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But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbour?" Luke 10:29
i think the part that stood out the most for me today reading this familiar passage was that the lawyer wanted to justify himself. he saw himself as righteous enough, fulfilling the requirements of the law, above reproach. He knew the heart of the law, but wasn’t living it. He knew the right words, but it had not penetrated into real life and into his spirit and soul.
i pray that the words of God would be planted in my life, more than mere words or ideology, but part of the fabric of my life and living. i pray that obedience would flow from the overflow of my relationship with God, that i would live to know Him and make Him known
"And who is my neighbour?" Luke 10:29
and who is our neighbour? is it the person in the house next to me? someone who goes to my church? someone nice and friendly?
yes and no.
it is everyone. not matter how nice they look. how nice they act.
it is the marginalised, the orphan and the mean. it is the single mum and the divorcee. it is the blended family. it is the widow and the elderly. it is the kid with ADHD. it is the rebellious teen. it is the working dad and SAHM mum. it is the teacher and the doctor and the check out operator and the banker and the shop assistant. it is the undeserving and the deserving. those we click with and those we dont. its the person that sits beside us in church and the person that sits on the opposite side of church and the person that goes fishing on a sunday morning. its our workmates, school mates.
and we are meant to show them love and mercy, kindness and grace.
to demonstrate the love and grace and reality of God.
its in the kind words, and the forgiveness and the smiles and the encouragement. its in the letting go of our rights and our offenses. its in the going out of our way and out of our comfort zone. its a life in a way without boundaries. our only boundary is love and the will of God.
i so love our housegroup… have i mentioned that before?
“Small groups are the place for people to get on the scale and reveal how intentional they have been to pursue transformation into the image of Christ. William Paulson writes, “It is unlikely that we will deepen our relationship with God in a casual or haphazard manner.” I think he understates it. People do not drift into full devotion to Christ. People do not drift into becoming loving, joy-filled, patient, winsome, world changers. It requires intention and effort. Today small groups have the privilege of loving and accepting human beings for whom Christ gave his life. In these groups we can supply the love, encouragement, and embrace people need to continue their journey of transformation.” John Ortberg
last night i did a mini share about how we’re called to walk together and care for each other and stir each other to know God and make Him known and follow Him. i shared about the feelings of disappointment i’ve been having lately about my 20s and how i didn’t want them to go through things like that, how when we obey and follow Jesus we have nothing to regret. but the real purpose of the night was to break into pairs or small groups of 3 to talk and pray for each other. the big question of the night was “WHAT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT STIRRING IN YOUR HEART?” and from there the instruction was to talk about their life, be open, be real and talk about their struggles, needs, dreams etc and then pray for each other.
i’m always impressed with how these nights go. we did it a few times last year with a different group of people and it worked really well. again it was a good night, a productive night. bonds formed. hearts shared. prayers prayed. walls let down a little bit. the fantastic thing about small groups (and smaller groups within small groups) are that we can be real, we can unmask, we can encourage and be encouraged, we can ask for help and give wisdom, we can walk with each other. these moments of sharing, talking and laughing and praying are moments of transformation. we are opening the door into our lives for someone else to see and speak into. and letting God in more. its just so good!
for the heart behind this type of night check out this post on UNMASKING
In the words of the great Lost – “live together, die alone” – it isn’t actually too far untruth for us as Christians.
We’ve being put together, in the church, in community, in a family – for a reason.
Lostism aside – together we are stronger, but as individuals we can become distracted, diswayed, discouraged and destroyed easier.
We live and succeed together but we can fall and fail alone.
You have a part to play – you’re part of the family – part of the community – part of the burgher… (theme of the night at youth group!)
So what’s up with the burgher???
The word Burgher is, according the wonderful world of google a Dutch word Burger meaning citizen, commoner or inhabitant of a city/town.
For us, the church is the burgher. Not “just” The River, but like the capital The Church – all Christians everywhere all around the world – but also including The River. The River is our burgher that we belong to and are part of. Bags me be the cheese )
And just like how a burgher is made up of different bits that add flavour and add to the taste and delishness of the burger, so the church is made up of different people who add flavour, I mean strengths and gifts to accomplish the plans and purposes of God.
You see God didn’t think it would just be a cool idea that we have meetings on Sundays and nzeal on Friday nights, just cos, you know, what a cool idea… these times we get together are for a purpose and the whole church thing isn’t just a good idea but a great idea with a mission!
The reason we come to church and come to youth is to worship God, learn more about Him, encourage each other, get connected to God and others, get empowered and equipped and transformed so we can get out there and change the world.
God calls the church a family. Cos we’re ment to love each other, be real and honest with each other and help each other in the good times and bad.
