by Sarah Smith
Sunday Devotional Playlist:
This week’s playlist starts with some songs to sing along with, but then will move into some instrumental music as a backdrop to your devotional time.
Feel free to use the opening songs as moments to worship, or just have them as background music while you read. It’s up to you!
Hit play on the video above and it will run through the songs in the playlist.
ENGAGING OUR CITY
We are a community who long to see our city transformed by the love and power of Jesus. Our mission is to love, serve and lead in Manchester; making a difference in every sphere of society as we demonstrate Gods extravagant love to people around us.
If the first priority of a disciple is being with Jesus then the next is that we become increasingly like him. Knowing God and being known by him changes everything and we are then invited into an ongoing journey of being transformed to look, sound and live increasingly like Jesus.
This is the third of the core values we own as a community. The outworking of us being with Jesus and becoming like him is that we all commit to living for him and like him – we show up and engage! As we do then people, places and situations around us are affected and changed; Manchester meets Jesus through you and I! The mission and mandate of his kingdom is carried on the lives of people who’s hearts and eyes are open to the needs around them and who’s hands and feet are ready to move towards them.
So honest reflection time again – where are we up to with this?
What does engaging the city actually look like in practice in and through your life and mine? Good theology, well articulated vision and values, good intentions honestly count for nothing unless they are outworked in loving and faithful action. The apostle James lays it out for us in no uncertain terms when he tells us that faith without works is dead!
FAITHFUL & FRUITFUL
Last week we looked at a passage in 1 Peter where we are encouraged to make every effort to add certain qualities to our lives. It’s interesting to notice the reason why Peter says this is is so important:
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.2 Peter 1:8 ESV
Being with Jesus and being changed to be like him isn’t just some insular self improvement scheme – it’s so that we are effective and fruitful! We see this similarly in Pauls prayer for the Colossian church in chapter 1 of his letter; as well as praying that they would grow in their knowledge of the Lord He also specifically prays that they would be “fruitful in every good work.”
The good works we are called to are vast and varied. It’s about us living to fulfil both the Great Commission and the cultural mandate, if you can stretch your minds back to the beginning of our Fully Alive series this is what we we’re learning together! It’s to preach the good news, heal the sick, cleanse lepers and raise the dead. It’s to partner with Jesus in the renewal of all things by working creatively, with excellence and skill in every sphere of society. It’s to care for the poor, feed the hungry, restore the brokenhearted and bring the lonely into family.
In order to be fruitful in what do we need to be firstly faithful to the what, the who and the how of what God is asking us to do. We need to know the people, places and area of culture he is asking us to engage in. Can anyone person meet every need and show up everywhere – of course the answer is no. But can we and should we all be moving towards and meeting some – absolutely yes!
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.Mother Teresa
So the requirement on each of us is to lean in and listen to what God is asking us to do. Listen to the small things he is asking us to do and be faithful to do them with great love. Not to be overwhelmed by the scale of the task we face but to be inspired by the possibility of seeing the kingdom of God come and impact our friends, our workplaces, our city in our days. We need to be convinced again that this really is part of our calling; to see all things and all people reconciled to God and to partner with Jesus in his beautiful work of making all things new.
It’s always going to be possible for us to find a reasons (which can quickly become excuses!) for us not showing up. Of course how we show up to love and serve our city looks hugely different right now. We’re not in our offices, gyms, coffee houses or school playgrounds. We can’t necessarily go out and volunteer like we used to. But let’s not focus on what we can’t do but choose instead to ask God for creative things that we can do!
This lockdown season actually creates the potential for us to engage with our neighbours, work colleagues and people around us in totally new ways. What could a new normal in our engaging the city look like? How can we use this season to dream again, be praying and preparing to invest again in seeing the lost, the poor, the lonely, the struggling people and situations in Manchester be transformed by the kingdom of God that we carry?
FORMED & UNFORMED
We’ve been thinking for months about what this looks like for us as a church community. We are continuing to believe and to dream about what God has prophesied over us that he is going to give us a building “in the city to reach the city.” We know a building is an important pivot point for us as a community to step into more of the formed ways of engaging our city.
True as this is we can’t just sit and twiddle our thumbs until that happens, we need to be faithful in doing what God is asking us to do now and we have two brilliant opportunities for you to engage with currently.
Our key partner in the city is Barnabus and we are fully committed to working with them to serve some of the most vulnerable in our city. They have specific need for a few volunteers to join some early morning outreach teams starting next week to connect with those still out on the streets over night and I’d love for our church community to be able to help in this way.
The other need I’m hopeful we can all engage in is to be getting supplies of basic provisions for their work. We will be asking you to go shopping for the items they need and then we will collect them at a central point, fill our church van and take them into the team in town. Look out for details and get involved where you can!
- Are your eyes and heart open and are your hands and feet ready?
- What has God given you?
- Where has he placed you?
- Who has he connected you with?
- What are the small things God is asking you to do? How can you do them with great love?
Take some time in these passages in scripture and consider what God is wanting this to look like in and through your life currently and once lockdown is over?
- Isaiah 61
- Isaiah 58
- Matthew 25