UIOF: Week Thirteen-Praying for Relationship

UIOF: Week Thirteen-Praying for Relationship

praying for relationship

H ow did Jesus “do evangelism”? Most Christians who consider evangelization think of it as “doing something” to someone else. It’s not something most people look forward to, but in reality, we are being evangelists every time we step outside our doors and into the everyday world.

Perhaps you’re not called to go to the foreign mission field (I was), but that doesn’t mean you don’t do the work of a missionary. Your mission field is your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers. We are all surrounded by the lost who are going into eternity completely unprepared.

Are you content to leave them there?

Rebecca Manley Pippert wrote in her book Out of the Saltshaker Into the World that “Christians and non-Christians have one thing in common: They hate evangelism.”

That’s really sad because evangelism is simply loving people enough to tell them who Jesus is. It doesn’t require you to beat someone over the head with a Bible or to push sinners away from your presence. Evangelism is meant for sinners.

Think about it. Who were you when someone introduced you to Christ? You were a sinner. But that person cared enough to share the Gospel and introduce you to the Son who died because you were a sinner.

Mark 2:14-15 says: “ As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.”

Jesus didn’t come to get more people into the Kingdom, His own personal club where the insiders were welcome but the rest were left out. He came to save people from the consequences of who they were. Or are, since He’s still doing it today.

When we look at the passage above in Mark, we see that Jesus loved everyone equally. He loved the sinners despite their sins and He ate with them in their homes. Religious Jews didn’t set foot inside the home of a sinner, lest they become defiled. But that’s not what Jesus did. He went where the people were hurting and loved them there.

What kind of Christianity do you show the lost in your own life? Do they see compassion for them? Or do they avoid you because your attitude says you are “holier than they”?

John 4:37-38 says: “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

When you meet someone new or talk to someone you’ve known for a long time, do you want to know their spiritual condition? If not, why not?

In the movies Schindler’s List, Schindler realizes at the end that he is wearing a ring that had he sold it could have provided money to save even one more. Of course, the movie doesn’t accurately portray Oskar Schindler and

I doubt that the scene depicting this is real. Nevertheless, the point is well made that we all have something that could save someone else.

That something is the love of God. When you share it, people get saved.

So have you prayed about it?

Have you asked God to show you people through His eyes? Have you asked that the love that Jesus shared be evident in your life? Spend some time this week asking God to lead you into deeper relationships with the lost so that you can share the most precious thing you have with them.

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Hebrew

Hebrew Word of the Week: Hebrew

Hebrew Word of the Week:

עִברִית

Did you ever wonder what the original language was? Many scholars believe it was Hebrew. I agree that it may have been so, and in this post, I’m going to tell you why.

But first, let’s look at the word Hebrew in Hebrew.

Hebrew is a language based on roots, shoresh in Hebrew. Most roots have three consonants (and no vowels) but a few have two or four. The root for Hebrew is “ayin-vet-resh” and it looks like this:

While roots themselves are not pronounceable as words, the consonants are pronounced. So the root is pronounced ayin-vet-resh. The word derived from that root is pronounced ee-vreet.

I woke up this morning wondering when Hebrew was first spoken, and though of course, we don’t have a written record of who first spoke Hebrew and when it was first spoken, there is good reason that the answer is Adam and in the garden. Here’s why.

We know that at the tower of Babel, all the languages were “confounded.”

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:9).”

Interestingly, the very next verse introduces the lineage of Shem. As you’ll no doubt remember, Shem was one of the descendants of Noah. It is from Shem’s name that we get the word Semitic. In Genesis 10, he is called “the father of all the people of Eber.” The word Eber is the root ayin-vet-resh with vowels added (the second letter, vet, is also pronounced bet, so it can make the sound “v” or “b”).

The Hebrew verb avar is the same word as eber, and it means pass, cross, traverse, undergo. It implies being nomadic, which the Hebrew people were from the time Abram left Ur until they settled in the Promised Land.

