Week of August 26

DNA: We Were Made For This

Pass It On

Day 1. Read Matthew 28:16-20.A disciple is someone who is following Jesus and intentionally seeking to become like Him. Jesus is now telling his disciples to make disciples. The early church understood that to believe and follow Jesus, or to be a Christian, was to be his disciple. There is no separating the two. In addition, a disciple is someone who is making other disciples. How exactly do we do this? How did Jesus do it? Through scripture, we see that Jesus’ greatest effort, focus, and investment of time was through growing relationship with the 12 and maybe even more so with the 3 (Peter, James and John). They experienced every imaginable life situation – together. The disciples had spent enough time with Jesus to know how he thought, what he cared about, what he taught and what he valued. They didn’t just hear him preach a message, they saw him live a message. Jesus made disciples by investing time to develop relationship. Who does Jesus want you to influence, invest time in, and to develop relationship with? Who is around you? What about the neighbor next door? The co-worker across the hall? The other parents sitting on the bleachers next to us week in and week out? Another student on my team? In my class? Whose path do you naturally cross? Throughout this week open your eyes to the people who are already in your life.

Day 2: Read Matthew 28:16-20 again. What do you think of when you read “Go”? Some may think of the apostle Paul. Paul traveled throughout the known world making disciples.  Another aspect of “go” is “as you go” or “wherever you go.” If we’re honest, this is hard. We love Facebook-worthy, Instagram-story-worthy things. We are drawn to the notion of big, change-the-world kind of “go” activities. However “As you go” looks more like, “this is going to become part of my LIFE” instead of something I add to my life. This is living in a different way. It is being a good friend, not pretentious, not putting on an “I’ve got it all together” face and I’m here to help you. It is learning to admit “I don’t have it all together and I need you as much as you need me.” Learning to be authentic, honest about real life stuff, and connecting in a meaningful way with people who may be different from us. Those who first heard these words may have heard differently than how we read it today. This was a directive to cross racial, economic, nationality, political, religious, and gender divides. What does the community around me look like? Does it look like me? What is one step I can take over thecoming week, month, and year to cross a divide in the world that I’m already engaged in? 

Day 3: Read Luke 11:46. Cory mentioned that in a relay race a runner passes the baton to the next runner and so on. The question becomes, WHAT am I passing on? What did Jesus pass on? Am I passing on something worth carrying? Or am I passing on a heavy burden that will only serve to weigh others down…merely a bunch of rules to follow? Jesus’ message was not merely rules to obey but a way to live that changes who we are from the inside-out. Who Jesus is, is what he passed on. What we discover about Jesus and how we engaged in that relationship is what we pass on. The most important question we can then ask ourselves is, “What step do I need to take in the coming days to discover Jesus?”Read 2 Tim. 1:5, 2 Tim 2:2  

Day 4. In yesterday’s verses from 2 Timothy we see faith being intentionally passed on. We pass faith on unintentionally, too. A few weeks ago, Steve shared that we are the church. You and I are the witnesses to our family, our co-workers, neighbors, and community of who Jesus is and what it looks like to follow Him. What do my attitudes, my actions, my opinions, my words, give witness to? Are they worthy to be picked up by the person next to me? How would our neighbors describe us? Who is the person our employees, employer, teachers, coach, classmates, or the person we disagree with, describe us to be? What about those we engage with on Sunday mornings? Would the type of person being described by all these people be generally the same or would it seem like dramatically different people? Does my unintentional faith witness match my intentional one?  

Day 5: Following the services last Sunday, we took the time to celebrate 30 years of LSCC in the community. We came together and shared stories of life change and began intentionally looking forward to what is yet to be. Think about who you saw, who you talked to, and stories you shared. Now consider a person who wasn’t there, but could be in a year, 5 years, 10 years from now because of a choice you make today to see someone and to choose to invest in relationship with them? Who might find their way to a life of following Jesus and join a community of faith? Do you remember the Next Steps card from Sunday? Think back over the devotions from this week. Who will you take intentional steps with to discover more of Jesus? Who will you intentionally pass your faith on to? Who will you cross a divide for to love and be Jesus to? Identify the steps you need to take.Write them down. Keep the card in a place you will see daily or weekly.Tell someone the steps you have identified and ask them to support and pray for you.  

