“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Matthew 3:2 NKJV
Many of you, when you hear that word repent, have negative images and emotions tied to it. When you understand what it means. Repent is a positive word a life-changing word. Repent is God’s way of telling us He has a better way.
The rest of the verse says, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” There is some urgency here. This verse is very fitting for this series, It’s Time. God says, “I have a better way for you and and it is time.”
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'” Jeremiah 29:11-13
It’s A Group Project
This is an Old Testament verse where God makes this incredible promise to the Israelites. Plans to prosper, plans for a hope and a future and a relationship with Him.
These words were spoken while they were in captivity. God wanted to encourage them because they were going to remain in captivity for 70 more years. But what we learn from this verse and other scriptures is God has a plan to give a hope and a future to all those that seek Him, and call on Him.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25
God reminds us that He has a hope and a future for you, but you only have so much time. So here we are today, at the beginning of 2020. We are at the starting line, we have a new hope and future in front of us.
For us to be successful, it is going to have to include something that’s is all around you, it’s relationships. One another.
When God created Adam he said, Adam “it is not good for you to be alone”. We are not going to get where God wants to take us without each other. We often think alone is the best plan.
- Together is God’s plan
Christianity is a group project. Together can be messy and together makes you vulnerable. That is why it says in our verse “let’s not give up on meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.”
- Together isn’t always easy
Together isn’t easy, but it is so important. Don’t give up on each other, it is God’s way. Some of you are all in and want to deepen your relationships with others. But for others, they would say many of their biggest wounds are from other people. Some of you are around people and still alone. You wall your life off and won’t let anyone past a certain point.
The enemy has a plan. His plan for you is alone. The enemy’s plan for your life is not to get together. It’s is to isolate you. He will use that pain and that hurt from others, and keep recycling it over and over so you stay isolated. He will use fear to convince you it is not worth having relationships.
If you are new to the Christian faith you need to get together with some mature Christians. If you are sick physically, emotionally, mentally or have a sin you are struggling with, you need to get together with some other Christians.
As we get older we start to think that small group is for the youngsters. Not me. One of the most alone groups in America are the elderly. Right now we have something very unique going on in our culture. More people are connected than ever before because of social media and at the same time feel more alone than ever before.
- Together takes a choice
A choice is a starting point, but no one can make this choice for you. As a church we do everything we can to facilitate Getting Together. 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, Growth Track, Dream Team, Serve Days, Men’s and Women’s Events, and Small Groups.
Our desire for our church is that everyone who calls themselves a member, belongs to a small group. We are built around this idea that we need to do life together. We believe that it is God’s way for us.
When We Get Together
The win for our small groups is not the number of people in the group, it’s what we do to and for each other. Our number one value in small groups is building relationships. A relationship with Jesus and a relationship with each other.
Let’s see how our value of relationships plays out through the life of David in the Old Testament.
One of the things that makes his story so significant is that he started from the bottom, he was number 8 in a family of 8 kids. Being number eight his parents didn’t expect much from him. David spent his early years isolated, he was a shepherd. He spent most of his time out in a field, by himself, surround by sheep. You would never expect him to later be known as a warrior, a poet writing many of the psalms, and a King.
“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” Acts 13:22
God himself says David is a very special man. How did David go from a nobody to God declaring him a man after his heart and then trusting David to do everything He asked him to do? People.
There were people in David’s life that helped him go from shepherd to a man after God’s own heart. When we study David’s relationships we discover what kind of relationships we should be looking for and how to be there for others we are in relationship with.
“…then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; this is the one.’” 1 Samuel 16:12
Samuel is a very famous prophet and David is a young man. God speaks to Samuel and tells him to go to David. So Samuel anoints David and by anointing David, Samuel is calling out the very best in David.
“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David…” 1 Samuel 16:13
No one had ever called out the best in David until now. He was number 8 in the lineup of brothers; parents didn’t really pay much attention to David. So, in the presence of David’s brothers Samuel calls out the best in David. God wants to send you people to call out the best in you and he wants you to call out the best in others. God wants to equip you with His Spirit every day.
1. We call out the best in each other.
For a lot of us we have plenty of people in our lives telling us what were not doing right. We need to be looking for opportunities in our Small Group to speak over someone and bring out the best in them.
Some people a have lived their whole life being ignored or have people telling them they’re not good enough, smart enough or talented enough. We need to surround ourselves with others who are going to build us up not tear us down. Let’s breathe life into one another and call out the best in each other.
