Grow Deep: What's in Your Hand Edition, Week 3
Week 3: November 19-25
“You are God's masterpiece, created with faith to do what He has designed for you.” - Ephesians 2:10
What if God put us in charge of growing His Kingdom? Well, guess what? He has!
God blessed me to work with Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ. Lutheran high school kids from rural churches met at a neighboring congregation to help them share Jesus in their community. We knocked on doors, got contact information, and asked people, “If you died tonight and God asked, 'Why should I let you into Heaven,' how would you answer?” Most replies began with “I”. (I am a member of __ church. I try to follow the golden rule. I am not a bad person.) Then we shared the Good News: “Your answer says we are a lot alike, with the same problem. We are all sinners and need God to forgive and rescue us. Sin separates us from God. But He sent His Son to save us. Jesus died for all our sins, rose from the dead, and now lives to walk with us in this life and to bring us finally into eternal life with Him.”
We faithfully added God's promise to (Jerry): “God loved Jerry so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die for Jerry, so that as Jerry believes in Jesus as his Savior from sin, Jerry will not be condemned but will have eternal life.”
All these young people had to offer was what God placed in their hands His Word of forgiveness through faith in Jesus. Perhaps they didn't have many “talents,” but they did have simple faith in Jesus and in the power of His promise. That’s all they needed.
Our study this week puts us in the driver's seat. God has put His gifts into our hands--skills and abilities, time and interests, people and relationships, even monetary treasures. He designed us and calls us to use these gifts in full trusting faith. As His masterpiece, God empowers us to invest in His Kingdom, using our gifts to encourage others in faith. Every gift invested from our hands will gain much return of joy in this life and forever in Jesus' Kingdom.
Sunday, November 19
Read: Matthew 25:14-30
Jesus continues to teach about the Kingdom of Heaven. On earth, the kingdom has a beginning and an end. The master invests his own treasure, placing it into the hands of his servants to manage his estate. He goes away for a long time and then returns for an accounting. He rewards two servants with a hearty “well done” and promotions into His kingdom. But the third servant, he casts out. He called him wicked and lazy for being afraid to take a risk. From the time of their master’s departure to his return, the servants had the master’s purpose and goals in their hands. Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is like this.” Jesus has put powerful gifts into each of our hands to do His business until He returns.
Reflect: What's the difference between the third servant and the others? What in his attitude toward the master might show the real problem? Do you think that faith might be the “coin” of the kingdom? Think about digging up some talent you have kept buried to use for Jesus.
For the Family: God’s blessings should be used wisely and generously. What does Jesus tell us about helping others and being generous? What blessings can we share? Should we ever refuse to help anyone because of how they look or because of the things they have or don’t have?
Monday, November 20
Read: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Paul gets excited about a church that is collecting money to help support another, poorer church. He encourages them to sow lots of seeds. Sow more; reap more, and enjoy! You can count on God to take care of your needs while you care for others. One happy result will be a lot of people giving thanks to God for His generosity. God's seeds of faith in hand, we trusting servants sow fearlessly, and generously!
Reflect: Sowing is about faith, about trusting God to provide when you invest in others. What kind of seeds has God put into your hand? How can you sow more into His Kingdom? Can you plant your story into someone's life? “I believe God is real. Jesus died for my sins. God's Word is helpful for my walk through life. And it promises life after death.” Plant a seed this week.
For the Family: God encourages us and expects us to be generous. How does God want us to share our blessings? How does sharing help others in their faith and in the praise of God?
Tuesday, November 21
Read: Colossians 4:2-6
Paul instructs people to invest in God's Kingdom by praying. Pray for the church worker that there will be a good harvest, as people come to faith in Jesus. First talk to Jesus about others, then talk to others about Jesus! Live wisely before others so they will listen to you. And shape your conversation to each individual, so they really hear about Jesus. Invest your prayer, God's tool in your hand, and trust Him to grow His Kingdom. Jesus promised, “I will build my church.”
Reflect: What's in your hand to invest if you don't preach or sing or perhaps can't leave your home? God put this gift in every believer's hands. Just fold them. What kind of prayer does the Lord want to answer? He says, whatever you ask “in My name,” which means “for His Kingdom.” Do you usually pray for your own needs and not much more? Imagine praying all around the world, investing your prayers in the whole Kingdom? Be bold; pray big!
For the Family: Prayer is powerful! When should we pray, and for whom should we pray? Is it important to pray for strangers and share Jesus with them? Why or why not?
Wednesday, November 22
Read: Matthew 6:19-21
Store up treasures - in heaven, not on earth. Earthly treasure will not last; heavenly treasure is forever. Your heart will long for that treasure, whether earthly or eternal.
Reflect: Do you wake up each morning and think, “Hey, another day to store up treasure in heaven!”? Not exactly the first priority? Ask God to change your heart, changing your priorities. Do you invest too much in some earthly treasure? Think how that heart connection can be invested in some heavenly treasure. How's your bank balance? Where is it deposited? With God's gifts in hand, invest them for treasures eternal, not just the temporary.
For the Family: The things we have here, in this life, are not as important as the treasures of heaven. What kind of treasures might we store up in heaven? Do these things really come from us? Thank God for His treasures.
Thursday, November 23
Read: Matthew 6:23-34
If you live your life serving money, you won't be able to serve God also. You must love one much more than the other. Jesus gives a practical example for not worrying. The Father loves you far more than creatures such as birds and flowers. But they don't have to worry about anything. Don't spend today worrying about tomorrow's food and clothing. Life is more than meeting physical needs. Life is about Jesus and trusting Him for every need, temporary and eternal.
Reflect: Worry in our minds means we're not trusting God with our future. Think about how God has cared for you in the past. Think about something that has caused you worry. Trust God to provide as you give that worry to Him and move on in faith.
For the Family: Today is our national celebration of Thanksgiving. Does our trust in God grow as a result of our giving Him thanks? Why or why not? How can we be thankful and glad for the things we have and still serve only God? How does worrying about things hurt our faith?
Friday, November 24
Read: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Jesus had set Paul completely free from human traditions that would bind him. But then, Paul enslaved himself to others for one purpose: that some might be saved. He kept himself under discipline, not that it would please God, but that he could run the race of life better, for the Gospel's sake.
Reflect: Think about the people who might not listen to the Gospel from you. Jesus has handed each of us grace to invest in people and to win souls! Can you imagine a way to overcome differences and make yourself more available to those people?
For the Family: Investing in people to win them and bring them to Jesus means meeting them right where they are. Is it worth it to work hard to bring a lot of people to Jesus if only a few of them actually come? How is a trophy we might win in a race or game different from the prize of bringing someone to Christ?
Saturday, November 25
Read: Ephesians 2:8-10
God saved us as a free gift. He gave us faith in Jesus. He also planned good deeds for us to accomplish in His Kingdom. We are God's workmanship, His masterpiece!
Reflect: The Kingdom is about faith in Jesus, which God has placed into our hands. How can faith empower you to take a risk? Has faith in Jesus helped you do a good deed for His Kingdom? How about considering a repeat? Salvation through faith is God's gift. Ask God how He would have you share your faith with someone today?
For the Family: We are saved by God’s grace. How does God’s grace set us free? If we do lots of good things in our lives, does it mean it will be easier to get into heaven? Why or why not?