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March 18, 2018

  • Resources

    1 Blessings and Resources

    Genesis 12:1-3; James 1:17; Romans 8:32

    The word bless appears in the Book of Genesis 65 times. In most passages, it is talking about the blessing God gives to us.

    What is a blessing? A blessing is a gift, a grace, a favor, and a benefit you receive. A blessing is protection and help.

    While the word blessing is a great word, let’s use another contemporary word – resource (or resources).

    What is a resource? A resource is an asset, wealth, supplies, materials, energy, talents, “smarts,” expertise, experience, wisdom, ability, capability, strengths, and gifts both natural and spiritual.

    There is a great deal of overlap with the idea of blessing and resource. God blesses you with his resources. All that you have comes from God. And you have so much more than you think.

    REFLECT: The main work of today is for you to clearly identify all that God has given you. Think in terms of the words used above that define blessing and resource. What blessings and resources has God given you? Make a list. Make a long list. If you have less than 25 items on your list, keep adding to it as the week goes on.

    DEEP REFLECTION: Now, as you look at your list, what are the greatest strengths and most substantial resources you have? Try and prioritize your top three to five assets of what you have going for you.

    BONUS REFLECTION TO GO DEEPER: If you want to know all the spiritual blessings you have received, study Ephesians 1:3-14.

    PRAY: Be grateful, be appreciative, and thank Christ for all he has given to you. Rejoice and be glad. Be humble as well. Give God the glory for all he has done and all he has provided.

    2 Freely You Have Received, Freely You Are to Give

    Matthew 10:1-8; Acts 1:8; Acts 20:35

    This is a window of insight into how Jesus empowered his first followers. It is a model for how Jesus continues to empower his current followers through the Spirit of God.

    In Matthew 10:1 Jesus gives authority to his disciples. The Greek word is exousia and it includes power and authority. Power is the ability to do something. Authority is the right to do that thing. You are given power and authority, the ability and the right to do the work/ministry of Jesus.

    Be sure to focus on Matthew 10:8. Freely you have received, freely you are to give. That helps us make sense of Acts 20:35 where Paul refers to a saying by Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” While that is true, I don’t want to assume you believe that.

    REFLECT: Why is it more blessed to give than to receive? Come up with the very best answer you can for this. It is extremely important that you work this one out.

    DISCERN: As you look at your life, what leads you to conclude that you actually believe and live as if it is better to give than to receive? Or does your life indicate you believe it is better to receive than to give?

    DREAM: What could you begin to do that would truly show to others that you believe and practice what Jesus said about giving?

    Have you ever seen the movie Pay It Forward? If not, it is worth watching. It is a boy’s naïve and simple way to change the world. It is his way to put into practice the encouragement of Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see.” How can you be the change you want? And how can you change the world so it is a better world? It is very simple.

    Pay it forward. Pass it on to others. Give away what you have received. Use the resources God has entrusted to you to help others. All that you listed on day 1 is the raw material to be paid forward to others.

    If this sounds suspiciously like Genesis 12:1-3, “blessed to be a blessing,” you are right. And if you believe this and if you do this, you are going about the imitation of Christ in life-changing ways.

    It is very simple. It is very hard. And we need the grace of God so we may be the graceful people of God. Grace gives. And grace transforms the one who gives grace and the one who receives grace.

    3 Responsible, Faithful, Accountable to Do Much Good

    Luke 12:35-48; Matthew 25:14-30

    Some words of Jesus are harder than others. Luke 12 contains some of the hard words of Jesus. Matthew 25 has more hard words from Jesus.

    They are hard, which means they are challenging and confronting of our normal ways of thinking and living.

    They are hard, which means they are difficult to put into practice, for they go against our natural inclinations.

    But hard words are not bad words. In fact, hard words may be among the best words and the most important words, and even most beautiful words.

    Here is what you know so far. First, you have received so much. You are loaded with resources. Second, you have been given so much so you may bless others, resource others, and help and serve others.