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Week of August 19

DNA: We Were Made For This

Luke 19:1-10. Story of Zacchaeus

Day 1. Imagine that it’s November 3, 2015, and you are in the crowded streets of downtown Kansas City. You know that sometime soon, the crowd will erupt as fans strain to get glimpses of the World Series Champions Kansas City Royals. But as you work the crowd vying for a spot, you recognize that from any position you find, you still can’t see. So, what do you do? Well, you climb up the stoplight pole, of course, just for a chance to see the team whose greatness everyone has seen and heard about. Now, read Luke 19:1-5. There were probably less than 800,000 people in Jericho the day that Jesus arrived, but the crowd that followed Him was large enough – and apparently tall enough – that Zacchaeus simply could not see. Jesus’ reputation preceded Him wherever He went, and in each city, the people clamored to get an opportunity to hear Him teach, to be healed, to experience Him personally. Consider today what a privilege we have to be able to know Jesus through the Bible and through the Holy Spirit.  

Day 2. Read Luke 19:1-6. What do we know about Zacchaeus? Imagine that the guy on the stoplight pole (see yesterday’s reading) was the head of the regional IRS office and was exploiting the taxpayers for personal gain. That was Zacchaeus. He was not just a “wee little man” as the familiar song goes. He was a wealthy, powerful, and greatly disliked man. Why do you think a man in his position was so determined to see Jesus? Maybe he just wanted an opportunity to experience the presence of this man that everyone was talking about. Or perhaps, despite all that he had gained, he knew that there was something that he still lacked. Either way, when Jesus called to him, Zacchaeus made a choice to respond. He invited Jesus into His home. Read verses 8-10. We don’t know what Jesus said to Zacchaeus in their time together, but we do know that it resulted in a changed perspective. Zacchaeus acknowledged his exploits and vowed to make it right! If Jesus was sitting at your dinner table, what things might you want to change or make right? Pray about it. Acknowledge it and declare it to Jesus.  

Day 3. Read Luke 19:5. Despite the crowds gathered around Him, Jesus chose to look up and acknowledge the despised tax guy in the tree. Jesus called him by name! He was aware of Zacchaeus and chose to pursue him. Throughout the course of Jesus’ life, He was continually looking up to take note of those around Him.  He chose to engage, to forgive, to love, and to save those who knew theywere lost.This is the heart of Jesus. It was how He lived and who He was. It’s also how He invites us to live. As we seek to know and become like Jesus, consider the ways that you can be aware of those around you. How well do you know the people you live your life among? Have you considered inviting your neighbors or co-workers into your home for a meal? What steps can you take to create margin in your life, so that you can have the space to look up and notice? 

Day 4 Read Luke 19:9-10. What does Jesus say is His ultimate purpose? He came to seek and save the lost. This is His pursuit of us. As He looked up toward Zacchaeus, Jesus is looking up at you as well.  He sees you and knows you completely. He sees through your religion. He sees beyond your sinful past - your failures, cheating, and facade - and He loves you. To be like Jesus is to reflect Him, and to follow Him means we choose every day to respond to know Him and to become like Him. Jesus spoke truth to Zacchaeus and His words stirred Zacchaeus to make a change! What truth is Jesus speaking to you? What change is he calling you to pursue? Do you hear Him?  

Day 5. Read Luke 19:7. What does this verse say to us about the crowd? What was their perception of Zacchaeus? How did they feel about Jesus’ decision to dine with a sinner? How often are we more like the crowd than we are like Jesus? Make it personal. Do I see those around me as sinners and pass judgement on them? Or do I see them with compassion? Who am I more like? When we read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, we see that He not only healed the lame, comforted the grief-stricken, and fed the hungry. He also had compassion on the politician, the tax collector, and the prostitute. Are we living like Jesus? Do we care for the soul of the person as Jesus did? Consider the people you’ve encountered in your life today. Is there anyone you’ve clearly judged or disregarded as “too far gone”? 

As you go about your day today, be aware and look up to see those around you. We just may find that we don’t know how we can be like Jesus to them. Let that turn into your prayer.

