Give Yourself To The Gospel – Romans 15:14-33

Support is a common way to spread the message of the gospel—the Book of Romans was written for this purpose. Paul wanted to go to Spain and needed some help. Paul was perhaps the most well-known missionary in the world, and like all missionaries, he needed support. These closing verses of Romans 15 give helpful insight into why he contacted this church, full of people whom he had never met, for support. Paul gave his entire life to Christ and wanted to encourage the church to join him. All around us there are places that may seem reached, but they are actually not. Across the U.S., people are coming from other nations for jobs and other opportunities. To these people, Christ has not been named. Our desire should be that of Paul, to name Jesus to them. Paul gave to the gospel until he could not give anymore. Are we?

When we talk about giving our lives in service to the gospel, does that make you excited, scared, or somewhere in between? How do we cultivate a desire to give our all for the sake of Jesus?

PRAYER – I hereby surrender everything that I am, and have, and ever will be. I take my hands off of my life and release every relationship to You: every habit, every goal, my health, my wealth, and everything that means anything. I surrender it ALL to You. By faith I take my place at the Cross, believing that when the Lord Jesus was crucified, according to Your Word, I was crucified with Him; when He was buried, I was buried; when He was raised from the dead, I was raised with Him. I deny myself the right to rule and reign in my own life and I take up the Cross believing that You are in my and I in You. I thank You for saving me from my sins and myself. From this moment on I am trusting You to live Your life in me and through me, instead of me, to do what I can’t do, quit what I can’t quit, start what I can’t start, and–most of all–to be what I can’t be. I am trusting you to renew my mind and heal damaged emotions in Your time. I thank You now by faith for accepting me in the Lord Jesus, for giving me Your grace, Your freedom, Your joy, Your victory and Your righteousness as my inheritance. Even if I don’t feel anything, I know that Your Word is true; I am counting on Your Spirit to do what Your Word says– to set me free from myself, that Your resurrection life may be lived out through me, and that You may receive all the glory. I thank You and praise You for victory right now in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Living In The Urgency Of Christ Return – Acts 1:1-11

During the forty days after His resurrection and prior to His ascension, Jesus taught the disciples further about the kingdom of God and indicated that they would be part of His mission to continue the things He had begun “to do and teach.” During this time, Jesus commissioned his followers to share the gospel all over the world. Along the way, He provided important information concerning the work of the Spirit in empowering believers for this task. Jesus directly connected the power to accomplish the commission He was giving with the presence of the Holy Spirit. The equation is simple: without the Spirit, there is no power. The Spirit is the energy that enables believers to overcome their fears and to fulfill what their Master has asked them to do. The angels confirmed that the same Jesus who was taken from them would come back in the same way: visibly, bodily, and with the clouds of glory. In the meantime, the disciples were to be busy with His commission. Thus, the fact of the end times, including Christ’s return, was affirmed, even though the time was still unstated. This was a mandate for all, including believers today, to stop gazing and get to work being on mission with God.

What would change if we saw ourselves (first and foremost) as those sent by God on His mission? How does a sense of urgency for Jesus’ return affect the way we live day to day?

PRAYER – Pray asking God to bless our church with a unity born of genuine love that church members have for one another. Ask God to build up the faith of each person so that we may love God with all our being. Pray that we will live with an urgency for Jesus’ return.

Go and Make – Matthew 28:1-20

Reaching the world is one of the few commands that Jesus left the church, and our work is still unfinished. We work to make Him known to others in light of who He is and what He did for us. Jesus told His disciples that He had received all authority “in heaven and on earth.” Jesus’ resurrection validated His teachings and deeds and proved to the disciples all authority over everything rested with Him. Then the disciples knew the true nature of Christ. In light of this authority, He gave commands for the disciples then and for us now. He told the disciples to “go,” “make disciples,” “baptizing them,” and “teaching them” to obey His commands. All of this was so that they would go and reach people with the good news about Christ. The central command was to “make disciples.” They were to carry this out by teaching and baptizing. The encouragement that Jesus gave was that He will always be present in the lives of those who trust in Him. The same command the disciples received we receive today, to go and make disciples.

How do you know Jesus intended believers to share the gospel? What are the most common reasons you miss opportunities to share the gospel? What can you do to combat these issues?

PRAYER – Intentionally and specifically pray for opportunities and resources for our church to be involved with missions both daily, at home and abroad. Ask God to encourage you to spread His message this week and in your daily life. Praise God for sending His Son to die for us and that we now have a message of hope to share with the world.

Laying Down Our Lives – Luke 10:1-24

In Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” This tells us that Jesus is the One who saves lost sinners. As hard as we try to make our lost friends and family members believe in Christ for salvation, we cannot. To become a Christian requires being born again—a feat only God can accomplish. One of the distinguishing marks of Christianity is the belief that we cannot convert anyone by ourselves–salvation is a work of God that is received by repentance and faith. Understanding this distinguishing mark will help us better understand our role in delivering and demonstrating the gospel to our lost friends and family. Jesus makes clear that the task of evangelism is not easy, and we can be sure we will endure many hardships, difficulties, and persecution along the way. Anyone who identifies with Christ will, at some point, be ridiculed and rejected by the world. Jesus was more than just a good man or wise teacher, and ultimately, the world must either acknowledge Him as Lord or reject His claims of being the supreme Judge and the only source of salvation. As disciples of Jesus, we must remember that the world around us despised, rejected, and crucified the One we follow. But as we lay down our lives for His kingdom, just as Jesus did, we too will discover the fullness of life and ultimate resurrection for all who follow Christ.

