Thursday, March 26, 2020

Connect Groups – study 06 - Passion for God II

 Text: Mark 12.30 & Romans 12.11 
Mark 12.30 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”. Romans 12.11 “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in the spirit, serve the Lord.” 
Icebreaker: After last week’s session how passionate do you think you have you been about God this week?
Last week we talked about the first 3 things that kill our passion for Jesus and about how without passion life is boring at best. Today we will look at the following 4 passion killers:
4. An unresolved conflict:
Conflict just drains the passion right out of you. Do you ever start a day and think ‘it’s going to be a great day’ -- you know it?  You just fly out of bed! You’re awake from the moment you get up! You’re ready for the day -- shower, breakfast – and you’re up and running. And then… you’re on the way out the door and you have a fight with your husband or your wife or someone calls you, or you receive a nasty message. All the zip goes out of your doo-dah. When that conflict comes it’s like the air going out of a tyre. That’s what conflict does to us. It takes all the passion out of our lives. Your attitude just goes flat all of sudden. 
5. An unsupported lifestyle:
Sometimes you lose passion for God because you’re not spending time around other people who have a passion for God. You’re not spending time around other Christians. You’re not getting any fellowship. I love this incredibly practical verse in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, just common sense from the Bible. "Two are better than one... because if one falls down his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"We need each other. We all fall sometimes. We all stumble at times. So we all need people who will help us up in our lives. 
If you’ve been around Connect for any amount of time you’ve heard what I’m about to say hundreds, if not thousands of times, but I’m going to say it again because it’s so important. This is why you have to be in a small group and this is why small groups are so important. For those of you who have thought many times "Maybe I should do that," then maybe this is the day when you decide, "I’m going to do that!" Do not wait until the crisis comes before you think “Now I need a small group”. You’re not going to have time to get in a group then. We all fall sometimes. We all go through crises in life. So find a small group and get that support system set up in your life; this will help you to keep your passion for God alive, even during the difficult times.
 6. An unclear purpose:
A sure way to kill your passion for life, and for God, is to forget the purpose of your life. If you don’t know your life’s purpose, why bother? Why get up out of bed in the morning? Why put any effort in? Life without purpose is activity without direction; it’s motion without meaning. Life without purpose is trivial, petty, and pointless. 
My guess is that often, we at Connect church, are clear about the purposes of God for our lives. We talk about it all the time. But even so, it’s easy to forget why we’re here on earth. We get distracted by budgets and bills, kids and football and all kinds of other things. We forget the reasons God put us here on earth. Whenever you forget why God put you on earth you’re going to drift toward apathy and lethargy. This drift leads us to think…. Who cares? Why get out of bed if there’s no meaning, if there’s no purpose to my life. Maybe you’ve felt like Isaiah who said in Isaiah 49.4 "I’ve laboured to no purpose and I’ve spent my strength in vain and for nothing."
The truth is that passion and purpose go together. When you have a clear purpose it’s going to give you a lot of passion. But the passion has to flow from knowing God’s purposes for your life. If you’re only living for yourself, that’s a pretty weak purpose and it isn’t going to sustain your passion.  In fact it’s pathetic to say "I’m living for me." That won’t give you a lot of energy to get out of bed in the morning! You need a cause greater than yourself to give life significance and to give life meaning. The more you understand God’s purposes for your life and the more you live those purposes, the more passionate you’re going to be.
 7. An undernourished spirit:
Every day you face all kinds of circumstances which conspire together to shrink your spirit and to shrivel your heart. When you get up tomorrow morning, you’re going to have distractions and disappointments, you’re going to have conflicts and you’re going to have changes and challenges. You’re going to have problems and pressures, you’re going to have frustrations and fears and failures and fatigue. All of these things press in on you, with the consequence that your heart begins to shrivel and your spirit begins to shrink. It is vital that you intentionally nourish your spirit; if you don’t do it nobody else is going to do it for you; so if you don’t take the time and trouble to do it, it’s going to shrivel up. 
Conclusion: In this time when people are facing their human limitations, we have the privilege to be passionate about a God who is eternal and who invites us to an eternal life with Him. Would you like to be more passionate about God and His Kingdom? Would you like to spread the fire of God everywhere you go? If so invite Jesus to bring His fire to your life, so that you may be totally filled with passion for Him and be ready for Him to respond! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Passion for God I (Connect Group 5)

