Week Three: September 24-30
“Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” (1 Corinthians 12:31)
I began this journey sharing a small excerpt from the story God has been writing on my life. I shared how 20 years ago, Sandi and I took some intentional steps to learn, listen, and live —pursuing God’s purposes for our lives. In that process, both of us discovered that many of the things we were doing were only God’s “provisional” work for greater gifts. We weren’t necessarily on the wrong path; we just didn’t have enough altitude to see a greater vision.
Sandi has many gifts in the arts. For 16 years, she even worked as a music teacher. Yet throughout our journey, she learned that God’s higher calling was to teach people to pray for the greater gifts. In our years together, she prayed constantly for me and for our daughters. And she has prayed tirelessly for the Kingdom of God, often for ministries she’d never touched or seen. She has convinced my impulsive personality never to charge into something without asking the Lord to build it (Psalm 127:1). And she’s challenged me to pray even more boldly about Jesus’ Kingdom work because He promises believers “even greater things” (John 14:12).
Her mission is to pray for the Kingdom of God, to pray in earnest for those on the front lines of advancing the Kingdom of God, and to raise up leaders who will teach others to pray for the Kingdom of God. And she will be first to humbly share that she’s far from “becoming” God’s vision for her life.
Search the Scriptures on our calling and God’s spiritual gifts and you’ll land on the word, “love.” What we were “becoming” is not merely successful people or effective disciples. Nor were we merely growing bigger churches. We earnestly desired the greater gifts. And the greatest of all is to become like Jesus, the embodiment of love. That’s what it means to become a disciple!
So the road we share, following Jesus, always leads to the greatest gift. It’s the one that unites all the personalities, experiences, gifts, skills, and passions into the final chapter with Jesus. In this last week of our journey, we’ll look more closely at the passions—your loves—that are reflections of Jesus. Passion is a powerful emotion; it will lead us down troubled roads if we don’t stay connected to Jesus. But if we stay connected to Jesus, we will produce greater things (John 15:5).
As this study concludes, I pray your journey has only begun. The story isn’t completely written, but I challenge you to write a few sentences reflecting on what God is saying at this point in your life. It was the best thing I’ve ever done, 20 years ago, when I took that step. And each time I revisit my story, I see greater things and the greatest gift of all. It is why we Belong. Believe. Become.
Sunday, September 24
Read: 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13
Reflect: On the road to love, “the greatest gift,” what are some of the “greater things” the Spirit has been showing you and that have been touching your heart that you hadn’t noticed before? How will you intentionally, earnestly desire the greater things in your future?
For the Family: As a family, work to find five things love is not, and what love is, from this Bible passage. Write a prayer together telling Jesus that what you want most for your family are those five things.
Discover Your Passions
Over the next three days, we’re going to reflect on Scripture and the passions—those interests where we have a deep love to pursue and which God has given us. The list is far from complete, but it is drawn from passions where we find a lot of common ground and ministry at Webster Gardens. We will look at them in three groupings: Passions around Stages in Life; Passions for Causes and Special Needs; Passions for Activities and Hobbies. If you are doing this as a family, ask your children to identify some of the people and activities they remember, the people they love, and the things that excite them about helping in the world. After you have completed the three days of examining your passions, add the ones you discovered to the summary page at the end of this booklet.
Monday, September 25
Read: John 15:1-5
Reflect: How have/might changes in your life stage impacted your passions? What ages of people do you have the greatest joy in serving? How have your passions driven you closer to or further away from Jesus? What is the purpose of pruning?
Passions around Stages in Life: Mark those items or age groups you love engaging most.
___Working with Infants ___ Working with Children
___Working with High School Youth ___ Working with Singles
___Working with Young Adults ___ Working with Young Married
___Working with Parents/Families ___ Working with Adults
___Working with Seniors
Tuesday, September 26
Read: John 15:6-8
Reflect: How is Jesus influencing and growing your love for what He earnestly desires? Which activities excite you and fill you with a love for people like Jesus?
Passions around Activities and Hobbies: Mark those items you would get excited over if Jesus was calling you to follow Him in this way?
