Study 1: How can I know God?

Standing on the mountain top and looking around is a great way of seeing where the road ahead might be leading. The thing is, we’ll get nowhere unless we come down from the heights and set off on the road into 2018 and beyond.

We grow more from participation than we do from observation. It isn’t enough, though, just to dip our toes in the spiritual water - perseverance (keeping on) is a means by which we get closer to Christ. Not controlled by our past but learning through experience, we look forward with single minded purpose to where Christ is leading us.

Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll be looking at what it means to live as believers on the front line. Authentic faith is vital: we can’t expect to lead others to Christ unless we know who He is and understand what He has done for us. We begin by reflecting on our motto text in the light of the first part of GHBC’s vision: Knowing God.

I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize (Philippians 3:12 CEV)
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me (Philippians 3:12, NIV)

Pause for thought

  1. What do you consider to be the most important goals in your life?
  2. How do you set about achieving those goals?
  3. Where do you find the help and support you need to become the person God intends you to be?

Philippi was an important trading centre. It became the location of the first church on European soil (Acts 16: 11 – 15) following the conversion of Lydia a wealthy merchant. It was a settled colony and from the warmth and very personal touches of Paul’s writings, it seems that it was one of the more faithful churches.

Paul is particularly grateful for the church’s financial support and for their prayers. He’s also keen to ensure that the church maintains its witness by inviting them to adopt the attitude of Christ (2:5) – to do that they must know and understand Christ, not simply know about Him (3:10)

Please read Philippians 3 verses 1 to 14

Going it alone? (verses 1 to 7)

  1. Why is it important to safeguard the doctrines of the faith and to develop biblical based beliefs and practices in the community of believers?(see vv. 1)
  2. What gets in the way of our receiving and knowing Christ?
  3. Paul, like all Jews, had a specific identity related to his family and his beliefs (verses 4 to 6). How might our “history” or “status” become a barrier to becoming like Jesus?
  4. What have you found it hardest to lose that you might gain Christ?
  5. If you were helping a new Christian to take their first steps in faith, how would you support them to take on a new way of life?

Getting rid of something will always leave a hole, perhaps even a vacuum. (Jesus himself warned His disciples what can happen if we don’t take the correct course of action once our lives are first cleaned up – see Luke 11: 24 – 26).  It’s important then to be filled with God’s spirit accompanied by a real desire to really know and understand Christ.

Confidence in God’s Grace (verses 8 to 12)

  1. What difference has being a Christian made to Paul? What difference has it made to you?
  2. How can we experience God’s power, share Christ’s suffering and take on His nature (verse 10)?
  3. What do find to be the hardest thing about knowing Christ?
  4. Why is it important to “press on” as well as “take hold”?
  5. How will you press on in your own spiritual life and in your participation in the mission of God through GHBC?

Prayer for 2018

We pray for your Spirit to lead us each step of this New Year. We ask that you will guide our decisions and turn our hearts to deeply desire you above all else. We ask that you will open doors needing to be opened and close the ones needing to be shut tight. We ask that you would help us release our grip on the things to which you’ve said “no,” “not yet,” or “wait.”  Help us to pursue you first, above every dream and desire you’ve put within our hearts. Amen