After the tower of Babel, Noah’s three sons went in different directions and established their own civilizations with their own languages. (Apparently, God didn’t even leave Noah’s family speaking the same language!)

But what language was spoken before the flood? What was the original language of humanity? What language did God speak to Adam?

Here’s why it might have been Hebrew.

Despite what you may have been taught in “history” books, language did not evolve from grunts and groans that early cavemen spoke. God spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden. The language of God was the language that Adam and Eve spoke with their Creator. Since one language was spoken by all the world until after the flood, it’s helpful to see what clues we can find in the Bible that would tell us what that language was.

One clue that might help us is looking at names. In Hebrew, every name has a meaning. If we consider the fact that all the names from Adam to Noah were Hebrew names, it follows that Hebrew was being spoken. Look at the following chart to see one of the names of Adam’s children and the meaning behind the name.

(Prophecy was fulfilled. Remember that Methuselah was named 969 years before the flood!)

It wasn’t until Noah’s grandchildren came along that the names were no longer Hebrew. For instance, Nimrod (spoken of in Genesis 11:18) is not a Hebrew name. That makes sense because he lived in ancient Sumer where Japheth’s descendants lived.

According to the roster of ancient names, Adam and his progeny spoke Hebrew!

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Week Twelve — The Caring Paradigm

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Week Twelve — The Caring Paradigm

The Caring Paradigm

The thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is known as “the love chapter.” It described what love is—and what it is not—in detail. If you wanted to reduce it to a simple paradigm, it would say something like “love cares more for others than itself.”  Paul recognized that without love, no matter how great his revelations were, he would be useless to himself and to others. Then he went out and lived that paradigm.

What do you struggle with from that list? I know for me, it’s “love is not easily provoked.” The words “easily provoked” come from terms that mean ‘to irritate, provoke, arouse to anger, despise, scorn, make angry, exasperate and burn with anger.” Yet today it seems that everything we think, do, or say has those precise effects on others. Just having an opinion is enough to spark violence from an “offended” party.

When I was in high school, there was a classmate that I loved running into, even though we were more acquaintances than friends. And that was because she always made me feel like I truly mattered. Her demeanor, her words, her kind actions made me want to be more like her.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 defines love: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

In the story of the Good Samaritan, the religious Jews–who should have been setting a good example–had more important things to do than stop and help a hapless stranger.

Yet the God of the universe didn’t have anything more important to do than die for our sins. And you know what? He would have done it if you had been the only person left in the world! Do you know why? Not because He has love for us, but because He is love.

He set the example. Are we following it?

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7-8).”

Jesus always put others’ needs before His own. And by setting us an example, He intended that we would love each other with a love so intense that outsiders would want to know about this great love that insiders had for each other.

So where do we get this kind of love? It can’t be manufactured. You can’t buy it. For this incredible kind of love, you have to go to the Source of love. Find time this week to invest in prayer. Ask God to make you an example of His great love so that others will be drawn to what you have.

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Pray

Hebrew Word of the Week: Pray

Word of the Week

Mefalel

Hebrew

This week, I want to take a look the verb meaning “pray” in Hebrew. It looks like this:

מְפַלֵּל

“Yih’yeh zeh mam’niy sheaniy tzariykh’ l’haf’siyk l’hit’palel bish’viyl’kha.”

“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.” 1 Samuel 12:23

I chose the verb to pray instead of the noun prayer because it is something we should be doing all the time.

It is interesting to note that God did not make prayer a mitzvah (commandment or good deed). Yet we somehow know deep in our hearts that we always ought to be praying to God. Praying is a part of who we are as we are made in God’s image. He communicates to us and by extension, we should be praying to God. God is a god of communication, and since we are in His image, we, too, are creatures of communication.

Although we see people praying at set times (like Daniel and David), yet God has not set a specific time or number of times during the day, to pray.

Were a person to know the time when, if they pray, they will be answered, they would leave off other times and pray only then. Accordingly, the Holy One said: For this reason I do not let you know when you will be answered, so that you will be willing to pray at all times, as is said, ‘Put your trust in God at all times’ (Psalms 62:9)” (Aggadah Bereshit 77).

