Duncan

Leave Your Sin Behind

We’ve all done (and still do) stuff in our lives that, if other people knew, they would condemn us for. Deep down, a lot of us are probably scared God might find out about that stuff. The good news is that Jesus does not condemn us, but neither will he let us stay trapped in patterns of sin.

This is Session 6 in Series 5 of the Enter Life Curriculum. [Series 5 HomeEnter Life Home]

The Story


The story of Jesus and the woman caught having sex with someone else’s husband is one of the most compelling in the New Testament. It isn’t actually included in the earliest manuscripts, however, it is so in sync with the rest of the Gospel story and with what we know about Jesus that it’s easy to see why it’s in the Bibles we read today.

So when a group of Jewish religious leaders caught a woman in the act of having sex with a man (though we hear nothing of him …) to whom she was not married it’s as if they can’t believe their luck. The penalty for such an act was unimaginably brutal to our modern minds – death by stoning. Literally – hurl rocks at her fragile body until the massive trauma inflicted by those stones causes massive blood loss or brain injury. It was the law – and here was a perfect opportunity to test Jesus – who claimed to be holy yet had also shown an infuriating willingness to let people’s well-being trump their interpretations of the rules.

‘Ok Jesus, this woman needs to be stoned. What you gonna do about it?’

Jesus answers by saying this:

‘you’re right – go ahead. Just make sure there’s no sin in your life before you pick up a stone.’

Genius!

One by one they creep off – outwitted again, seething with a white-hot rage that eventually erupts in Jerusalem and ends with Jesus on a cross.

Picture2

It’s Jesus’ tender conversation with the woman at the end that is worth focusing on:

‘Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?’
‘No one, Master.’
‘Neither do I,’ said Jesus. ‘Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin’

Condemnation – putting people in a corner and mercilessly crushing them with the weight of their sin – was never something Jesus was interested in. John said it himself:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him’ John 3v17

And so while Jesus will not condemn this woman, neither will he let her go in the state she is in. I think the words he leaves with her are equally uncompromising and merciful:

‘go, leave your life of sin’

It’s uncompromising because Jesus and the woman both know that something wrong has happened. Adultery – having sex with someone else’s spouse is a big deal for God. I suspect God takes it seriously because it’s a full-on assault of relationship – the intimacy of a married couple invaded by disloyalty, selfishness. Sexual hunger gets to ruin a fragile bond.

Jesus’s words are merciful for exactly the same reason.

Sin wrecks lives.

The art of temptation is to make deadly things look attractive. We are all so easily conned into believing that sin is somehow better for us than the boring ‘rules’ for being holy.

‘come on, it won’t be that bad, think of all the things you get to enjoy!’

Those words spoken by the snake to Eve in the garden have been repeated countless times to people since. And no doubt to you and I.

One of our core desires is the longing to have someone to love. God wired us to want and enjoy intimacy. God created sex as the ultimate physical expression of a deep intimate love between two people. But for some reason the great human failing is to go searching for the satisfaction of that desire all kinds of broken places. We are like the lost girl in the desert frantically digging for water in the sand while ignoring the deep and refreshing oasis right next to her.

tumblr_m8ystlN1Gy1qiaqpmo1_500

Jesus’ words to the woman are merciful because he’s essentially saying: Oi! Stop digging there! You’re going to burn yourself out and in the end you’ll be thirstier than before.

He said exactly the same words to the woman at the well in John 4. He said it again in John 8 … God’s been saying it all along – like in Jeremiah 55. God says it to us each day. Stop trying to find what you want in broken things: in cheap hookups, or addictive gymming or watching other people have sex on your phone, or trying to get a thousand friends on Facebook.

Whatever it is you’re pursuing to feel good about who you are, or what your purpose in life is, or how to feel close to someone where you’re also hoping God won’t notice too much.

So what does it mean to ‘leave a life of sin’? I hope you’ll see by now it’s more than just saying ‘sorry!’

Here are four ideas:
1. Leaving sin behind is about recognising that the hole you’re digging is never going to give you what you’re longing for. Paul says it’s about being completely changed in the way we think. It’s an overhaul of our minds (Romans 12:1-3) It’s crazy that it takes so much to make us see the oasis but that’s how deeply we’ve been deceived.

