devo 2, week 5 of the GIVE UP series

how will we GIVE UP TOGETHER?

In devo one this week, we read John 17:18–23 about the mission that Jesus prayed for His church to be united around. His prayer was about a togetherness united around the mission of sentness into the daily (which He commanded for us in John 20:21).

21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”

Well, how will Westpoint be giving up together to live out this mission? Here are four specific ways. All of these can be lived out in the daily as we follow Jesus and love our neighbor. AND, all of these need to be lived out together as we encourage and sharpen one another to be living sent daily. Here are the four:

1_PRAY TOGETHER.

Very simply. Pray for two people not following Jesus. One neighbor. One co-worker (classmate if you are a full-time student). Pray for wisdom on how they need to be loved and listened to right here and now. Then listen for the answer. God wants us to love our neighbor. And He will answer prayers for wisdom always.

37 Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37–40)

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. (James 1:5)

2_CONNECT TOGETHER.

Look for ways to connect over real life with those you are praying for. Not with the agenda of “getting them to church.” NO! If they ever begin to walk with the Westpoint family, that will rock the house. But this is not a church growth concept. This is life or death.

If someone is not following Jesus, He described them as “lost.”

10 For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost. (Luke 19:10)

If they are lost, then they are still stuck in the darkness trying to find their way on their own.

24 My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found! (–the declaration of the compassionate father in the story commonly called “the Prodigal Son” found in Luke 15)

If they are wandering in the darkness, then they have not placed their faith in the Life-Giver, but rather are still relying on their own efforts to find the way. And this is hopeless. A weary venture. That’s why God put skin on and became Emmanuel.

4 Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, 5 he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! 6 Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. 7 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. 8 Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! 9 We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! 10 No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (Ephesians 2:4–10)

And if they are not connected with the Life-Giver, then they are condemned to death in their unbelief.

16 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. 17 God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. 18 Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” (–Jesus in John 3:16–18)

Isn’t that a BIG DEAL? So connect with them that they may have full life, only found in Christ.

And connect over real life. Don’t just “invite them to church.” That is not a compelling invitation – to add something else to their schedules on Sunday mornings. They may end up doing that, but it won’t make sense if they don’t value the ways of Jesus. A compelling invitation is not “go to church,” which is not possible anyway according to the Scriptures since people are the church. A compelling invitation is TO BE THE CHURCH. That is a call to the life they were intended to live. An invitation to beyond-self living. An invitation to know love and give love in abundance.

Grill out. Watch sport. Go to community events. Play together. Be a neighbor.

3_SERVE TOGETHER.

I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t want to serve. Now, their motivation may be one of guilt or penance, but people want to serve. Having been made in the image of God, to love is actually wired within us. The problem is that we have malfunctioned in our self-absorption.

To call someone who is “lost” to serve is to actually put them in the best environment possible to allow them to realize the way God wired them as well as to allow them to taste the love of the One who made them (and died for them to know life).

Now, this implies that you and I have to be serving. This is why on the Westpoint site there is a page that lists local and global ways to volunteer. Also, this is why we have been challenging the SENT groups to serve together.

So, serve and invite the two you are praying for to serve with you both locally and globally.

4_LEARN & LIVE THE WAYS OF JESUS TOGETHER.

This is a definition for “discipling” or being a disciple of Jesus. To be His disciple is to be His learner. To be His student, His apprentice. One who learns and lives what’s being learned.

When we pray for a lost person, connect with them in genuine friendship, and serve alongside them, then we will have the best opportunity to learn and live the ways of Jesus with them. The Holy Spirit will lead you as you converse and listen to and encourage your friend. And they will sense your genuine love, your sincere desire to see them know the life you have found in Christ, and the evidence of His ways in your life and words.

So, we need to learn and live His ways together as followers of Jesus when we gather for worship on Sunday, when we gather in SENT groups, and when we gather just to hang. But we must realize that to truly “make disciples” as Jesus calls us to do in Matthew 28:18–20, we must walk as friends with the lost.

>> This is the real purpose of the local church, why we gather, why we have SENT groups, why we challenge you to love the people you encounter daily in your various spheres of influence, and why we must give ourselves away together. It is not to add a something to your schedules. Not to get you more intellectual in a class with other “Christians.” Not to isolate you from a corrupt culture. NOT AT ALL!!! The purpose of SENT groups is to provide you an opportunity to receive the encouragement needed to engage a lost world and live sent as a letter of God’s love and hope. As WE pray for and connect with and serve alongside the lost, they will learn and live the ways of Jesus through our togetherness (our love for one another – John 13:34–35).

Let’s unite in the mission we were intended for as His church.

ACTION STEPS:

PRAY_Lord, please forgive me for approaching “church” as a product for my personal benefit and assured comfort. Please help me to be Your church, alive in the daily. Please change me from the inside out to become most passionate about walking with You and living out the mission You gave Your followers to be living out together (the church).

LIVE_Begin by praying for one neighbor and one co-worker (or classmate if you are a student), that you would have wisdom on how they need to be loved right here and right now. Then, as God gives you that wisdom, and He will, go love them.

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