Your family is ment to be your safe place, where you can be yourself, where you can say, hey I need some help, where you can also have fun, learn how to be a grown up, be mates and have adventures together.
Who here has chores at home? *interaction*
So back to the burger thing. Imagine if we were all meat patties. A friend of mine had a picture on his facebook page of a guy who ordered a burger in McD’s with 12 meat patties. GROSS! Or imagine a burger with just lettuce. Or worse still, just onion!
God, and Paul puts it this way:
You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.)
14-18I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
19-24But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, "Get lost; I don’t need you"? Or, Head telling Foot, "You’re fired "?
1 Corinthians 12:12-21
Did you know that you use more than 200 different muscles to walk? If your feet and their muscles are not working well you aren’t going very far. Furthermore, if you dislocate a tiny bone in your foot your whole body is miserable. Feet are awfully important. So why should the foot say, “I don’t count; I’m not important; no one ever notices me; no one cares about what I do. If I do anything, no one sees me or cares about me. I don’t belong. I might as well give up.”
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12:4-8
The church is made up of different bits. We’re not all worship leaders or musos. We’re not all preachers or talkers. We’re not all evangelists or pastors. We’re not all prayers. We’re not all good at being friendly. We’re not all good at working out what the Bible really says. We’re not all good at design or working the sound desk, or figuring out the finances, or making babies happy, or baking, or singing, or organizing everyone for lunch on Sunday, or going into the prison, or thinking up creative ideas for events. But if we didn’t have someone doing crèche then people like tash wouldn’t be able to lead worship. If we didn’t have friendly people like Rowena we’d all sit at home alone eating our marmite sandwiches on Sunday afternoon. If we didn’t have cool people like *media person* we’d all be making our own words up to the songs that the band lead us in… We’re all like super delish bits of the best burgher in the world…
Remember what Jack in Lost said?
Live together, die alone.
We’ve being put together, in the church, in community, in a family – for a reason. Together we are stronger, but as individuals we can become distracted, diswayed, discouraged and destroyed easier. We live and succeed together but we can fall and fail alone.
In Hebrews 10 it says: And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
One of the reasons we’re put into church/community is to stir up the good stuff, encouraging one another, helping each other follow Jesus in the hard times and the good times.
Now this doesn’t just mean saying nice things to each other: it means being honest, being real, being there in someones life. It means listening to each other and learning from each other. The bible says we should confess our sins to each other and that we should with love give each other a slap if we see someone heading the wrong way – okay, maybe it more suggests going and talking to them and saying the hard honest things that will stop someone from falling over and making tragic mistakes.
Don’t give up on coming to church – they need you, we need you and you need them. I don’t reckon church is an optional extra for us as Christians. The foot cant say to the elbow, I don’t need you. I’m just going to amputate myself and go do my own thing. The knee cant kick the stomach out… a body pretty much needs all the bits to function together. If God invented the church then it’s pretty important.
So how does this work in real life.
First. God creates churches. Be part of one. Join in. Get involved. Do something. Help out. There are lots of ways to get involved – even really practical things like crèche and handing out the notices are important.
Second. You’re part of the burgher! God created YOU and made YOU the way YOU are with gifts and talents and cool stuff. Your cool stuff helps other people. Your cool stuff helps the church. Your cool stuff helps The Church capital letters. Your cool stuff will help people learn more about God and draw near to Him and get saved and get free and healed and all that good stuff.
Third. Recongize that it takes all of us together to go forward and make it work. All of our gifts, all of us working together. It’s all about loving God and seeking His Kingdom first.
Tonight the main thing you get is that you belong to a family. A really big family! A family with God as our Dad and lots of brothers and sisters. And you’re important and you have a part to play.
Firstly – be part of the family. Be born again.
Secondly – ask God how you can contribute. What’s your part? Together we can and will go forward into great things with God.
notes from message for youth group – theme = burgher = community
“Nothing is better than relationship with Christ. Nothing is more exciting than sharing Christ with those we meet each week. May every single one of us be the kinds of people who “walk across the room”… reach out a hand in love…speak a kind word…share the message of Christ.
Your life has a ripple effect in the world around you. One act of faithfulness to God could impact the faith journey of so many others. One simple invitation could open the door for an entire family to experience a transformational relationship with Christ. One simple invitation could save a marriage. One simple invitation could change the trajectory of someones life and eternity.