For some of us. We need to remove some people from our lives and replace them with godly people that want to bring out the best in us. Maybe you are dating someone that is a negative influence in your life, it’s time to say goodbye. Maybe your person to disconnect from is at work. You can’t fire them but you can stop gathering with them at lunch or on breaks.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 NLT
We need to surround ourselves with people who will call out the best in us.
2. We call out to God for each other.
David is anointed, but he hasn’t become king yet. Saul is the current reigning king and David does his best to serve and respect Saul. But the Spirit of God is on David and this threatened Saul. Look what God does He brings someone else in David’s life.
“While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. And Saul’s son Johnathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” 1 Samuel 23:15
So Saul is trying to take his life and God sends Saul’s son, Jonathan, to help David. Here is the second person God puts in David’s life. David had a Samuel in his life and now he has Johnathan.
Don’t miss this. David created an environment where he allowed people in his life. But God also said these to these guys, to go to David. Who is missing out because you won’t get together with others? Who is not being blessed because you’re not there? You matter!
Jesus tell us to GO and make disciples. People in this church need you! David is facing a difficult time in his life. King Saul is trying to kill him and God’s plan is that we don’t go through hard stuff alone.
One of the things about small groups, if you are having a good day they are going to celebrate with you. If you are having a bad day, they are going to pray for you. We are going to stand with each other.
More often what matters is not the words we say, it is just having a presence and listening. That is something very powerful we can do.
Sometimes we wonder where God is in our darkest times in life, not realizing He’s present through the people He has surrounded us with. God is using the people around us to help us find strength in Him.
We don’t want anyone to go through life alone. That is why Small Groups are important to us.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
3. We call out the truth to each other.
Let’s jump ahead in the story with David. King Saul is no longer in the picture and David is king. He has power, which we all know can be a dangerous thing. David makes a terrible decision and the Israelites are at war.
Typically, the king goes out on the battlefield with his troops. David was known as being a great warrior. He gets a little comfortable with the king thing and decides to stay home instead of going to battle. He is on his rooftop and sees this beautiful woman taking a bath. He calls for her, sleeps with her and she gets pregnant.
Her husband is one of his best commanders in David’s army, so David orders him to the front line of the battlefield so that he gets killed in battle. David keeps making things worse.
That is how it is often when we are in the middle of doing something wrong. We don’t see that were making things worse. We keep making one bad decision after another and were blind to it. We need people to call out the truth to us.
“The Lord sent Nathan to David…” 2 Samuel 12:1
Nathan is another person in David’s life. Nathan is a prophet who comes to David. David is blind to his sin and things keep getting worse. Nathan confronts David and tells David this story about a situation that is very similar to what David had done.
David, gets very angry about the man in the story and began arranging punishment for his actions…
“Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man!’” 2 Samuel 12:7
And in that moment, David breaks down and confesses and God forgave David. His brokenness came because a friend was willing to speak truth in his life. If a man after God’s own heart can blow it, so can we.
If we are not careful, we will be blind to that mistake. We need people in our life that will call out the truth. Small groups are a place to find godly people who will speak truth into your life.
We need people to tell us there is a better way. That is what is so good about God’s way, there is always a way out.
“An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” Proverbs 27:5-6 NLT
WHEN WE GET TOGETHER:
- We call out the best in each other.
- We cry out to god for each other.
- We call out the truth to each other.
That is what we want when our small groups get together.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” ~Corrie Ten Boom
What have you put into place this week to strengthen your spirit? In what ways have you seen the 3 areas that weaken your spirit appear in your week?
Hear the Word
God wants us to do life together. He wants to bring us out of captivity and give us hope and a future. He never intended for life to be an individual project, but a group project. Life together will not always be easy but when we make the choice to step into God’s plan, we defeat the enemy’s plan to isolate us.
Living out life together has distinct benefits as we call out the best in each other, call out to God for each other, and speak truth to each other. Even when life is messy, or when we need lifting up, or even when we need the voice of truth, together is so much better than alone. We all need people who will sharpen us, help us find strength at our lowest point, and be honest with us.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25 NIV
- What benefits have you realized from being in Small Groups?
- What do you believe are the biggest obstacles people face to participating in a Small Group?
- What can you do to help people overcome those obstacles?
- Ever thought of starting your own small group?
- Is there a passion, hobby or activity you could turn into a small group?
- What other people do you group with besides your small group?
Prayer Focus: Thank God for His plan for each person. Thank Him for a life plan that is predicated on the reality of faith and hope. Thank God for the people He provides so that we live life with others. Ask God to surround you with other brothers and sisters in Christ and to show you relationships that are designed for His purposes.
Tell Someone Else
Who can you invite to your Small Group this semester? Ask again. Share with them how being connected to others has made an impact on your life.