Vision Sunday: Closer/Further

Part 1

As disciples of Jesus, our desire this year is that each one of us draw closer to God. We trust that He will take us further than we have ever been in our spiritual walk with Him and in our discipleship journey with others. This year we are believing that as we draw closer to God He will do immeasurably more in us and through us. It is our dream that we will see a rapid mobilisation of disciples that multiply, and that thousands of people will come to know Jesus as we each draw closer to Him.

Read Philippians 3:7-14

Discuss
  1. Crossway’s Vision is to see our city, nation and the nations become disciples of Jesus. What excites you about this vision? What opportunities do you see that we have as a church to further fulfil this vision in 2020? What might your part be in this?
  2. Our Mission at Crossway is three fold: Loving God, Loving People, Disciples that Multiply. What are you doing to work towards an aspect of this mission? What are you doing in each of the three areas?
  3. As we draw closer to God, He takes us further in our walk with Him. How have you seen this reality in your life? How might this apply to you this year?
  4. Read Phil 3:7-10. What is Paul saying in these verses? What challenges you in this?
  5. Read Phil 3:13-14. What is the goal for Jesus that you are pressing towards this year? What will help you to achieve this goal?

 

Respond

God’s plan for Christianity is very simple: He places the mission of God in the hands of ordinary people – you and I. This year we can all step closer to God and allow Him to take us further. To be disciples that multiply, we need to be obedient and take a step towards sharing the good news with those who are yet to hear. Who has God placed in your world whom you can ask if they want to read the Bible with you this year? What might feel impossible to us, Christ can do through us – if we allow Him to. He has already prepared the path. Take a moment now to ask God what it is that He would have you do this year in drawing closer to Him, going further with him, and being a disciple that multiplies in 2020.

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Part 2

We often measure how close we are to others by our geographic proximity to them. The closer the distance, the closer we feel in our relationship. This may not be a true indicator of how we are going relationally with the other person. Likewise, our relationship with God is not one that can be measured by location. Rather, our closeness to God is determined by the level of intimacy between us and God. It is up to us whether or not we want to be transparent and vulnerable with Him. God is always available to us – how close we feel to Him depends upon what we are doing to draw closer to Him.

Read Acts 17:24-28

Discuss
    1. Read Acts 17:28. What is your understanding of this? How is this related to our intimacy with God?
    2. Read Hebrews 11:6. How does the relationship between God’s rewards and our human attitudes work? What is your interpretation of “seeking” God?
    3. Intimacy with God is about priority. What do we need to do to be more vulnerable with God? What are the challenges?
    4. Read John 5:39-40 and Philippians 4:6-7. Knowledge does not mean trust. Your intimacy with God is connected to how much you trust Him. What are the things that worry you lately?
    5. If you could describe intimacy using only a few words, what would they be?
    6. On the scale of one to four (with four being really good), how is your relationship with God? What practical steps can you take this week to be more intimate with Him?

 

Respond

We know that God desires to be closer to us. It all depends on how we respond to His invitation. We can be scared of being intimate with Him because we feel unqualified or undeserving, or because of known sin in our lives. But we can also be brave enough to draw near to God despite how we feel about ourselves, knowing that He is the only one that can transform and forgive us. All we need to do is to draw ourselves closer to Him and be willing to trust Him.

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Part 3

Throughout the Scriptures we see countless examples of broken people who, at a point where they draw closer to God, quickly recognise their own unworthiness and their personal propensity to sin. It is at this point that each of us needs to accept the amazing grace that God unconditionally offers, in order for us to draw closer to God and thus go further with Him. The risk at this pivotal point of decision and revelation is that we may resist God’s offer and remain at a self-imposed distance from Him.

Read Luke 15:11-24

Discuss
    1. The Bible includes many examples where a person who draws closer to God suddenly recognises their own inadequacies and unworthiness. What are some of these Bible moments that you can recall? (e.g. Moses and the burning bush.)
    2. Read Luke 15:17-19. The prodigal son had a revelation of self-awareness that prompted a decision to change his life direction. How might he have felt in this moment? What did he reveal about his subconscious perception of his father in this decision? Have you ever had a ‘prodigal son’ moment?
    3. The son saw himself as unworthy and sinful in his point of revelation, placing judgement on his own worth and actions. What can be the consequence of judging ourselves? Of judging others?
    4. The father responded to the son with excessive and abundant grace and forgiveness beyond anything that the son could have imagined. Have you ever experienced this kind of forgiveness from God? What might be preventing you from experiencing such grace?
    5. What is your personal understanding of the grace of God? How is this grace magnified considering our recognition of our own sinful inclinations?
    6. The acceptance of God’s grace will take you further. Discuss.

