February 3, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 9)

Submitted by Yumi P. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

Luke 9:1-9

  • Who are the people in my life to whom I need to be sent in order to preach and heal?

The people in my life to whom I need to be sent in order to preach and heal are first the immediate people that God has placed in my life—my life group and the students that I am ministering to along with the staff.  I am called to be sent in order to preach and heal—to be God’s hand and feet, to have this amazing privilege of giving God’s word and to also heal precious people with the word of God from their broken pasts, sins, desires that persuade, and Satan’s lies.

But it doesn’t stop there.  I also need to go out and be available to partake in loving, embracing more and more people–the many students on Berkeley campus to bring the Gospel to those who don’t yet know Christ, and so they could find healing from their sins.  But my sphere of concern cannot remain there.  Those to whom I need to be sent include my co-workers, family, and neighbors who do not understand the Gospel, whom I could really love.

And even if I am not ministering to them directly, I could really claim so many people to pray for, for the Gospel to find them and for healing.  I can claim through prayers the many students who are hungry on the Minnesota, Riverside, San Diego, Austin, Hsinchu and Davis campuses, and the future church plants; I can also claim the precious grandmothers and grandfathers our Compassion ministries are going ministering to, our Joyland, Middle School and High School students, and so many more people.

  • How might the disciples have felt when Jesus told them to take nothing for their journey, including no food, money, or extra clothes?

When Jesus told them to take nothing for their journey, including no food, money or extra clothes, the disciples must have felt surprised, scared, anxious, worried.  To travel around Jerusalem during those times, they were to go for miles on feet, spending long stretches in the desert.  To not take food, any money or extra clothes was a huge risk as they could literally starve to death, be left without any recourse, or backup plan.  Thus, the disciples would have felt very scared, fearful, full of worries and thoughts of “What if?” as they heard Jesus.

Why would Jesus require this of his disciples?  This was a clear way for them to exercise faith, and to understand that the God that they serve was this completely trustworthy that even their daily bread, their clothes, money would be provided for by God.  Only through this kind of step of faith, they were able to experience God as their provider in every sense.  In the same way, God allows us to go through periods of struggle or hardship so that through steps of faith we could understand God as our provider, our shepherd in deeper ways that we would otherwise never know.  As I look back on my own life, it was through those periods of a little bit of suffering and pain that I understood God’s heart for me and grew in my faith a little deeper – through my grandfather’s death, through seeing my deep selfishness and how that is so offensive to God, through taking steps of faith in the midst of my fears while in law school, through difficulties in relationships, and through struggles while in ministry.

If the disciples had not obeyed, if they had turned away from going through this kind of dependence on God, they would have missed out on understanding dependence on God and God as their true provider.  In the same way, I cannot turn away as times of hardship come, always so afraid of suffering, but I need to welcome what little opportunities to suffer into my life so that I can grow in my faith and understanding of God.

  • Why do you think the disciples were told to “stay” in one house until they leave that town?

In order to be maximally effective in reaching numbers, the disciples should have gone from house to house, go preach at the town square, but, rather, Jesus says to stay at one house.  However, the disciples were told to “stay” in one house until they left that town.  This was probably so that they could properly minister to them through life on life discipleship.  In order to properly transmit Jesus’ words, who He is, what God is like, they needed to stay in one house long enough to rub lives, to see the Gospel embodied.  Rather than being maximally effective in reaching numbers, Jesus wanted the disciples to make disciples themselves, to transmit the full understanding of following him.

I have experienced this kind of loving commitment to “stay” with from my leaders.  Over the years, I have been loved by them through their deep commitment to me–staying by me and sticking it through my many struggles and ups and downs, when so many times, I wanted to chuck everything in order to just be comfortable and live a materialistic life filled with pursuing my own pleasures and appetites.  They stuck by me, giving me their time, energy, prayers to hear me out, to counsel me, and shape my thorny, ungodly character – dealing with my laziness, my pride and my refusal to think.  They also stayed by me through many new markers in my life and guided me through them–graduating college, getting my first job and adjusting to life after graduation, going through law school, going through the BAR exam prep, dating and marriage, and most recently, becoming a new mom.  If God and my leaders had been interested in just being productive, and reaching as many people as possible, they would not have stuck by my side–a bratty, unlovable teenager.  But through their love and their commitment to “stay” with me, I have come to understand the Gospel in a much deeper way, and can now pass that same tenacious love onto others.

  • Who are the people that God is asking me to “stay” with?

There are so many people God is asking me to “stay” with, to stick by, and love.  The first people that come to mind right now are my dear friends who are going through deep grief. They’re heavy on my heart, and I keep feeling, thinking about their pain, grief, and for God’s comfort to surround them with love.  I need to “stay” with them through my prayers, through concrete small ways I can express love and care, through sharing in their pain in my own heart and prayer.

