As a church we start each new year by going by to the basics, one of which is cultivating a personal relationship with God. For Cultivate 2023, we are immersing ourselves for 14 weeks in the gospel of Mark, a fast-paced and action-packed record, based on eye-witness accounts, of key events in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each Sunday, we will also present a sermon based on a passage covered in the preceding week of the Cultivate devotional materials.
This message is an introduction to the gospel of Mark. What is the meaning of the word ‘gospel’, and what is Mark’s purpose in writing it? How does his version differ from the other 3 gospels? More importantly, why does it still matter 2000 years later? Find out the answers in this sermon.
1. How does the gospel change everything? How has it changed and shaped your life?
2. How is Jesus different from the founder of other religions? How is God’s love demonstrated through him?
3. How did Jesus fulfil what Adam (and each of us) was unable to? What drives your motivation to obey God?
It is not uncommon for people to say that Jesus was a good teacher, but deny that he is God. And that Christianity is just another religion, like all religions, that teach people to be good. This message explains that the reason Mark wrote his gospel was to show that such ideas are essentially nonsensical, both 2000 years ago and today.
1. Can you explain why it is nonsensical to assert that Jesus was just another good teacher, but deny that he is God?
2. What are some of your doubts about Christianity? How can we be confident about our faith?
3. Do you really believe that Jesus is the ultimate solution to what you are seeking in life? How might your actions and priorities show that you are actually trusting in Jesus, plus other things?
We are used to thinking of Jesus as a meek and mild man who went around helping people and preaching a message of peace. This is a very diminished view of Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to challenge the status quo and turn the world upside down, or more correctly, right side up. In today’s message, Pastor Tiak will explain what Jesus tells us about his mission, and how it radically changes everything in our lives.
1. Is Christianity more of a comfortable self-improvement plan or a revolutionary movement to you? What would it mean for you practically to start living a revolutionary lifestyle?
2. Jesus has bound the strong man, Satan. What encouragement does this wonderful truth provide for you?
3. How do you understand Jesus’ radical teachings about family relationships ? How will you apply his teaching in this regard to your life?
We take a look at another well-known Bible story—Jesus calming the storm. This miracle has often been used to teach that Jesus will always save us from the storms in our lives. However, given that almost all his disciples, and even Jesus himself, died violently, there must be more to it than such a simplistic conclusion. Find out more as we hear from Pastor Tiak in his message entitled Sovereign Creator.
1. What does the vastness, complexity and beauty of our natural universe tell us about the kind of God we worship? What must you change in your life so as to relate appropriately to such a God?
2. What is the most you have ever done selflessly for others? What are some ways you can live more sacrificially for others, putting their interest above your own interest?
3. What does Mark 4:35-41 teach us about what we can expect God to do about the storms in our lives?
The feeding of the 5,000 is one of the most beloved stories in the Bible. The gospel writers loved it so much that it is the only miracle contained in all four gospels. God can provide for us extraordinarily, but this story is meant to point out that he wants to give us something even better. Not only does he want to meet our daily needs, but he also wants to meet our deepest needs.
1. What are some things that you have been yearning or praying for? How does knowing that Jesus wants to meet our deepest needs encourages us in times of unanswered prayers?
2. Why do you think we tend to be cynical about God’s goodness? How does knowing that Jesus was broken for us changes this mindset?
3. Do you view evangelism as a privilege given by God? Who are some people you want to intentionally follow up and share the gospel with in 2023?
In a world that worships winners and forgets everyone else, it is easy for to neglect the plight of the disadvantaged and underprivileged. Jesus’ acts of mercy not only tell us that the down and outs have a special place in God’s heart, but they also reveal our true condition before God and our need for his mercy.
1. What forms of judgmentalism do you harbour in your heart? Why do you think we have this tendency to lower or look down on certain groups of people?
2. How do you feel towards the widows, orphans, foreigners and the poor? How do you think God feels towards them? What are some good works that you can start doing?
3. What is the gospel solution to our judgmentalism and indifference? To what extent has your heart been transformed by the mercy of God?
