shift 5 of 5 suggested shifts if the church hopes to actually make disciples as Jesus intended _ from “live FOR God” to “live WITH God”

Well, here’s suggested shift # 5. This week, I have been re-posting a summer 2011 blog series from LiveSent.com. Here is the final post of the series. I hope they have encouraged and challenged you. Click here for shift # 1, here for shift # 2, here for shift # 3, here for shift # 4, and read below for # 5.

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Suggested Shift # 5 _ from “live FOR God” to “live WITH God”

If I live focused only to be better personally, then who is the focus of my life?

I am.

However, if we live to share with others about the goodness of God, who is the focus of our life?

He is. And others are.

The former approach is what I would suggest is living to be “good FOR God.” The latter approach is what I would suggest is living to “go WITH God.” I want to suggest that Jesus intended the latter for His followers – that we not live FOR Him but WITH Him.

Two reasons why I want to suggest this.

(1) because Jesus said so.

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
[John 20:21, HCSB]

He is sending us to follow Him. To go WITH Him. Not just to do stuff for Him. He said in Matthew 28:18-20 that He would be WITH us always.

(2) because Jesus avoided the compliment “good,” which might be an indication that I should, too.

18  And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
[Mark 10:18, NASB]

Get honest with yourself. Do you study the Scriptures for nourishment for daily mission or for information for self-development. The rich young ruler in this passage seemed clearly to be looking for another reason to consider Himself good, to feel personally fulfilled with his accomplishments. Jesus did not live to that end, and He rebuked the rich young ruler with His very to-the-point response.

Jesus did not end the day hoping to feel good about Himself or His efforts. He did not practice religion for personal goodness. He lived to glorify His Father in heaven, period. Attention to His own works He considered a distraction from the work of His Father.

54 “If I glorify Myself,” Jesus answered, “My glory is nothing.”
[John 8:54, HCSB]

10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works.
[John 14:10, HCSB]

I personally need to beg HIm to keep making that same heart and desire present in me, that I would want to make His goodness known and His goodness only.

Please understand what I am suggesting here. It is absolutely true that each of us needs to grow. It is absolutely accurate that we each will always need to be shaped into what Jesus intended. However, the purpose of our further holiness is not so as to be holy, but rather so as to show others a holy, loving, gracious, near God. A focus on personal goodness is a focus off of mission, for my pursuits are not to be centered in personal gain but rather in the interests of others.

3  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
[Philippians 2:3-4, NASB]

So, what you do with that “salt and light” verse about our good works (Matthew 5:13-16)?

In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
[Matthew 5:16, HCSB]

You obey it. That’s what you do. It’s not about my personal goodness on display. It’s about my Father’s goodness on display in me. That’s the only thing it can mean if it has anything to do with His glory on display.

May we go preserve His presence and bring out the flavors of His presence right in the midst of this very how-could-God-even-be-present world by sharing His life given to us and His goodness proven together through us.

May we quit trying to just be good FOR God and actually daily go WITH God on mission to share this Gospel about a God who desires to be WITH us with a world who so often struggles to believe that the God who came near could possibly still be near today.

After all, when Jesus spoke His “final Word” to us – Jesus – the New Testament uses a synonym – Emmanuel. Do you know what that word means? GOD WITH US. 

That was the declaration from God when He moved into the neighborhood – He has always wanted us to live WITH Him (John 1:12-14).

If we will, then we will be that much closer to actually making disciples.

Cultivating Daily into Family: three suggestions for discovering & discussing Emmanuel as a family.

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Most families have Christmas traditions. Cookies for Santa. One gift to open on Christmas Eve. Reading the Christmas story together. Advent candles. And there are so many more I hear about. If you have one you are especially fond of and are willing to share it, please do so in the comments section of this post! After all, that’s what this post is really about. As you are cultivating the Gospel daily into your family, I wanted to share with you three suggestions for discovering and discussing and celebrating the Child who was born to communicate the essential message of the Kingdom of God – GOD WITH US.

First, my family and I started a new tradition this year reading through the Jesse Tree readings from Ann Voskamp. They are beautifully written, imagination-engaging, Scripturally-based daily readings from December 1st through Christmas day accompanied by a small paper ornament that we can hang on a small tree that we have designated as “the Jesse Tree” (as she describes it). You can check out this great resource for discovering and discussing Emmanuel by CLICKING HERE. Obviously, it might be a bit too close to Christmas to incorporate this resource this year, but you could definitely look ahead to using it next year (unless you just want to do a marathon reading of them this week!!!).

Second, starting this week you can get a Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and read the stories leading up to and culminating with Christmas Day. This resource is one we enjoy all year round because of the way Sally Lloyd-Jones stories the epic tales of Scripture around one central theme – that each story whispers His name. Every story leading up to the Advent whispers Emmanuel, as does every story after. And the Jesus Storybook Bible chronicles this greatest-of-all love stories of a God who chose to love we who betrayed Him before He even made us. Our kids absolutely dig the Jesus Storybook Bible, and I am positive yours will, too!

Third, this week and maybe even on Christmas Eve, simply take some time to sit down with your kids and ask, “How are you learning that God is with us, and what difference does that actually make in our daily lives?” Be patient and be quiet. Let them answer. Learn from them. Affirm them. You may be surprised by what they say. Consider together how God putting on skin, becoming a baby, and coming to be present among us changes everything about our daily lives. Talk about how “GOD WITH US” demonstrates that He loves us and actually is so very good, and how His love should compel us and transform us in how we love one another, even our enemies. Maybe conclude by asking, “Do you think that is what God intends for His church – to go daily among neighbors and nations to declare with our near presence His near love (to go and be Emmanuel)? How can we together as a family do that in the coming year?”

Hoping these suggestions will help you this week as you celebrate Emmanuel and continue to cultivate His grace and love and nearness into your family.

Merry Christmas!
-jason