I also need to stick by the people whom God has brought into my life who are going through different struggles.  One person feeling hardened and having a hard time seeing her sin, another struggling with opening up, another struggling with confession and understanding God’s forgiveness and not listening to the voices of accusation that tell her she is worthless because of past baggage.  There are also others whom I am to care for, and I need to stick by them and push them to grow out of different pockets of immaturity and character problems and struggle with them as my own leaders did with me, rather than wanting to have my own bit of peace, comfort, to be okay and not go through the hard labor of love.

I need to stick by my precious leaders right now as they go through doing so much for God’s kingdom, for the church.  I sometimes want to defer ownership, defer growing up so often, and the burden falls on them.  I need to repent and stick by my leaders, to stay with them, and carry the responsibility with them.

And I need to stay with my precious friends and different staff, leaders on the church plants.  Although we are far apart, I need to keep them in my prayers and be faithful to pray for them, keep in touch, to love them as my precious brothers and sisters.

PERSONAL PRAYER                                                           

Dear Lord:

Thank you so much for your love that you have poured out onto my life through the church, through my leaders who have “stayed” by me, my friends who have stuck by me through these years.  I want to respond to your calling to now go and be sent, to be the one to minister to and heal others as your hands and feet.  Just listing out all the people you have placed in my life to be sent to, all the people you are calling me to “stay with” and stick by now, I marvel at how rich you have made my life, and want to just commit to going and staying there.  So often, I want to run away from suffering, Lord, which makes me cower from going out to people and staying with them, of really engaging in the labor of love for fear of rejection, for fear of being hurt.  I want to repent, and recommit to this greatest calling and amazing undeserved privilege you have given me to be your servant, hands and feet.

Amen.

Submitted by Joe H from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

SOME IDEAS AND WORDS TO CONSIDER

·     Preach, heal

One thing that often amazes me is how Jesus sends out the twelve in this way and gives them the power and authority to drive out demons, cure diseases and deputizes them to preach about the kingdom of God. These are the same disciples who didn’t have enough faith in Jesus and thought they were going to drown; these are the same disciples who did not have the compassion that Jesus did in the crowd of people. In so many ways, the disciples are just bumbling around, not knowing what they are doing, and their only saving grace is that they are associated with Jesus. And yet Jesus gives them that kind of trust and authority to do his work.

And so I am amazed that I am in the same position today. Though I am often bumbling around, not knowing what I am doing, with so little faith and so little love – God still decides that he would like to use me. He still gives me his Word and the help of the Holy Spirit to preach the kingdom and to heal people of various sins and destructive habits in their lives. The longer I am ministry, the more acutely I realize my inadequacies. God has so many servants who are much better equipped than me. But God decides to use people like me to preach his Word.

And so this is my calling in life: to be sent to preach and to heal. How inappropriate it would be if the twelve were commissioned like this to the various villages, but then decided that there was a good business opportunity, and set up shop! Or if they just got a bit tired, and went off into the ocean to fish and relax. Or if they were distracted by a nice Jewish girl that they met, and decided to get married and settle down. But this is what so many have done. They are distracted with various things and have forgotten that Jesus gave them the power and authority to do his work. They have forgotten the primacy of the Gospel. Jesus calls me to preach and to heal because there are so many people who need to hear the Gospel and who need healing from all kinds of brokenness. If I am not living and teaching the Gospel in some way and not actively involved in trying to minister to someone, then I am not living the right way. I have to remember that while I need to work in order to make money, my primary role is that of a minister, not as someone who makes money. And as marriage draws near for me, I need to remember that it is not something for me to draw selfishly into myself and my own little bubble, but something that God can use to give even more blessing to the people around me.

·     No staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic

Jesus asks a difficult thing to them. He asks them to take nothing. No food, no extra clothing and no money. From the eyes of the world, this is utter foolishness. The world only sees things that are tangible and secure. It advises caution and prudence. You can have all the good intentions that you want, but with no resources, you can’t do anything. But this is a very godless view.

Jesus is asking the twelve to trust him. He is inviting them to experience his power and his provision. And logically, this makes total sense. This is the same Jesus that heals people with a word and calms the storm down with a single command. He gave them the power to drive out demons and heal the sick – surely he can provide for all their needs as they are preaching the gospel.

I have also experienced God providing for so many of my needs. I remember how God really impressed on my heart to give generously for a need despite the lack I was facing. After some struggle, I decided to obey.  To my surprise and delight, God provided for me through some unexpected sources. But still, that anxiousness and worry is so engrained in me. There are still times when I doubt God, even though God has proven himself trustworthy time and time again. It would be a tragedy to let that get in the way of being used by God and experiencing God. As our church prepares for planting two new churches next year, it’s an opportunity to trust in God as the disciples did.

·     Stay there …

Staying at a house implies relationship. Because the gospel isn’t something that is simply preached: it is also lived out. The gospel is embodied. Implicit in Christian life is relationship. I think Jesus is asking the twelve to stay at whatever house they go to build up relationship and live out the gospel.

This too is so lacking in our modern culture. It has become so easy to pack up and leave, and families have become so insular, that many people simply go to where the opportunities are. People leave to go to this school or that school, to take this job or that job, or even just for a change of pace and a new adventure. There is very little anchored-ness.

