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Posts tagged ‘Participation’

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Christ’s Triumphal Procession

Roman Triumphal ProcessionThe images Paul evokes in this passage are to us both exotic and familiar.

The exotic: a Roman victory parade, in which a long string of POWs and war booty were marched by the reviewing stand amidst a cloud of incense burned to the gods.

The familiar: a reference letter sent to others to introduce and commend a colleague.

Interact with God’s Word

2 Corinthians 2:14-3:5

  1. In light of 2:14, is seeing yourself as a free agent who volunteers time for Christian service an adequate understanding?
  2. Can you state as Paul did (2:14) that “wherever we go he [God] uses us”?
  3. Do the widely differing responses to witness that Paul encountered (2:15-16) match your own experience?
  4. How should your service be impacted by awareness (2:17b) that God has sent you? … that He’s watching you?
  5. Did Paul’s assertion (3:1-3) that the people he’d worked with were all the endorsement he needed mean that all their conduct was exemplary?
  6. Did Paul take the credit for lives being transformed (3:3b-5a)? Who did he credit?
  7. How did Paul’s statement in 3:5b answer his own question in 2:16b?

Spend Time in Prayer

Ask God to give you power and confidence in service as you rely on His Spirit to make you successful.

2 Corinthians 2:14-17

14 But thanks be to God, who made us his captives and leads us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing.

16 To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 17 You see, we are not like those hucksters—and there are many of them—who preach just to make money. We preach God’s message with sincerity and with Christ’s authority. And we know that the God who sent us is watching us.

2 Corinthians 3:1-5

1 Are we beginning again to tell you how good we are? Some people need to bring letters of recommendation with them or ask you to write letters of recommendation for them. 2 But the only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves! Your lives are a letter written in our hearts, and everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.

3 Clearly, you are a letter from Christ prepared by us. It is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on stone, but on human hearts. 4 We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. 5 It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God.

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you. — John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Going All Out

Chariots of FireKey Bible Verse: I will gladly spend myself and all I have for your spiritual good.  – 2 Corinthians 12:15

Bonus Reading:  1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Eric Liddell won the 400-meter race in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, as featured in the movie Chariots of Fire. Afterward, he said that knowing he wasn’t expected to win, he went “all out.”

Along with developing his athletic skills, Eric shaped a servant’s heart, overcoming shyness to speak for the Glasgow Students Evangelistic Union both before and after his Olympic feat. He then served as a missionary in China. After Japan invaded and occupied China, Eric was among some 1,800 civilian “enemy nationals” forced into an internment camp at Weihsien.

Knowing the times were desperate, Eric went “all out,” as he’d done in the 400, to help others. He taught in the improvised school, organized and coached an athletic program that included rugby and basketball, planned and spoke at Sunday services, taught Bible classes, organized weeknight activities for teens, resolved bitter conflicts between fellow internees, and carried coal and water for the weak. “Uncle Eric” somehow found time to give many personal attention and care. For one girl, he made a beautiful notebook filled with drawings.

Having shaped a servant’s heart his whole life, Eric was mentally prepared to reach out with God’s love to those in great need.

—James Hilt in Wisconsin

My Response: What am I doing to shape a servant’s heart?

Thought to Apply: God is not looking for more stars; He’s looking for more servants.—Howard Hendricks

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Drive Away?

Car TroubleKey Bible Verse: “When you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”  – Matthew 25:40

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 2:14-3:5

Walking out of the packed mall, I prayed, “God, help me connect with people in ways that make a difference for Your kingdom.” As I neared my car in the lot, I noticed a pickup with a man working under the hood. “Not now!” I silently objected, “I’ll be late for my meeting.” “Can I help?” I asked, hoping he’d say no.

He said yes. I cranked the starter when he said to. Between cranks he said he’d done lots wrong but had worked with a Christian in his former job. Now unemployed, he was traveling to where he hoped a job was waiting. Learning that I was a Christian, he asked about Jesus’ forgiveness. Our discussion turned to the Bible. He would read it, he said, if he had a copy.

I helped him borrow tools from a nearby shop, talked through repair options with him, and kept cranking the starter till he got the engine running and the distributor adjusted. I offered to buy him dinner, but he didn’t have time. After he left to return the tools, I placed a note and money for a Bible or a meal on his steering wheel.

When I got home, my daughter asked, “Did you help a guy in a parking lot?” He’d called to thank me.

—Stephen Sorenson in Like Your Neighbor?

My Response: I’ll pray Stephen’s shopping-mall prayer today.

Thought to Apply: We must not spare our hand where it can perform a service [nor] assume that our schedule is our own to manage.—Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German pastor)

Adapted from Like Your Neighbor? (InterVarsity, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Skill Position

Throwing a Football to a ChildKey Bible Verse: God has given to each of you … spiritual gifts … so that God’s generosity can flow through you.   – 1 Peter 4:10

Bonus Reading:  Mark 9:33-37

José Morena spends his workdays sweeping trash, wiping toilets, and scrubbing floors as a custodian at Lincoln Elementary School in Oxnard, California. Though he excels at his work, it isn’t what he’s known for at the school.

