Session 5 – Fellowship: Living in Community

FELLOWSHIP: LIVING IN COMMUNITY

 

Preparation

In preparation for this week’s D-Group:
Memorize and Meditate on Hebrews 10:24-25
 

Read/Watch:

 

What is a Christian Community and fellowship?

The word “community” is a compound word: “com” means with and “unity” means unity or being unified or having a common union. In short, God wants believers to have the same mind that is in Jesus Christ.  
A Christian community is not just gathering for a meal together or celebrating an occasion. It is the sharing of a common life in Christ. It moves us beyond the self-interested isolation of private lives and the superficial contacts of mere “Christian fellowship.”
 
The biblical idea of a life-transforming community challenges us instead to commit ourselves to live together as people of God.  Christian maturity often takes place not just in the individual realm with God but in a spirit-led Christian community where we hold each other accountable to be Christ-like.  
The end goal should impact our spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social, and financial health where Jesus is the changing catalyst of all.
 
 

Accountability (10 Minutes)

Each disciple to share one insight or lesson learned from his/her devotion in the last week.
If you could hang out with Jesus in any place in the world, where would you pick? Why?
 
 

Bible Discussion (20 Minutes)

1. Study Hebrews 10:24-25.  What are the vital lessons God is trying to impress upon us about community? Why are some so quick to give up “coming together?”
 
2. The Greek word “one another” is used at least a hundred times in ninety-four New Testament verses. Jesus mentioned at least 47 times in His teachings, and Paul wrote overwhelmingly on these “one another” commands.
Read The One Another Command. Share a few of these “one another” commands that the Holy Spirit impresses upon you to work on.  
 
3. The early church met regularly in small groups and homes for teaching, worship, prayer, and fellowship meals (Acts 2:44-46; Acts 12:12-17+). Why do you think this is so critical to their growth (this does not mean they forgo corporate worship and gatherings)?
 
 

Life Transformation (20 Minutes)

1. Do you allow others to hold you accountable for your spiritual growth and maturity in this D-group setting? Briefly describe how you feel about this biblical road to spiritual development.
 
2. Belonging and relationships among members established the platform for this mutual accountability in our Christian maturity. How can we help each other to be more Christ-like?
 
3. Why is it spiritually fatal for a Christian to attempt to live a life independent from the life of the church?
 
 

Intercessory Prayer (10 Minutes)

  1. To choose to live my Christian life in a life-changing community
  2. To consistently help “one another” in our spiritual endeavors
  3. To allow others to “correct” me when I have gone astray.
 
LEADERS’ TIP
  1. Share that any authentic Christian fellowship ought to be a bible-based church community anchored in Jesus where lives are changed.  In the church, members are to help and hold one another accountable for spiritual growth and development. Ask the group for “group permission”: if any member is slacking in his spiritual progress, any group member has the right to gently “check” and encourage the person back to the path of faith. Emphasize briefly that God exists in a community. The Trinity is a community.  Jesus had thousands following him, but he discipled only twelve, which is His small community. These disciples became the anchor of the Christian church.  
  2. Leaders should check whether members feel fearful and uneasy to even confess sins to one another (James 5:16). Hear them out and bring them back to the bible based on our learning. It’s important to differentiate what are opinions and perceptions versus what God is saying in His living Word as holy instructions for Christian living.  
  3. Watch this video as an inspiration in conclusion – Derek Redmond participated in the 1993 Olympic Games in Barcelona. He tore his hamstring in the 400-meter semi-final but continued the race limping and, with assistance from his father, managed to complete a full lap of the track as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Similarly, the Christian community organized in smaller groups is to help one another, and together with God, we will finish the heavenly race. 
 
**Additional Resources
  1. Life Transforming Groups
     
  2. Your Small Group Should Be Making Disciples

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Session 6: Overcoming Temptations

OVERCOMING TEMPTATIONS

 

Preparation

In preparation for this week’s D-Group:
Memorize and Meditate on
 

Read/Watch:

 

What is Temptation?