 Text: Mark 12.30 & Romans 12.11 
The creative force behind all great art, all great drama, all great music, all great architecture, all great writing, is passion. Nothing great is ever accomplished in life without passion. Passion is what energizes life. Passion makes the impossible possible. Passion gives you a reason to get up in the morning and go, "I’m going to do something with my life today." Without passion life becomes boring. It becomes monotonous. It becomes routine. It becomes dull. God created you with the emotions to have passion in your life and He wants you to live a passionate life. “Passion is what mobilizes armies into action. Passion is what causes explorers to boldly go where no man has gone before. Passion is what causes scientists to spend hours, late at night, trying to find the cure for a dreaded disease. Passion is what makes a good athlete and turns him or her into a great athlete where they’re breaking records. You’ve got to have passion in your life.” (Rick Warren) 
One day a man walked to Jesus and said, "Lord, what’s the most important thing in the Bible?" You know what the Great Commandment is. We’ve talked about it many times. Jesus said, "I want you to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. Nothing matters more than that. That’s the number one thing in life. I want you to love Me passionately." God doesn’t want you to love Him half-heartedly. He wants you to love Him with all your heart and all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.
Sometimes I feel that in our society it’s ok to be passionate about anything except God. It’s not seen as politically correct to be passionate about God. I can be passionate about movies. I can be passionate about sports. I can be passionate about politics. I can be passionate about fashion and clothes. I can be passionate about restaurants (and some of us really are). But I cannot be passionate about God. That’s a no-no. Also, remember that to be passionate about God has nothing to do with either your personality or your age.
Today and next week, as we go through God’s word, we’re going to look at seven passion killers, things that rob our lives of joy. We will look at 3 passion killers this week and 4 in the next session: 
1)    An unbalanced schedule
That means that if you’re either overworked or underworked you’re going to lose your passion for life and lose your passion for God. Life is a series of seasons, the Bible says. There’s a season for everything and there’s a rhythm to life. You need both in your life; both input and output. You need both rest and work. And too much of either will cause you to lose your passion. Too much work will cause you to lose your passion. Too much nothingness leads to boredom which will cause you to lose your passion too, so if you’re not working enough. 
Psalm 127 "It’s senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing that you’re going to starve to death; for God wants His loved ones to get their proper rest." That’s a good verse for your refrigerator door. God wants you to get your proper rest. 
2)     An unused talent. 
An unused talent will cause you to lose your passion for life and your passion for God. 1 Peter 4:10 says"Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So, use your gifts well."  
Be aware that God has given you certain talents, abilities, personality traits and gifts. Those gifts, those talents, that you’ve been given are not for your benefit, they are for the benefit for His Kingdom (others). 
If you don’t use your talents, you’re going to lose your passion. God did not give you special abilities just to sit on them and do nothing about it. God says I want you to use it or you’re going to lose it. 
Let me get really specific. If you are stuck in a job that does not use your talents to any degree you are inevitably going to lose your zeal and zest and passion in life. It’s going to burn you out. Studies have shown that 70% of all people are in a job that does not use their talents. That’s tragic. Because God did not give you talents and then say, "Don’t use them. Just go make some money." There’s something more important than money. That is using what God gave you. God is grieved when He looks and sees you in a job that’s not using your talents. He’s going, "What do you think I gave you your talents for? Just to sit on them?" No. If you do that, you’re going to lose your passion. 
3) An unconfessed sin
This is a big one. Few things rob us of joy, rob our confidence, or rob our passion, more quickly than guilt. Here’s how sin and guilt work in our lives. We don’t walk around thinking, "I have sin in my life. I am a guilty person." No, we rationalize it consciously, so we think, "It’s ok. Everybody’s doing it. It’s no big deal." 
Here’s the truth about us as human beings. We cannot feel enthusiasm and guilt at the same time. You can’t feel guilt and passion at the same time because guilt by its very definition robs you of passion. Psalm 38:4&6 "My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear... I am bowed down and I am brought low."

Conclusion: Today God is inviting us to leave everything that is trying to kill our passion for God. Let’s recognise, confess and seek a passionate relationship with Jesus.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Guidance for the next 3 weeks!

Dear Connect church Family!

In light of our present situation with Coronavirus, the Leaders talked and prayed today, and we feel led to share the following information’s with our church family.

We want to reassure and encourage Connect Church family to put our hope in God, our Rock. This crisis is an opportunity to be people of different Spirit with a different heart.

In line with Government directives, we have decided to cease all public worship, events and gatherings.

We encourage all the connect groups, meetings of any church ministry and church service to meet online. We will do live streaming of our Sunday services from this Sunday 22 March, 29 March and 05 April. On this tree Sundays we will stream on Facebook and ZOOM, so choose the one that suits you most.

Please invite friends and family to join as this is a fantastic evangelistic opportunity.