Eternity will never be the same.”
i cant take the credit for above – but it resoantes with my heart… it is from epic velocity – a post called chasing daylight: door hangers, ripples. eternity.
we may think that what we do and who we are is small… but our ordinary life can have extraordinary effect as God works through us and as we live our lives to shine for him, demonstrating his love and grace.
it may seem like a simple conversation with a friend or a stranger, but it can have eternal consequences as it plants seeds and waters precious previous conversations about God and salvation and hope and grace and love. and God will speak to their heart and reveal himself to them.
we take the YES step – saying YES to God for him to use us. YES to walking across the room and starting a conversation. we say YES to be available to God to speak through and shine through. Today are your ready to be used by God? Today are you ready to change the world?
Matthew 22:36-28 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This is one of those verses we can skip over “cos we know it.” you know what i mean eh, verses we read and skim over without thinking about because we may of thought about them 5 years ago… things that are simple and so we’ve worked it all out… i know i am like that… and i am trying to change!
but it is worth taking a look at again and exaiminng our life.
does our life reflect these two MAIN THINGS – loving God and loving people?
are our priorities influenced and inspired by loving God and loving people?
does our time reflect our committment to these commandments?
a while ago our pastors wife (she so rocks) preached about loving our neighbours. and from there i have been thinking of more practical ways that i can love those around me. simple things really. but they might just make someones day, help someone in need, demonstrate the love and grace of God, make someone feel special etc….
our neighbour is not just the person who lives next door…. it is anyone. anyone who lives and breathes. and it isnt just a christian or church member… it is anyone… it isnt just the nice people we call friends… it is anyone… including those we dont “click” with… get me….?
Practical Love In Action:
smile at people (serious!)
phone someone you might know is feeling a bit lonely
make a meal for someone who is sick or busy or something!
take a friend out for coffee and a chat
babysit for someone
lend a book or cd
pay for a doctors visit
drop off a bag of groceries
pick up someone and take them to church
sit with the person no one sits with at church
do bible study with a new christian
include someone in your circle of friends when you go out (ie invite them)
send an encouraging email
pass on your kids clothes that they have grown out of to a family that needs things like that
mow someones lawns if they cant
you get the picture… this is in no way a definiative or exhausted list… but it is a list of action. Love does. it doesnt just think about it – it is ACTION. love does things. love is action. love is expressed. love makes a difference. it draws people to God. it makes there day brighter. it makes life easier. it meets a need. it encoruages. it loves.
how are you making loving people and loving God real in your life?
how can you love those around you more?
Life is more than just breathing. It is more than jsut working and even more than just falling in love, raising a family etc… We need to live for today remembering that we are not just flesh and blood but that we serve the Almighty God, the King of Glory and that He has a mission for which He gave His life for. In the everything, no matter how mundane or normal it is, we do we should remember who we are – ambassadors for reconnecting people with God. Life is more than just breathing – it is about living and having adventure! The adventure and satisfaction we are born craving is found in God, in knowing Him and serving Him.
Somewhere within each of us is the distinct cry to do something with our lives, to make our mark. We search to find meaning in life and to find our place in this world. This isn’t caused by teenage angst, a midlife crisis or any random combination of hormones and brain buzzes…. It is the call of God placed within our heart, stirring us to indeed find where we fit and can contribute.
Do you want God to use you? If you heart is to know God then of course your answer is yes. Great! Sometimes however discovering WHAT you “want to be when you grow up” (no matter what age or life accomplishment you are) can feel like a stressful, drawn out process of twists, reversals and contention! The good news is the call of God and being used by God isn’t an elusive over the rainbow thing.
Be encouraged – God calls us partners in the job of reaching the lost and establishing his church. He created us to be useable. The call of God is NOW thing. It is a DOING thing. It is for today right where you are.
If you’re breathing your can contribute and can serve God. You are placed in a workplace, school, family, circle of friends, sports group, coffee group – not by accident but by purpose by God. You can shine and demonstrate the love and grace of God right where you are in the very normality of your life. You don’t have to go to the depths of India to be used by God, you are a totally useable person. Just breathe and be yourself.
In some ways it is more of the WHO we are that makes the real difference rather than the WHAT we do. In God’s culture it is the people factor, the who we are and who we touch for his glory than the monuments and achievements we make. The title or job description we have isn’t what demonstrates God to others, it is the who we are and how we relate to others and how we react to situations that allows people to see God within us and through us. It is in conversation not corporate porfolios that the gospel is shared.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 describes a house with objects used for common and special useage.
2 Timothy 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. Therefore if anyone purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
Just because we have a dream and just because God DOES use people it doesn’t mean it comes on a platter. We can prepare. This doesn’t mean we need to leave our job and go to Bible College in order to serve God (unless he leads us there of course!), it means we need to personally prepare ourselves before the Lord. We must take responsibility to develop our relationship with God, to know His word, to know His ways. We must discipline ourselves to be obedient followers, surrendering and under construction. Preparation takes a lifetime. Till our last breath we are undergoing preparation – God would also call it transformation. The true fulfillment of the call of God is an accurate representation of Jesus.
