Study Jesus, b.l.e.s.s., 27 January 2013

Study Jesus

Big Idea:
Study Jesus

Scriptures: Psalm 119


Three weeks ago we began our new year with our new series and annual theme, b.l.e.s.s. We said that we have been blessed to be a blessing. This is a theme throughout history, most prominently in God’s covenant with Abram (Genesis 12:1-3)

Our first week’s challenge was to bless one person.
Week two’s challenge was to spend one hour listening to God.
Last week’s challenge was to eat with a lost person.

These are not one-time challenge, but new rhythms, patterns for the new year, every week. Some would call them spiritual practices or disciplines.

Today’s letter is “S” and it stands for Jesus.

Do you like to study?

When I think of study, my mind jumps back to finals weeks in college, cramming facts and data moments before heading to class, hoping to remember the right formula, date, translation, or concept in order to pass the class. While striving for an “A” was something of a game, the whole thing was rather stressful and usually not meaningful to me. I’ve long ago forgotten the periodic table of the elements, the capital city of every nation in Africa, how to say “administrator” in Spanish, or our ninth vice-president.

For many, Bible study is done similarly. The pastor says to read a chapter a day, so we do it. The goal is to finish. It’s all about the destination.

The challenge this week is not to merely study or even study the Bible, but study Jesus. Study a Person.

Perhaps you remember the story of Steve Jobs’ biography. When Jobs asked Walter Isaacson to write a biography of his life, he said to tell everything—good and bad—so that his children could know their dad. That makes me so sad—that they would need a book to get to know their dad—yet it would be even more tragic if his kids had no interest in reading it!

We have God’s Word to help us know about God, but also to know God. We can study the life and teachings of Jesus in order to ultimately know Him, His heart, and become like Him...because unlike Jobs, Jesus is alive!

The Word of God

We’re going to look at a few verses in Psalm 119. There are two things unique about this chapter. First, it is the longest chapter of the Bible, 176 verses! Second, it is divided up into sections, each beginning with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet, from aleph to taw. It begins

[Aleph] Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me. (Psalm 119:1-8)

Have you ever read passages like today’s scripture reading and wondered what all the fuss was about? Consider this passage:

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word. I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. (Psalm 119:97-104)

King David loved the Scriptures. He didn’t have a leather-bound copy of the Old and New Testament—obviously since he lived centuries before the advent of Jesus and the New Testament—but he recognized the wisdom of God and was desperate to know it. Oh that all of our political and military leaders—and business and entertainment and education get the idea—would have such a desire to know not only the information contained in the Bible, but its main character, Jesus Christ.

One of the great distinctions between Christianity and most other religions is that we pursue a living person, not merely the teachings of a dead man—or woman. Truth is a Person. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The word “Christian” means “little Christ,” so in order to authentically call yourself a Christian, you must be like Jesus, and in order to be like Jesus you must act like Jesus, and in order to act like Jesus you must know how Jesus acted, and in order to know how Jesus acted you must know the Bible and in order to know the Bible you must study it...not merely read it.

As much as I love the attitude between the old W.W.J.D. bracelets—What Would Jesus Do?—it’s often too late to ask the question. Our lives are filled with split-second decisions and actions that don’t allow time to prepare. If someone cuts me off on the expressway, I don’t have time to pause and reflect upon what Jesus would do (perhaps He would wave!).

The key to living like Jesus is to know Jesus—not just about Him, but actually know Him. The Bible is our primary source—as I mentioned two weeks ago when we talked about listening to God—but we can’t stop there. Many have read the Bible and remained skeptics. There are atheists that have read and even memorized much of the Bible! There is a difference between just reading the Bible and studying Jesus.

Love Letter

I have saved every letter and card that my wife has given me since I met her more than 27 years ago. Every one! Why? They are valuable to me because she is valuable to me. I never read a single word in order to fill my head with facts about her. I read them to know her, her heart, her essence. Her letters and cards were not written like a dictionary or encyclopedia. They are all communication vehicles to enhance our relationship. The same can be said of the Scriptures.

Psalm 119:9-16

[Beth] How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (Psalm 119:9-16)

How did David study the heart of God? The goal of David’s study was not information, but transformation.