For I recognize my shameful deeds—they haunt me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.

Psalm 51:3-4

2. Leaving sin IS also about saying sorry. Sorry to God and sorry to people you may have hurt along the way. Putting our feelings of regret into words is a good way to start making things real.

54

3. Leaving sin is about walking away from the sinful things we do. We leave sin by replacing our frantic digging with actions that lead us towards the real water. It may be easy to leave the hole and never look back, it may take us a while to stop creeping back into the hole. We may be tempted to try do this on our own, but the Bible urges us to do this with other people..

‘Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results’ James 5:16

4. Leaving sin is about inviting God to be present in your life – no matter how deep into that hole you might be. Never believe the lie that we somehow need to haul ourselves out before asking God for help. Remind yourself that you are God’s dearly loved child and that because Jesus dealt with your sin on the cross you now stand under the flow of God’s limitless blessing. Know that you can bring all of your brokenness and sinful addictions under that blessing too. As God begins to move around in those dark places you’ll discover the first glimpses of light and some fresh air to dilute the nasty smell.

redperson

Leaders Toolkit


In this tab you’ll find ideas and questions to help you lead your group through an interactive, story-based journey. Our leaders guide has more info on how to use our Story-based framework.

Click on the time bomb to see how you could run this session in 15 minutes, 30 minutes or longer.
timebomb

Download a PDF version of this session here

Rewind
Have you ever felt judged by someone? What did that feel like?

Think back over the past few weeks of your life, is there something you’ve been doing – or not doing – that feels wrong and it’s something you feel a bit stuck in?

What might God say about it if you were in a room together?

theWordSpace_cropped
Get the conversation started …
Get everyone to check out the WordSpace posts from this week on their phones or from a printout (you’ll find them in the next tab.)

o Is there a post that stands out for you? Why so?

o Is there something in a post that raises a question for you? What is that?

o If you had to choose one post to share with a friend, which one would it be?

Refresh
Read the post in The Story tab.

Here’s Brad Fish with his final video for the series… On You Tube here

replay
So you’ve encountered a bit of what God’s life is about – how does that fit with the way things are in your life – your story – right now?

Some questions to help you replay your story …
o  How do you feel about what you encountered in this session – encouraged, discouraged, hopeful, disappointed, anything different?

o  Did anything seem like particularly good news? Anything that was not so great news for you, or hard to understand?

Imagine you were able to walk away from something you know is not right in your life and restore any relationships that may have been damaged. How might your life be different?

Re – draw your picture of Jesus
Does seeing Jesus in action in John 8v1-11 and the way he deals with the people wanting to stone the woman, or the uncompromising love Jesus shows her after they’re gone change the way you think of him in any way?

Is there anything there that would inspire you to worship him

 remix
What practical action, response, thought do you want to take into the week?

Repent …
Have you encountered something today that makes you want to say to God: ‘wow, I really have messed up. Help me leave this thing behind!’ ?

Some questions to help you remix your story …
o  Have you been ‘digging holes in the desert’ trying to satisfy a desire you have in a broken way? What would it take to start leaving that behind this week?

o  Who can you talk to this week who could help you recognise areas of sin in your life?

o   Is there anything in your life that you need to say sorry to God for? Do you believe that God will forgive you if you ask?

o  How could you invite God to be more present in your life this week – no matter what your ‘sin status’ is?

Here’s a great prayer from David about leaving sin:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord;
may your love and your truth always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to save me;

O Lord, come quickly to help me.
Psalm 40:1-3, 11-13

From the WordSpace

Here are five posts from the WordSpace we’ve posted specially to tie in with this topic:

# 1
You might wonder what the big deal is about sin. Especially if you reckon that what’s going on in your life isn’t really hurting you or anyone else.

Thing is, that’s always a lie. Paul says, ‘A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough’ (Galatians 5v9). Which means that even just a little bit of secret sin somehow affects the community you’re in – your family, classmates, whoever.

Death – like the death of a friendship, or the death of someone’s trust, or the death of your purity – always follows on the heels of sin. I’m so grateful for Jesus who redeemed me and restored my life and put me at peace with a perfect, holy God.

