The resurrected Jesus stood before his disciples and breathed upon them, giving them the Holy Spirit. In this talk, Liam considers the significance of this strange act, and looks at how Jesus sends us out with his message of forgiveness.
Audio: Listen or download
Here is a small-group practice to help you reflect on and pray through the themes of this talk
The Apostle Paul writes: ‘“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”’ (Romans 10:13-15)
We are given the most amazing message to share with this world – the message of forgiveness, that leads to eternal life. Yet for many of us, speaking about our faith can feel daunting or difficult. That is why we need the Holy Spirit, to give us power and boldness (Acts 2:8; 4:29, 31), to confirm our message with signs and wonders (Mark 16:17-18; Acts 4:30), and to fill us with peace and joy (John 20:19-21).
The fact is, many people would be more interested in hearing the gospel than we think! Research suggests that “82% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited, but only 2 percent of church members invite an unchurched person to church. 98% of church-goers never extend an invitation in a given year.” (Dr. Thom Rainer)
After a year where people have been starved of community and confronted with big questions of life in a new way, now might be the perfect time to invite our friends to consider faith and attend church.
This practice includes a mixture of discussions, personal reflection and prayer, to help us ask the Holy Spirit to empower us for mission.
Discussion (10 mins)
In groups of two or three, take 10 minutes to discuss how you feel about talking about your faith?
- Does it come easily to you?
- What makes you fearful about it?
- What has helped you to get better at it?
- How would you like the Holy Spirit to help you?
Personal Reflection (10 mins)
This reflection should be done as individuals. You may want to turn off the screen while you do it, or play some worship music in the background.
Write a list of 3-5 friends who do not know Jesus, and then ask the Holy Spirit these questions, writing down anything you feel he may prompt you with:
- Holy Spirit, would you show me the opportunities to share the good news of your love with these friends.
- Is there anything you would like to say to them, or any encouragement you would like me to share?
- What practical steps can I take this week? Should I initiate a conversation, offer prayer, offer practical support?
- Is now the time to invite these friends to church? Or to Alpha?
- How can I continue to pray for them, and help them explore questions of faith?
Discussion and Prayer (10 minutes)
In groups of two or three, share anything you felt God say to you, and any action you are planning to take this week. Make it specific, so that you can check in with each other over the week, to see how you have got on.
Then spend the remaining time praying for each other, and for your friends.
As you breathed upon your disciples,
Filling them with your life-giving Spirit,
Would you breathe upon us now,
And fill us afresh with your power and life.
As your presence filled that room
With joy and peace,
May your presence fill our hearts,
And give us courage to be your witnesses.
As the Father sent you,
With a message of love,
Would you send us out,
In the power of your Spirit.
As your Spirit went before the disciples,
Softening hearts to their message,
May you Spirit go into this city,
And prepare people to hear the good news.