Part 1: Vision

Part 1: Vision

I am sitting in my study praying and thanking God for this precious family we call Commission and all the wonderful people who are part of it. We are all on a great adventure to see thousands of lives transformed through hundreds of churches in tens of nations. We’re transforming lives under King Jesus then building transformed communities that transform nations.

We are all on this exciting journey, reaching towards a great vision and guaranteed inheritance. Westpoint 2018 gave encouragement to each of us to put the final destination into our “spiritual Sat Navs”. We heard a lot of great teaching at Westpoint about the Kingdom of God and these are helpful to listen to again as we seek God for this coming year. You can listen again by clicking here.

I am praying for the family of Commission to be a disciple-making family, each connected to Commission’s amazing vision. The book “The Blessed Life of the Kingdom of God” is a small step in this process. I am praying for thousands across the Commission family to use this tool in personal study times, small groups, discipleship and even for churches to do a short series on the Sermon on the Mount over the coming year. This tool can be used each week to discuss and study a section at a time, watering the seed of God’s word.

Questions:

I have put together this series in the hope that you find this a useful add-on to the book. Every blog will include a few related questions, these can be used in personal reflection or to be used in a small group discussion. We hope you find these useful.

1: If you were to describe yourself as a tree what tree would you choose and why?

2: Would you describe your life as blessed/flourishing? What season of life do you feel you’re in at the moment?

3: In what ways is “Christian flourishing” unlike the world’s description of “doing well”?

4: What areas of your life do you consider to be fruitful? What changes could you make, in line with God’s vision, to make you more fruitful?

5: Can you articulate the vision of Commission? Have you considered what part you could play in unlocking this vision to others?

Part 2: Blessed are the poor in spirit

Part 2: Blessed are the poor in spirit

When we read the gospels we find that Jesus talks a lot about the Kingdom of God using seeds as an illustration, i.e. parable of the sower, Matt 13:1-23, the parable of the mustard seed Matt 13:31-35. He does this to illustrate that the Kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world, big, brash, impressive, but always begins small. In this session, we’ll be considering the gospel, the bible and our own lives as seed.

Seed can appear pretty weak, insignificant and helpless when holding our hands and yet we know that it contains a code of life that is able to reproduce multiples of itself 30, 60, even 100 times. Farmers and gardeners know all about the unlocking of this code to produce a harvest and fruit. The disciple of Jesus must have an understanding of the seed of the gospel, which has an amazing ability to be working invisibly and then to bring about a sudden moment of salvation.

This first beatitude asks us to see our utter inability to please God or find life. We are weak and helpless and bring nothing but our sin to the relationship. We cannot earn salvation it is all of God’s love and grace, that same grace is the fuel for living a life of flourishing. We daily need to remind ourselves that kingdom life is found to the humble and poor in spirit.
Questions:

1:   Does poor in spirit describe your life? What areas in your life are you tempted to rely on yourself rather than God?

2:   What is the DNA of the gospel message? Can you describe this so that a nonbeliever can understand and what scriptures have helped you?

3:   Why is it important for us to think of not only the gospel but also our lives as seed?

4:  Trees typically have many seeds why do you think this is? If your sharing the gospel is a seed how many seeds would you seek to sow in a given week?

5:   Why is it important to see the sermon on Sunday as seed? Is your heart open and receptive and prepared to hear and obey each week?

 

 

Part 3: Blessed are those who mourn

Part 3: Blessed are those who mourn

I will sometimes visit a graveyard and read headstone inscriptions. They all include a name, two dates and a dash. That dash represents all the hopes, ambitions, relationships and work the individual did in their lives, all represented by a line! Two dates and a dash. Many of us will have attended the funeral service of a loved one and in our grief and sadness tried to sum up what that individual meant to us, to others and to their community. They are painful moments, sad and difficult we leave mourning the loss.

In this second beatitude Jesus reminds us that his kingdom is born out of death, indeed it is the very topsoil that enables us to lead the flourishing life. The disciple is called to look at death, its entry into this world, its power and finality over the human race. We are then to look and reflect on Christ’s death and resurrection and find in this historic event the very comfort the gospel brings spoken by Paul 1 Cor 15:3 -5, 35-58. The gospel is a call to death, to crucify the flesh, to deny oneself and to mourn over every area of life that proudly opposes God’s rule and reign.

 

Questions

1: Take a sheet of paper and write down all the things you long to do with your life for God. This maybe career, relationship, ministry, training, travel or skill. Now circle your top 3 as if these were the only things you could do with your life. What steps do you need to make to reach for each of these in God?

2: Are there areas in your life that you are mourning over even the loss of a loved one? Talk through the feelings and emotions you have gone through and find comfort in the words of scripture and the encouragement of others.