The English dictionary defines temptation as the desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.  The real issue in temptation is whether we live apart from Jesus.  Temptations become sins when we consent to them in our minds. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, but not the ungodly.
 
When we survey the scriptures, temptations are not overcome at the time of temptation, but always before. If we look at Jesus, He provides the model to overcome temptation.  Jesus was tempted to do right in His own power apart from the power above.  So are we. And Jesus overcame temptations the same way we should overcome: by power from above (God) rather than from within.  He stayed close to God and found sins repulsive.
 
So long as we depend on God, we will also find sins repulsive and thus this creates the spiritual firewall to prevent us from easily succumbing to possible temptations. The more we love Jesus, the less the attractions of the devil will hold sway over us.
 
 

Accountability (10 Minutes)

Each disciple to share one insight or lesson learned from his/her devotion in the last week.
What is one song that has really impacted your faith journey?
 
 

Bible Discussion (20 Minutes)

1. Base on the study of Matthew 4:1-11, how did Jesus handle His temptations from Satan? What are the lessons we can learn?
 
2. What promise is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13? Share with the group how you are going to claim this promise when you are tempted.
 
3. Base on Matthew 5:21-28, what does the bible talk about succumbing to temptations in our minds? Are there areas in your life where you had given in to temptations and now have become spiritual strongholds?
 
 

Life Transformation (20 Minutes)

1. Ministry of Healing, page 510, tells us that “when we permit our communion with God to be broken, our defense is departed from us. Not all your good purposes and good intention will enable you to withstand evil. You must be men and women of prayer.”
 What does this tell us about seeking the Lord in the study of His Word and prayer daily? How do we ask God to create a clean heart within us (Psalm 51:10)?
 
2. What are some of your temptations? Share with us your struggles and how you overcame them? How can the d-group support you to live victoriously for Jesus?
 
3. Digital addiction is affecting the young to old.  You can easily find sins on the internet. Share some of the “firewall tactics” you may have adopted to prevent yourself from yielding to these temptations easily.
 
 

Intercessory Prayer (10 Minutes)

  1. To claim promises in the scripture to overcome temptations
  2. To keep our minds and heart pure in God
  3. To deliver us from evil before it happens
 
 

Leaders’ Tip

  • Emphasize the primary biblical perspective of overcoming temptation is to stay close to Jesus.  Thus, the regular personal devotion with God, consistent prayerful life and the active participation on Sabbath worship are simple mechanics to help us to stay close to the almighty.
  • Share a personal experience in overcoming temptation. There are some minor temptations when succumbed may be inconsequential, but others will cause permanent damage to marriages, children, family, and even the church family and beyond. And the devil is all out to attack every Christian and family. But God is great and his promises will prevail.  Therefore, one of the reasons to memorize and meditate scriptures is to saturate the minds with the Word of God so that we find sins repulsive.
  • Highlight any temptations the group may be facing and share practical steps on how to avoid or overcome them.  Many Christians struggle with temptations like anger, laziness, sex, lying, gossip, etc.  Some Christians may have already succumbed to certain temptations for a long time and these sins have become spiritual strongholds.  
  • Seek further advice from your pastor or some experienced church elders for wisdom and direction if a certain member needs help beyond the group (with permission).  In some cases, members who are addicted to certain sins may need further professional assistance to overcome besides all the spiritual and emotional support given.  
  • Remember to maintain confidentiality in dealing with all these matters.
 

**Additional Resources

  1. 12 Tips for Resisting Temptations
  2. The Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness

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Session 7: Christian Stewardship

CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP

 

Preparation

In preparation for this week’s D-Group:
Memorise and Meditate on Matthew 25:14-46 
 

Read/Watch:

Adventist Stewardship

Why Ten Percent?

Best Gift Received

Signs of Spiritual Revival

 

What is Christian Stewardship?

The Bible tells us that only a person who has a relationship with God can truly partner with Him and worship Him with their whole life. Stewardship is an acknowledgement of God’s ownership and sovereignty and also of Jesus Christ’s claim of lordship in our lives.  Christian stewardship includes every area of life: our bodies, skills, time, environment, financial resources, and work.
 
