Jesus finds rest in prayer and fasting. Luke 5:12-39.
Where do you get your strength from?
In this passage Jesus and his disciples are healing the people that come to them... a man with leprosy and a paralytic who is brought in from the roof. Jesus also has intense conversations with the teachers of the law about sin and fasting and invites Levi to be his disciple.
How does Jesus find rest and renewal in all of this? In verse 16 we find Jesus “withdrew to lonely places and prayed” and then in verse 35 he talks about a time “to come for fasting.” Jesus embraces the spiritual disciplines of solitude, prayer and fasting to connect himself to God as he ministers to many people.
Questions to ponder:
-When you are sick, how do you get well? What place does faith and hope have in the healing process?
-Think about how you “talk to God.” How does talking to God change who you are and give you strength?
- How does fasting, combined with prayer, bring strength and focus in your life?
Images from Kevin's Sermon:
Rest assured, Jesus catches hearts! Luke 5:1-11.
Simon had Jesus at his house and now Jesus is at the shore of the lake using his fishing equipment to teach the crowds that are hungry for Jesus’ teaching. Simon has been observing Jesus for some time. Now out in deep water, Simon’s fishing nets are literally bursting with fish; so many that the boats begin to sink. For Simon the evidence is compelling: Jesus is to be worshiped and followed.
Questions to ponder:
-Simon observed Jesus, worshiped Jesus, then followed Jesus. How did you get to know Jesus?
- What did Jesus mean when he said “you will fish for people?"
-The best way to learn something is to teach it. Since we follow Jesus, who have we invited to follow along with us?
We rest with God in solitude. Luke 4:31-44.
Solitude is without people, without devices, with self, and with God. Where do you find solitude?
Jesus leaves Nazareth and travels to Capernaum, where he continues the pattern of teaching in the local synagogue. Jesus’ power and authority are repeatedly noted. His popularity and his ministry must take a significant physical, emotional, and spiritual toll.
Jesus rises early and travels to a solitary place. This is the emotional and physical space to reflect on what God is doing in his ministry and to anticipate and prepare for what God will do in the coming days. Too soon, the village people find him and want more of the teaching, sharing and healing that Jesus offers. Jesus is finding the rest that he needs in the midst of a busy and demanding schedule.
Questions to ponder:
-How would you define solitude? How is it different than loneliness?
- Imagine Jesus in a place of solitude. What thoughts went through his mind? What are the similarities to your thoughts?
-Talk about solitude as a place. Consider solitude as a state of mind. How did this work for Jesus? How does it work for you?
-How does solitude provide rest for Jesus? For you?
Success is being faithful to God's call.
In our Luke passage this week, Jesus begins his public ministry, after a time of prayer, solitude, and temptation. Jesus moves from the sheltered life of a carpenter to a public ministry, moving from town to town. Jesus is well received and appears to become the talk of the town; he is the new thing that everyone wants to be part of.
Yet in Jesus’ home town of Nazareth the success turns to failure. Jesus used the prophet Isaiah's words to challenge the town folk, the good religious Jews. They don't like what he says and force Jesus to a cliff where his life and ministry are questioned. But Jesus, faithful to God’s call on his life, walks through the crowd and continues with his ministry.
Questions to ponder:
- Talk about a failure in your life and what you did with it.
- Why did Chicago Cubs fans stay with a failing team for 108 years?
- Where are you called to be faithful in your life?
- In what areas could you risk more (even fail) to invite God’s presence and power?
What is your spiritual state of the union?
Paul is talking about the Armor of God. We need the full armor of God to combat the schemes of the Devil and the dark forces of evil. What are we doing to maintain and keep that armor polished and clean? Why is it important to have the full armor of God?
In a "state of the union" address, a president goes through the different areas of a country and gives summary of the current state of those areas. How do they look now and what will they look like in the future? What would it look like if we did the same to our spiritual lives? How does your prayer life look? What about your study of Scripture?
Historical evidence proves the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling. If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ. And face it—if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ—sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection.
If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. And if Christ weren’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. It’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they’re already in their graves. If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.
Questions to ponder:
(1) How thoroughly would you investigate a matter if you were going to base your life on it?
(2) What would it take for you to abandon, or radically rethink, your most cherished beliefs?
(3) How would you convince a nonbeliever that Christ's resurrection is an actual historical event and not just a "story" from the Bible?
In Communion, we stand against Satan.
When are you at your weakest? That's when Satan ups the intensity of temptation.
How do we respond to temptation? 1) Be filled with the Holy Spirit; 2) Be filled with Scripture; 3) Be surrounded with the body of Christ.
What will you do this week to respond to temptation? How will you be filled?
Choosing to turn to God changes how we live.
What can you commit to changing in your life today? How can you prove that you have changed for God? What will you do to make that change visible to the people around you?
Discerning God’s call brings active rest.
Rest is inter-generational blessing.
The church is a setting for inter-generational blessings. Who will you bless this week?
Both attitude and location offer rest.
Where is your place that offers you rest in Jesus? How will you go there this week?
Confession releases our burdens.
Confession releases your burdens and lets you be carried by God. In confessions, sin is brought to the light, where it cannot exist. What is the Lord telling you to confess today?
Music ushers us toward God.
Music is a deep part of who we are. It engages all of our brain which is why we have deep memories associated with music.
What songs transform your life? Do your songs help transform who you are and where you are going?
We rest when we listen well!
To be yoked with Christ is to listen well: give full attention to Christ. When we listen well, we can rest because we heard and understood.
What would happen if we had a time and place where we expect to find God? (Like a calendar appointment.)
God's promise invites rest!
How will you find God's promise of rest this week?
We need to rely on the promises of God, not of the world. The promises of God give us security and hope for the future.
Micah 6:8; Matthew 22:39
What does a community of justice look like?
Amos Muhagachi, a bishop in Tanzania Mennonite Church who is studying at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, shares his experiences.
Life by the Spirit overcomes the sinful nature.
There are two Kingdoms: God's and Satan's; Light and Dark. What kingdom will you choose: God's or Satan's? How will you choose God's Kingdom this week? Nail your sinful natures to the Cross. Let them go. Make a commitment to following Jesus.
Building Bridges in Japan
Cam and Ayami are missionaries in Ishinomaki, Japan. They were working in disaster relief to help those affected by the tsunami. God has laid it on their hearts to continue to work in the area with Be-One Tohoku Aid. Ayami has been ministering to young ladies in Ishinomaki as well as helping to handle day to day activities with Be-one. Cam will be attending language school and working with youth and young adults. They are helping with and attending a house church in Ishinomaki. Please pray that God would continue to move in the hearts of the Japanese people.
Today, they join us for a special time of sharing how the Lord is working in their ministry in Japan.
For more information and how you can help support them in their ministry, visit www.cten.org/camhartman.
God offers contentment.
Content is being satisfied with what God has given us and satisfied with where God is taking us. How can we claim joyful contentment? Society offers us the false promise of contentment but Jesus offers full contentment.
How can we embrace a new attitude of being content? What has your mind been focused on? Content Christians radiate love to all - building bridges with the community around us.
Christ is Risen! We live, we dance, we sing, we proclaim: Christ is Risen!
Restoration is being whole, being one with Jesus. Because of Jesus, our relationship with God is now restored.
Satan works at breaking us apart; Christ restores us and makes us whole again.
God offers a future beyond our comprehension. Will you accept?