Greetings in the lovely name of our Lord Jesus!
Since 2014 the M&D committee has been sending out daily devotions for the month of October which has been set aside as Missions Month. These have been written by various ministers and members in the denomination and have been well-received. We also supply a preaching plan with sermon outlines for October which you could use.
Our Theme is “Five Keys to Discipleship” and we’re looking at the basic discipleship disciplines: “Scripture, Prayer, Fellowship, Witness and Daily Obedience to the Spirit.
There are two parts to the Month of Mission:
The Daily Devotions.
In the past we did devotions for the whole of October, but found that the uptake on weekends was lower. This year we will only do weekdays.
The Devotions can be received by email or whatsapp
or found on our blog or UPCSA facebook page.
The blog is at: https://emmdev.blogspot.com/
The Sunday Sermon Outlines:
There are five Sundays in October and there are some suggested readings and titles below.
You can help us!
The Going for Growth Project is about unleashing energy and creativity and inspiring growth throughout the denomination. We believe that these devotions will help with this,
Please share the this information as widely as possible.
In these challenging times we pray that these messages will be inspirational and a great blessing to many in the UPCSA.
Going for Growth Prayers
In the appendices you will find the daily readings and the sermon outlines for the month of Mission. With each sermon outline you will find a “Going for Growth” prayer. We humbly request that you use these prayers during your Sunday Services and so that we pray for our Going for Growth Project.
We are excited about going for Growth and the Month of Mission. Please get involved as much as you can!
Thanks and God bless,
and Theo Groeneveld
(Your Mission and Discipleship Month of Mission Team)
Appendix A: Readings for the Month
Appendix B:Sermon Outlines
Sunday 1 Oct: “Equipped”
Introduction to the Reading
[Not many preachers do an introduction to the Scripture readings, but sometimes it is worthwhile to give a bit of background before a passage is read: This is one of those times…]
Paul writing to his protege Timothy.
Probably one the last letters Paul wrote before being martyred (beheaded.)
The letter is Poignant and Urgent:
” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
We’re reading from the end of ch.3 but in the first part of the chapter, Paul talks about brokenness of these last days.
He talks about the brokenness of society.
There’s a difficult section in the middle where he talks about how false teachers take advantage of people and particularly women. Today we would see this as gender-based violence and you sense Paul’s outrage.
In the last part of the passage (which is our reading) Paul gives Timothy guidance on living in a broken world. He offers Timothy two important resources:
– The Example of Others
– The Scriptures
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Introduction to Sermon
We find ourselves in a Strange Broken Land.
The first part of 2Tim3 sounds more like the news than a document nearly 2000 years old!
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” 2Tim3:1-3
[You might want to elaborate on one or two examples of the broken world that link to the above text)
So how do we survive this broken world?
How do we equip ourselves?
Paul suggests two things:
The example of Paul and others:
Talk briefly about the benefits of Godly Role-Models
(Mention Timothy’s Mother Eunice and Grandmother Lois who Paul names as influences in ch.1)
The Scriptures: (Expand on these key points…)
Have stood the test of time (Known from Infancy)
Make us wise for salvation through faith
God-breathed (explain that although Paul sounds like Paul, John sounds like John, and Luke sounds like Luke, God’s Spirit worked through each of the Biblical authors. )
Purposes (Unpack each of these)
Training in Righteousness
Thoroughly equipped: Explain how important a grounding in Scripture is.
Theo’s story: We were part of a big matric group at school.
Our school SCA went through a revival and many started coming.
Now with Facebook, 30+ years later, reconnected with many from that group.
Some fell away from Christianity and Church.
The difference between those who fell away and those who didn’t boils down to one habit:
A daily Quiet Time where they continued to engage with God’s Word.
Our World is not an easy place.
To live a life that stays connected to God and His Church we need to connect to the Scriptures daily.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “
Prayer for Going For Growth
Please join us as we pray for the UPCSA’s Going for Growth Project. Father God in heaven, we pray for the Going for Growth project which was launched last year. As Congregations and Presbyteries contemplate SOWING, GROWING and REAPING, we pray that Your Spirit will indwell us unleashing creativity, courage and energy that we may come up with creative ways to grow the Church.