In loving God with all of our heart, mind, and soul, all of our affairs reflect who we are in relationship to who God is. Therefore, with this all-inclusive view of stewardship, Jesus is also Lord of our financial resources. Viewed from its totality, stewardship is an expression of discipleship with a heart for God’s mission in the world. Stewards are partners with God, living out their faithfulness as members and church leaders in unity with His worldwide church. 
 

Accountability (10 Minutes)

Each disciple to share one insight or lesson learned from his/her devotion in the last week.
What is one gift you have that you love to use to build the kingdom of God?
 
 

Bible Discussion (20 Minutes)

1. Study Matthew 25:14-46.  What are the key lessons God is trying to teach us? Share with us your understanding of Lordship in this passage as God gives to every man according to his ability.
 
2. Read the following Bible verses and discuss its key teaching points about giving.
Why do you think the Lord think it is necessary to include these verses in the Bible?
 
3. Matthew 6:21 is direct to the point when Jesus spoke these words.  What are some of the obstacles to apply this truth to be practiced in every Christian life?
 

Life Transformation (20 Minutes)

1. What are the gifts and blessings God has bestowed upon you? How are you using them to forward God’s mission? How does understanding the difference between ownership and stewardship affect our faithfulness in giving?
 
2. There’s an old English saying, “Let him put his money where his mouth is.” The idea is that people can talk about how much they believe in something, but unless they are willing to put some of their money into it, the talk is meaningless. How does the act of returning faithful tithes and offerings reveal where our heart really is? 
 
3. Am I honest with God in my tithes and offering? Am I willing to be a faithful steward in all areas as expressed in this commitment card
 
 

Intercessory Prayer (10 Minutes)

  1. To recognize and acknowledge all blessings come from God
  2. To be faithful in returning tithes and offerings
  3. To use all gifts and talents for the glory of God via His church 
 
 

LEADERS’ TIP

  • Share about Adventists recognition that God claims 10 percent (10%) of our income as His own, and so we faithfully return His tithe to the “storehouse” which is the local Conference.
  • Bring an actual tithe envelope to show tithe, combined budget and the local church offering. There is an indication in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy that regularity and proportionality are good principles to follow.
  • Share your personal practice in returning faithful tithes and offerings. It is also good to educate members how the tithe and offering are used, especially in Singapore Conference and our world church.  When you share stewardship from a biblical perspective, financial resources are only one aspect.  But it needs to be highlighted and brought up as Jesus talks more about money than anything throughout the four gospels.  
  • Use the commitment card to highlight Christian stewardship to include all other areas which gives the disciple a broader picture of what a faithful Christian steward should look like.
 

**Additional Resources

  1. Where do we bring our Tithe?
  2. SAC FAQ Tithes and Offering 

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Session 8: Repentance, Forgiveness & Obedience

REPENTANCE, FORGIVENESS & OBEDIENCE

 
 

Preparation

In preparation for this week’s D-Group:
Memorize and Meditate on 
 

Read/Watch:

 

What is Repentance, Forgiveness & Obedience?

REPENTANCE: The New Testament Greek word metanoia which often is translated in English as repentance literally means “to change the mind.” Repentance is sorrow for sin and turning away from sins.  Because repentance is a gift, therefore, sorrow for sin is also a gift, and thus turning away from sin is also a gift. (Acts 5:31). Thus, we do not change our lives in order to come to Christ.  We come to Him just as we are, and He changes our lives (John 6:37). God gives us repentance before He gives us forgiveness (Acts 3:19).
 
FORGIVENESS: God’s forgiveness is not limited, but our acceptance of His forgiveness is. (Matthew 18:21-22). Thus, those who are forgiven much will love much. Those who love much will obey much (Luke 7:41-43; John 14:15). The only known sin that cannot be forgiven is the one for which we don’t repent and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). 
 