Galatians 5 here: http://bit.ly/1qmTYqg

#leaveSinBehind
#knowingGod
#deereyburn

# 2
God forgets!!! Yes, you read that correctly. Jeremiah 31v34 says ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sin no more.’

See, what I mean? God chooses not to remember (to forget) our sins. So why do you and I still hold on tightly to the bad things we have done? We are the forgiven! Let’s live with that peace and forgiveness!

When we mess up we have a way out, a way to move forward in His grace: 1 John 1v9 ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’ Jesus calls us to get rid of sin in our lives. It is possible!

And the best news is that God will see you as completely right with him.

Will you do it?

Jeremiah 31 here: http://bit.ly/1bBIwjq

#leaveSinBehind
#Godsviewofyou
#darrelhoff

# 3
David once said his sins were so thick and persistent that they blinded him (Psalm 40v12). Whoever wrote Hebrews admitted that it doesn’t take much for sin to trip us up (Hebrews 12v1).

Jesus invites us to leave our lives of sin – like he did to the woman who got caught acting out her lustful thoughts (John 8v1-11) but sometimes it feels like he might as well invite us to fly. Seems impossible… Except … he promised to be with us no matter what.

And Jesus promised to change us from the inside out as long as we keep inviting him in (no matter what). And there’s that other promise: no condemnation from him – ever.

That good news?

Read the story in John 8 here: http://bit.ly/102Or8W

#leaveSinBehind
#faithworks
#andrewv

# 4
‘Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…’ What are some things that might hinder you in your walk with God that you might not call ‘sin’?

Could it be when we get too busy or focused on anything like series or Facebook, sport or even work? The thing itself is not bad, but it is taking away time from when we could be doing better stuff.

Is there perhaps some discipline you could bring into your life that would help you manage those things that eat up your time? When you manage to get those things under control, what is a new good thing you can add into your weekly rhythm?

Read the story in Hebrews 12 here: http://bit.ly/1c5qHY2

#leaveSinBehind
#brettfish

# 5
‘Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles’ (Hebrews 12v2) Is there anything in your life that might be sin that entangles you?

When I was younger I struggled with pornography for many years. As good as the rest of my life felt, my struggles with porn felt like a rope around my legs that kept tripping me up. There was no easy solution, but I think it came when I tried to do what this passage suggests – fix my eyes on Jesus and start running the race He called me to.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the failure linked to the sin, that we miss out on the hope offered by a Saviour. Jesus is bigger than any sin currently tripping you up and really can bring freedom [even if it sometimes takes a while to get there]

Run strong.

Read the story here: Hebrews 12 http://bit.ly/1c5qHY2

#leaveSinBehind
#brettfish

Let go of control …

Living well – the way God calls us to – is about learning to let go of control over our lives. God demands everything we hold onto because only then will we have open hands to fully receive the peace, love and joy that God gives, and that we so desperately desire.

This is Session 5 in Series 5 of the Enter Life Curriculum. [Series 5 HomeEnter Life Home]

The Story


One of the more crazy but awesome things I’ve done in my life is to learn how to fly a fixed-wing glider. Going flying without an engine is way harder – and more fun – than it might seem. To learn how to fly you’ve got to start in a two-seater glider with an instructor behind you who will let you fly as much as you can without crashing the aircraft. The controls are linked together so that either person can fly the plane. One REALLY important thing is for both pilots to know exactly WHO is flying – especially when you have different ideas about what to do when the ground is rushing up at you.

So there’s a system where the person who takes over the stick says: ‘I have control’ and then the other person says: ‘you have control’ Just so theres no confusion. It’s worked ok so far – no crashes yet …

gliding-over-cluj-napoca-romania

If you’ve been following this whole Enter Life series, you might remember that the way we described what went wrong in the garden of Eden at the very beginning was something like this:

God made us to be lords (small ‘l’) over creation. But we wanted to be LORDS. The universal human flaw is that we naturally do not want anyone or anything having ultimate authority over us. So when God said to his human creatures: ‘you be ‘lords’ over what I’ve created, just let me be Lord over you’, we said ‘no ways God’ we want to do this ourselves.The consequence of that massive breakup has been the loss of relationship between ourselves, God, and others. That allowed sin and evil to run rampant through the world that was created to be very good. It’s taken thousands of years to repair the damage.

