Missions Sunday 9/24/23

Missions Sunday
--from September 24th  --

Day 1

Read Ezekiel 33:1-9
We live in a world that teaches that we can just mind our own business and keep our noses out of everything that doesn’t belong to us.  That is a great philosophy for some of life, but not all of life.  People are responsible not just for themselves, but for other people.  God created this whole human race thing as a community.  When there was a problem called sin, there was a solution of Jesus given.  Sin is the thing that is destroying everyone like us and causing all the separation that we experience.  Ironically enough, even though we did not have the chance to fix the sin problem, we were given the responsibility to share with everyone else what the solution to the sin problem is.  We are the only beings given the ability to communicate and conversate like our type of being does. You have to have the ability of spoken word to communicate the message of salvation.  
This week in the devotions, I want us to think about that idea. Because of the gifts that we have been given of communication and abilities, we carry a responsibility for all people.  The responsibility is to make it our business, our efforts, our endeavors to share the message of Jesus with everyone we can.  Silence is not an option or a fair choice…or morally right.  This week is about the mission of being a people that makes disciples.
How do you understand Ezekiel’s message in this passage to you personally?

How far does this responsibility go for you personally?  How exactly are you to be involved?

What about in your immediate circle of friends and/or family?  What is your responsibility today with this idea?

How does this become a part of your prayer today?

Day 2

Read Ezekiel 34:1-10

We spent a whole year on this chapter in 2019.  I thought this would be a good moment to return to it.  For me personally, it has helped form so much of how I think about and approach ministry, especially in this area of the country.  The idea of people being scattered, away from the place where they should find healing, hope, and help, is humbling.  Then when you add to that the idea that the reason the people are scattered, is because the place of refuge is not functioning like the place it is supposed to be.  The sheep in this passage speak about regular, everyday people.  The shepherds tell the story of the leaders of the churches and religious organizations. The place of refuge, or what is supposed to be the place of refuge, is the church.  So the story is that the people are scattered from the church because the leaders of the churches are not being what they are supposed to be.  

Thankfully, God still has ideas.  The method of gospel spreading is the church, but that is not God’s only trick.  Being that it is His preferred method, we have to start asking ourselves questions about this hypothetical story.  Are we scattering people or are we showing people how to find what it is they need?  

When you think about people that are scattered from the church, or distant from the church around you, and you think about the categories in verse 4, who are those that fit each category?
  • weak
  • sick
  • injured
  • strayed
  • lost

How do you help bring those people to find the hope and help they need in Jesus today?

Does this illustration that Ezekiel gives help explain some of the way people act and what they do around you right now?

Why not share some of your thoughts on the messaging app for others that are going through these devotions?

Day 3

Read Ezekiel 34:11-24
The picture of salvation and the rescue of God is an incredible picture that can be illustrated in so many ways.  This one gets to me every single time.  It mirrors almost perfectly with the incredible, timeless, and well loved picture of Psalm 23.  I encourage you to read them together and get the images.  
That's a great practice, in fact, try really hard to imagine these images and pictures that God uses to describe what he is doing.  Imagine the feelings you get in times of “clouds and thick darkness” and try to imagine the feelings of mountainous backdrops and wide open fields that you lie down in.  This is the picture of what kind of life God desires for you.  He is the rescuer that comes in and destroys the bad and longs for you to experience the peace and rest that you could not find anywhere else.  No one messes with God’s people and gets in the way of what the Shepherd desires for his sheep!  
What part of this imagery sticks out to you or speaks most to your heart and why?

What do you think verse 17 means?

What other times in the Bible, besides Psalm 23, do you remember these ideas and images being used? 

Why not share on the messaging app some of these so others can be reminded as well?

How does this become your prayer today?

Day 4

Read Acts 2:42-47
If you were at the Life Groups meeting last Wednesday, you got this passage and heard about it a bit.  This is the beginning of the early church.  Jesus was just crucified, rose from the dead, commissioned His followers, then came the day of Pentecost and this is the result.  Some have taken this idea and declared that this is exactly what a church should look like.  I don’t agree with them, but I also don’t disagree.  I think a great lesson can be found by examining what is said here and what is valued here.  In other words, I don’t think the point is for us to go to each other’s house, after everyone has sold everything they have, and then go to church together every single day, while also praying all day.  That doesn’t leave much room for life.  But the values are obvious.  People were in need and those needs were met.  They prayed together, and lived life together.  They sacrificed for each other.  They were committed to the teachings of the Bible.  They were generous.  They were favorable among outsiders.  

On Wednesday, we talked about how we are losing some of those values.  We are making sacrifices and time scheduling that shows us favoring other values than what we claim.  It's becoming about the money we need to make for the kids and their activities or any number of other things.  

What are the things in this passage that you see as a very high value for your life as a disciple?

What are the things in this passage that you see as a struggling value in your life as a disciple?

What would it look like to recapture that value in your life or in your family’s lives?

How does this become your prayer today?

Day 5

Read John 15:1-17

Jesus’ words about the vine and the illustration that it gives us of following Him are so amazing. If you flew through that reading, go back again and try to spend time with it.  I can assure you that you will need it and it will be helpful.  Vines have branches.  I planted some yellow squash this year, and although it was not a vine, the illustration was there for me.  I planted them all the way over on the left side of a planter box.  On the other side of the box were peppers and beans.  When the season took off, the yellow squash took off to the right and overtook everything around it.  I mean, not just kind of grew to one side, but they mainly grew everywhere but where they were planted.  Over on the left side, if a stem started to turn brown, you could watch as it slowly died out all the way to the right a few days later.  After the stem went, the flower would shrivel and eventually the squash would stop showing up.  If it wasn’t getting its life from the base, the result was death and lack of fruit.  

What do you think it means to “abide” in Jesus?

What are the fruits that the person connected to the vine will bear?

What does the designation of friend as opposed to servant mean to you in this passage?

How does this idea help us understand loving one another?

How does this become your prayer this week?

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