Encounter: Gather your Bible, journal and your cell phone or ipad. Find a quiet place to be alone if possible and download the app Lectio 365. Begin your time by listening to the “Morning” reading and prayers to prepare your heart to receive from God for your day. Read John 1:35-51 underlining any words or phrases that make an impression. In the evening find a place of solitude to listen to the “Night” readings and prayer on Lectio 365.
Struggle: a determined effort under difficulties, a conflict or contest, a very difficult task to make strenuous or violent efforts in the face of difficulties or opposition, to exert strength, energy, and force; work or strive: to struggle to obtain freedom
As a pastor, it is an honor to walk alongside people in the highs and lows of life. Just in the last few weeks I think of the conversations I have had and there is one word that seems always to be present. “Struggle.” I am not sure what all of our expectations are when we begin to put our toe in the water of faith, but I would dare to say most of us thought we might not have to struggle so much when we seek companionship with Jesus.
But here we are in what I like to call the “real.” We struggle…
· to understand who God is and how through the Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit God is pursuing a relationship with me.
· To pray or understand what it means to pray
· To hear or understand how God is guiding me in my everyday life
· To understand God’s existence in a world where there evil and bad things happen to good people, including me and those I love
· To understand what belonging to the church is all about, how to build relationships with people similar or different than I
· To experience God as real when I don’t see, feel or hear anything
· With all that feels broken in my life and if God can heal or restore what is wrong in my life
· The struggle to find God in the dark places when things don’t make sense
· To trust God with what I have no power to control
· To understand what God is asking me to do with my life
In Episode 2, we find men and women who are following Jesus realizing the “struggle” of real life. The sacrifices, hard work, suffering at times and also shifting to new mindsets as Jesus shows them a different way of thinking about God, people and themselves.
We see them trying to work through the struggle to find God. Hungry to learn like Mary, Ramah and Matthew, grasping for hope in disillusionment like Nathanael, trying to help Jesus control things like Peter and witnessing how his Rabbi gently guides and corrects. The perseverance needed to answer the call of Jesus to “follow me” challenges us to become friends with the struggle and remind one another that God has put us together because the struggle is real.
Tonight, we go to a seminary graduation to honor the “struggle” of one of our own as he has sacrificed, worked diligently, suffered at times and persevered to follow Jesus, be equipped for the ministry and answer the call to ministry. And don’t worry, we will all celebrate Pastor Matt on a Sunday morning in the near future. I know if Matt could sit with each one of us tonight, he would share the journey he has been on and how we should not allow the struggle to discourage or cause us to quit, but to befriend it as a companion with Jesus on this journey of a lifetime. He might even invite you to “Come and See!” and experience it for yourself.
Can I encourage you. I know so many of us feel like we have so far to go in living as a follower of Jesus, but I invite you to look back to three, four or five years ago or maybe a few months ago. Have you noticed the small and large ways your life has shifted? What is different now in how you think about life and even as you continue to struggle, can you see parts of you becoming more like your Jesus? You have come a long way and God will continue to be faithful as you seek Him in the midst of the real because, I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Phil 1:6).
Struggling with you,
Reflect: Using your journal, begin to write down things that stand out to you in the scripture or ways that the story speaks to your life. Begin to ask God to show you or highlight what is important for you to see. Watch The Chosen Episode 2 of Season 2 and read through John 1:35-51 a second time. Has anything changed or is there something you notice the second time through that you didn’t see before. Journal about it.
Encourage: Like those who followed Jesus as disciples in the early year, those throughout history, and for us now, we leave behind the way we lived life before Jesus. Our values, focus, motivations, desires, our very soul begins a transformation process towards Christ likeness. This can best be described most of the time as a “struggle.” Using the definition of struggle, can you find some encouragement around something that you have “struggled” with in order to follow Jesus more closely.
Encourage Pastor Matt by congratulating him on completing his Masters in Church Planting and Multiplication!
Gather: Using the Discussion questions for Episode 2 on the Eden Church website, share your thoughts and reflections, how this episode shifted your perspective about the characters, about Jesus and yourself. What do you sense Jesus wants you to see through this scripture and the stories being told.