 

Respond

At the point of revelation of our sin and God’s grace, we have a choice to make. Despite our own brokenness, if we are willing to accept God’s grace we can draw closer to Him and thus go further with Him. Alternatively, we can recoil from this opportunity and instead busy ourselves with our lives, leaving God standing at a distance with His arms outstretched to us. What do you need to do today to draw closer to God? Have you fully accepted His offer of grace? Take a moment now to ask for His forgiveness and accept His love and grace towards you.

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Part 4

Jesus taught His disciples and now us to include in our prayers, “forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us”. We all agree that this is a noble thing to do — until we are personally called to put it into practise. The story of Leila Abdallah (see attachment) may be an extreme example of forgiveness, but Jesus said to Peter that we should continue to forgive for seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). Jesus was not being technical — rather, He was being hyperbolical. There actually is no edge to forgiveness. Forgiveness starts with each one of us.

Read Matthew 18:21-35

Discuss
    1. How do you see God’s forgiveness according to the parable you just read? If you were to put yourself in the first servant’s shoes, would you think that what the master did at the end was fair? Where do you think fairness lies when it comes to forgiveness?
    2. Jesus died on the cross to ‘pay our debt’ for sin. What does this mean to you personally (consider Romans 6:23)? Knowing this, do you think ‘fairness’ still has a place when you’re weighing whether or not to forgive someone? What could hinder us from forgiving another?
    3. Ps Dale said “for you to forgive is for you to let go.” What are the things that we have to let go of? If you are currently in the midst of extending forgiveness, what do you have to let go of now?
    4. Read Luke 6:28 and 6:37. What do we need to do for those who mistreat us? What does the Bible say will happen if we don’t do these things? How do we make this practice becomes habitual rather than occasional?
    5. Read Romans 12:17-18. Forgiveness is an action of your will and it does not depend on the perpetrator. Why can this become a challenge when we base it on our emotions?
    6. What about forgiving yourself? Do you have disappointments in yourself that you still carry? What can you do with this?

Respond

“Further” is where we will go when we are willing to offer another person forgiveness. Understanding God’s forgiveness of our sin breaks the chain of bitterness and disappointment that can bind us. It is a process of healing and it will take time. Here’s the good news: God’s forgiveness is given to you when you declare that He is your Lord and Saviour. Consider what would happen to you if He had not died on the cross (Romans 6:23). The ball is now in your court. Do you want to forgive others? Share in groups of two or three whether this is an area that you are struggling with, and hold each other in prayer.

Attachment: Leia Abdallah’s Statement to media

On Saturday the 1st of February 2020 at approximately 7.50 pm, our entire world came crumbling down with the senseless loss of three of our six children, Antony, Angelina and Sienna.

A fourth child was also killed; our cousin Bridget Sakr’s daughter, Veronique.

To begin to encapsulate or express the heart-wrenching pain and sorrow we are experiencing in this time would require endless words of despair. This is an unimaginable tragedy; unfathomable beyond all description.

Our children are our reason for living. Bringing them up in accordance with the ways of God, teaching them to love, affording them every opportunity and nurturing them into positive and impacting young men and women was and is our life’s purpose.

What is life without your children? How and where do we begin to pick up the pieces so that we may be effective parents to our three remaining angels? We start with forgiveness.

We forgive the driver that killed our innocent children. His actions will be met before the earthly and heavenly judge. We have decided, in our hearts to forgive him – for our sake, for the sake of our children and more so for Christ’s sake.

Our faith in Jesus Christ remains the foundation of our family and we believe it will continue to help us through this difficult time. Each day that passes is a day closer to the day we are reunited with our angels. We will look toward this moment; not backwards at yesterday’s pain.

As we’ve tried to make sense of the past week, the world too has been shaken by this mortifying event. It is our hope that through this, all will know that no matter the pain or despair, God will be a safeguard through this dark valley. He is in control, and eternity sits in the palm of His divine hand.

Our life here on earth is but a vapour in comparison to His eternal plans, and the purpose God holds for His children.

We would like to thank our family, our friends, our community, and so many others from across Australia and the world, for the overwhelming support we have received.

We are humbled and strengthened by the outpouring of love from each and every one of you.

Please continue to join us in prayer during this time. This is a very heavy cross that we’ve been chosen to carry, but it is through God’s love that we keep going.

May the Peace of God through Jesus Christ be with us all.

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