OBEDIENCE: Thus, true spiritual obedience comes from the inside out, not just shown from the outside (Matthew 23:25-26).  Therefore, a transformed disciple’s obedience is natural and spontaneous and it comes only through the loving-faith relationship with Christ (John 14:15).
 
 

Accountability (10 Minutes)

Each disciple to share one insight or lesson learned from his/her devotion in the last week.
When you get to heaven, what is one question you will ask God?
 
 

Bible Discussion (20 Minutes)

1. Psalm 51 by King David expressed his wrongs and regrets toward God. What can you learn from David’s repentance of sins? What about the consequences of his sins?
 
2. In 1 John 1:9, why is it the confession of our sins must happen before God forgives us? Share your insights for this text.
 
3. In John 14:15, what is the context of keeping the commands of God? Why is it so important and significant for the life of a disciple?
 
 

Life Transformation (20 Minutes)

1. What are the sins you are harboring that you need to repent, to feel sorrowful and to turn away from?
 
2. Is there anyone that you need to ask for forgiveness from? Would you be willing to ask for forgiveness now?
 
3. Share with the group how do you ensure your obedience to Jesus Christ comes from a changed heart, and not based on external pressure and markers?
 
 

Intercessory Prayer (10 Minutes)

  1. Holy Spirit to impress you to repent
  2. Power to forgive those who hurt you
  3. To be obedient to God’s teaching
 
 

LEADERS’ TIP

  • Emphasize cherished sins in the life of the believers often rendered his spiritual influence powerless. Worst, known and cherished unconfessed sins will further create a wall between the disciple and Jesus.  
  • Encourage each group member to specifically verbalize his sins and to seek the power of God to repent; to seek for God’s forgiveness and to live a Christian life of holy obedience.
  • Demonstrate personal brokenness and vulnerability so that it opens the door for other members to do likewise. It’s good to ask each member to update their “sins” periodically so that other members can intercede for each other in prayer that the cleansing blood of Jesus will wipe away all sins.  
  • Bottom line: the disciple must stay close to Jesus and held accountable to the d-group for continual spiritual development.
 

**Additional Resources

  1. What does it mean to be a Seventh-day Adventist?
  2. The Power of Forgiveness by Ellen White

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Total Member Involvement-Priesthood of All Believers

On 4 Aug 2018, the pastors and employees of the Singapore Adventist Conference (Singapore) gathered at the Seventh-day Adventist Community church to witness the ordination of Pastor James Tham to the gospel ministry.

While preparing to share the message, there was a significant point I had shared before which continued to resonate within my heart. This point applies not just to pastors but applies to every member of the Christian faith.

The point is: Every Christian believer is called to be involved in ministry. It is not an option. We may function in different capacities and emphasis based on our spiritual giftings, natural abilities, experiences and training. However, our ultimate goal is to share the gospel to every kindred, tongue and people. Ministries and programs are merely tools to introduce people to Jesus.

We come from all walks of life. Regardless of our background, all of us are chosen and called to be priests and priestesses. I Peter 2:5-9 clearly expresses that we are a chosen nation and a royal priesthood to proclaim God’s marvellous grace in every circumstance. Based on the apostle Paul’s explicit instructions to pastors as found in Ephesians 4:11-13, one of their primary functions is to equip and train their members for ministry and works of service so that the body of Christ will be strengthened.

Now, imagine there is an assigned trained pastor to a church congregation with an attendance of 100 members. These members have an unceasing passion for “lost” people. In Luke 15, the Bible uses analogies of a shepherd going to seek out the lost sheep; a woman searching for her lost coin, and the father awaiting the return of his lost son.

Just imagine every member who has been trained, equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit, is now sent to share Jesus with everyone in their home, community, workplace, school and all public arenas. The church will not just have one pastor! It will have one hundred active serving “priests” (or “pastors”)! The calling of the ordained minister will be to organise and lead the church toward outreach and evangelism. Imagine what difference would that make to the vitality of the church and the spirituality of every member? There will be a great revival and lives will be impacted on every level. It will be evident that in that church, the power of God is genuinely moving in every direction.