___Serving in the Community ___ Reaching People for Jesus
___Welcoming New Guests to Church ___ Worship
___Serving with Missions ___ Properties Care/Maintenance
___Education/Faith Development ___ Activity: Prayer
___Activity: Mentoring ___ Activity: Recreation
Wednesday, September 27
Read: John 15:9-17
Reflect: What does it mean to remain in His love? What are the implications for those who “live on the margins” and feel unloved? What would it look like for your joy to be “made complete?”
Passions for Causes and Special Needs: Mark those areas of service where Jesus speaks strongly to your heart or love for people.
___Serving the Disabled ___ Serving the Homeless/Food Banks
___Serving in Health Care/Serious Illness
___Engaging Diversity/Other Cultures ___ Disaster Response
___Crisis Pregnancy Support ___ Adoption/Foster Care
___College Students/Campus Ministries
Write My Story
In the last days of this journey, review all your summary sheets at the back of the book and the insights you’ve learned and taken to heart from the Scriptures. As you look at the big picture, pray and ask God to give you a few words to summarize what you hear of His earnest desires and plans for your future. You will pray and review this for three consecutive days. After the third day, add your statement to the summary page at the end of this booklet.
Thursday, September 28
Read: Proverbs 16:1-9
Reflect: How does this set of proverbs speak to planning goals and dreams for your future? What have you learned of God’s plans for your next steps?
My Story First Draft: Review, pray, and write 3-5 sentences of what you have learned about yourself through this process. Where are you in the process of Belong. Believe. Become.? What is something provoked by these conversations that you will pray about in the future?
Friday, September 29
Read: Philippians 3:7-14
Reflect: What sacrifices may Jesus be asking you to make as you get to know Him better and follow His plan for your life? How does this impact your story?
My Story Second Draft: Review, pray and write one more update to the draft story you wrote yesterday.
Saturday, September 30
Read: Ephesians 3:14-21
Reflect: How does this blessing and prayer speak to your journey through this experience? How will you make this prayer your own as you continue growing in the grace of Jesus and with the community of His Church where you most certainly… Belong. Believe. Become.?
Small Group Conversations
Week Three: We Become
1. Share an experience of serving that really touched your heart and connected with your passions?
2. Read: John 15:1-8
a. How does a person who “Belongs” to Jesus remain connected to Him?
b. What are some of the “fruits” you have seen come out of your connection to Jesus? Where are you still waiting for fruit? How does that make you feel?
c. What does it mean for a Christian to experience pruning? Recall a time you “felt” pruning. What was it like; how did it impact your life and God’s purposes for you?
3. Take a quick tour of the major chapters of the New Testament on growing into maturity with our gifts (Romans 12:3-13; 1 Corinthians 12-13; Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Peter 4:7-11). While they do not all describe the same gifts, they all land on love. Discuss the significance of love as a disciple “Becomes” more like Jesus.
4. Review the passions listed on pages 24 and 25.
a. What passions in these lists align with your own? What passions would you add?
b. What opportunities do you have to engage them?
c. Passions represent a strong drive; what cautions are important to consider when it comes to your passions?
d. In the church, is it necessary/desirable for all to share the same passions? Why or why not? How does this impact our thinking when it comes to gathering people around a common cause?
5. From Thursday’s exercise, Review, Pray and Write 3-5 sentences of what you have learned about yourself through this process: Where are you in the process of Belong. Believe. Become.? What is something provoked by these conversations that you will pray about in the future?
6. Belong. Believe. Become. is not the end of a journey, but the process of growing as mature disciples. How will your group continue to support one another in praying, reviewing, and engaging next steps in your individual stories?
7. Group Vision: With all the unique gifts in your group, how is the Spirit arranging us to become more impactful in the Kingdom of God?
Belong. Believe. Become.
Record on these pages the summary of the work you have done throughout this journey. When this has been completed, add your notes to the “My Fit” and “My Story” tabs of your profile at https://webstergardens.ccbchurch.com. Please note that some areas to enter data have long lists within their boxes. You will need to use the scroll bars to see the entire list.