Thoughts: All. In this scripture, it really jumps off the page at me. My life, after 23 years, feels pretty long to me. I don't remember much before I was 7, but still, I feel like I have been around for a while. I'm sure it's the same with you. But no matter what your age is, even if it's close to triple digits, our lives are just a little speckle, or even less, in terms of all Jesus has seen and done. From creation, to flesh and His Resurrection to sit at the right hand of God, we can't even imagine what His "all" is. It overwhelms me, but also brings me a whole lot of peace to know that with all He has done and will do, my ALL is important to Him. The things that absolutely consume my life for a moment, a day, a week, a month, a year, or even the majority of my life. He cares and is involved and EVERY one. And it's the same for each of us. Whatever it is! Whether you feel like He doesn't have a hand in what's going on in your life, you feel distant, you aren't sure where you are being called, or He just isn't seeing you, know that He does. Your all is a part of His all.
Discussion: How do you feel about Jesus being there from creation and still caring about your all? Does it overwhelm you? Comfort you? Somewhere in between? How are you at talking to God about all that is going on in your life? How could you improve?
Activity: Make an effort this week to talk to God about all things. Whether you are embarrassed of it, think it's too small for him, feel uncomfortable talking about it, etc. Jesus already knows it all, but He wants to hear it too! Spend quality time with him and fill him in on it all. Big or small.
Thoughts: We all go through fearful and unsettling times. Sometimes, those moments occur when we’re worried about our families or friends; at other times, we may be concerned about our careers or work projects; there may also be times when our health declines or something accidental occurs in our lives. Whatever the circumstances, we feel frail and vulnerable, unprotected and absolutely human. When we are fearful, it helps us to understand that God is always faithful. His words and promises from the past become relevant and meaningful to us, especially when we read them in times of trouble or crisis. God’s Spirit reaches to us from the pages of scripture and across the centuries to let us know that He is with us, standing beside us, or even carrying us through painful moments and worrying times. Grace and love are the great gifts He gives to us; compassion and comfort are blessings that will sustain us, enabling us to endure and overcome whatever life may throw our way. Isaiah 12 is a promise that can help us get through our present difficulties and personal problems. As Christians, we receive these words through the blessings of our Savior, who forgives our sins and guides us through life. And it truly is everlasting. Whether you are young or old. A new believer or have been your entire life. His promise will always endure!! Our faith is focused entirely on Him, because in Him we have everything that we will ever need in this life and the next.
Discussion: What presently troubles or worries me? How can God’s promise through Isaiah help me?
Activity: Take the power away from whatever your worries or troubles are by giving them to God. Lean into Him and on Him. Draw near to Him. Use Him as your strength and your stronghold because whatever it is that you are facing today, He is bigger than all of it.
Thoughts: This story is familiar to many of us; Zacchaeus, the tax collector who was so interested in getting his eye on the Miracle Worker, that he climbed a tree to watch him from above., Zacchaeus HID in this tree. He didn't just go for a better view. He wanted to be out of sight. He was lurking in the shadows, behind the large, bushy leaves of the sycamore tree. Although he was interested in this Man named Jesus, but clearly, he still wanted to remain unseen and unnoticed.
However, the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost that day, as he does for us each and every day. He looks for those who are hiding in the shadows, those who may be wealthy on the outside but are poor in spirit on the inside. Those who others don't reach out to, or those who people do connect with but they still feel lonely. Jesus saw straight through the tree, called out to His lost son, and loved him anyway.
It didn’t take long with Jesus before Zacchaeus knew what he had to do. Salvation came to Zacchaeus that day—not because he gave up his possessions, but because he no longer served them. His heart belonged to Jesus and that was enough to change his entire life in an INSTANT. His sole devotion was given to Christ that day, and everything he did was out of the desire to serve and please Him alone.
Discussion: What may be something you’ve kept in the shadows, hoping to keep it hidden from Jesus? How can you change that habit? Do you know that Jesus is already with you in the dark place, trying to shine His light through it? How can you help friends and family who may be in the Sycamore tree? What can you do to show them the love of Jesus?
Activity: Pray with me: “Jesus, I ask you to see me. I know you always do. But today I pray that even in my dark times when I am lurking in the shadows and I'm in the sycamore tree, thinking that whatever I have done is too embarrasing, too wrong, too much, too dark for You. Help me to hear you calling my name, loving me, speaking to me that I am always your child. That what I do is never can never make me too far gone for you. You already know what I am struggling with and what is in those dark places of my heart. So today, soften my heart, take a hold of my heart, grant me a pure heart—that I may devote today and every day to you, even when it is hard. In Your name we pray."
Thoughts: These instructions that Christ laid out for us are the ones that allow for us to truly reflect Christ and furthermore to stand out in a world that does not honor or love the word of God. These things do not come naturally for us and it is easy to give into our natural instincts then it is to obey and follow after God.The key to living out these things is not so much that we just follow a set of “rules” and think that we are doing okay. It is allowing for our hearts to truly be shaped and transformed by Jesus and we should naturally want to live out these things.It's the difference between, I'm acting this way because Jesus says I have to and I'm acting this way because the deep desires of my heart are to be as much like Jesus as possible.We are called to act this way because our life on earth is temporary and we should lead a godly example and be shining light to those who have not yet been exposed to the Gospel. If our mouths are claiming to be followers of Christ, then our hearts and our actions should be a major reflection of Christ living in us.These things do not come easy but they are worth pursuing. Choose to ask for Christ’s strength to live out His example of what it means to live peaceably, love genuinely, and be a shinning light to the world around us.
Discussion: Which of the commands in verses 27-31 come easiest to you? Which are most difficult? Why are these things so hard for us to do? What are ways we can combat them and work to change not only are actions, but our hearts?
Activity: Pick an enemy, someone who has cursed you, mistreated you or hates you and pray for them. Not just once to fulfill the task, but intentionally and passionately pray for them this week.
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