If every member functions as prescribed by these two bible passages, pastors would be freed up to do more evangelistic work. Our churches will be able to break new ground in engaging non-believers in various community initiatives and establishing a centre of influence for the purpose of soul-winning.

Ellen White once wrote, “Brethren and sisters, how much work have you done for God during the past year? Do you think that it is those men only who have been ordained as gospel ministers that are to work for the uplifting of humanity?– No, no! Everyone who names the name of Christ is expected by God to engage in this work. The hands of ordination may not have been laid upon you, but you are none the less God’s messengers.” (RH November 24, 1904). This message of bringing salvation to every was repeatedly emphasised, not just in her writings but in her life as a testimony, because she is God’s messenger.

In closing, I thought it would be appropriate to repeat what I had shared in my message at the ordination service: the ten basic statements of ministry as a framework for our involvement as royal priests for the kingdom of God.

Ten Basic Statements about ministry:
1. The foundation of ministry is character.
2. The nature of ministry is service.
3. The motive for ministry is love.
4. The measure of ministry is sacrifice.
5. The authority of ministry is submission.
6. The purpose of ministry is the glory of God.
7. The tools of ministry are the Word and prayer.
8. The privilege of ministry is growth.
9. The power of ministry is the Holy Spirit.
10. The model for ministry is Jesus Christ


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Rekindle Our Passion

Many church members have great plans and focused determination to reach great heights for their own personal accomplishments and that’s good and understandable. But I wonder how much of their energy is channeled with the same intensity and passion, if not more, to local church ministries for the advancement of the kingdom of God.

When we first experienced God’s love, we loved spending hours thinking about Him, studying His Word, dwelling in His presence and sharing how much He is transforming our lives. Then our demanding and hectic schedules slowly dampen our passion and shift our priorities. Our desire to do the Lord’s will and our daily spiritual discipline of coming into His presence gradually fade away. Studying His Word and imitating His life are now rare and irregular.

The Bible talks about the church at Ephesus who wrestled to keep their spiritual passion. Jesus saw they had abandoned their first love (Revelation 2:4). Their faith experience was akin to a marriage that is technically intact but without much love and desire. Perhaps the busyness and distractions of their lives had diluted the affection once wholly reserved for the Lord.

Jesus wanted to help the Ephesus Christians restore their love and zeal for Him. He badly wanted to rekindle their passion and love for Him, and to restore His kingdom values in their lives. Are we like the church at Ephesus?

The Seventh-day Adventist Church began operations in Singapore in 1904. Despite being in the country for more than 100 years, our membership growth has plateaued over the past two decades. There may be many possible reasons for it but I believe it is largely because we have allowed something to steal our passion away from the Lord. Consequently, we are weakened, maintaining a form without much spiritual substance. Our lives, marriages, families, institutions and even churches may appear intact but inwardly, we may be spiritually rotting away.

But there is hope. God wants to bring healing and revival to His beloved church right now. The lost passion and love can be reawakened and restored as we remember God’s amazing love demonstrated at Calvary. In Revelation 2:5, we are called to repentance of our sinful self and unchristian attitudes, and renew our love for our Lord and Saviour. I pray each of us will sense the call of God to rededicate their life to Him and to always seek first His kingdom and righteousness.

The signs of the times tell us we are living in the final chapter of earth’s history. Some 1400 members gather in one of our nine churches every Sabbath. Every Adventist in Singapore has the potential to be a living witness to what God is continually doing in our lives. We are called to fulfill the Great Commission. As important as the media outlets established by the church are for doing that, they can never replace a living witness whose life is filled with spiritual passion. God longs to reveal His love and truth through His faithful witnesses. Just imagine, 1400 witnesses standing tall for the Lord on all levels of society and walks of life.

Let’s pray unceasingly for each other for God to revitalise our passion for Him.

Johnny Kan

President

Singapore Adventist Conference

 

P.S.: I will be communicating via this blog on a fortnightly basis.


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