How better to start this week’s devotional than with the words of Jack Nicholson? View them here, then think about this:
• Who inspires you to be a better person?
• Is it because of his or her actions, because you want to make that person happy or proud… or both? or something else?
Over the last few Mondays, we’ve been examining where God has put us and what kind of heart He wants us to have toward the people and situations He’s put us in. So today, we begin drilling a little deeper into specifics—what we can really do to become the hands, the feet, the heart of Jesus to those we encounter everywhere in our lives.
Brian Jones, in his book Getting Rid of the Gorilla, observes, “Disciples do not just believe differently, they behave differently. They stick out. They provoke. They cause people to think. Disciples jar others to evaluate their own lives, often without uttering a word. Disciples point people to the kingdom of God simply by their behavior alone.” As we do that, we’ll discover how can we help—and maybe even inspire—each other as members of the body of Christ.
So open up that new tab, read through 2 Corinthians 3:17–4:1, 2 Corinthians 4:6-11, and Hebrews 4:14-16, and consider these questions:
• Externally speaking: How do (or should) Jesus’ and Paul’s examples here inspire you to be more like Jesus?
• Internally speaking: How have you seen “the Spirit [make you] more and more like him” (2 Cor. 4:18)? Think of your own examples here.
• When has God’s light shone through you, despite your circumstances? How have those times changed the way you see God? yourself?
• On the other hand, when have you had a hard time seeing God at work—when you thought, “yeah God, you could’ve kept that one”? Why do you think God let you go through it anyway?
God has allowed us to experience some incredible things—even if they may have seemed hard at the time—and God wants us to share with others what He’s done and to give Him the glory. There are probably also some things in our lives that we wish God hadn’t allowed. But if we haven’t already seen proof, God can and will use everything for His good, even those things that seem lousy and unexplainable to us—if we’ll trust Him.
“God has yet to bless anyone except where they actually are, and if we faithlessly discard situation after situation, moment after moment, as not being ‘right,’ we will simply have no place to receive his kingdom into our life,” Dallas Willard says in The Divine Conspiracy. “For those situations and moments are our life.”
As we’ve experienced God’s glory, God has already equipped us to help others to draw closer to Him—more than we know. Jesus told us, “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:18-20, NIV).
Let’s consider how that’s already played out in our lives, and where God might want to take it from here:
• When has God unexpectedly brought one or two “others” into your life who helped you grow closer to Jesus? How did God use them?
• How does (or would) having other Christians you can trust in your life help you to grow in Jesus in a way that “going it alone” can’t?
God brings people into our lives that we weren’t expecting to help grow us. Begin looking at the people you’re with that way. Learn from each other. Inspire each other. Pull each other up. And find ways to connect outside of our time here to do that as well. And then, watch what God does with it.
And here’s an assignment: If there’s someone you can have this discussion with, get with him or her and talk through the following three questions together. You might have answers to all three of them; you might not have answers for any of them right now. Either way, start exploring them together:
What things am I doing right now that God has clearly led me into—and how am I doing with them? Has God been impressing you to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better steward of your time or resources? Has he called you to come out of a situation or habit that’s hurting yourself or others? Where’s God put you? And how are you doing with it?
What things might God be leading me to do now? What do you think God’s calling you to do right now? How has He been speaking to you lately? And what do you need to confirm that it really has been God prompting you?
What things might stop me from doing what God is leading me into? What’s holding you back right now? Disobedience? Fear? Self-consciousness? Uncertainty? A lack of experience in an area you nonetheless feel God calling you into? What’s holding you back from fulfilling God’s will in your life right now?
After you’ve discussed your answers with each another, take some time to pray for one another, and to set aside a time during the week to touch base with one another, whether that’s phone, e-mail, texting, whatever. May God bless you this week, and may He bless your new journey together!