We will continue with our Wednesday evening Connect Group, and the Connect group study will be posted on our blog (https://www.luizcardoso.co.uk|)

On Monday 06 April I will give more information about when (if we have a date) our services at Britannia hotel will be resumed.

Until we return to that ALL pastoral conversations and visits STILL happening, so don’t hesitate to contact me. The appointment will be made through zoom, skype, facetime, what’s app or phone call.

Please don’t stop to give your tithes and offerings on this season, as this is a blessing to you and the body of Christ and our expenses continue happening.

I will be praying for you all and we are assured that God has lost none of His power.


Pastor Luiz F. Cardoso and The Leaders of Connect church

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Am I passionate about God? (Connect Groups 04)

Am I passionate about God?

Text: Philippians 3.7-14

Ice breaker: Have you ever met someone that really loved to go to the gym or to work out? Didn’t they share how amazing it was in a contagious way? How much do you think that their passion influences how they approach being at the gym?

No matter where you drive, even on the coldest winter morning, or in the most severe rain, you don’t need to drive far before you can see someone running and exercising outdoors. It is amazing to see the commitment and passion of people for their health and hobby (I confess that it makes me tired just to see them). Sometimes all that I would like to do is to stop the car and offer them a lift, but people do their exercise with such passion that I wouldn’t dare stop them!
Passion makes all the difference in the process of doing something. It is visible and changes everything, from the church to the government department. PASSION is noticeable and the lack of it is lamentable. 

However the question today is: Am I passionate about God? Am I passionate about the things of God?

Today I would like us to start to think about how we can keep or even reignite our passion for God. And to help with that I would like us to ask ourselves some questions:

1)   What am I most passionate about?
A good way to discern what our real passion is (YES we can say one thing, but in fact, in reality, be passionate about something else entirely.) is to use this simple formula:
Where I spend most of my: MONEY + TIME + ENERGY + THOUGHTS = MY PASSION (probably)

2)   How will people remember me when I am not here anymore? 
People who know you best also know your passions. What would your family, people that work with you, neighbours, and friends say you are most passionate about?

3)   Am I satisfied with my passion for God as it stands right now?
On a scale of 1-10 (1=cold, 5=lukewarm, 10=hot), how would you rate it? Is it going up the scale or down it?  To know that things could be better and not to do anything about it is not good enough, we are called to have a supernatural and amazing life – so let’s get passionate about it!

4)   What needs to change so that God becomes my greatest passion?
What are the stumbling blocks that are killing the fire of passion about God in us? Is it sin, lack of willingness, laziness or even the fact that we don’t know how to do things differently to make the change?
Today let’s look inside of ourselves and ask God to show us the changes that are needed in order that His fire can be rekindled or can grow  hotter in our hearts. 


5)   How can I keep my spiritual temperature high (or even increase it) when I am surrounded by cooling influences?
This is exactly what we will be talking about in next week’s group, but for now, we can remember a phrase from C.S. Lewis “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing Christianity cannot be is moderately important”.
We have the most important and eternal presence knocking to enter our heart, and if we open up he will enter and change everything.
Remember who God is, what the Bible tells us about him and how awesome it will be to develop a deeper relationship with him. 

Conclusion:

When people asked John Wesley why crowds came to listen to him, he said “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.”  

Dear God, help me to remember who you are and why you made me! Help me to have my heart in flames for you and for your will. Help me to seek you with a passion that is so much more than I can describe – spark your fire in me so that I burn for Jesus.  Amen. 



Thursday, March 5, 2020

What is to have a real relationship with Jesus? (Connect group 03)

Text: “Come, Follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people”. Matthew 4.19
 Icebreaker: Do you know Robbie Williams? (We can also use the Queen or another icon of our present culture) It is amazing how much we can learn about someone without actually “knowing” them! We can have loads of information about what they do, what they like to eat, and even some very personal information about them but we don’t know them personally.
So what is it to have a real relationship with Jesus?
      
    1)    It is to know Him personally
I am sure that we all have people who we like and look up to as an example to us. It might be sportspeople or people who are famous for different reasons. The fact is that we may know a lot about them, but that doesn’t make us close or their friends. Jesus doesn’t want us to relate to Him in this way. He wants us to be close to Him in a relationship that is alive, dynamic and growing all the time. Let’s move beyond only knowing facts, stories or even what people tell us about Him – it is time to have an encounter (or one more encounter) that will move us a step closer to Him and with Him. 