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Week of August 12

DNA: We Were Made For This

Day 1: Let’s be honest, death is scary and none of us wants to die yet how much do we actually consider dying? What if heaven is a real place, and if so, how do we get there? Read John 3:1-21.Nicodemus came to Jesus to find out more about who this Jesus character was. Jesus responds by telling Nicodemus that no one can enter the kingdom of God (experience a different kind of life) unless he has been born again spiritually. John continues to explain that anyone who believes in Jesus will have eternal life (verse 15), and that God loved the world and He gave His only Son, and that anyone who believes in Him will not die but live forever (verse 16). If you been around church for any length of time, you’ve heard this all before. In fact, we can become so used to hearing it that we can become numb to Jesus’ words. However, what would it look like today if you lived out this statement? 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Have you been born again? How does this belief affect how you live today? Take some time to pray and right down your thoughts. 

Day 2: Yesterday we asked the question, “How do we get to heaven?” While this is important, there is much more to Christianity than eternity. Sometimes in our faith we can become more fixated on what we can get from Jesus rather than on following Him. Read Matthew 19:16-26.One day a man asked Jesus, “What good deed do I have to do to live forever?” Think about why Jesus answered him the way he did. The man just wanted to know what he had to do to get to heaven. Why didn’t Jesus just say believe in me and you’ll be saved? Why did Jesus tell him to give his money away and follow Him? According to Jesus himself, truly believing in Jesus will always coincide with a life of following Jesus. The two cannot be separated. For this young man the cost of following was too great. Is there anything in your life that may prevent you from following Jesus? Is there anything in your life so valuable that you are unwilling to let it go in pursuit of Jesus? Maybe it’s a job, relationship, or some dream of what you want to accomplish. Be honest and willing to wrestle through your thoughts with God in prayer. 

Day 3: Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” There is nothing we must do to be saved from sin in death. It is the free gift of God through faith. And yet Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Here is the principle; don’t miss it: grace is free but following is costly. The Christian life is one that is marked both by belief and by following. Because we believe that Jesus, being both fully human and fully God, died for us in our place on the cross, we therefore respond in gratitude by taking up our cross and following him. Are both belief and following true of your life today? What does it mean for you to take up your cross daily? Maybe it means making some huge life changing decision today, but more likely it will require you to make small sacrificial decisions each day. Read Romans 12:1-2 then take some time and write down one step that you can take to sacrificially follow Jesus today.   

Day 4: Before we move on today, how did you do on your action step from yesterday? Take a few moments to reflect on that. Now let’s move onto today. Is it possible for us to believe all the right things and yet have a useless faith? What good is a faith that doesn’t actively follow Jesus? Read James 2:14-17. Every day we live in a world where people are broken, hungry, hurting, and in need of hope. The magnitude of all that is wrong in this world is so great that it can leave us overwhelmed, incapacitated, and paralyzed into inaction. Yet, we are not alone. As a result of our new birth, we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Also, when we come together with fellow believers as the church, even the gates of hell will not prevail against us. (Matthew 16:18) As Jesus’ followers, we are able together to make a difference. When we live out our faith together following Jesus, we are more than conquerors. (Romans 8:37) Consider your words: Is there someone today you can encourage? Consider your prayer: who needs prayer and how can you pray for them? Consider your actions: who can you love for 30 seconds at a time today? Consider your community: who is around you that together you can make a difference? 

Day 5: Read Luke 5:1-11. When confronted with the person of Jesus, the first disciples were asked to make a decision. Today, we are asked to do the same. In response to who Jesus is and what He has done, will you followHim? Will you choose to walk along side of Him, to learn from Him, to care about what He cares about, and to live your very life as an act of sacrificial worship one day at a time? Following doesn’t mean you have to be perfect or have everything figured out. Instead, it means taking simple steps to pursue Jesus, working with and alongside Him in a daily relationship. (Matthew 11:28-29) I encourage you to take some time today to reflect. Maybe go for a walk around your neighborhood. Find some time just to get away and be with God. Tell Him that where He leads, you will follow. Be quiet and see if the Spirit nudges you in some way.