3: When you consider soil as culture, and the culture of Commission churches, think of the soil or culture of where you work and live. What things do you love and enjoy about your community? Where do you see the kingdom culture being able to transform areas of darkness and death? What is your responsibility in this?

 

 

Part 4: Blessed are the meek

Part 4: Blessed are the meek

Most of us enjoy tracing our family tree back several generations to discover unknown characters and forgotten history. We are spell bound to find the names and histories of forgotten entrepreneurs, soldiers, builders, inventors. Companies have sprung up offering the facility of tracing your family line and so we rush to see if we can find a long forgotten relative who changed the world for good. What no one wants to find in their lineage is an unsavoury character who cheated or murdered someone.

When we look at this third beatitude we realise that the flourishing life of the kingdom gets difficult as the beatitudes build on each other. Meekness is the opposite of self, self at the centre of every thought and action. It is a humble, teachable spirit that seeks to obey Christ and his word. It is our hidden life, the roots of character and humility that find identity and meaning in Christ alone that produce a lifestyle of devotion and a steadfast refusal to be impressed with outward appearances.

Eph 2: 1-5 is Paul’s sober assessment of our ancestry going back to the first couple, Adam and Eve. We are saddened to hear about their rejection of God and how they were deceived by the devil to believe there is life outside of God. They chose the tree of death rather than the tree of life. It is really sobering to notice how daily we, their offspring believe similar lies and make similar choices!
Questions: 

1.   Do you think the world around you or you yourself are tempted to think of meekness as weakness?

2.   In what areas has this been a battle?

3.  What do you think Jesus means be inheriting the earth?

4.   Do you think we inherit the kingdom now or in heaven?

5. When you became a Christian what changed? What things of your old life seam most resistant to Christ?

 

 

Part 5: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst

Part 5: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst

Food and drink are huge joys in our lives and they are good things given to us by our heavenly Father. In the UK we have an unhealthy preoccupation with food and alcohol and can browse between documentaries on health, food, malnutrition, and obesity. We’re bombarded by adverts that encourage us to eat and drink fast foods that can ruin our lives. We are food obsessed and have a medical alert over our youngsters of a looming Type 2 diabetes disaster. The problem is we love to eat and the more we eat, the more we want to eat.

The fourth beatitude is a beautiful description of the disciple of Jesus living a life of flourishing. Their roots are seeking, growing, and burying themselves into God and his word seeking to find all the vital nutrients for a life in the Spirit. They understand the joy they seek is not to be found in the empty junk foods of selfishness and materialism, the pride this world offers, but in a deeper relationship with God.

 

It is the simplest observation that just as a tree turns its leaves to the sun and digs its roots into the soil so the apprentice of Christ can be found daily reading and devouring the bible. They are worshippers who turn their faces regularly to the “son” and find love and the filling of the Holy Spirit.

 

Questions: 

1.  How do you read the bible each week and what time do you set aside for this?

2.  Are you aware of a thirst for spiritual intimacy and walking with the Spirit?

3.  Talk about two or three ways the apprentice of Jesus feeds themselves from the bible each day?

4.  What spiritual habits are you cultivating to enable your life to be one of flourishing and fruitfulness?

 

 

Part 6: Blessed are the merciful

Part 6: Blessed are the merciful

Beatitudes: Blessed are the merciful

I love butterflies and insects. They are so industrious and so beautiful (well maybe not a flea or cockroach). They are the bringers of transformation to the gardens, forests and fields pollinating, flowers that in time produce a harvest. Why not stop in your busy lives and walk in a park or garden and watch the number of insects flying and drinking nectar? They are transformation agents.

This fifth beatitude is a reminder of the heart of Christ who came to seek and to save that which was lost. It is far more than pity, a feeling sorry for the mess mankind has made and the misery sin brings. It is pity plus action, love and sacrifice. God is not the divine Santa who secretly discovers the naughty or nice. We have all sinned, we have all fallen short and all in need of God’s pity plus saving action. Peters description of Christ’s mercy is “ He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by his wounds you have been healed”

We live in a world that is calling out for love and transformation. There are the fearful elderly locked behind closed doors, the bullied and oppressed, the international reaching out for community and relationship. The disciple is a dispenser of God’s mercy and a transformation agent to bring order out of chaos.

Questions

1.  What do you think Jesus means by merciful, and how can we reflect this in our daily lives?

2.  If your life was a party who are you throwing it for? Mat 5:46.  If you love those who love you even the mafia do that!! Think about those in your school or workplace that are isolated, lonely and make an effort to reach out and show them kindness. Talk though what you can practically do to show God’s mercy.

3.  Identify the 3 areas or communities around where you live and go to church. What practical ways can you and others show the love and mercy of Christ?

4.  Look at your local church and ask how welcoming it is for the newcomer, the guest, the Muslim or Hindu? What practical steps will you make to show visitors the love and mercy of God?