I often struggle in studying the Bible. For me, it’s almost too familiar. I am tempted to skim through it like I would a children’s book that I’ve read to my kids one hundred times. The reality is, there are new things to glean from the Bible each time I open it. Reading it for knowledge is one thing, but asking the Holy Spirit to speak through it—and for me to be still and listen to it—is something entirely different. Our attitude and approach are critical. Oh that we could all be like David, who wrote

[Gimel] Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, who are cursed and who stray from your commands. Remove from me scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes. Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. (Psalm 119:17-24)

What was the result of David’s pursuit of God? Twice he is called a man after God’s heart. He got it! As he got to know the heart of God, he became more like God. I can tell you three things that are on God’s heart: widows, orphans and strangers.

Many have memorized parts of the Bible, gone to church for decades, pray before every meal, and put a check in the offering, but that doesn’t mean we know the heart of God, much less have the heart of God. When we study Jesus, we discover the heart of God. John wrote

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (John 1:18)

Jesus, in the incarnation and crucifixion, makes the heart of God known to us.


One of the most beautiful passages about God’s Word is found in the book of Joshua. Moses has just died, the baton has been passed to Joshua, and God gives him leadership instructions including the following:

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

What is God saying here?
  1. Know it and speak it. Keep it in your mouth.
  2. Meditate on it day and night. Keep it in your mind.
  3. Do what it says. Keep it in your actions and life.

  1. Huddle

  1. For the past year, I’ve been beta-testing a discipleship tool called a Huddle with several men, including our elders. At the heart of the gathering are two simple questions:

  1. 1. What has God been saying to you?
  1. What are you going to do about it?

  1. It all starts with knowing Him, with reading about Him, with studying Him.

  1. This Week’s Challenge

  1. Which brings us to this week’s challenge. You already know what it is—study Jesus this week...every week! Engage in God’s Word and invite Jesus to be the center of your life.

  1. For some of you, Jesus is too familiar to you. You’ve spent decades with Him and you almost forget He’s with you. This happens often in marriage—we take our spouse for granted since they’re just always there.

  1. Ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you in fresh ways. Seek first His Kingdom, not your own desires. Before your feet hit the ground, lie in bed and say, “Jesus, I want to do today with You. You lead and I will follow. You speak and I will listen and obey.” Spend time every day in God’s Word. The Scio Journal on our Facebook page makes this particularly simple as we read one chapter of the New Testament together each day and then interact. I love what Wayne Cordeiro says, that being in God’s Word each day is like receiving fresh bread. Do you like fresh bread? Jesus is the bread of life and as we sit at His feet, follow His example, and participate in His mission to seek and save the lost and care for the widow, orphan and stranger we will know Him more daily.

  1. Most of you have no problem eating food each day. Make sure there is spiritual food in your daily diet, too. Jesus wants to know you and be known by you. Study Jesus.

  1. Your Word

  1. [Nun] Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

  1. Credits: some materials borrowed from Charles Kiser (

  1. You can listen to the podcast here.

Eat with Someone, b.l.e.s.s., 20 January 2013

Eat With Someone.

Big Idea:
Eat with one lost person each week.


Two weeks ago we began our new year with our new series and annual theme, b.l.e.s.s. We said that we have been blessed to be a blessing. This is a theme throughout history, most prominently in God’s covenant with Abram.

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

We have defined success for Scio Community Church. Perhaps you’ve seen this!

We exist to fulfill the Great Commission and follow the Great Commandment by 

- serving our communities

- sharing our story
- sending disciples to bless the nations

so that God is glorified.

Our first week’s challenge was to bless one person.

Last week’s challenge was spend one hour listening to God.

These are not one-time challenge, but new rhythms, patterns for the new year, every week. Some would call them spiritual practices or disciplines.

Do you like discipline? It’s not a very attractive word, is it? We often think of punishment or rules or no-pain-no-gain. In the realm of spiritual disciplines, we commonly think of prayer, fasting, silence, solitude, or Bible study. I’m not opposed to any of those and, in fact, I’ve done quite a bit of each, but they never fell into the category of “fun” for me. Like physical exercise and eating brussel sprouts, I often did them because they were good for me, not because I really wanted to do them.

Many years ago I read a book by John Ortberg entitled The Life You’ve Always Wanted. The subtitle is “spiritual disciplines for ordinary people.” As I began the book, somewhat tentative about all of the hard work it was going to guilt me into doing, I was struck by the first discipline: celebration.

“Celebration?” I thought. That doesn’t sound all that bad! The more I read, the more I realized I actually don’t celebrate enough. I’m wired to always be looking for the next hill to climb, the next task, the next project...and I don’t pause to celebrate enough.

