Family Worship Guide November 14 - 19

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Day 1

Theme
Unity is like oil on the head of Aaron: Unity is the fragrance of the presence of God. It is attractive and sweet. 

Scripture
John 17:23

Discussion
Becoming in a diverse church family can be messy and uncomfortable. Although we have been forgiven and cleansed of our unrighteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, we all still deal with sin on a daily basis. While unity is our goal as a diverse community of believers, our daily struggle with sin can inevitably lead to disunity. And when the church is disunited and messy, the church begins to look unattractive to those inside and outside the church. Have you experienced disunity with brothers and sisters in Christ because of sin problems? Has your sin ever caused disunity? 

On Sunday, we Pastor Andy that Jason Cook was encouraged by our diversity when he visited our church a couple weeks ago. As a diverse church community, we have an excellent opportunity to portray and exemplify the Kingdom of God through our unity, which would then attract a lost and dying world. But this can only be accomplished though being united together in Christian love and fellowship. Are you actively pursuing unity within your church community? Are you seeking fellowship with those in our church who are different than you?

As Pastor Andy mentioned on Sunday, being in a diverse church can be difficult. With diversity, comes differing opinions, differing ways of thinking, differing personalities, etc. But rather than dwelling on our differences, we ought rather to consider that we are unified in Christ. As New Testament scholar D.A. Carson puts it, "what binds us together is not common education, common race… Christians come together because they have all been loved by Jesus himself.” When we are loving each other as Christ loved us, our differences will no longer matter. Instead, we will see one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, and this will inevitably attract a fighting and disunited world. Have you offended or been offended by someone in our body who you need to be reconciled to? If so, seek that person out and run to Jesus together. Be reconciled for the sake of unity in our church.

Prayer
Father, thank you for breaking down all division and disunity through the Gospel. Lord, Your kingdom is what we long for in our church community, in Birmingham and throughout the world. We ask Lord that Your kingdom will come and that Your will would be done in our diverse community.
We pray that You will continue to unite us in Christ and remove the barriers that divide us in our community. We pray that the lost world around us will be attracted to the love that we have for one another.

Song
"Let Your Kingdom Come"
Austin Stone Worship

Day 2

Theme
Unity is like oil on the head of Aaron: Unity consecrates us and makes us useful.

Scripture
Ephesians 2:11-22

Discussion
The church has been given a mission. We are continuing the work that was started by the disciples. Jesus is calling us to be his witness to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8). Jesus is calling all different kinds of people to come together as one new people in order to complete this mission. This "new people of God" is the end goal of Christ's mission. This type of unity within diversity is attractive to the rest of the world. Are you pursuing diverse relationships to further the kingdom of God to the nations?

The church's unity sets us apart from the rest of the world and prepares us to be a blessing to others. This unity requires us to forsake our self interests, self glory, and self satisfaction in order to honor one another and love one another like a family. It means that we develop an atmosphere that welcomes the outsider. Andy spoke of this Sunday when he said, “A divided church is a useless church.” If our mission is to grow as a family how can you intentionally pursue unity? 

Unity is both beautiful and difficult. It is an uncomfortable and unnatural thing to relate to someone who is very different than you, as family. Does the messiness of unity keep you from pursuing it? When we recognize that we have more in common in Christ with brothers and sisters of a different skin color than unbelieving members of our own family, this beautiful family becomes a reality. 

Prayer
Father we thank you that your grace binds us together as a family. We are grateful that you allow us to be a part of your mission. We pray that you will keep Immanuel Church unified as we seek to become a more diverse family. Please point our eyes to Jesus as the rock that we are built upon.
Father we ask that you forgive us of our prejudices, selfishness, and our pursuit of self glorification. Make us a useful Church and unite your people underneath your banner that the world may see your people and glorify your name!

Song
"Anchor"
Hillsong Worship

Day 3

Theme
Unity like the dew of Hermon. Unity is life-giving and restorative in the arid climate of life.

Scripture
1 John 4:7-13

Discussion
In Psalm 133, we read that unity is like the dew of Herman. As Pastor Andy illustrated for us on Sunday, Herman was a mountain known for collecting dew, and the dew is what kept the surrounding plants alive. This dew would then descend through the mountains of Zion and into Jerusalem, thereby providing life to all the plants in that region. Think about the unity of the church and it's live giving characteristics. How might our unified church give life to our city and our communities?

When a diverse community of believers unite together in Christ, the effects of this unity will be life-giving and restorative to our surrounding culture. While we live in a culture that is so lost and without hope or joy, we can be a source of life to our culture when we are united together as believers. And just as the dew of Herman spread throughout the region, believers who are united in Christ will not be able to contain the hope and joy that they have received through the Gospel. Their life-giving joy and hope will inevitably flow throughout their homes, neighborhoods and cities. Are you experiencing this unity among believers that is life-giving and restorative to the world around you? 

Our world is currently fractured and divided by politics, race and culture. As sinners we often unfortunately divide into groups and subgroups of people who act, think and believe similarly to us. It’s much easier to unite with someone similar to you and to disassociate with people unlike you, isn’t it? The beauty of the Gospel, though, is that Christ has broken down the dividing wall of hostility between people groups (Eph 2:14). And now because of this, we can unite in fellowship and love with people unlike us and provide restoration to this divided world. Are you ready and willing to further God’s kingdom by uniting with other believers (even if they aren’t like you) in order to bring about restoration in this world? 

Prayer
Father, we are fully aware that living in a diverse community is difficult. We are people who love to flock to others who are similar to us. Lord, we are thankful for Your love for all types of people and that You have broken down barriers and have established peace among diverse peoples through Your Gospel. 
We thank you that You have chosen to use us to bring about restoration in this world. 
Lord, help us to no longer consider our differences as barriers that prevent unity.
And help us to continue to unite together in the Gospel and to love one another so that the world will see Your love in us.

Song
"Build Your Kingdom Here"

Rend Collective Experiment