May we grow closer to You, closer to each other and may we impact the world with Your love.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Sunday 10 Oct – How to Pray
Introduction to the Reading
Jesus was preaching His Sermon on the Mount.
He is teaching believers how they ought to live their lives.
The sermon carries a lot on Christian ethical living, and prayer is an integral part of the Christian way of life.
Reading MT 6:5-14
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
” `Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ‘
14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Introduction to the Sermon
Jesus teaches His disciples about earnest prayer
Prayer cannot be divorced from one’s way of life.
How Should We Pray?
Acknowledge God as the Father
There is none like God
God is the Provider
God alone has the power to forgive sins
Prayer keeps us connected to the will of God.
If we are prayerful we can live according to His will
Prayer for Going For Growth
Please join us as we pray for the UPCSA’s Going for Growth Project.
Heavenly Father we come before your throne of grace, humbly praying for the growth of your church. Lord we ask that you give us the strength and courage to keep sowing your Word in Southern Africa and beyond. We pray against all forces that hinder the spread of your Word. May your Word take root in us and all that hear it, and may it bear fruit till you come again. In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen
Sunday 15 October. “Stronger Together”
Reading: Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
“If threads cooperate together, they can tie a lion.” – Ethiopian Proverb
This echoes the importance of working together to achieve results as Solomon is saying:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour:” – Ecc 4:9
Throughout the Bible, we see our need for each other clearly communicated.
God created us for fellowship with Him and with others. And Solomon is quick to cite few advantages that come from companionship.
What are the advantages?
Better benefits (good return) from one’s labour
Help in time of difficulty
Comfort in time of need (verse 11)
Protection in time of danger (verse 12)
Having set forth these advantages of joint effort and what we can benefit from sharing our labors and its fruits with one another, Solomon’s conclusion is that if two are better than one, then three are even better.
Though lack of trust has caused some people to prefer isolation, life is designed for companionship, not isolation. We are called not to serve ourselves but to serve God and others.
In this Scripture the Teacher teaches us that unity is power and that we are stronger together.
The Ethiopian Eritreans tell a story of the four oxen with different colours – white, black & white, red and black oxen. The oxen worked out a strategy to protect themselves from the wild animals and hyenas. Laying down facing different directions was a strategy that protected them from the hyenas.
When the hyenas could not eat the oxen, they asked for advice from the cunning fox.
The fox realized that the oxen are surviving because of their unity, and comes with a plan “divide & conquer”. And so she advised the 3 oxen to expel the white ox because he was visible to the hyenas at night and that would not be safe for them. The white ox was expelled and got eaten by hyenas. The fox convinced the black & white ox to leave because they had expelled his friend the white ox, and he was also eaten by hyenas. Now with the black & red oxen left, the fox said to the black ox: “If it were not for the red ox, you would be safe, because you cannot be seen at night”. The 2 oxen finally separated and they were both eaten by hyenas.
We are going through the most difficult times. No one is exempted from troubles and sufferings, but we do not have to go through it alone. The enemy knows that believers are stronger together and he will use divisive tactics to devour and destroy us. Believers are meant to be united in the body of Christ (Eph 4:3-6). Christ also prayed for our unity (Jhn 17:20-23).
Seek companions and become part of the team, because we are stronger together!
Prayer for Going For Growth
Please join us as we pray for the UPCSA’s Going for Growth Project. Lord we pray for the UPCSA. We pray for unity and strength as we implement the Going for Growth Project. We pray that you would give us creativity and wisdom as we look opportunities to start new work. We pray for grace and courage as we strive to grow our existing ministries and congregations and we pray for boldness and compassion as we reach out to those who don’t know you. We pray that you will draw us together so that the world will see that we are your disciples because we love one another. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sunday 22 October – “Tender Witness”
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:3-12
3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed —God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
Share a brief overview of 1 Thessalonians 2:3-12 and its relevance to this theme.
Highlight the importance of a gentle and caring approach in sharing the Gospel.