Like celebration, this morning I want to challenge you with a discipline that you might actually enjoy! It could change your life...and the life of others, too.
Two weeks ago we said the “b” in bless is for bless everyone.

Last week we said the “l” in bless is for listen to God.

This week’s letter is “e” and it stands for eat with someone.

Do you like to eat? What do you like to eat? Why?

What is your favorite restaurant? Why?

This week an annual report on restaurants was released and they announced the worst extreme entree: The Cheesecake Factory’s Bistro Shrimp Pasta with 3120 calories!

We’re not talking about diet today, though what you eat —and how much—is very important. Food is powerful. We all know it is necessary for life. We all recognize it can be enjoyable to our taste buds—sometimes too enjoyable!

There are over 700 verses that talk about eating, often in mandated celebrations (did you catch that?). The Bible contains many instructions about what, where, and how to eat.

  • - Passover
  • - communion/the LORD’s Supper
  • - Jesus made wine
  • - Jesus ate at Matthew’s house (Matthew 9:9-13)
  • - Jesus went to the house of Zacchaeus
  • - Jesus multiplied loaves and fish, at least twice
  • - Jesus referenced the food provided by God to the Israelites, manna
  • - Jesus calls Himself the bread of life (John 6)
  • - the Jews were very particular about their diet (kosher)

We are told in Revelation chapter 19 that there will be a great supper of the Lamb, the ultimate feast that will make Mardi Gras look like a trip to Chuck E. Cheese!

Eating was once central to life. Now we can eat alone, grab a quick bite to eat in a drive-thru, pop a tv dinner in the microwave, or even replace a meal with a shake or protein bar.

In Jesus’ day, eating was more than sustenance, it was social. Your meal colleague was someone you loved and cared for, someone that was part of your social class. This is why Jesus took such heat for eating at Matthew’s house, with him and his socially outcast friends.

But have you ever considered its power in conversation?

Food is found throughout the Bible. It provides a unique setting for conversation.

There are two short passages I want to look at together.

Acts 2

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)

This is part of a description of the early church. It describes food in the context of fellowship.

I want to draw a distinction between fellowship and hospitality. Fellowship is when we, the Church, gather together. We enjoy a potlucks, gatherings of food brought from our various homes—or favorite restaurants—to share with one another. This is one of the most important things we do as a church, especially since we are geographically scattered. There is something powerful about our conversations at potlucks. Have you noticed? They are often more meaningful than short chats in the hallway. Food brings us together.

If fellowship is what we do together, hospitality is when we welcome or love the stranger. Our potlucks also serve this function, as evidenced by one particular meal several months ago in which a conversation with first or second-time guests led to their family joining the Scio family. The potluck experience welcomed them.

Hospitality is one of the most underrated practices of the Church. One of the most fascinating verses is found in Hebrews.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:2)

It kind of makes me want to throw a party! Seriously.

Hospitality is a requirement to be an elder (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8).

Peter said,

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

Paul said,

Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13b)

We were all once strangers—to God and one another, yet we were welcomed (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Jesus was a missional eater. He ate with people, intentionally. In the book
Right Here Right Now, Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford write

“Sharing meals together on a regular basis is one of the most sacred practices we can engage in as believers. Missional hospitality is a tremendous opportunity to extend the kingdom of God. We can literally eat our way into the kingdom of God! If every Christian household regularly invited a stranger or a poor person into their home for a meal once a week, we would literally change the world by eating!”

Change the world by eating!

This Week’s Challenge

So what does eating have to do with our annual theme.
This week’s challenge is eat with one lost person. That’s it. You can do lunch, breakfast, or even coffee. You can welcome them to your home...or your favorite restaurant. The purpose is simple: eating furthers conversations, and the more conversations we have with people, the more spiritual conversations we will have, the more relationships we will form, and the greater our impact in our communities.

Just like week one, ask God to show you who...and maybe the person can provide the where.

Most of you will eat at least 21 times this week. Pick one and invite a friend...or make a friend. Eating together is a great way to bless them. And if you’re too uncomfortable one-on-one, grab a friend and have three or four at the table!

This one simple discipline may change your life...and our church. Imagine what would happen if each person spent 52 meals this year with unchurched people?

some materials borrowed from Charles Kiser (

You can listen to the podcast

Listen to God, b.l.e.s.s., 13 January 2013

Bless Everyone
Series: b.l.e.s.s.

Big Idea:
Listen to God.


