by: Micki Gowdy
Take 10 @ 10:00: Our Weekly Devotional
Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at how love wins over hate, how God's grace works in our lives, and how we are called to transform our lives by growing in spiritual maturity. In today's lesson, we discuss how we are called to invite others on our journey.
Following Christ involves a paradox. Jesus said, if you want to find your life, you have to lose it; if you want to find happiness, you have to give your life away to God. Those who seek only to gain things for their own benefit will lose what they are ultimately seeking. It's a call to live an "upside-down" kind of life.
As a Christian the blessings we receive from God are given to us for a purpose - we are called to be a blessing for others. This call began with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12. Abraham was called to leave his home, his family, and his friends, and to go to an unknown land where he would be blessed. But God also said to him, "I will bless those who you bless … all the families of the earth will be blessed because of you." Throughout the Old Testament, God requires Israel to take care of the widows, poor, orphans, and aliens in their midst. The New Testament continues this message but, through the example of Jesus, speaks even more strongly of the importance of sacrificial love.
Following Jesus involves yet another paradox: the work of the Holy Spirit. We are less than two weeks from Pentecost, the time when the disciples received the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). As Christians, we are witnesses to God's amazing grace. When we witness, the Holy Spirit works through us and we become greater than the sum of our individual parts.
Do you find it difficult to talk to others about your faith? The word "evangelism" is a problem word for many of us. And yet, do you believe that all people need to know Christ?
Icebreaker question: As the saying goes, we are blessed to be a blessing. How are you a blessing to others? How have you used a blessing in your life to bless others?
Read Matthew 28:16-20. What does it mean to you to "make disciples of all nations and to teach others?" What is the requirement in these verses? Do you see any wiggle room? What is the promise in these verses?
Read Mark 8:31-38. Peter didn't want to hear Jesus talking about his suffering. Why do you think Jesus reacted so strongly ("Get behind me, Satan.") when Peter objects? What is Jesus saying about the impact on our faith and that of others when we think human thoughts instead of God's thoughts?
Does the idea of "losing your life" or "taking up the cross" frighten you? Hint: if it does, it just means you are human! And yet, Jesus is pretty clear that this is what we are called to do if we to save our lives (and not cause Jesus to be ashamed of us when we come into his presence).
Closing Question: What are some ways in which we can overcome this fear or shame and boldly proclaim the radical love and message of Jesus? It starts with living our life so that others see God's grace and love. In his book, The Wesleyan Way, Scott Jones makes this distinction: we are to be "live bait" rather than "artificial bait" when fishing for people. So, living authentic lives of faith is important. However, as important as that is, it can't end there. We are called to "proclaim" and "make disciples."
Some practice pointers:
You notice a new family has moved in down the street. Do you go introduce yourself? Invite them to church? Pick them up for church or walk with them, sit with them, introduce them to others?
You are reading your Bible or a devotional on a plane and your seatmate asks you what you're reading. Do you just say a book or the Bible, and end the conversation there? Or can you say more?
A coworker complains about "those Christians" who are hypocrites or are always telling people they are going to hell. Do you remain silent or … ?
You volunteer at a homeless shelter and while there meet a homeless person or other volunteer. Do you just say hello, or do you ask them if they have a church family? Then go back to the end of practice pointer #1.
A friend tells you he or she is an atheist. Do you just let it drop there?
Your congregation is having a special event or open meal next Sunday after church. What can you do to make others aware of it and to invite them? (posting on FB, flyers, door knocking - I'm sure you can think of others).
Next week: more on having an outward-focused faith.
God bless you this week!
From our friends at First Methodist in Houston, Texas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL54_OP1ldk