After witnessing Jesus perform a series of spectacular miracles in the first half of the gospel of Mark, all eyes were on him to see how he would challenge the authorities and topple the political power of the day. However, Jesus stunned his followers when he revealed that his mission was not to subdue, but to suffer. Little did they know that a suffering servant was exactly what they needed to receive the life they truly wanted.
1. How do you typically think of your own sins? How has the message challenged or changed your perspective on God's wrath?
2. Have you ever struggled with feeling like you're not good enough or that your mistakes define you? How does Christ's suffering on your behalf give you assurance of your worth?
3. In what ways does Christ's way offer a better, more fulfilling life than the alternatives the world presents? How might we share this truth with others who may not yet recognize its value?
People often assume that Christianity is meant only for those who commit obvious sins, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Jesus came to save both the irreligious and the religious. Very often, it is the good things that hinder us from receiving the best thing that God wants to give us. What are the pitfalls that we need to avoid?
1. Have you ever thought that being a good person is just about not doing the obvious bad things? How does the Sermon on the Mount reveal our true condition?
2. What are some good things in life that you might possibly be in danger of setting up as idols? Ask your CG member to lovingly and truthfully point them out to you.
3. In what ways do you find yourself being calculative and manipulative with God, trying to use him for your own gain? How does the good news of the gospel fill our hearts with gratitude and break our self-righteousness and idolatry?
One of the worst effects of sin is that it makes us desire to use other people rather than to serve them. It is the main reason why the world is in such a mess. Jesus came not just to purchase the forgiveness of our sins, but also to set us free from our fallen tendency to pursue our own benefit at the expense of others. How did he do it, and what did it cost him?
1. To what extent have you been influenced by the world’s version of greatness? In what ways might you have become insensitive, manipulative or competitive because of that?
2. Why do we prefer to be served rather than to be servants? What are some of your struggles in serving others?
3. What are some positive effects when we serve others sacrificially? What are some practical ways you can become more of a servant at home and in church?
People generally have no difficulty believing that Jesus was a man who lived historically, but many have not seriously explored the question whether he is also God as he claimed to be, or considered the life-changing implications of his claim. This message shows us that this was just as true 2000 years ago, and why we all need to settle this crucial question so as to live this life—and the next—confidently and meaningfully.
1. How in love are you with God? What are some rival loves in your life that you need to get rid of so that you may love God more wholeheartedly?
2. Everything in Christianity hangs on the claim that Jesus was not merely a man, but God himself. How confident are you of this yourself, and how capable are you of explaining to others why you believe it?
3. What must happen for you personally and practically, so that you can be sure that you are truly saved, rather than merely being ‘not far from the kingdom of God’ ?
Why have people always built temples throughout human history? Why does Christianity have no physical temples? In this message, we look at the destruction of one of the most impressive temples ever built, and learn why it is a good thing. Not only that, we will see how we can be part of an even more glorious temple that has replaced it.
1. How conscious are you of God’s desire to be present among his people? How much do you long for God to be experientially present in your life and church community?
2. Knowing that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, do you need to manage it differently?
3. How should you do church given that collectively we are God’s temple? What are some changes that you might need to make?
In this message, we look at how Jesus gave new meaning to a 1500-year-old custom, the Passover meal, and profoundly transformed it into the Lord’s Supper. Learn how he uses a few simple symbols to point us to the amazing love of God, as well as provide us with ongoing motivation for staying in love with him.
1. How much do you trust the Word of God? In what ways are you filled with the anxiety that you need to strive for your own (or your children’s) future and security?
2. What is the difference between the old and new covenants ? How are you still living as if you were under the old covenant?
3. What has been your primary motivation for obeying and serving God? What will enable you to do the right thing for the right reason?
The Gospel of Mark provides us with no details of how Jesus was tortured and crucified. Instead, he focuses on how different groups of people all poured scorn on Jesus. Why did he have to be rejected? How was his rejection different from ours, and how does it help us when we ourselves are hurt by rejected? Discover answers to these questions in this message.
1. What are some painful rejections you have experienced? How can you be sure that God knows and understands your hurt?
2. In what way is Christ’s rejection different from ours? How does it speak to you of his great love for you?
3. How does the cross empower us not to be crushed or be freed from the need to retaliate when we feel rejected?