Last week we began our new year with our new series and annual theme, b.l.e.s.s. We said that we have been blessed to be a blessing. This is a theme throughout history, most prominently in God’s covenant with Abram.

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

We have defined success for Scio Community Church:

We exist to fulfill the Great Commission and follow the Great Commandment by 

- serving our communities

- sharing our story
- sending disciples to bless the nations

so that God is glorified.

Last week’s challenge was...bless one person. Who and how did you bless last week? Don’t stop! It is my hope and prayer that Scio is known as a community of people that bless others. Today I’m going to introduce a second thing that I hope we are known for, but first let’s pray.


We just prayed. What is prayer? I used to think it was talking to God, but it is talking with God.

Do you like to talk? It has been said that we were given one mouth and two ears, suggesting that we ought to spend more time...listening.


Today’s word is “listen.”

Have you noticed how hard it is to get someone to listen...really listen? You can’t even call customer service and get someone to have to wait for twelve pre-recorded prompts before you can even talk to a human being!

I find it challenging to be a good listener. Do you?

It has been said that the opposite of listening is not speaking, but rather waiting to speak. It’s easy to think about what you want to say rather than truly hearing the other person.

Don’t believe me? Check out these gems from

“I don’t like to think before I speak. I like to be just as surprised as everyone else by what comes out of my mouth.”

“I wasn’t ignoring you, I just simply forgot to listen.”

“If I’m not trying to interrupt you, I’m probably not listening.”

“Thanks for listening to my problems and somehow making it all about you.”

“Sure, I’m a good listener. As long as we are talking about how great I am.”

Being fully present in the moment and truly listening to another is rare. Listening may be as powerful as anything you ever say.

How many of you have heard God speak in an audible voice?

If we’re honest, we might not want God to speak to us. We might be afraid that He’ll send us to Africa or take away all of our fun. The truth is, our Father loves us and wants the best for us...always. Always. It’s a matter of trust. If prayer is more than talking to God, it obviously involves listening to God.

How Do I Listen?

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Being still and listening to God can feel very awkward.

There are actually many ways in which we can hear from God. The first one—seen in the video clip—is the Bible. This is why it’s essential for us to be in God’s Word every day—not simply to tell everyone at the end of the year that we’ve finished reading the New Testament, but to listen to God.

He also speaks through circumstances, people, and often a still, small voice in our hearts, a voice that is not audible, but often just as real.

What has God been saying to you lately?

God’s Timing

As much as I love to think about prayer as a conversation with God and not merely talking to God, I must admit that many of the most significant things that God has spoken to me were not instantaneous responses to my prayers/questions. In fact, when I have set aside a minute or an hour or a day...or even a few days at the annual Pastors Prayer Summit, He rarely speaks on demand. I always leave those listening times at peace, though, knowing that I quieted my heart in order to hear God if He did have something to say to me at that moment.

I found this brief interview with Mother Teresa. I can’t very its authenticity, but it seems legitimate.

Interviewer: So you talk to God?
Mother Teresa: Yes.
Interviewer: What do you say?
Mother Teresa: Nothing.
Interviewer: Does he talk back?
Mother Teresa: Yes.
Interviewer: What does he say?
Mother Teresa: Nothing.

Actions speak louder than words. Sometimes words get in the way. Presence is all you need.

God wants to speak to us. He wants nothing more than a relationship with us. Some Christians talk about a relationship, but what they mean is Jesus died, they prayed a prayer, and now they’re going to heaven and can live life like everyone else.

Friends, God

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. (Proverbs 8:17)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. (Habakkuk 2:1-2)

Often, when I least expect it, God speaks to me...surprise! I don’t know if He would speak as clearly, though, if I had consistently ignored Him. Spend time with God and you will hear His voice...eventually.


The challenge this week is simple:
spend one hour listening to God. You have 168. Can you spare one?

“What do I do for an hour?” you may ask.

Be still. Be quiet. Some of you are ready right now and others are freaking out!

In case you are envisioning sitting in your room, silent, for an hour, staring at the wall, let me suggest some tools to assist you.

1. Prepare. This might include fasting or even asking others to pray for your time. It involves setting aside time. Don’t rush. You cannot expect to share a great dinner with a friend in 60 seconds, nor can you expect a great conversation with God on the fly. Also, find a good—usually quiet—place.

2. Ask Questions. One of the best ways to listen to God is to simply ask Him a question. Following last week’s message and our annual theme bless, ask God, “Who and how can I bless today?”

