How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?
What an honor to serve You, Lord!
John 10:10 NLT: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
Our purpose at Bethany is to bring all people into the life, the family, and the purpose of God. God wants us to be recipients of life and give Him the glory for it. The purpose here at Bethany is all about other people. If we want to bring people to life, we bring them to Jesus. If we want to bring people to family, we must bring them to us. If we want to bring people to purpose, we must bring them to other people.
God wanted to bring us into His family and desired for us to have family. One of the great things about being part of the body of Christ, the church, is becoming as close as family. Imagine if the church met like a business meeting without any friendships. No, it is far better for us to grow closer to each other as we worship together until we finally feel like family members. That is God’s heart, and you and I should work toward that goal. Eventually, as we develop in Christ, we will discover our personal assignment, thus coming into our purpose.
The devil comes to kleptos, or steal, from us. What has the devil tried to steal from you? Share with the group.
In the Scriptures, when God blessed someone, it included the charge to be fruitful and multiply. With God, the more the merrier. As Malachi 2:15 (NLT) says, “Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.”
God did not intend for you to go through life alone. What would your life be like without the dynamic of family? Share with the group.
Just as sin ruins life, it also destroys relationships. When families are destroyed and relationships ended, sin has played a role. God desires family and created us to exist in a family. The kingdom is not I, but we. Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) tells us, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”
What would it look like if you shared God’s attitude and adopted lonely people into your circle of life? Share with the group.
Jeremiah 3:19 (NLT) says, “I thought to myself, ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’ I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—the finest possession in the world. I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from me.” Sin, however, ruined family, but adoption makes it possible again. We bring people to family by bringing them to us.
Have you ever misunderstood God’s acceptance of you? Did you ever think you were not good enough or second class? Share with the group.
When did you realize that you were a “bringer” and God had gifted you to help someone belong in the family?
The devil comes to steal, but the Lord brings life. We are intended to belong, just like in a family. We can help others achieve this closeness too.
Look for a lonely or disconnected person this week and extend your friendship. Bring them to your church service and your B-Group.
What is your favorite place to buy a king cake in town?
Lord, Your Word says, “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” Please make me a “bringer”!
Mark 2:2–5 New Living Translation NLT: “Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’”
There is joy in bringing someone into something you enjoy. When you really love something, it is natural to want to include others. A good restaurant experience can make you motivated to publicize and promote that place. It is very satisfying to see someone enjoying the experience you invited them to.
The gospel is inclusive and invitational. Everyone is welcome. Now, if you are not impacted by your experience with the Lord, you may end up sitting dormant, but hopefully your experience urges you to share it with others. Let’s look at what four friends of a paralyzed man who was very much in need of meeting Jesus did.
Tell the group of a restaurant meal that you told your friends about. Now imagine sharing about church instead of that amazing dinner. What would that sound like? Share with the group.
Unity can be seen in the combined mission of the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus. They realized there was a cause, and they planned together, moved by compassion, to bring the man to Jesus. Unity teamed with compassion equals action. What lengths will we go to in order to bring a person to Christ? The four men cut a hole in the roof. How radical is that!
Have you ever gone to great lengths to reach someone for Christ? What did you do, and how did it go? Have you ever teamed up with others in order to reach someone? Share with the group.
Resistance is always present when we try to bring people closer to Jesus. People who have been disappointed by church people often resist. They have been burned by something hypocritical that offended them. As a bringer, you may get discouraged. Doors may be closed in your face. If that happens, persevere like the paralytic’s four friends did. Don’t quit, but turn that rejection over to the Lord. Many times people are rejecting the Lord, not you.
Share a time you were rejected when trying to bring someone closer to God. How did you respond?
As soon as the paralytic was healed, Jesus empowered him and sent him on task. Don’t think that you have to wait to become involved in bringing others to Christ. You don’t have to be a chef to invite someone to try your favorite restaurant, and in a similar fashion, you can start “bringing” immediately.
Did you invite someone to attend Bethany when you first found this church? How about lately? Are you still a “bringer,” or have you stopped inviting people?
Just because the house is full doesn’t mean the mission is complete. What you are excited about you will talk about and invite others to. Bringing can be challenging, but it is rewarding.
Ask the Lord to give you opportunities to invite three people to church this week. Don’t be timid.
What is your New Year’s resolution?
Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth!
2 Chronicles 29:3–5, 11 NLT: “In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them. He summoned the priests and Levites to meet him at the courtyard east of the Temple. He said to them, ‘Listen to me, you Levites! Purify yourselves, and purify the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary… . My sons, do not neglect your duties any longer! The Lord has chosen you to stand in his presence, to minister to him, and to lead the people in worship and present offerings to him.’”
In the same way that our physical bodies need a cleanse, our spirits also need a cleanse. Hezekiah immediately began to tear down the idols that his father had erected everywhere. The temple had been shut, and the priests and the Levites had sat idly during King Ahaz’s reign, but Hezekiah decided to do something about it. We are the sanctuary of the Lord in the present day and therefore need a cleanse, just like the temple did.
Hezekiah could have embarked on many new missions when he began his rule. He could have married wives or constructed buildings or built armies. What he did, though, was to cleanse the temple on day one. Let’s look at the three steps Hezekiah took to cleanse the temple and relate it to cleansing our lives of anything that has polluted our temples.
How do you think Israel’s culture broke down so drastically that they worshiped false gods and had idols everywhere? Share with the group.
Ezekiel 14:3 NLT says, “Son of man, these leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin. Why should I listen to their requests?” Israel needed rain for their crops, so they worshiped Baal. Israel needed offspring so they could continue their generations and needed their livestock to be productive, so they worshiped Ashtoreth, Baal’s mistress and the goddess of fertility.
Hezekiah’s father had erected false Idols everywhere, and the first thing Hezekiah did was to tear down the idols. Now, we are not worshiping Baal or Ashtoreth, but we may have things that we are obsessed with more than we are obsessed with God. How do you know if something in your life is an idol? If you obsess over, can’t stop thinking about, and it’s got all of your attention and time, it could be an idol.
What is a common idol in our culture? What could become an idol in your life? Share with the group.
It takes time to purify. It took eight days to clear the foyer and eight more days to finish clearing the temple. They then recovered the unused articles of worship and put them in place. We, too, need to drag out the unclean things in our lives. Confession and repentance will cleanse our temples. We need clean lips, clean hands, and clean hearts. The blood of Jesus is what cleanses us.
Name something that has been clogging up your life and even preventing you from pure worship. Discuss with the group.
Only the Levites were suited for the task of cleansing the temple. This symbolizes the lifestyle of worship and devotion that accompanies the process of cleansing the temple. Both personal worship and corporate worship are important. If you have been neglecting this important spiritual exercise, start singing out loud and praying.
God wants us to be fully engaged in worship. We must clear out things that clutter and corrupt our temples.
Start this year by examining your personal devotional life. Remove the clutter and prioritize the spiritual. Make a decision to restore your temple. Haul out the junk and receive forgiveness.
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