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Week of August 5

DNA: We Were Made For This

In and Through

Day 1. Have you been told that you are more than what you do? At first read, you may consider these almost one in the same. Yet a distinction can be made from doing and being. Our value, our worth, our importance is not in what we do but who we are. This has spiritual implications. If we want to become like Jesus, we will fall short if we develop only an intellectual understanding and a sound theological foundation. Knowing Jesus includes intellectual reasoning but moves to a more personal experience. Take the relationship I have with my husband as an example. I know him in such a way that I know how he responds in certain circumstances. I know what he does and what he believes. I know how he thinks, what he loves, what drives him crazy. I’m grateful for what he does for me and my family, but what makes our relationship is not what he does, but who he is. Do I know Jesus in that way? Am I intimately familiar with who Jesus IS not just what He DID? Am I working on obeying rules or am I trying to live my life walking by faith with a God I cannot see? The only worthwhile spiritual pursuit is to know Him in this personal, intimate way. Take a minute and read Matthew 5:1-10. As you read, do so with the perspective that Jesus is describing more than what He did but how He lived and how He is wants us to live.   


Day 2: Often, we think talking to people about Jesus means we skip right to telling people their sins can be forgiven, and they can go to Heaven. Those are amazing truths to be told, but there is so much more truth in Jesus and the reason He came. Jesus showed us what it looks like to bring the Kingdom of God (or a different way) to our lives and to the lives of those around us. The truth that when Jesus called us to follow him, He was talking about us becoming like Him. Read Matthew 7:1-14. After Jesus describes how He lived and how we are to live (verses 1-12), He says most will not choose it (verses 13-14). If we truly want to become like Him, we must follow Him through the narrow gate because that is a path to heart transformation and life change. This path leads us to intentionally and consistently allow who Jesus to inform who we are and how we live. What currently in my life needs to change to align with what who Jesus is and how he lived? Am I willing, not to seek to change myself, but ask Jesus to change my heart?   


Day 3: Read Luke 10:25-37. Jesus tells the parable of a man who crossed racial, economic, religious, and cultural divides to show love and mercy. The ones who went out of their way to avoid the man in need were religious leaders of the nation God had commanded to “be a blessing to all people”. Becoming like Jesus and loving like Jesus means we need to be willing to risk our reputation, sometimes with the religious crowd, to be a neighbor. Jesus didn’t tell a story of a man that traveled across the globe in order to show mercy to someone in need. He was simply going about his life. Jesus says, “go and do likewise. Who is around me? How am I doing in living like Jesus around them? Do I look past the person in front of me or at the person in front of me?   


Day 4: Read Matt. 5:13-14 What does being “salt” mean and what does it look like? Salt is used to add flavor and to enhance flavor. Flavor can be considered what is good and beautiful about food. When we are “salt” we enhance and add goodness and beauty to the world and those in it. Who do you know like that? The person that brings goodness, brings beauty to whatever they are involved in? Who extends grace and mercy? Who works for justice and peace? Sometimes people like this are dismissed as naïve or idealistic or possibly in denial of how bad things are. What if they are none of those but rather they have chosen to see what the Kingdom of God is about and have decided to live in that way. What if they have believed that Jesus called us to be salt (and light) in all places? What flavor do I bring to my home, my office, my school, my neighborhood? Do I bring love, goodness, mercy? Do I bring peace or conflict? Does my involvement in the lives of those around me bring out the best in them? Am I making things better? 


Day 5: On Sunday, Steve reminded us of the opportunity to participate in the ongoing story of the church that began over 2000 years ago. Starting in those early days and leading up to today, there is a rhythm of being gathered and scattered. Followers come together (gather) and center their perspective on the person of Jesus and to experience worship, truth, love, and community. Then, we enter back into our everyday lives (scatter) to continue to experience worship, truth, love and community by living like Jesus in all that we do. Being the church “scattered” isn’t only starting a ministry or launching a program. It is more about seeing and loving the person in front of you. It might look like leaving the garage open and walking across the drive to engage in conversation with a neighbor. It might mean listening with love and understanding another’s bad day. It might mean risking your own reputation to walk across a divide to love and show mercy to someone not like you. It could look like a hundred different things, but it will always look like Jesus. Ask God to help you see people and to help you love them. Be the church today. 

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