What resonates with the beat of your heart? What is the thing you dream about? What is the thing you MUST do and will strive to do at every godly cost? What is the gift God has placed in your life? Pursue it. Pray and talk to God about it. Prepare. Don’t wait however to step out into a glorious future of fulfillment and doing. Do it now. Demonstrate God now to those around you. It doesn’t take a job description or a position on church staff to be like Jesus. Don’t let feelings of inadequacy or unpreparedness rule you out.
Jeremiah was young man whom God used to speak to a nation. Timothy likewise, yet God called him to lead a church. Amos was a common shepherd with no family history of spiritual leadership. Nehemiah was a cupbearer in the kings court in exile. David was a shepherd. Lydia, in retail. Matthew was a despised tax collector. What are you doing today? What mark are you making today? How is God using you – today???
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. — William James
what kind of things make a difference…. a smile… taking a packet of chocy biscuts into work for morning tea… a friendly email to say, hi, i was thinking of you…. a card in the mail to a friend…. a hug…. a cup of tea after a long day…. a compliment…. a kind word… a saved seat at church… helping wash up after dinner…. lending a book…. lending a cd…
you get my drift… little things… simple things… but they can make a real differnece to someones day. we dont know what is going on behind closed doors, and the smile we see may just be for “appearnces sake” (not to be rude… i know i do it… cos i also like being with people etc…) and so even the smallest kindness can make a differnece. we do not see the lonileness of someones heart, or their fears and insecurities. people do not often project their hurts and worries to others… they hide them.
but God sees.
he sees all.
and so we, his children. can make a difference. we can share the love.
simple things. but they make a difference.
it is amazing that God uses us… not just in the great things but in what we could consider everyday things. these everyday things are the things that get used more often… we meet people everyday. we rub shoulders with people everyday. God in us is with people everyday… get the drift… we are partnering with God to plant seeds and see lives changed. the biggest and bested change is that people come to know God, that they are saved – born again, life eternal, knowing God, accepted and new and loved everlasting. everyone is on that journey to know God. we can be watering their seeds, demonstrating the love and grace of God. in even the ordinary things. in the everyday encounters.
think of what you can do to make the difference. think today of what you can do. pray about it. God will show you. listen to him as you go about your day. he will use you!
Judges 20:3-7 The Israelites called a meeting of the nation. And since they were God’s people, the meeting was held at the place of worship in Mizpah. Men who could serve as soldiers came from everywhere in Israel–from Dan in the north, Beersheba in the south, and Gilead east of the Jordan River. Four hundred thousand of them came to Mizpah, and they each felt the same about what those men from the tribe of Benjamin had done. News about the meeting at Mizpah reached the tribe of Benjamin. As soon as the leaders of the tribes of Israel took their places, the Israelites said, ” How could such a horrible thing happen?” The husband of the murdered woman answered: My wife and I went into the town of Gibeah in Benjamin to spend the night. Later that night, the men of Gibeah surrounded the house. They wanted to kill me, but instead they raped and killed my wife. It was a terrible thing for Israelites to do! So I cut up her body and sent pieces everywhere in Israel. You are the people of Israel, and you must decide today what to do about the men of Gibeah.
What will it take to make the people of God to stand up and cry out for change and righteousness for their nation?
What will it take for the people of God to fall to their knees and pray for the nations to be healed and people to be saved?
What will it take for us to pray for the change only God can give?
The murder of a wife – cut up into 12 pieces and sent by courier around the country?
The murder of a 3 year old by her uncles?
P addicts taking hostages and causing a police stand off?
A drive by shooting that kills an innocent 2 year old sleeping in her bed?
The abuse and death of twin babies, allegedly by their father?
The murder of a wife and mother – her body stuffed in the boot of her car?
The rape of tourists staying in their van in a small town?
The hold up of a burger king joint?
The abduction and murder of a 5 year old girl in a red raincoat on her way to school?
Our preteen girls having sex in the school toilets?
Our boys joining gangs to belong?
What will pierce our heart?
What will move us?
What will make us stand and kneel and pray?
Do not desire crosses, unless you have borne well those laid on you; it is an abuse to long after martyrdom while unable to bear an insult patiently. — Francis de Sales
many people say they want to be martyrs for Jesus – yet they dont do a flash job living for him (no to diss anyone here). the real cross is how do we handle all of those “small” things – a rude driver, a grumpy workmate, a provocative woman, a tired child, a difficult situation. we should pray for opportunities to LIVE for Jesus – our lives can make such a significant difference…