It’s probably not really surprising then that one of the main things Jesus invites us to do, goes against some of our deepest instincts:

Let go control over your life …

I’m not sure if it gets more scary than that.

breaking_bad_walter_white

Here’s how Jesus said it in Mark 8v34-38:

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for? (The Message)

People seldom give up control without a fight. There have been some epic battles in the Bible – not to mention the rest of world history (how different would our world be if control wasn’t such a big thing for people?)

One of the most epic stories is when Jacob in the Old Testament – the guy who cheated and scammed his way through life – finally meets someone he can’t overcome or control. The story is in Genesis 32: 22-31.

Jacob is about to cross the river Jabbok on his way home when a stranger attacks him out of nowhere and they fall to the ground in a wrestling match that goes on all night. It’s an even contest and the stranger eventually has to ask Jacob to let him go. Then, everything changes. The mysterious opponent reaches out and just touches Jacob’s hip – dislocating it immediately. Suddenly Jacob is helpless (and probably in a lot of pain). Why did the angel (that’s what he probably was) not just beat Jacob earlier? A guy called Frederick Buechner thinks he knows why:

The sense we have, which Jacob must have had, that the whole battle was, from the beginning, fated to end this way, that the stranger has simply held back until now, letting Jacob exert all his strength and almost win so that when he was defeated, he would know that he was truly defeated … Jacob will not release his grip, only now it is a grip not of violence but of need, like the grip of a drowning man.

Buechner goes on to say this:

Power, success, happiness, as the world knows them, are his who will fight for them hard enough; but peace, love, joy, are only from God. And God is the enemy whom Jacob fought there by the river, of course, and whom in one way or another we all of us fight – God, the beloved enemy. Our enemy because, before giving us everything, he demands of us everything; before giving us life, he demands our lives – ourselves, our wills, our treasure.’

That’s deep and awesome stuff. Read it again a few times if you need to! God – our beloved enemy, demands everything we grasp onto because only then will we have open hands to fully receive the peace, love and joy that God gives, and that we so desperately desire,

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Jesus knew exactly what he was saying when he issued his most challenging invitation. Let go of your life, your will, the things that are most important to you. It’s only when you do this that you’ll be able to receive the things I’ve got for you: peace, love, joy – Zoe life in all its awesomeness. You can keep on fighting to control things – you may even succeed in this life; but you won’t ever know the deep peace and satisfaction of the things you long for most.

Will you give up control?

What does it mean to do that – to ‘deny yourself’ to ‘lose your life’ in the hopes of saving it? Especially when you’re a teenager trying to figure out who you are anyway …

I think in many ways it comes down to this: Take seriously what Jesus and the other Bible writers say about how to live life.

You want that in a nutshell? Try this: Read Colossians 3 and 4 and do the stuff Paul says we should.

Here are a few other practical things to start with:

Practice worshipping God:
I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing:
To live with him in his house my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.
Psalm 27v4 The Message

Paul says an amazing thing in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18: when we worship God and put God at the center of our lives, then we begin to be changed into more God-like people.

Practice saying thanks:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

There’s nothing better for getting our posture right before God than saying thanks. Being grateful requires us to admit that we can’t provide everything we need. When we say thanks we are also saying ‘I’m not in control of this – and I’m glad about that’.

Practice saying sorry:
‘Sorry’ is another great way of learning to not be in control. Sorry says I was wrong, I don’t know everything, I get things wrong. In the Bible, saying sorry is more than just words. Sorry means a whole change of mind and a change in the way you live. One of the hardest things for control-freaks to say is ‘sorry’.

Practice asking God for stuff:
Just like saying thank-you, and sorry, saying please also puts us in a good position before God. Please makes us realise we can’t provide everything for ourselves. Please is a dependence word. And that’s good is it’s God – our Father in heaven – that we’re asking.

