KICKSTART DEVOTIONAL

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On every Mission Discovery mission trip, we begin the morning together in God's word. One speaker is chosen to give the word of the day so that everyone else can meditate on the Scripture. Our hope is that volunteers engage in group discussions throughout the day and in their small groups.

Since the way ministry is being done has shifted, our goal is to serve by creating resources that will help others focus on God throughout the day, and influence family and small group discussion.

Join us every weekday as we explore God's word together. We will have speakers from all over the US and the world. Here is today's Kickstart Devotional.

 

Video: Jeremy Scarbrough //  Devote Yourself to Fellowship

 

 

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Devote yourself to fellowship

 

Devote Yourself to Fellowship

Mission Discovery Mission Trips with Jeremy Scarbrough

 

Jeremy Scarbrough is an instructor of philosophy at his local state college in Tampa Florida.  He is a friend to Mission Discovery and has been on a mission trip to Mississippi with Mission Discovery

 

Hi this is Jeremy Scarbrough, coming to you from Tampa, Florida where I serve as instructor of philosophy at a local state college. I'm connected to Mission Discovery through Stephanie Cook, the administrative director and I served in Clarksdale, Mississippi back in 2013. 

You know the Mission Discovery motto is "To Love is to Serve". Today I want to press into the question of what it means to serve. As Christians we live between two kingdoms.  We are citizens of the world, yet foreign ambassadors to a heavenly kingdom.  The heavenly kingdom, the kingdom ever after, is a reflection of the nature of the King. So who is the king? Truth and goodness. What is the kingdom? Beauty, justice and community.  As Kingdom ambassadors we are called to model heaven on earth and we see this model powerfully in the second chapter of Acts verses forty-two through forty-seven.

"They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship.  All the believers were gathered together and had everything in common. They gave according to their ability and community need. They worshiped together, enjoyed one another's company and praised God doing so." 

Note the many faces of service here. Now I'm going to work backwards in this passage because I really want to stress the author's first point.

First, they praised God. Recall Jesus his own words, "the second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself." This is related to the first and grows out of the first, "The greatest command is to serve God, to love God."  Our service and ability to love horizontally is affected by our service and ability to grow in love vertically.  Second, they enjoyed one another's company.

Many people are just lonely and hurting out there. Since the greatest thing that we can give is time, since we never get that back. Just spending time with someone, eating, playing games, talking, fellowship, is one of the most potent forms of service. In case you've never thought about it this is why mission trips often include just as much worship and fun time, as they include work.  Because you're not just serving the beneficiaries of your work.

For example, when you paint someone's house, or repair someone's fence, you are also serving one another in the mission group.  You're serving yourself as well, as you fellowship with one another, even fellowshipping through work. Seeing your fellowship is also a service in and of itself, to those who directly benefit from your work.

The people whose house you painted, or whose fence you rebuilt. They will remember the beauty of your community and appreciate the time that you shared with them, more than they would simply admire your work in the years to come. Third, in so far as they had means and ability, they shared, so that they had all things in common. Some people are blessed with money, others are blessed with muscle.

Still others have time, that some of us don't have. Talents, creativity. Some of us are blessed with an ability to envision big picture perspectives. Others are blessed with an insane amount of detail oriented attentiveness. Some people are gifted with organization and administration skills and the list goes on.

I see a common mistake in some Christian ministries of trying to fit God's beautiful plethora of complex individuals into a pre fashioned formula.  Both for Evangelism and for mission work. But God has equipped you uniquely.  Seek to understand your strengths and your own unique community needs 

and there you will find a unique mission and your unique mission field.  Finally they devoted themselves, in fellowship, to the apostles' teaching.  They understood the significance of truth and spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare is not depicted biblically as "US battling Satan" over our desires, or the old cartoon idea of the angel and devil each on a different shoulder, pulling us in one way or the other.

We have that war naturally within us. But remember that, Satan is called the Father of Lies.  Spiritual warfare is a battle over truth. Truth as it relates to God.  Truth as it relates to shame and guilt. Truth as it relates to hope.  Truth as it relates to the nature of our desires, both good and bad. And truth as it relates to our identity and responsibilities and ethics.

Just think of all the confusion out there these days concerning identity and the nature of our bodies. Spiritual warfare is a war over truth. A war of ideas. So the final point one that is often overlooked, is this. We serve others by preparing our own minds. We prepare our hearts for worship, but we prepare our minds for ministry.  And the heart of our understanding, will minister for us through the work that we do.