During recess, Morena’s a quarterback. With his ring of keys jangling from his belt loop, he throws spirals to pint-sized receivers. His presence on the field makes the friendly games more fun and prevents spats, according to the students. He does the same on the basketball court.

Morena also helps the teachers in the classroom. Because he’s bilingual, he can translate between teachers and parents. He also stands in for teachers when they have to leave their classrooms. Morena has two daughters of his own, but he also acts as a father figure to many students, particularly boys, who don’t have fathers at home.

The kids on the playground light up when asked about Morena: “José has always been there for me. He’s someone you can talk to, and he understands,” says ten-year-old Amber Castillo. He’s living proof that you don’t have to have an impressive job or powerful position to impact lives. Being important is about serving others, about being a role model for kids.

—Bill McCartney in 4th and Goal

My Response: Who am I uniquely positioned to serve today?

Thought to Apply: No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.—Charles Dickens

Adapted from 4th and Goal (Tyndale, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Snow Job

Brushing Snow from CarKey Bible Verse: You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.  – Acts 20:35

Bonus Reading: Matthew 6:1-4

I had worked later than usual one winter evening and hadn’t noticed the steadily accumulating blanket of white. Walking out into our office parking lot, I was startled. Each of the handful of cars left in the lot looked like a huge white marshmallow. I located mine, started the engine, and climbed back out with brush and window scraper. The soft, fluffy coating came off so easily that I was almost disappointed to finish so quickly.

I looked around at the three other cars in the lot. One belonged to my friend Julie. I’d just said good-bye to her, and it looked like she was going to be working for quite a while yet. Clearing off her car was great fun. I pictured her coming outside, shocked at the amount of snow, worrying about trudging around in a dark, vacant parking lot—then seeing her car all cleared off and ready to go. Imagining her smile made me smile too. Cleaning off the other two cars was also fun.

A day or two later, Julie figured out who’d done it and expressed her appreciation. But Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:1-4 tell me that perhaps clearing off the other two cars had the greater value.

—Nate Adams in The Home Team

My Response: How do I guess God will reward “undercover” good deeds?

Thought to Apply: The reward for a good deed is to have done it.—Proverb

Adapted from The Home Team (Revell, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Biscuits in the ‘Hood

Pot on StoveKey Bible Verse: Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions.  – 1 John 3:18

Bonus Reading:  Deuteronomy 15:7-11

Each year, a few days before the holidays, members of the True Love Missionary Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, spend a Saturday morning gathering food for the needy in the neighborhood.

On this side of Dallas, there’s a lot of need. There are burglar bars on most of the windows, and the used car lots are surrounded by fences topped with razor wire. Even though the church is far from opulent, it puts aside its own needs to serve others less fortunate.

When I got to the church to produce a special radio documentary for the holiday season, the back door was wide open. No one was around, so I went inside. The only sound came from the kitchen in the family center where you could hear someone preparing breakfast for the volunteers who’d show up later. The smell of scrambled eggs, biscuits, grits, and bacon was incredible. I followed the aroma, carrying my tape recorder and microphone, and met a middle-aged woman with a cast-iron skillet in her hand. She never even looked up to ask who I was or what I wanted. She asked only one question: “Are you hungry?”

When the first thing a person says to you is “are you hungry?” that is a church.

—Jody Dean in Finding God in the Evening News

My Response: What action of mine has modeled Christ’s compassion?

Adapted from Finding God in the Evening News (Revell, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley

The Spectator-to-Server Shift – Into the Game

ChurchWho Said It…Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Its Willow Creek Association serves as a resource to thousands of churches that share an “outward-focused” emphasis, aiming to “turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”

Bill is a sailing buff. He and Lynne are the parents of two adult children.

What He Said…Into the Game

Every churchgoer has a choice to make. He can either (a) park in his usual spot in the church parking lot, make his way to a favorite seat, experience a good service, chat with friends, and go home—a nice, safe Sunday morning experience. Or (b) throw himself into an adventure by rolling up his sleeves, joining a team of like-minded servants, and helping to build the local church God has called him to be a part of.

“Three years ago,” one person wrote, “you challenged me to get involved as a volunteer. I was hesitant at first, but you wouldn’t let up. Now I can’t thank you enough. The meaning I derive, the sense of ownership I feel, the friendships I have built, the spiritual growth I’ve experienced—it’s all directly related to finding my niche in serving.”

Most who commit to serving feel scared or think they have little to offer, but they decide to take a first step. Some serve faithfully in less-than-ideal situations before they discover what they’re really good at—the perfect volunteer niche for them.

Adapted from The Volunteer Revolution (Zondervan, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: You are never weary, O Lord, of doing us good. Let us never be weary of serving you.—John Wesley