n' fun? Should these also be safe places? I hope so!!
So, what is a 'safe place'?
Not surprisingly, the term is not specifically used in the Bible. However, I believe it is implied!
Synonyms for 'safe place' (Google) are:
- Hideaway (0 times in the Bible)
· Sanctuary (176 times in the Bible (NIV)- OT 171, NT 5)
· Refuge (93 times in the Bible (NIV)- all in the OT)
· Shelter (24 times in the Bible (NIV) - all in the OT)
We elders believe one of the tasks of an Elder is to create a safe place, where people can be themselves, can share their hearts, can be obedient to God, without fear of judgment, criticism, ridicule, but will be lovingly corrected if necessary. People should always be loved and treated with honour, as God always treats us.
Why is this necessary?
Eph 4:15-16 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (NIV)
Eph 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body. (NIV)
1 Cor 14:1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. (NIV)
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (NIV) or Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (KJV)
i.e. healing of the soul as a result of past sins, not forgiveness which we already have.
2 Peter 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)
'Ageing is inevitable, maturity is not'
Rev 3:17-20 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (NIV)
Consider the vision shared last week of the caterpillars, chrysalis and butterflies. I believe we are all one of these, and need to honest with ourselves as to which one.
I believe these passages shows it is possible to be a Christian and not grow i.e. to be a caterpillar for longer than required. No shame in being a caterpillar as we all start there, the issue is whether we grow and metamorphous into a butterfly, which is what God wants us all to be. If we are to grow and mature, we need to be in an environment where we can be honest and share our failings and accept challenges from others.
A challenge God has put to me - am I willing to learn more about following Jesus, both directly and from others (i.e. be FAT)?
To grow, we need to follow Jesus, to deny ourselves and take up our cross. To obey his commands (1 Samuel 15:22 to obey is better than sacrifice). But what could some of those commands be?
- John 15:12-14 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. (NIV)
· Raising our hands to Jesus in worship and a sign of surrender
· Kneeling/falling prostrate before him in humble adoration and surrender (as Jesus did in the Garden Of Gethsemane Matt 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, (NIV)
- John 9:6-7 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (NIV)
- Matt 23:27 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. (NIV)
- John 20:22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
- John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (NIV)
How can we be free to do all the above, and more, if we are not in a 'safe place'?
A recent meeting has encouraged me that we are moving towards being a safe place:
· On 28 January we had a meeting where in the prayer time the mic was passed around and people shared their requests. Some very personnel information was shared, including by a visitor to the church for the first time. Wow!
Who does 'people' refer to?
Primarily it refers to God's people, his priests:
Ex 19:5-6 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. ' (NIV)
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (NIV)
God has always planned to have a kingdom of priests!
But if we have a safe place amongst ourselves, can it not spill over to those currently outside the church, where they trust us and share their lives? I believe if we honour one another, we will also honour those not yet Christians as it will be our lifestyle.
Why do we need to be 'inspired'?
We are not meant to stand still, but grow.
Eph 4:11-13 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (NIV)
Heb 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (NIV) or And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: (KJV)
End with a story to inspire - my testimony when I was 15!?! Changed in less than a week. God can do it if we let him.
Matt 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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. (NIV)