Joining Jesus week 7, November 17-22

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MONDAY, November 17

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. John 2:1-2

Do you know your neighbors?  Do you know all your neighbors?  We are blessed to live in an area of the country where knowing your neighbors is pretty common.  Then again, do you know your neighbors, or do you just know who they are?  During this last week of focusing on Joining Jesus on His Mission, we’re going to look at the practical side of missional living.  First of all, how do we start?  Well, the houses nearby offer a pretty logical starting point.  30% of Americans don’t know their neighbors – and not knowing them is considered normal!  When the author of our study book, Greg Finke, moved with his family to Houston, they knew not knowing their neighbors would not be an option for their family.  Why? “Because we knew we were called to be neighborhood missionaries… in the end, we believed it was the Lord who had determined the exact place where we would now live.  And for what purpose had he chosen this exact place?  His purpose, of course: to redeem and restore all people, including the people in our new neighborhood.  Believe it or not, God put you in your current neighborhood for the same purpose.  You may have arrived in your neighborhood a few days ago or a few decades ago.  Either way, it is not too late to join what Jesus is up to in your neighborhood starting today.”  So how can you start?  How about having a party?  Food and some fun are a great way to get to know people casually and comfortably!  We’ll explore this idea a bit more this week.

Jesus, I confess it’s often easier to ignore the people in the houses close to me than it is to get to know them.  Help my family make an effort to truly get to know the people in our neighborhood, and seek out what You are doing in their lives!

 

TUESDAY, November 18

The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”“Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” Luke 10:27-28

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?  Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?”

~ Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

A party may not sound like “mission work,” but really can be!  It creates a “neighboring environment,” as you give your neighbors an opportunity to meet and enjoy each other.  “Neighboring” is “creating (or taking advantage of existing) opportunities which foster community and friendship between the ‘neighbors’ where we live, work, play or go to school.”  As you get to know your neighbors, we start to enjoy them more, friendships form, and ‘missional’ things start to happen because we trust each other.  Here’s a simple neighboring formula that shows how friendship emerges:

Unhurried Time + Proximity + Activity (usually with food) = Conversation.  Conversation Over Time = Friendship.

Maybe you’re wondering what “unhurried time” means, especially when our schedules are so full!  It doesn’t mean setting aside hours and hours with nothing to do.  It is a “mindset and attitude we have when we are with people in a neighboring opportunity.  We might only be able to be with a person 10 minutes, but it still can be unhurried time.  Remember, hanging out was Jesus’ inefficiently effective method for mission.”  Unhurried time means we focus on the person we are with, setting aside all the other things swirling around in your mind.  “With that attitude and mindset even brief encounters can be deeply redemptive.”

Ask God to help you make a plan for “neighboring” in your neighborhood, workplace, or wherever He has placed you.

 

WEDNESDAY, November 19

Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ If those who live there are peaceful, the blessing will stand; if they are not, the blessing will return to you. Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.  Luke 10:5-7

The neighboring mindset will eventually allow us to begin answering our “key missional questions about the people God has put around us: 1. Who are these people?  2. What is Jesus already up to in their lives?  3. How can I join him?  Over time, as we enjoy getting to know our neighbors, we will find out who is far from God, who is ready for God, who are the churchgoers not interested in mission, and who are the like-minded Jesus-followers who are ready.” As you start doing this in your “neighborhood,” today’s reading outlines a simple way to discern who Jesus may have already prepared for you to meet.  That instruction is for us, too – we can look for the “person of peace.”  “Who is the person who seems to be open to your good will and peace?  Who seems to be open to talking with you?  This may be the person of peace Jesus has been preparing to interact with you.  As you think about the people in your various ‘neighborhoods’ who may be your person of peace?  Who, if you created the opportunity, might be open to becoming better friends?  Take some time to pray about this and write down the names that come to you.”  Once the fabric of friendship is woven between you and another person, you never know what Jesus might do.

Jesus, as I meet my “neighbors,” help me discern who is open to talking with me and who is not, who knows you and who does not.