3. Listen

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,... (James 1:19)

4. Take notes. Write down whatever thoughts/impressions you might have.

I often do what I call red-letter journaling. I will type out my prayers on my laptop and then change the text color to red, ask God to speak, and I type everything that comes to mind.


A man once asked God, “Why don’t you feed the starving people around the world?” to which God replied, “Why don’t you feed the starving people around the world?”

Note: God may speak through others. Keep your ears open!

How Do You Know It Is God?

Many cults have been formed after a person thought they heard God...and didn’t. How do we know it is God? First, it takes time. Imagine that I called you on the phone for the first time...a phone without Caller ID! You’d probably be pleasant for a while and eventually ask, “Who is this?”

Disclaimer: for those under 25, a phone call is what we used to do with phones before texting!

If I called you a few more times, eventually you’d recognize my voice and say, “Hi Kirk!” You know my voice.

There are few ways you can test whether the message you
think is from God is not bad lunch...or wishful thinking...or the enemy.

Jesus said, “
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

1. First and foremost, what does the Bible say? God will not contradict Himself. Period. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

  1. 2. Seek wise counsel. Godly men and women can often discern the source of messages. (Proverbs 11:14)

  1. 3. Pray for confirmation. If the message is persistent, it may be valid. (Matthew 18:16)

4. Is it possible? If it is, it might not be from God. He loves to work through our weakness. If it seems crazy, it
might be from God! (2 Corinthians 12:10)

  1. 5. Do you have peace about it? (Colossians 3:15)

  1. 6. Obey God. This goes back to the first test. You have to know the Truth...Jesus and His Word. Don’t expect it to be politically correct, either!

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Jesus Listened

Have you ever noticed how many times Jesus got away to pray? I used to think He did all of the talking, but He listened to the Father. He spent forty days fasting and praying before selecting the twelve disciples. He asked if there was a Plan B in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested and crucified. He made time for the Father. See Luke 22:39-44 as an example.

I doubt Jesus spent time asking the Father for more safety, comfort, or pleasure. He was seeking the will of the Father, and we can seek it, too...but be prepared to act.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22-25)

Acts 12:25 – 13:3
When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.

In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

How did the early church listen to God?
They heard from God as they worshipped and fasted…as they were laying down their own agendas for God’s. As the early church leaders were worshipping and fasting, they heard from God. God inspired them to send out Barnabas and Saul for the sake of blessing other people.

My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers

They said to Moses, ’You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die’ `—Exodus 20:19

We don’t consciously and deliberately disobey God— we simply don’t listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them— not because of willful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (
John 14:15). Once we realize we have constantly been showing disrespect to God, we will be filled with shame and humiliation for ignoring Him.

“You speak with us, . . . but let not God speak with us . . . .” We show how little love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don’t want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God’s servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative. We respond by saying, “Well, that’s only your own idea, even though I don’t deny that what you said is probably God’s truth.”

Am I constantly humiliating God by ignoring Him, while He lovingly continues to treat me as His child? Once I finally do hear Him, the humiliation I have heaped on Him returns to me. My response then becomes, “Lord, why was I so insensitive and obstinate?” This is always the result once we hear God. But our real delight in finally hearing Him is tempered with the shame we feel for having taken so long to do so.

For Further Study

Credits: some materials borrowed from Charles Kiser (

You can listen to the podcast here.

Bless Everyone, b.l.e.s.s., 6 January 2013

Bless Everyone
Series: b.l.e.s.s.

Big Idea: We have been blessed to be a blessing.

Scriptures: Genesis 12:1-3; John 6:1-13; Philippians 2:1-11

Happy New Year!

We have begun a new year, a year full of hopes and promise, possibility and potential. As we all know, one of the most common elements of the new year is the making of new year’s resolutions.

Have you made new year’s resolutions?
Have you have been able to maintain your resolutions for six days?!

Why do we make resolutions? We hope to change. We hope to grow.

This is really a great time of year to reflect, plan, and focus. There’s a myth that says as we get older, we’ll automatically get wiser. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Growth does not just occur...unless you’re talking about your waistline! Dr. John Maxwell says that we have to be intentional towards growth.

One of the keys to growth is perseverance. It’s easy to get impatient with our resolutions and goals. It is so important to stick to it!