Praying should be as automatic as breathing. It is a way of life, not mere moments in time. Pray without ceasing, says 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

“Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.” 1 Kings 13:6

Why did the people of other nations come to the Hebrews for prayer? Because they knew that the God of the Hebrews heard His children when they prayed. Their own gods were incapable of hearing, but they knew that the Hebrew God not only heard prayer, He answered it as well.

Making prayer as automatic as breathing requires devotion. It is an acknowledgment of the world as it truly is.

“For prayer is not the shutting of one’s eyes to reality. It is the glimmer, the intimation, the daring which leads to the transcending of reality” (Jakob Petuchowski)

It is a recognition that not are we small and limited in the universe, but that we also have the capacity for goodness and greatness. We seem insignificant but have the attention of Almighty God. We are not alone, nor are we helpless. God is just a breath away.

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness (Jeremiah 31:3).”

“If prayer is pure and untainted, surely that holy breath that rises from your lips will join with the breath of heaven that is always flow­ing into you from above.”

(From the Hasidic work Keter Shem Tov, as adapted in Your Word Is Fire, by Arthur Green and Barry Holtz)

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Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Week 11: Give It All Away

Upward, Inward, Outward, Forward: Week 11: Give It All Away

Give It All Away!

Have you heard that old adage about love? If you love something, let it go. If it returns to you, it is yours forever. If it doesn’t return to you, it was never really yours in the first place.

This week we’re going to look at what it means to “give it all away” in your small group.

Our small groups should be modeled after Jesus’ discipleship pattern. First He called them. And they came. They surrounded this person and had a thirst for the water He would give them.

Small group leaders are like that. They put out the call and those the Lord chooses for this time and place come. They are hungry and thirsty for the Word of life. They want to belong and to grow. That’s what small groups are for.

1 Corinthians 9:19 and 22 tells us: “For though I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to everyone, so that I may win more [for Christ]….I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means [in any and every way] save some [by leading them to faith in Jesus Christ].”

Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, this poor widow put in [proportionally] more than all the contributors to the treasury. For they all contributed from their surplus, but she, from her poverty, put in all she had, all she had to live on (Mark 12:43-44 AMP).”

After Jesus made these few His disciples, He demonstrated how to minister as they followed Him around, learning by watching the Master. He taught them by showing them truth.

People in small groups learn how to lead by watching their small group leader, too. When she shows them love, they learn to love each other. When she shows them how to share, they learn to let go of their inhibitions.

Just as Jesus became an object lesson for His disciples to learn from, so will small group leaders provide tangible lessons for her group members.

Jesus explained to His disciples what He was doing, preparing them to be ready to do the same things. Then, He allowed these men who had become close friends to minister alongside Him, refining them as they began to minister under His watchful eyes.

Later on, He sent them out two by two, still supervising their ministry yet letting them move out and away from His immediate presence.

Finally, Jesus gave them the responsibility for ministering to and changing the entire world.

“Then He left the crowds and went into the house And His disciples came to Him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field’ (Matthew 13:36 NIV).”

As the disciples learned, they began to put into practice what He told them. However, they always could check back with Him to be sure they understood.

Small group leaders do this, too. They allow their group members more freedom to minister on their own, always willing to be a resource for them.

When the time was right, Jesus sent the twelve out into the world with the power to minister as He had done. It was time to change the world, but first Jesus had to let His disciples go.

At some point, small groups need to grow up into leaders to go out and minister. They will have the power of Christ to go with them, and the Holy Spirit will bring to their remembrance everything He has spoken to them.

It’s time to give it all away.

“Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority and power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness (Matthew 10:1 AMP).”

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).”

You’ve worked hard to develop community in your small group. So how do you maintain that community? Against all worldly wisdom, you do what Jesus did: give it all away. The members of your small group have been equipped, and it is just about time to send them out. And in the power of the Holy Spirit, you know what they will do?

 

They will change the world.

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