Practice saying ‘not what I want, but what you want’.
Jesus had to learn how to say that and he manages to get those words out in the garden of Gethsemane when everything in hime just wanted to avoid the agony of the whips, the cross and the weight of all our sin. This is a hard one to get right but becomes easier the more we realise God’s will is actually way better and more pleasing to us that ours.

Just do these things!
The headings for these 5 things say ‘Practice’ for a reason. Richard Rohr once said that we don’t think ourselves into new ways of acting, we act ourselves into new ways of thinking. If giving up control of your life is difficult to imagine, then start by just doing a few of these things – even if you don’t feel like it. Chances are your mind will change once you experience the peace, love and joy that living this way brings.

redperson

Leaders Toolkit


In this tab you’ll find ideas and questions to help you lead your group through an interactive, story-based journey. Our leaders guide has more info on how to use our Story-based framework.

Click on the time bomb to see how you could run this session in 15 minutes, 30 minutes or longer.
timebomb

Download a PDF version of this session here

Rewind
Would you rather be in control of everything in your life or just let things happen and see how they turn out?

Think of some of the things that are really important to you right now – making a sports team, getting good marks, having a good time with friends. Which of those would be the hardest to give up if you had to?

Who’s the most controlling person you know – a friend, parent, teacher, you?

theWordSpace_cropped
Get the conversation started …

Get everyone to check out the WordSpace posts from this week on their phones or from a printout (you’ll find them in the next tab.)

o Is there a post that stands out for you? Why so?

o Is there something in a post that raises a question for you? What is that?

o If you had to choose one post to share with a friend, which one would it be?

Refresh
Read the post in The Story tab.

Here’s Brad Fish trying his best with invitation number 5… On YouTube here

replay
Some questions to help you replay your story …
o  How do you feel about what you encountered in this session – encouraged, discouraged, hopeful, disappointed, anything different?

o  Did anything seem like particularly good news? Anything that was not so great news for you, or hard to understand?

o  Imagine you were able to receive with open hands the peace, love and joy that God gives to those who let him have control. How might your life be different?

Re – draw your picture of Jesus
The writer of 1 Peter said this about Jesus when he was about to be crucified:

‘When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.’ 1 Peter 2v23

The temptation to take control of an ugly situation must have been intense. Yet Jesus allowed his Father to be in control. Does seeing Jesus in action like that change or challenge the way you picture what Jesus is like?

remix
What practical action, response,or new way of thinking do you need to take into the week?

Re-pent …
Have you encountered something about the idea of letting go of control that makes you want to say to God:

wow, I really need to let go of a few things in my life. Help me trust you more so I can receive the good things you have for me ….’

Jesus invites us to repent often and with freedom. It’s a real gift from God – go for it!

Some questions to help you remix your story …
o  You don’t have to get everything right at once. Choose one of the five practical suggestions in the post (worship, saying thanks, sorry, etc) that stuck out to you, and start doing that this week. See what difference that makes.

o  If life with God excites you, but giving up control seems scary, find some small stuff in your week that you can start trusting God with – give God a chance to show you that he’s trustworthy, and build your relationship from there.

From the WordSpace

Here are five posts from the WordSpace we’ve posted specially to tie in with this topic:

# 1
Here’s a shortcut life lesson: the quicker you accept that God is in complete control of life and the universe, and that you are not, the happier you’ll be.

Trying to hold the reins of your life, instead of handing them to God, is exhausting and futile. I love what John Piper says, that ‘God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.’ Relaxing in the sure safe knowledge that God has your back and sees around every corner frees you up to enjoy his daily goodness to you.

And your trust and surrender is a beautiful Jesus-magnet to people caught up in the stress and uncertainty of life.

‘your Father knows what you need before you ask him.’ (Matthew 6v8) http://bit.ly/1hltVNh

#let_go
#knowingGod
#deereyburn

# 2
XBOX, my friend and I. Sometimes when we are playing FIFA and my friend makes a bad pass or shot at goal I want to grab that remote and do it better!

Got me thinking about my life and control. God has designed my life and knows my character through and through. So why am I so afraid of Him taking control of my life? He does know best!

Do you trust God enough to hand over control to Him? ‘For whoever wants to save their life, will lose it; but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’ Matthew 16v25

Like driving a car, maybe God allows you to push the accelerator; however will you let Him take the steering wheel? God knows you need to put your trust in Him.

