Hope Again – Together

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Over the last month we have been focusing on the hope that comes as we see Jesus. Looking at how as we unpack the results of Resurrection, in the life of Jesus, our own lives and the lives of others, that it enables us to hope again. 

The Results of Resurrection – Peace (Gordon Graham)

Gordon continued sharing from the events that happened as we follow Jesus following His resurrection as He meets with different people and shares different insights. 

The first focus this month was the second appearance of Jesus post resurrection recorded in John 20 where Jesus appears to His disciples. 

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

John 20: 19-23

In this encounter Gordon highlighted that Jesus met them with peace, declaring ‘Peace be with you’, and that this peace was a temporary warm and fuzzy feeling or an absence of challenge, but a peace that is stronger than death, a peace that overcame the grave and a peace that defeated all fear. The peace that is a result of the resurrection and the peace that we can experience and know today. 

Gordon went onto share how this peace changes us in the same way it changed Thomas. That Thomas went from someone who only doubted

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

John 20: 24-25

To someone who gave himself over to the Lordship of Jesus

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20: 26-28

Gordon invited us to consider if we will let the same peace change us, that as we know Christ more we will know peace more and in doing so have the opportunity to let go of all we are anxious and unsure about, let go of all our fears and doubts and instead trust Jesus. 

It may sometimes feel like we’re a letting go of security a little like a trapeze artist lets go of the security of a rope as he/she flies through the air, but in letting go we allow ourselves to be caught by the secure hands of God, the other trapeze artist. This enables us to let His peace and life transform us. 

The Results of Resurrection – Change? (Gordon Graham)

Within the month of May Gordon also shared on the third appearance of Jesus found in John 21

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing

John 21:1-3

He posed the challenging question of ‘How has the resurrection of Jesus changed your life?’. 

Because when we consider that the disciples saw Jesus risen from the dead, and yet their response was to go back fishing, it means we must consider how are we responding?

How is it changing our life?

How has it changed our goals and priorities?

How has it affected are attitudes and behaviours? 

How is it shaping our homes, neighbourhoods and communities?

They are challenging questions, and ones we only have answers for as we look to Jesus, and in looking to Jesus we look forward! 

Gordon drew the parallel with Jurassic Park and the scene where they are being chased by the T Rex and the driver of the car looks into his rear view mirror, when the cry of the car is they ‘Must Go Faster’. There may be danger behind, regret, pain, failure and disappointment and as tempting as it is to look back, we will never be able to move forward by looking backwards. 

We all want the results of resurrection in our lives, so lets look forward, what has God got in store for us as individuals, as a family, as a community together. The best is yet to come and God will work in us and through us as we trust Him and take a step at a time. 

The Results of Resurrection – Expectation (Gordon Graham)

Gordon also looked at Acts 1 vs 4 – 11:

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Acts 1: 4-11

This passage draws our attention to three main ideas:

Patience expectancy – the idea of waiting on God and in doing so finding strength and sustenance for the moment were in and the moments ahead. Here Gordon used the example of the painted turtle who buries itself in mud and goes into its shell for 6 months for the winter. However, when summer returns it comes out from its ‘waiting’ stronger and able to live on! In the same way, as we wait on God we may feel a stripping back but this is only so we are able to arise and go on in the next stage

A Promised Event – whilst there is the waiting, it is not done so in vain hope of maybe something happening one day. It is instead done with the knowledge that what Jesus promised He will do, as shared in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16 – 17 about Jesus return.  

Being Witnesses – and the result of the patient expectation of Jesus fulfilling His promises we become witness to that faithfulness, cooperating with the Holy Spirit who fills us like a hand fills a glove. As we live lives filled with Him we demonstrate His goodness, kindness and faithfulness and become witness to who He is! 

Painting a hopeful imagination using testimonies (Steve Elton)

As we reflect on the results of resurrection, and the finished work of Jesus, it enable us to begin to imagine and see a brighter future ahead. We can draw paint from Jesus Himself, from the stories of Scripture and history and also from testimonies. All these things help us to see Jesus and in seeing Jesus help us to hope. 

We all need to intentionally paint a hopeful imagination because we need trees of life, for ourselves but also for those around us (Proverbs 13:1). This isn’t something that happens by accident, but requires our looking for the fingerprints of Gods goodness all around us. One such fingerprint is the testimony of what God is doing in others lives. This is important not just as a reminder of God’s goodness that encourages us in the moment but also because it tells us what God is going to do as Revelation 19:10 says

And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Revelation 19:10

The Testimony of Jesus is anything that points us to Jesus and what he HAS DONE

Spirit of prophecy is the creative speech/declaration about what the future WILL HOLD

Looking back on what Jesus has DONE tells us what He WILL DO. Or in other words, as Gordon mentioned a few weeks ago, its about having faith in the faithfulness of God and almost playing eye spy in the way we look for testimonies of Gods goodness, both around us now but also throughout history! We can collect these testimonies and begin to paint a hopeful imagination, like Sarahs Story

 

This testimony, like all testimonies, reveals what Jesus HAS DONE, But also what He WANTS TO DO. Its not limited to them, its not reserved for only certain situations. This reveals what Jesus is like

Maybe you’re facing a hopeless situation

Maybe you’re looking for life where you’ve been told there’s only death

Maybe you’re looking for a new day, fresh start

Maybe you’re looking for strength to get up and carry on

Then take it the paint from this testimony, take the paint from other testimonies and start to paint a hopeful imagination. 

Painting a hopeful imagination with each other (Steve Elton)

Somewhere else we can get paint from is the examples of each other, it talks about in Ephesians 4:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 

that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love

Ephesians 4:11-16

And in Hebrew 10:

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10: 19-25

The above show the importance of each other in helping us to live out who God has called us to be, or in other words, living out the hopeful imagination we see inside! We need every one of us to play our parts, so that we’ll all provided for and stirred up to do the work we’ve been called to do.

We each have a unique and bespoke role to play, no ones role is pointless or inferior, but like it talks about in 1 Corinthians, we are members of one body and as such each have a key role to fulfil to enable the body to function.

In a similar way it reminds us that God is looking for a forest not a plantation. A forest is rich and diverse, its full of different plants, trees, wildlife, animals etc… Whereas a plantation is made up of trees that all look the same, all managed to be the same and function the same, meaning there is very little life and nothing new can spring up.

A forest is made up of a biodiverse ecosystem, a multifaceted environment where each part supplies, each part enables the other to grow, each part provides life and nutrients to allow the other parts to grow. We each play a role in allowing others to grow. There is no need for competition, no need to try and be the biggest tree or the widest reaching bush, but instead being who we’re called to be, doing our part and knowing that as we do, we enable and empower others to do the same.

We need each other. I need you. You need me!

Questions to Consider

What is the most significant result of resurrection for you? Why?

What testimonies can you use to begin to paint a more hopeful imagination about what the future holds?

How can you connect with people to stir them and yourself up to do good works?

‘Hope Again – Together’ Video

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