 

 

THURSDAY, November 20

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.
The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”
Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

We know the story of the Good Samaritan well.  The question to ask after hearing that story told is this: What will my story be – which of the 3 will I be like?  In Christ, we all would desire to be like the Good Samaritan, who took the time and energy needed to truly be a neighbor to a stranger in need.  So what will your story be?  “As you look out over the mission field of your own neighborhood, what is a simple, fun way for you to start neighboring?  Maybe having a party is not for you.  That’s okay.  The goal is not have a party… it is creating opportunities for getting to know and starting to enjoy the neighbors God has put with you.”  Here are some other examples of neighboring; which one might work for your family? Some are planned, others are spontaneous:

-       Have a cook out or ice cream party or a fire in the fire pit and invite your neighbors
-       At work, look for someone who is regularly overlooked and underestimated. Invite them to lunch with you and one or two other employees.
-       Invite neighbors to a happy hour in your driveway.
-       Invite neighbors or co-workers over to watch the big game.
-       Throw a Christmas party for the neighborhood
-       Invite neighbors to exercise with you
-       Be quick to offer assistance to neighbors who need a hand with a project
-       Walk your dog when you see others are out walking theirs.  There are few easier ways to meet people.
-       Bring morning treats to work. See what happens.
-       Strike up a conversation with other parents at your kids’ ball games.

There are lots of ways of neighboring.  And after you “neighbor,” then pray for them!

 

FRIDAY, November 21

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

We can all use a little encouragement from friends, and joining Jesus on His mission is no exception.  Imagine a group of missionaries who gather to share with each other what they are learning, who can get support, insight and positive accountability as they meet together. Imagine how encouraged they would be, how inspired to keep going, and how much better equipped they’d be for going back to their corner of the world and continuing their mission-living.  The mission isn’t fulfilled while they gather; it’s fulfilled as they go out to their world.  “However, they also know that without meeting regularly with the other missionaries, they could easily wear out and give up.  So in that way, the gathering of missionaries is absolutely critical to the success of the mission.”  Now imagine how encouraged and supported you would feel after regular gatherings with like-minded, local missionaries.  It’s a “missional community: a smaller group of people who gather regularly in order to support each other as they learn to seek, recognize and respond to what Jesus is doing around them every day as he carries out his redemptive mission.”  It’s not a replacement for Sunday morning worship; it’s a place of support, insight and accountability for those committed to missional living.  As our congregation moves forward in Joining Jesus on His Mission, you may want to seek out other members who have the same missional mind as you to meet with and pray with.  We are not supposed to go on this journey alone!

Jesus, help me see who around me is ready to live missionally, and how we can encourage and support one another.

 

SATURDAY, November 22

May your Kingdom come soon.May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

We started this journey several weeks ago.  Perhaps then, the idea of “Joining Jesus on His Mission” and becoming an everyday missionary sounded completely out of your reach.  But it’s not, because being an everyday missionary starts with Jesus.  Remember, it’s His mission.  It’s his kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is at work everywhere around us. The Kingdom of God is “the redemptive presence and activity of God in human lives.”  The Kingdom is at work because Jesus is alive NOW.  The Kingdom of God was ushered in at Jesus’ birth and made certain in His resurrection.  This isn’t our job; it’s His. But he’s asked us to join Him, because we are the physical presence of the invisible Jesus.  We are His literal body on earth.  “We are Jesus with skin on.”  So go, be a missionary in your neighborhood, your work place, your school, on the field and in the gym.  Remember the 5 practices of Missional Living: 1) Seek the Kingdom.  It’s at work around you.  Will you see it?  2) Hear from Jesus.  What has Jesus been teaching you in His Word?  3) Talk with people.  Enjoy being with them.  Have unhurried conversations.  4) Do good – for the stranger you happen by, the regular friend who doesn’t know Jesus and for that person whom you don’t really like but know you’ve been called to truly love.  5) Minister through prayer.  Bring people to the throne room of the King of the kingdom.  Is there any better place you can take someone?  I think not.

We can join Jesus on His mission.  Just remember – it’s His mission.  Seek, recognize and respond to what He is already doing in the lives of people around you.  And thank God for the grace He extends to every single one of us.

 

 

All quotations taken from Joining Jesus on His Mission, chapters 17-19.

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