But many times, I think God is asking us to “stay”–to be rooted in community. Of course, God may call someone to go somewhere else for any number of reasons. But in general, it seems that God has set up relationships to be covenantally bonded to one another–like the tribes of Israel, or the Acts 2 church. And that’s one thing that attracted me to this church when I was a freshman: that these people were so close and committed to one another.

But “staying” with relationships is not easy to do. Staying faithful in relationships takes hard work. When I know that one of my peers is having a hard time, how do I react? How can I “stay” with that relationship? There are so many things I can do. I can pray for that person. I can send him an email, just asking how things are going. I can spend time with that person even though I have a busy schedule myself. Similarly, how can I “stay” with someone that I am ministering to? I think staying with someone is taking care of them when they are sick, knowing the difficult things they are going through and carrying the burden with them, thinking of how they can grow closer to God and helping them to get there. And it is in this way that God’s love is transmitted and communicated most clearly.

Submitted by David W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 9:1-9

  • Who are the people in my life to whom I need to be sent in order to preach and heal?

Jesus was sending out the Twelve to everyone, village to village, preaching the Gospel and healing people everywhere.  Similarly, God would be sending me out to preach and heal to everyone.  The people in my life to whom I need to be sent in order to preach and heal is basically anyone that I might come across, that I might encounter, because we are all broken sinners in need of the Gospel, the kingdom of God, and healing.  In particular, there are many people or groups of people I know in my life to whom I need to be sent in order to preach and heal.  As a college staff, I need to be sent to preach and heal the college students on the UC Berkeley campus.  As a working professional, I need to be sent in order to preach and heal my fellow coworkers.  As a family member, I need to be sent in order to preach and heal my family and relatives. In particular, right now, it’s the members of Koinonia, the sophomore class, the guys in my LIFE group.  As a member of this church, it’s even the other members of the church.  It’s possible and even easy at times to have a narrow view of the people that I have been sent to, that I have responsibility over.  We can get stuck in thinking about just the people in our immediate context, just in our LIFE group, our just in our ministry.  But God sends us and wants to send us out to reach a whole lot more people.  I need to grow in my capacity to recognize those whom I need to be sent in order to preach and heal, and not have a narrow, limited view.

  • How might the disciples have felt when Jesus told them to take nothing for their journey, including no food, money, or extra clothes?

The disciples might have felt very nervous, uncertain, and incredulous even when Jesus told them to take nothing for their journey, including no food, money, or extra clothes.  It goes against common sense, against our experience and what our conventional wisdom, our innate feelings, fears and insecurities tells us to do.  It’s impractical and unwise in the eyes of the world.  I would have felt very unsure, very uneasy, and very uncomfortable in the disciples’ shoes hearing this from Jesus.  I’m a very practical person that likes to have a plan and to be well prepared for whatever I might face or have to deal with.  I’m also very independent, and I rely on myself and my own means to provide what I need.  What Jesus says goes against every natural and trained inclination that I have, what I have grown up and how I have lived for so long.  But Jesus wants the disciples and He wants me to be able to trust in Him to provide for our needs, especially as we serve Him and obey Him.  It is part of the experience that Jesus wants them to have, part of serving Him and obeying Him, part of the developing relationship with Him.  Even though it is difficult, I need to obey God not just by going out to preach and heal, but also I need to trust in God to provide for my needs.

  • Why do you think the disciples were told to “stay” in one house until they leave that town?

I think the disciples were told to “stay” in one house until they leave that town because that would allow them to develop a deeper relationship with the people of that house.  Instead of moving around constantly and having a lot of shallow relationships, staying at one house would give them the opportunity to have extended, concentrated time and experience with that household and to have a concentrated impact on the members of that household.  That is how relationships work – they require time and effort.  That is how the Gospel is best communicated, through an established relationship, through multiple exposures and opportunities, through life on life, and staying in that one house would provide that with the people they are staying with.  And this person/these people are not already hostile to the disciples, as it is a house they have entered, presumably welcomed in, and thus indicates that these are people who are open, spiritually hungry, men/women of peace.  This is becoming more and more of a difficult concept or principle nowadays.  People are not about commitment and faithfulness to each other.  In life, it’s always about the next latest thing, the next exciting thing, or the next interesting thing.  And all of that gets translated to relationships/people.  If you’re not the latest thing, the most exciting person, or an interesting person, then you’re not worth my time and I’m moving on.  To share the Gospel with them, it takes time, commitment, and love.  As a minister, I need to have this kind of mentality, this kind of commitment and faithfulness to people, even when they are not responsive.

  • Who are the people that God is asking me to “stay” with?

The people that God is asking me to “stay” with are the guys that I am reaching out to in ministry, the guys that God has placed in my care and my responsibility.  It can also include people that I have a hard time loving, that I might not necessarily get along with the best, that I might not share common interests with, that I might not like even.  But as long as they are responding, as long as they have even a hint of spiritual hunger, God wants me to be faithful, to be committed, and to establish a relationship with them through which the Gospel can be communicated.

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