2)    It is to have confidence in Him
There is no relationship with Jesus if we have no confidence in Him. This is confidence in the truth that He is God and the only Saviour – the only way to an eternal life with God. A definition of confidence is “the feeling or belief that one can have faith or rely on someone or something”. We can rely on God – because we know that He is who the Bible says He is; He can do what the Bible says He can do, and He will do what the Bible says He will do. The way to develop confidence in who God is, and to know more deeply that He wants a relationship with us, is to know the Bible better. God has lost none of His power, none of His Love and none of His will to save!!! What is revealed in the Bible is still true now. 

3)    It is to trust Him 
Trust is “the firm belief in the reliability of someone or something”. To trust in Jesus, we need to know Him in a personal way, to have confidence in what the Bible tells us about Him and what He says to our hearts – then we will be able to start to have a firm belief that he is reliable – He will never fail us. 
God calls us to trust Him with our lives, families, carers, money and to know that because He cannot fail His ways are always perfect and the absolute best option for us.

4)    It is to put His teachings into practice
The most significant measure of whether we know Jesus personally and of whether we are walking with Him is: Are we putting His instructions and commands into practice? If we know Jesus and walk with Him, His commands will be the law for us and not just suggestions. 
We cannot deceive ourselves; it is impossible to know Jesus personally as a friend and not become more like Him. When we walk with Him and learn that His ways are the only way, and we become not just listeners, but practitioners of Jesus’ way – you become the message. You live it out in your life. 
Conclusion:  Jesus is so awesome that He is the most interesting person that we could search for and find. It is not enough that we know about Him, or that we only collect information on the way, but that we KNOW Him personally through who He is. Remember His promise “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29.13) 

Prayer: God, thank you for the gift of life. Thank you because you are the way, the truth and the life. We pray today that we don’t stay only in the zone of “knowledge about you” but that we become friends with you. Please enter into our hearts as we say that you are the Lord of our lives and our Saviour. Amen.

Monday, March 2, 2020

What to do with doubts? (Connect Group 02)

Connect Group 02    
Text: Luke 7. 18 – 23
Icebreaker: Have you ever had doubt about a route, and because you didn’t ask or check it you took the wrong way?

John the Baptist was the greatest man born of women (Luke 7.28). Imagine the things that he saw, understood and passed through. Even before he was born, he leapt for joy in his Mother’s womb because he responded to the unborn Jesus who was being carried by Mary.

He baptized Jesus, and when he finished the heavens were opened, a dove came to Jesus and God Himself spoke. Can you imagine a baptism like this?

He knew that Jesus was the Messiah! He had proof of that in all that he had seen! But when he was in prison, alone, feeling left behind, the doubts started to come to him!

I would like to say that I have no doubt and that the doubts won’t come to you, but the truth is that it will come.

This does not mean that we are in sin, or that we are any less a Christian because of that. The doubts just show that we are humans. It’s what we do with our doubts that matters and if we are having them, they are like a yellow light on the traffic lights which mean get ready to stop and think, and spend time with God to tell Him how we are feeling. 
If John the Baptist, the man that was the first to recognize Jesus and tell people who he was, had doubts, we cannot expect to be doubt-free!

We need to understand that faith is not about “having no doubts”, but is an assurance that reminds us that we don’t walk by what we can feel or what we can see, but by what we believe.
Some doubts will come, and we will know that they make no sense, others will take our breath away, and others will be just a moment of fear about something!
The thing is that we need to learn how to deal with doubts, so let’s learn with John the Baptist about that, and if you want to overcome the doubt, you need to:

1)   Run to Jesus, not from Jesus
Many people when they have a doubt run from Jesus! That is wrong!
WE need to understand that when we have some doubt, we RUN to Jesus, we run to the one that has power to change any circumstance! We need to be honest with Jesus, not pretend to be perfect! 
John couldn’t go to Jesus, but He sent his disciples to talk to Him!



2)   Confess (OPEN) your doubts with someone
James 5 says that we need to confess and pray for one another in order to be healed!
Don’t keep the doubts to yourself, if you do, the doubt will eat away at you and at your faith! Be honest about your doubts with your cell group leader or someone else, because God has more for you!

3)   Don’t Stop!
Don’t be offended by Jesus (v.23). Don’t listen to your fears; listen to Jesus and His word!
Don’t stop, God is with you!

Conclusion: I know that we all will have doubts at one moment or another in our lives, so today we can decide to be open to God and to the people who are helping us in our discipleship journey. Would you like to ask God to help you with your doubts? So share with someone and let’s pray!

Connect Group 22 – Be careful with what is inside!

Text: James 3.10-12.   Icebreaker: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12.34). What do you think about this phrase? ...