When we share the gospel, why is it important that we also seek to demonstrate the gospel by the way that we live? How can we be gentle and kind with those who believe differently, but not compromise the gospel?

PRAYER – Take time to thank God for sending Jesus as the ultimate Lamb who willingly suffered on our behalf so that we might be saved. Thank Him for saving us by His grace. Pray that we would willingly take the gospel to others and in so doing, learn to trust Him more. Ask God to deepen our affections for Him, our passion for His Kingdom, and our willingness to share the gospel with others.

Depending On God – Luke 9:1-17

When God calls us to accomplish a task, a do-it-yourself attitude results in two things: pride if you believe you can accomplish it alone and doubt if you don’t trust He can provide through you. Before Jesus’ disciples could represent Him well, they had to understand what following in Jesus’ footsteps required. Jesus empowered the Twelve with divine authority and sent them on a mission to preach, heal, and cast out demons. The apostles were to be dependent on whom they lodged with and were to move on if a family or town did not welcome them. Upon their return from this successful effort, Jesus took the disciples and withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida. Ironically, the disciples had just returned from a mission where they practiced divine power, given to them by Jesus, to meet people’s needs. Now they seemed oblivious to the possibility that He could provide food where little or none existed. When faced with the crowd, a supernatural solution never crossed their minds. Jesus, however, thrived on doing the impossible when it served the higher purpose of glorifying God. With the attention of the disciples on the seemingly impossible challenge, Jesus showed them that He had the power to provide. As fast as the disciples lined up to receive food, Jesus doled it out. They served small group after small group. Luke pointed out that everyone ate and was filled. Jesus provided more than a snack. Everyone there had all they needed to satisfy their hunger. The primary teaching of all this was to be dependent upon Christ in everything.

How, practically, can we help each other take up our crosses?

PRAYER – Jesus, in this situation I have nothing to offer of my own ingenuity or strength; I need your wisdom and power as badly as I need the air that I breathe.  As I move forward may I do so in desperate dependence on You every second.  I joyfully and unreservedly confess that I am inadequate to answer Your call, in fact, I can do absolutely nothing without You.  I’m not able to handle this situation on my own and any good that results must come solely through You.  I simply ask You right now to flow through me, Lord Jesus, and cause me to stay out of Your way. In Your name, Amen

Our Need For The Word – Psalm 1:1-6

Studying and mastering subjects can be a source of personal pride, but studying the Word of God has the opposite effect. God’s Word humbles us and leads us to praise. Psalm 1 helps us see the importance of God’s Word because it’s through God’s Word that we experience God’s revelation of Himself. That’s why those who follow Jesus delight in His Word. The freedom to choose how one will live comes with the reality that one’s choices have real consequences. The way of the wicked seems innocent enough at first. It starts with something like apathy – just walking a little differently. But walking leads to standing and then eventually sitting down in the midst of wickedness. Sin is like that. It progresses from something seemingly harmless to something entirely more serious. This is contrasted to the way of the righteous. The blessed man in this psalm is the one who not only reads but delights in God’s Word. He treats God’s Word as His daily bread, seeking to get nourishment from it. Reading the Bible isn’t only a matter of habit – it’s something that is absolutely necessary and enjoyable for him on a day to day basis. The imagery is powerful here. When we delight in God’s Word, our roots will grow deep. We will have been abiding on the promises and character of God day after day so when the season of difficulty comes, we won’t find ourselves swept away by fear and doubt. We will still stand firm in the midst of trouble.

How can you grow in your delight in God’s Word? Is there any tangible change you need to make in your schedule in order to have capacity to meditate on and delight in God’s Word?

PRAYER – I hereby surrender everything that I am, and have, and ever will be. I take my hands off of my life and release every relationship to You: every habit, every goal, my health, my wealth, and everything that means anything. I surrender it ALL to You. By faith I take my place at the Cross, believing that when the Lord Jesus was crucified, according to Your Word, I was crucified with Him; when He was buried, I was buried; when He was raised from the dead, I was raised with Him. I deny myself the right to rule and reign in my own life and I take up the Cross believing that You are in my and I in You. I thank You for saving me from my sins and myself. From this moment on I am trusting You to live Your life in me and through me, instead of me, to do what I can’t do, quit what I can’t quit, start what I can’t start, and–most of all–to be what I can’t be. I am trusting you to renew my mind and heal damaged emotions in Your time. I thank You now by faith for accepting me in the Lord Jesus, for giving me Your grace, Your freedom, Your joy, Your victory and Your righteousness as my inheritance. Even if I don’t feel anything, I know that Your Word is true; I am counting on Your Spirit to do what Your Word says– to set me free from myself, that Your resurrection life may be lived out through me, and that You may receive all the glory. I thank You and praise You for victory right now in Jesus’ name, Amen.