Matthew 16 here: http://bit.ly/NCAI91

#let_go
#Godsviewofyou
#darrelhoff

# 3
Do you think you might be a control freak? These words from Jesus could be a good test to see if you are:

‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?’ Mark 8v34-38 (The Message)

How does that make you feel? Anything you’re holding too tightly onto?

Hear Jesus’ invitation: Let go!

#let_go
#faithworks
#andrewv

# 4
What’s the one thing you’d fight the hardest to hold onto? What one thing would life just be impossible without?

David, who wrote a lot of the Psalms, knew exactly what he wanted most: ‘I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.’ (Psalm 27:4 The Message)

Jesus invites us to let go of control and let him become the One Thing in our lives. That doesn’t mean nothing else is important. It’s just that nothing besides God can change us into our whole God-made selves.

How could you look out for God’s beauty today?

Psalm 27 here: http://bit.ly/1jjeEeL

#let_go
#andrewv

# 5
For me as a teenager, living life with God in control isn’t about doing religious or ‘Christiany’ things. It’s about living in God’s ways – you know, like seeking God, knowing God, finding God – even in the messy and confusing things of life.

Allowing God to be in control means letting God work in my heart and slowly turn me into the kind of person God made me to be.

In Matthew 6v33 Jesus challenges us to seek the kingdom of God first and allow everything else to fall into place.

Today, how can you seek God first – not just the things you want to control?

Matthew 6 here:http://bit.ly/1hltVNh

#let_go
#teens2teens
Daniel, 17, Cape Town

Believe, And You’ll Find Yourself In A New Reality

There’s a difference between having life and being alive. We can be walking, talking, breathing, heart beating on the outside, but feel lifeless at the same time. Jesus invites us to believe in him. The promise is that we will discover a whole new kind of life – the eternal kind that satisfies our deepest desires.

This is Session 4 in Series 5 of the Enter Life Curriculum. [Series 5 HomeEnter Life Home]

The Story


Guinness_Believe_Rupert_Sanders
If you have your eyes open it’s pretty hard to miss someone somewhere telling to believe in stuff. You can believe in the Bieber dream (whatever that is?) or that your sports team will prevail against great odds, or just rock on to a classic tune.

justin-bieber-believe-2012-justin-bieber-31437203-2000-2000

Believing is a pretty big idea!

Jesus’ very first words in his public ministry were an invitation to believe that God’s Kingdom was about to break in to this world in a whole new way (Mark 1v15). John the gospel writer weaves the idea of believing all the way through his story. Jesus promised a whole lot of things for people who believed in him. Here’s a snapshot:

• You get to call yourself a child of God. The Creator of the Universe becomes your Dad (John 1v12-13)
• You get to have eternal life (3v15)
• You escape any form of condemnation (3v18)
• You get to ‘cross over’ from death to life (5v24)
• Your deepest desires will be met – forever (6v25-59, 7v38)
• Your physical death is no longer the end (11v25-26)
• The dark parts of your life will be lovingly filled with light so that you are no longer haunted by what’s there (12v46)

If you have time, read through those passages and get a feel for what believing in Jesus is about.

believe-dont-sign-stop-Favim.com-170308

In this session we’re going to focus on two of these amazing promises. The first is about the kind of life we’ll get to enjoy.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)

That’s a pretty familiar passage right? One of the most famous in the whole Bible. It gets really interesting when you pick out one word and check it out in the Greek language it was first written in.

That word is ‘life’.

life

The Greeks had two words for life: Bios and Zoe.

Bios doesn’t have anything to do with computer systems, bios describes the living stuff all around us: plant matter, animal matter – the stuff of Biology and the Biosphere. ‘Bios’ life is what plants get from seeds and what all animals have. Bios life is what your parents gave you when you were born. You don’t have any more Bios life than your hamster or your dog. In the world of Bios life we ‘ain’t nothing but mammals…’

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Every living thing and every-body has Bios life. And every living thing and every-body will one day lose their bios life. Bios lives – then dies and rots away.