This week I was reminded of the power of perseverance. If you swing an axe five times on a tree, most likely nothing much will happen—unless it’s a tiny tree! If tomorrow you do it again, you probably won’t see much change. If you take five swings every day, eventually it will fall, no matter how big the tree. Perseverance is the key.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

We have defined success for Scio Community Church:

We exist to fulfill the Great Commission and follow the Great Commandment by 

- serving our communities

- sharing our story
- sending disciples to bless the nations

so that God is glorified.

How? Let’s begin with why.

Genesis 12:1-3

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Do you want to be blessed? We have all been richly blessed. We have not been blessed for merely our own pleasure, however, but to be a blessing to others. We are to be conduits of God’s blessing to our weary world that rejoices when they encounter Jesus Christ.

God’s covenant with Abram in chapter twelve of the Bible begins a thread that is found not only throughout the pages that follow, but also today and until the very end of the age when followers of Jesus will ultimately experience God’s presence forever.

The Hebrew word for "blessing" (
JKårD;b, baœrak) means "to empower to strength." We seek God's blessing and pass that blessing on to others. We’ve been blessed to be a blessing. This applies to our finances, our freedoms, our resources, our relationships, and our salvation.

Today and for these first five weeks of 2013 we’re going to look at how we can be a blessing to others, and ultimately to God. To make it simple, throughout this series we will use the acronym b.l.e.s.s. Today’s “B” is simply “bless everyone.”

As I was studying this week, I was struck by one feature of a well-known story, Jesus multiplying the loaves and the fish. There were thousands of hungry people when Jesus tells His disciples that the people need food.

John 6:7-13

Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
(John 6:7)

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:8-9)

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. (John 6:10-11)

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. (John 6:12-13)

The boy did not need a miracle from God. In fact, he didn’t even need lunch. He brought his own! The boy offered what he had to Jesus. In doing so, his sacrifice was multiplied and thousands were fed, including the boy. John Maxwell said,
“If you trust Him with your lunch, it is only a matter of time before you trust Him with your life. The more you put in His hands, the greater it becomes.”

How have you been blessed?

Philippians 2:1-8

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)

That might sound far-fetched, but this is what it means to follow Jesus. Paul continues...

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

Perhaps Jesus said it best. His entire ministry was filled with both words and deeds to express the love of God to those around Him. He said

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

I’ve been reading a book by Mark Russell called
The Missional Entrepreneur. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to use their marketplace work as their mission field. The book highlights a study done by two teams of missionaries sent to Thailand.

You could call one team the “blessers” and the other team, the “converters.” The “converters” went with the sole intention of converting people and evangelizing everyone around them. The “blessers” went with the intention of “blessing” people. They would say, “I’m just here to bless whoever comes my way” or “I just want to be a blessing to the people in my community.”

The study followed both teams for a couple of years and here are two interesting observations. First, the “blessers” had a greater social impact than the “converters.” Blessing created social good. Secondly, the “blessers” had 48 times as many conversions as the “converters!” They were more successful at helping people encounter Jesus.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

From the very beginning, God’s way to change the world has been a “blessing strategy.” God blessed Abraham relationally, financially and spiritually; but the purpose of that blessing was not for him to simply receive that blessing. The intent of the blessing for Abraham and all who followed after him, including Jesus and us, is that we are being blessed to be a blessing. This is a subtle but important point – if you do not get this you will never discover your mission in life and nothing else you read in this book will make any sense! Every single blessing you’ve ever received was given to you so that you would in turn be a blessing to others. Yes, you were blessed to be a blessing!

Being a blessing to people is both how you accomplish the Jesus Mission and how you discover your own mission. How do you bless people? First, begin with prayer. Ask God to show you who and how you are to bless. One of my regular prayers living at the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland is, “LORD, I have been blessed and I want to bless others. Show me who and how to bless.” Then obey!


The challenge this week is simple:
bless one person, preferably a person that does not know Jesus. Feel free to bless others, too, but ask God to show you who and how to bless. It may be a little thing like holding the door open for a stranger or something more significant like providing a meal for a sick neighbor or paying the bill of the people behind you in the drive-through (though that doesn’t provide much relational connection). One suggestion: ask your waiter, waitress or barista how you can pray for God to bless them. Other ideas can be found at


Don’t live a solitary life. Bless everyone.


Aaron Niequist has created a series of interactive worship tools called "A New Liturgy." The second project is "Blessed To Be A Blessing,” a worthwhile download that would be a great next step. The audio package is $5 at iTunes.

You can listen to the podcast here.