Lesson 18: God’s Plan for the World
Lesson 18, Devotion 1
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” - Acts 1:8
Have you ever sold Girl Scout cookies? Even if you're a dude, you still know you love to EAT Girl Scout cookies, right? Have you ever noticed that you rarely see a little girl selling them by herself? Her mom or dad is there with her helping to make it happen. Often from the kid's perspective, they're killing it, selling like crazy. But most of the folks who buy the cookies know who the real power behind the business is: the mom or dad accompanying who have given the girl the task of selling the cookies!
We too have been given a task to do. We've been called by God to share the Gospel with our friends. This can be one of the most uncomfortable things we do as Christ-followers. We take the thing most precious and personal thing about us and put it out there for another person to either accept or reject. Thankfully, we aren't sent out there alone.
We must remember that from our perspective it may feel this way, but if we were able to see our effort and attempts at evangelism from God’s perspective, we would see that He is the one that is actually doing most of the work. And this is a very good thing!
Think about this:
What are some of your fears you have about sharing your faith with your friends?
If Jesus is really with you as you do this, what do you need from Him to have the confidence and courage to share God’s love and grace?
You are so loved by God, and He wants us to share our real life and feelings with Him. Spend a few minutes in prayer telling God your fears, and asking Him for what you need to obey His call to GO.
Lesson 18, Devotion 2
Read this quote and think about it today:
“Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the cross. He waited until one of them turned to him.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Does that quote mess with you a bit? It should. It makes two interesting points you should spend some time thinking about today.
You can’t save anyone. Period. It’s God’s work in God’s timing. But you can faithfully serve as an example of what a life lived in relationship with Christ looks like. And you can be there for people when they have questions.
Are you living in a way that others would turn to you with questions or needs regarding their faith? Let that one sink in a bit . . .
Good thoughts to think about today. Make sure you spend time in prayer and thought wrestling with these truths.
Lesson 18, Devotion 3
“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.” - Matthew 9:10
Matthew is so normal. Matthew was a tax collector whom Jesus called to be one of His disciples. And so Matthew left his post and followed Jesus. But what is amazing is that he didn’t totally bail on the people in his life. He did turn from the things of his old life, but not the people. And scripture tells us that one of the first things that Matthew did after he began following Jesus was to throw a big party for his new “Christian” friends and his old “worldly” friends. Isn’t that crazy?
Check out the story for yourself. Read Matthew 9:9-13
Sharing our faith doesn't have to be that hard. We often compartmentalize our life and our faith. Our faith is what we do on Sundays and Wednesdays, and the rest of the time we live our life. What is so amazing about Matthew is that he was just Matthew. His Christian life and his everyday life were totally intertwined. And because of it, Jesus had the opportunity to care for the people who needed Him the most.
Think about this:
Is your life currently divided between your church life and "real" life? If so, there is some hard work in store to live a more integrated life. What are some things you can do to be the same person in all the different areas of your life?
Would it be fun or awful to imagine a context where your “Christian” friends were in close enough proximity to your “worldly” friends to that your friends who don’t know Jesus yet would get a positive picture of what that looked like by you and your “Christian” friends?
Jesus loves your non-Christian friends. He oozes with mercy and grace. Matthew understood this and so put the people in his life who were closest to him in proximity to Jesus. What is a practical way you can get your non-Christian friends in proximity to Jesus and His people?