    Now, on day 3, you learn just how serious God is about you paying forward what you have received. This is the theme of stewardship. What you have received does not belong to you—it belongs to God. You are meant to do with your resources what God the Owner wants you to do.

    And you are to be responsible and faithful. You will be accountable for what you have done with what you have received.

    For those who are faithful with what has been entrusted to them, God gives even more resources, more blessings, and more responsibility. To those who are not responsible, the news is not as good.

    Reread Luke 12:48. This is the Core Truth. Underline it in your Bible. Highlight it. Put an exclamation mark beside it.

    REFLECT & PRAY: If Jesus were to have a conversation with you tonight about your stewardship in paying forward to others the resources you have received, how would that conversation go? What would be the final word of guidance and instruction Jesus gives to you for tomorrow?

    4 A Long Love in the Same Direction

    Hebrews 10:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Galatians 6:9-10

    In the message, I talked about showing up. It is important for you to show up in the lives of others. You can’t show up in the life of everyone, but you must show up in the lives of “some ones.”

    CONSIDER: Who are the most important people who need you to show up in their lives? Jot down their names.

    However, while showing up is the essential starting point, you can do much better than just showing up. You can show up prepared. To show up prepared means you show up with the resources that others need from you. You show up ready to pass those resources on to them.

    CONSIDER: For each person you listed, what is one most important resource they need from you? The more specific you are on this, the better.

    Showing up prepared is awesome. Others are immensely blessed when you show up prepared. But there is more than showing up prepared. That is when you continue to show up prepared day after day, week after week, time after time. That is what Jesus did. Jesus showed up prepared and he kept showing up prepared.

    One of my favorite quotes about the Christian life is “a long obedience in the same direction.” I want to morph that and say, the Christian life is “a long love in the same direction.” There are people who need from you a long love in the same direction. And when they get that long love, they are most blessed, and you are most satisfied, and God is most glorified.

    A long love in the same direction is when you show up with all the resources and blessings entrusted to you, and you are faithful and responsible to pay those things forward into the lives of others. This is the way of God’s Beautiful Kingdom.

    PRAY & WORSHIP: How is God speaking to your heart? What are you feeling? What do you desire? Talk with Jesus about these things.

    5 The Last BIG Step

    Matthew 25:34-46; Romans 5:6-8; Acts 1:8

    Skim back over the previous days to refresh your mind on resourcing others with the blessings you have received. If you have sensed God speaking to you and experienced your own desire growing to be a blessing to others, then the Spirit of God is at work in a powerful way. But there is one more very big step that we can take—that we should take—and by God’s good grace, that we will take.

    For all the previous days, you most likely were thinking about people who are close to you—people you care about and who are important to you. Now let’s ask, who are the people important to Jesus? What about “the least of these” in Matthew 25:34-46?

    CONSIDER: Who are the least of these that need the resources you have? Are you positioned to meet their needs? Are you willing to do so?

    What about your enemies (see Romans 5:6-8)? We all have people we don’t like or don’t feel comfortable around. There are those who frighten us, irritate us, and stir bad emotions inside us. God loves them as much as he loves you. He loves those of other races, other ethnic groups, other political convictions, other sexual preferences, other religious groups, other, other, other…

    CONSIDER: Who are the people you don’t like, and yet they need what you have? Isn’t the very Gospel message giving grace (gifts, resources, blessings) to enemies?

    What about people far removed from us, at the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)? They are the least resourced. Their needs are enormous. The challenges to meet their needs are serious. The cultural barriers to overcome are intimidating. Yet, that is the heartbeat of Christ, to use you and me to go to the world with the blessings/resources of Christ.

    This is what it means to be a Global Christian – a follower of Jesus who has his heart for the world.

    This is What the World Needs Now. It needs the followers of Jesus to show up, prepared and ready for a long love in their direction. That is what Living Word is all about. May that become what you are all about as well.

    PRAY: Pray for grace, compassion, love, faithfulness on your part and on the part of Living Word, that we might go to the ends of the earth with the blessings of our God.

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