Sincere Ministry (Verses 3-4):
A. Paul’s emphasis on sincerity and authenticity.
B. Connecting sincerity with effective Gospel sharing.
C. Illustrate the power of genuine witness in touching hearts.
Gentle Care (Verses 5-8):
A. Paul’s gentle and nurturing approach to the Thessalonians.
B. Comparing Paul’s care to that of a mother’s for her children.
C. Emphasize the impact of compassionate witness on building relationships.
Impeccable Integrity (Verses 9-10):
A. Paul’s integrity and diligent work to avoid being a burden.
B. The credibility of an honest and upright witness.
C. Discuss the significance of maintaining integrity in ministry.
Fatherly Guidance (Verses 11-12):
A. Paul’s role as a spiritual father, exhorting and encouraging.
B. The balance of gentle guidance and deep care.
C. Highlight the importance of mentorship and discipleship in ministry.
Applying the “Tender Witness” Today:
A. Draw parallels between Paul’s approach and modern ministry.
B. Encourage listeners to embrace the “Tender Witness” in their own lives.
C. Share practical steps for cultivating gentleness, authenticity, integrity, and mentorship.
Recap the importance of being a “Tender Witness” in sharing the Gospel.
Challenge listeners to reflect on their current approach to ministry and witness.
Invite them to commit to a more compassionate, sincere, and nurturing witness.
Prayer for Going For Growth
Please join us as we pray for the UPCSA’s Going for Growth Project. Dear Heavenly Father, we, members of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa, gather before You seeking guidance in our growth campaign, Inspire us to embody ‘tender witness.’ Fill us with pure motives, reflecting Your Gospel in our actions. Strengthen us to boldly share Your truth despite challenges. Let our church be a compassionate sanctuary, nurturing like a mother. Help us live blamelessly, showing Your transformative love. Empower us to mentor and encourage, fostering faith and unity. May our growth campaign shine as a testament to Your love. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Sunday 29th Oct: “ALL”
Introduction to the Reading
Some have seen Matthew’s Gospel as a “discipleship manual” for those who are new believers, wanting to become true disciples of Jesus.
Matthew wanted to keep the door open for the Jewish believers, who were being excommunicated from the synagogues for believing Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, all the while the church was becoming more Gentile.
The end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gives the Great Commission, commanding his disciples to ‘make disciples of all nations’.
The subtext of the Great Commission can be found in the other gospels and Acts: Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21 and Acts 1:8.
Reading Matthew 28:18-20
18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Introduction to Sermon
In Bill Hull’s book entitled “The complete book of Discipleship” (NavPress 2006), Bill reminds us that Jesus taught that faith means to follow. This following is not short term, but rather long term, a way of life. This way of life is the heart of God’s work. So, we can say with confidence, that there is no separation of a Christian from disciple, it’s an all-in way of life.
In the words of William Law, “Christianity is not a school for teaching moral virtue, the polishing of our manners, or forming us to live life of this world with decency and refinement. It is deeper and more divine in its designs….it implies an entire change of life, a dedication of ourselves, our souls, our bodies unto God” (The Works of the Rev. William Law, vol. 3, 263).
If we take a moment to look afresh on the words Jesus gave to His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, one cannot but help notice the word “All”.
All is the Great Commission’s key word; all authority, all sacrifice, all-out effort, all the time, for all people. God gave God’s All to us through Jesus Christ.
What would everyday obedience to discipleship look like, with this understanding that Jesus calls us to an all-in way of life?
It might start every new day with gratitude.
It might look at everyday challenges as an opportunity to be transformed as we lean on the Lord more than self-reliance.
It might mean sacrificing little moments throughout the day, to pause and ask the Lord to show us where we can be more obedient to the journey of growth in following Jesus.
As one reflects on being obedient in being a disciples, we begin to see that discipleship is not just one of the things the church does. Rather discipleship is what the church is commanded to do. Discipleship is obedience to an all-in way of life.
Prayer for Going For Growth
Please join us as we pray for the UPCSA’s Going for Growth Project. Holy Father, we lift the Going 4 Growth program before you. Please give us discernment so that we will know what actions need to be taken in all our different circumstances. Please inspire us and give us energy to enable us to take these actions. And please give us perseverance to follow through with the program until we see the fruit of our labours in visible new life and growth in your church. Grant that we may walk and work beside you as you build your kingdom until all the earth can see your glory.