Encounter: In one sitting, read through the Book of James. Imagine that you are a Christ follower in the 10-20 year period after Jesus died. Now think about how what James says is relevant to you in July 2020. What are the words and phrases that make an impression or speak to you the loudest?
Devoted: someone who is very loyal and steadfast in giving love or attention.
I headed for the exit row as I boarded my flight back to Indiana. I knew this would give me more space and the window seat that I love. After getting settled the flight attendant began asking those of us who sat in the exit rows whether we were ready and able to assist in an emergency to which we all responded, “Yes!” The gentleman next to me started asking the flight attendant how the emergency door worked to make sure he could operate it if needed, he said the doors are all different depending on the airlines. It struck me at that moment, while I sat in the exit row for my comfort, this gentleman sat there so that he could help people in a time of need. We could say he was devoted to that purpose.
Our faith journey can look like an exit row on an airplane. We start with a focus on our needs but then God has an even bigger purpose as we grow into mature people of God. Our faith is about our own faith journey but it is always attached to the faith of another. We’re in a sense called to lead people through a door that will lead them to safety. And this is what James begins to remind Christ followers scattered throughout Judea and Samaria as they endure persecution, poverty and other challenges. He tells them,
“We have a special role in His plan. He calls us to life by His message of truth so that we will show the rest of His creatures His goodness and love.” James 1:18 – The Voice
This week when I went to my office for the first time in 3 months, I found an update from Friends of Hope, our outreach partners in India. And the headlines read, India’s Lockdown Causes Unspeakable Suffering. With transportation stopped, dayworkers can’t get back to their families and they are walking for days to get back home. With little food or money and churches not able to open and receive offerings, pastors are unable to care for their families much less their own people. I also read headlines that churches are being burned in India. As I witness these people suffering intense persecution, poverty and difficulties, I thought about James message and the exit row and how God is asking us if we are ready and able to help another through the door in an emergency. Through the door to safety, food, comfort, medical help, resources. And I hear us all say, “Yes!”
As Christ followers in India pray to God to persevere, He is coming to us in our prayer times and asking us to be the answer to their prayers. Our support helps strengthen the faith of another.
This week, I am asking our Eden community to remember that even though we may not all be meeting in person, to stay Devoted – Faithful Obedience in the Same Direction as carriers of His goodness and love. To remain generous in your gifts and offerings and to pray about giving a gift over and above your regular giving to Friends of Hope. As we partner with this essential ministry, God promises we will not lack anything. You can give directly at www.fohglobal.org or by check to Friends of Hope, 2033 E. Kitchel Rd, Liberty, IN 47353
I’m excited to be back with you in person this Sunday and to lift up our voices together praising our Creator God who continues to be faithful and calls us to do the same. Let us come together and strengthen our faith around the communion table as Jesus invites us to be ready and able!
After hearing this week’s message, What is one thing that stood out to you?
· How have you seen God’s faithfulness during times of trial?
· How did Jesus respond when he was under pressure? What about his early followers?
· What coping mechanisms do you turn to during suffering and stress?
· Share with a friend what support you need from Christian brothers and sisters to remain faithful?
What support and encouragement can you offer someone in their times of trial? Is there a person you know that needs that today? Take time to reach out to them in a supportive and tangible way.
In your Life Group, Triad or with a friend share with one another how you would respond to the following questions?
· How is Christian joy different from happiness?
· Talk together about how participating in worship, a small group connection or serving opportunity helps strengthen our devotion to Christ.
· Respond to Carey Nieuwhof’s statement, “The more casual the attendance (church), in all likelihood, the more casual the devotion, infrequent attendance is often a sign of diluted devotion.”
· Take some time praying for one another for a stronger devotion to God and to one another. Pray for one another that you will be ready and able when God calls.