Some of the most confusing terms out there are God and faith and sin and salvation.  And too often, Christians evangelize by beginning with sin and salvation, when others do not necessarily understand what these things mean.  And the gospel is not good news, if one does not first understand that there is bad news. Understanding the bad news requires healthy understanding of who God is who we are meant to be.

Then we can better understand our sickness and the solution.  Through understanding, comes faith and through our faith shines the grace that reaches and touches the lives around us. Yet, far too often Faith is a poorly understood term, even by the believer. And so it is no surprise that it comes across to the unbeliever as merely wishful thinking or worse pretending to know something you don't.

Karl Marx famously said that religion is just the opiate of the people. On this view faith is like a drug. People take drugs to numb pain and feel better for the moment. This would mean that faith is just something we claim to make ourselves feel better about the things we cannot change. But this is not the picture we get from Paul and First Corinthians 15 when he says: If Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is futile and we are deceivers to be pitied 

above all."   Now, if read carefully you begin to pick up on the fact that there are appeals to evidence throughout the scriptures.  Through Moses, God gave both Egypt and Israel sign after sign testifying to the living God among Israel.  Jesus performed miracles as affirmation of his proclamation. The greatest of course being the resurrection.

Peter, Paul the author of Hebrews and others continually appealed to evidence.   Faith, properly understood is a conviction, concerning what is true about reality. This is called a worldview and everyone's got one. If everyone has a conviction about reality, which includes a conviction about the truthfulness or falseness of religious teachings, then despite the popular atheistic appeal or opinion everyone actually has a religious view.

And confident in their own understanding as they are, confident in their own view, they demonstrate, everyone demonstrates, that faith to which they hold by living in light of their convictions. Every time we act in light of our worldview, we are gambling. We are wagering our understanding of reality and eternity against the actuality of eternity and reality.

Properly defined then Faith is worldview wagering action. The way we live and act that is our ethics is an outward expression of our inner convictions. People need truth. They need hope in the face of evil and suffering. But this of course requires understanding, what justice is and where we find it.

People also need truth concerning the falseness of their bad ideas and the wrongness of their bad actions. And again since ethics is simply the byproduct of worldview, then helping to understand their bad ideas is helping them to understand the better alternatives, concerning ethics, the better actions.  In 2nd Corinthians 10 verse 5 Paul says,  "We destroy arguments in every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ."

So we serve others when we can share truth. But this of course requires that we devote ourselves to understanding that truth. So we're investing in the sharing of others, when we prepare our minds for ministry. Now here is something important not to be missed. If faith is simply the process of our worldview leading to our actions or showing itself in our actions what do my actions say about my worldview?

In 1990 Brendan Manning wrote the greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledged Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. If God created all human beings in his image then it is no surprise that we find even nonbelievers, atheists who can do good things and serve their community in good ways.

What a shame it would be for the one who has rejected God and God's kingdom, to do a better job of sharing glimpses of that kingdom than those of us who are already Kingdom citizens and called to be Kingdom ambassadors. We are doing a disservice to our friends and neighbors when we do not properly carry the call forward.

We are called to be representatives of God's will. Which includes not being conformed to the world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds into the likeness of Christ. Romans 8 and Romans 12 "Having a heart of thankfulness in all circumstances." 1 Thessalonians 5:18  "And letting the goodness of our actions silence the ignorant accusations raised against the Kingdom of God."

First Peter 2:15.  So we serve others, in helping them to understand the truth. Yet, we demonstrate our own understanding of that truth to them in the way that we live out that faith in front of them. God, thank you for the confidence that we have and the truth of your word in the hope that comes through the sacrifice of Jesus.

Thank you for not only reconciling us to you and cancelling our debt.  But moreover, you demonstrated your own loving kindness, in that while we were still sinners you called us to become not only creations restored to a right relationship with you, but children adopted into your royal family, Kingdom ambassadors.

What an honor and privilege.  Help us to walk in truth and grace, that we may understand and speak truth boldly. But also, that we will abide in your grace, so as not to become words without love.  Help us to embody our faith to love and serve others better. Amen.  I leave you with a question.

It's a question in parts. Is it intolerant to tell someone that they are wrong? If it can be called intolerant, does this necessarily mean that it is unloving to do so? If it is not at all intolerant to tell someone that they are wrong, are there more and less loving ways to go about it?

Thank you for your time. Everyone stay safe. Bye

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