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. Hector Louis Berlioz

 

The other Greek word for ‘life’ was ‘Zoe’. Do you know anyone called Zoe? I do. There’s a reason for that (and a reason why I haven’t heard about anyone whose name is Bios).

Zoe is a special kind of life. Zoe life is indestructible. Zoe never dies. Your parents cannot give you Zoe life, nor can you try and get it yourself. It can only be received and explored.

Zoe life is what makes us different from every other kind of living thing. We are spiritual beings and with Zoe life we begin to experience a whole new dimension to life. With Zoe life we become fully alive and experience the good things God has for us.

Zoe life is rooted in love. (1 John 3v14) and Zoe life overcomes all fear (1 John 4v18). Zoe life is what we experience when we get to know God our Father (John 17v3).

And … Zoe is eternal – so when Jesus says he’s come to give us all eternal (zoe) life, he’s actually repeating himself. He could have just said ‘whoever believes in me will have Life (the Zoe kind).

We get a massive upgrade on our fragile Bios life when we inherit Zoe life.

You get the picture?

The really cool thing about Zoe is that we don’t have to wait until we die to get it. We can have Zoe life right now.

Does that sound pretty good? It gets better …

The second thing from that list that we get if we believe in Jesus is that our deep desires will be satisfied. Jesus gives us a good idea of what Zoe life is about in this passage from John 6v22-40. Here’s an excerpt:

So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

‘Sir,’ they said, ‘from now on give us this bread.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’

One of the big ideas we’re exploring in this Enter Life series is that all of us have deep desires and longings that were created in us by God and meant to be satisfied only in a relationship with God. Three of those core desires are the longing to know who we really are, to have something significant to do, and to have someone to love deeply.

Just like God said long ago in Jeremiah 2:13, one of our big problems is that, like thirsty travellers in a desert refusing to pull in at an oasis, we keep going in search of other things to fulfil those desires for identity, purpose and relationship.

What Jesus says in John 6v35 is not really anything new. What is radically new is that here is a human claiming to be able to do what in the past only God could do. That takes some faith to believe.

And that’s the invitation.

If anyone believes that Jesus is who he said he was – God himself in human form who makes a way for us to be adopted again as God’s children – and if anyone learns to trust and depend on Jesus to guide his or her life … then guess what: you’ll begin to find your true identity – you’ll start to know who you really are that you’re actually ok! And you’ll discover a capacity for true intimacy.

That’s what Zoe life is about.

All it takes is for you to believe.

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Leaders Toolkit


In this tab you’ll find ideas and questions to help you lead your group through an interactive, story-based journey. Our leaders guide has more info on how to use our Story-based framework.

Click on the time bomb to see how you could run this session in 15 minutes, 30 minutes or longer.
timebomb

Download a PDF version of this session here

Rewind
Think back over as much of your life as you can remember. What are some things you’ve really believed in over the years? How many of those beliefs are still standing?

What are some beliefs you’ve lost over the years? What made you stop believing them?

What would you say you believe in most right now?

theWordSpace_cropped
Get the conversation started …

Get everyone to check out the WordSpace posts from this week on their phones or from a printout (you’ll find them in the next tab.)

o Is there a post that stands out for you? Why so?

o Is there something in a post that raises a question for you? What is that?

o If you had to choose one post to share with a friend, which one would it be?

Refresh
Read the post in The Story tab.

Here’s Brad Fish with invitation number 4… On YouTube here

replay
Some questions to help you replay your story …
o  How did you feel when you heard or read this post on Jesus’ invitation to believe in him? Was it ‘totally awesome!’, ‘no ways, that’s impossible’, or something in between?

o  Does the bit about our deepest desires being those for identity, purpose and relationship make sense? Which one of those is most alive for you now? Is there something else you really want from life?

One of the other big themes in John’s gospel is how difficult it was for people to believe in Jesus – even when he was physically with them. Are there things that make believing Jesus difficult for you? What would help you strengthen (or begin) your belief?

Re – draw your picture of Jesus
I love how Jesus responds to the desperate father in the story of a demon-possessed boy in Mark 9. When the father says: ‘I believe, help me overcome my unbelief!’ Jesus doesn’t walk away from the guy because his faith wasn’t up to scratch. Jesus heals the boy, working with the little bit of faith the father could grab hold of.

How could that encourage you to approach Jesus with just the amount of belief and unbelief you have right now?

remix
What practical action, response,or new way of thinking do you need to take into the week?

Re-pent …
Have you encountered something about believing in Jesus – or in other things – that makes you want to say to God:

wow, I’ve kind of got that wrong in my life. Help me believe more in you’

Jesus invites us to repent often and with freedom. It’s a real gift from God – go for it!

Some questions to help you remix your story …
The idea of believing in Jesus can be a bit abstract and hard to pin down. Here are some ideas on how we can believe:

• Believe that what Jesus said about himself is true
• Believe in Jesus by accepting his invitation to come to him
• Believe in Jesus by trusting him more than anything else
• Believe in Jesus by loving him
• Believe in Jesus by inviting him to be present in your life.

o  Which of those could you begin to do this week?

o  There’s a difference between saying we believe something, and actually believing something. The best way to tell what someone actually believes is to look at the way they live. How might things need to change so that your life reflects your belief in Jesus a bit better?

From the WordSpace

Here are five posts from the WordSpace we’ve posted specially to tie in with this topic:

# 1
So a dad whose kid is demon possessed cries out to Jesus, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’ (Mark 9v24)

I love how God knows us and our flaws and inconsistencies and how sometimes we desperately want to WANT to believe but how sometimes it’s just so hard.

Today, rest in the fact that God understands your wavering faith and he still calls you to believe because he longs to offer you the spilling-over life that only Jesus can give. Maybe start by just acknowledging his power and majesty as you see it displayed in whatever the weather is doing today, and give him thanks.

Mark 9 here: http://bit.ly/1dnSQJu

#believe
#knowingGod
#deereyburn

# 2
Have you noticed how differently people can say your name? Say, one of your parents is angry and they call you; the way they mention it sounds different – right?

Or when a friend says your name with affection in their voice – makes you smile 🙂

How do you think Jesus would say your name? Scripture tell us this, referring to Jesus as a shepherd: ‘He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.’ John 10v3
It’s in the Old Testament too: ‘Fear not for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name. Child, you are mine.’ Isaiah 43v1 (http://bit.ly/18wIZSm)

There are a billions of people in the world, and yet Jesus knows your name! Do you believe that? If not, what would it take to convince you?

#believe
#Godsviewofyou
#darrelhoff
# 3
Believing in something you can’t see is simple but hard (did believing that Santa was watching you ever make a difference??)

When Jesus said ‘believe in me’ I think he knew it would be hard for us who don’t see him physically. But he promised amazing things if we did. Like this:

‘I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness’ (John 12v46)

What are the dark places for you: Is depression tempting you to self-harm? Don’t like who you are? Crushed by guilt or rejection?

You don’t have to stay in that dark place. Freedom begins with believing.

Could you?

Read John 12 here: http://bit.ly/1ppB4i5

#believe
#faithworks
#andrewv
# 4
Eminem, one of the best-selling artists of all time, played live in South Africa in 2o14. Did you (or would you) go to see him live? Or did you maybe pray that the concerts would be canceled (like some did) – because … you know, he doesn’t exactly rap about Godly stuff?

When Jesus invites us to believe in him he promises we’ll find an amazing new kind of life – that never runs out – and that fills our dark places with light (John 7v38). What if we decided to try live that life out? Maybe the stuff in Eminem’s songs would be seen by more people for what it is – a bit lost? (without Christians doing dumb stuff against him)

Read John 7 here: http://bit.ly/ODV6HZ

#believe
#andrewv
# 5
‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6v35)

Really Jesus? Never hungry? Well actually I’m pretty hungry right now. Hungry to know that I’m ok – checking myself in the reflection of my friends’ eyes. Do they like what they see?

I’m so thirsty to know what I’m supposed to be doing with this life of mine. Can I just do one thing that has meaning?

And I’m dying to be loved and to love someone deeply.

So why am I still so hungry?

Maybe it’s the other stuff I’ve been going to and believing in. Will you draw me more to you?

Read John 6 here: http://bit.ly/1fuvnfU

#believe
#fridayfeedback
#andrewv