October 12 – Our Values – Multiplication

Read Acts 2:41-47; 4:1-4; 5:14; 6:7

If you have been around Pastor Nick much at all, you have likely heard him talk about his passion that our church ministry be characterized as a “multiplying movement.” We aspire to be “one church with thousands of locations and multiple campuses.” Multiplication, you see, is a big part of our identity.

But multiplication is not just something that staff or board members have dreamed up. It has been part of Christ’s plan for us from the outset. He called us to make disciples among all people groups (Matt. 28:19, 20). His Spirit empowers us to carry His message from the neighborhood to the nations (Acts 1:8). And in 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul talked about a “four-generational” multiplication which began as he (first generation) shared truth with Timothy and others (second generation). He invited Timothy, then, to entrust those truths to other reliable people (third generation), who would teach still others (fourth generation).

Disciples who make disciples…that is the goal and the essence of multiplication.

Your Bible reading for today describes what that multiplication looked like in the first-century church in Jerusalem. On the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, the Holy Spirit of God used Peter’s sermon, and He drew 3000 people to Christ (2:41). Only a short time later in the fourth chapter of Acts, the number of men alone was at 5000 (4:4). Then, in the aftermath of cleansing, “more and more men and women believed…and were added” in chapter five (5:14). Chapter six also points out how “the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly” (6:7).

While we may attribute this multiplication in Jerusalem to another place and another time, not possible today, we must recognize two important things. First, God has also done this in our day. If you trace the growth of Christianity in South Korea over the last decades, you will discover amazing multiplicative growth! Secondly, although the numbers and the rate of growth may differ in our day, don’t lose sight of the fact that God wants you to multiply yourself by making a disciple. He wants to multiply your Grace Group by launching another group or leader from it. He wants to multiply our church by seeing other churches/campuses established.

Will you join us?

Steve Kern

Questions to consider:

  1. What people were instrumental in your faith journey?
  2. Who are you investing in to see them come to and grow in faith?

 

 

October 11 – Our Values – In, Out and Up

Read Hebrews 10:24-25, Acts 2:47 and Colossians 1:28-29

I’m so introverted it isn’t even funny. I am completely at peace when Kelly and I are at home spending quality time together whether it’s just talking, watching a show on Hulu or cleaning up after our two year old. Sure there are times in my life where I need to be extroverted whether it’s at work or out in public, but for the most part, I choose to keep to myself. Even when I’m called on to host a service(s) at Grace Church, I get sweaty, light headed and my stomach churns all the way to the stage.

It’s just who I am.

However, as I am growing in my maturity, I am realizing that just because something comes easily to me, doesn’t mean that is something I need to focus 100% of my effort all the time. Life is full of doing things that are uncomfortable. Seek discomfort…it makes you grow.

The same is true for our groups ministry here at Grace. For all of our 60+ groups we want some key qualities to be a part of their very DNA that we believe make them the healthiest group and leader they can be: In, Out, and Up.

Probably the most natural sign of a healthy group and leader is IN. Most naturally people get together and “live life” with one another. However, I am encouraging our groups to take it a step further and be in the trenches of life with the members in their group. Next, the hardest sign is OUT. Most groups have an easy time being IN and UP, however it isn’t easy to serve. Our vision for OUT and #forwaynecounty is to gain the favor of people in order to soften their hearts to the gospel. We want to be known as a personal church that wants God’s best for people and this includes serving outside the confines of our church. Lastly, the easiest sign is UP. It may seem obvious but we want people to grow in their relationship with the Lord as a result of their group.

While these signs were designed for group life, how can you apply them to your life? How can you best foster relationships with other people? How can you be in the trenches with people and genuinely care for them? What are some ways that you can serve those around you? Our #fwc movement is a GREAT way to begin serving. Lastly, are you growing spiritually? In what way are you engaging with the Bible? What are you learning? What are your plans to dig deeper?

We believe that if groups are IN, OUT, and UP to their very core, they are being a healthy group. In the same breath, we believe that if you challenge yourself personally to be IN, OUT and UP, you are on the road to becoming healthier as a physical and spiritual being!

Jake Lawson

Questions to consider:

  • What are some ways that you can foster deeper and more genuine relationships with people?
  • What are some ways that you can best serve those around you? Check out our #fwc page for inspiration!
  • What are some ways that you can grow deeper in your relationship with the Lord?

October 10 – Our Values – It all belongs to God

Read Romans 12:1-2

Serving as a Grace Group leader for Grace Students has been one of the most rewarding, and challenging experiences of my life. My co-leader and I have been with the same group of guys for a few years now, and as we have had the blessing of watching these boys turn into young men, so too have we been stretched to deepen our own understanding of the Bible as the questions from our group have grown in complexity. In particular, a young man in our group recently asked me the following “Taylor I want to give to God and the work of His church, but how do I do that if I don’t have an income?” My mind immediately went to the verses we are studying today.

I love thinking about the concept that everything belongs to God. All of the values of our church have a special place in my heart, and in some way are a part of my story, but this one in particular stands out to me. We live in God’s world, everything that has existed, that exists here in the present, and will exist in the future is His. That includes you and I. Our bodies, our spirit, every strand of DNA in us is God’s. This truly is His world, and we have the wonderful blessing of getting to play some small part in it during this period of history.

The words Paul shares with Romans in this passage, and with us today is foundational to understanding sacrifice and its importance in our walk of faith. The Lord has blessed us with our life, our bodies, our minds and our spirits. The very least we can do is to offer ourselves as vessels to share His love, preach His Gospel, and serve His Kingdom on His earth. Whether you have an income or not, if you are reading this devotional today you have life- so what are you doing with it?

I encourage all of us today (myself included) to reflect on our lives and ask the Lord to continue to show us new ways we can sacrifice for the Kingdom. He has called us for such a time as this, and if “you’re not dead, God’s not done.” I believe strongly that Jesus has a plan for all of us and am praying today that He will continue to lead us towards loving others and spreading His gospel.

It ALL belongs to God.

Taylor Bennington

Questions to consider:

  • As you reflect on your life, what are some ways you can sacrifice for the Kingdom?
  • Even outside of tithing, what are some ways you can live out “it all belongs to God”?

October 9 – Our Values – Life is better together

Read 1 Corinthians 12:26

It was a Wednesday evening in January as I entered a youth room as a new youth leader at the church I visited regularly in my teens and young adult years. There I met her, the woman who would become my pillar; her name, Mayelis (Magie) Keogh (Cisneros).

Church’s aren’t meant to be created as simply a building for people to come and go so you can check it off your list or a place to tithe because the Bible says so. Church is not a building but a body and in our culture, we often forget that God is relational. A body meant for connection and iron sharpening iron. A body meant to work together to achieve the end goal to be more like Jesus so that we can make disciples who make disciples who proclaim the name of Jesus.

Yet, here we are, fallen beings and without each other, how are we sharpened?

Magie was the pillar, the iron the Lord used to sharpen me. He used her character, her faith, her story with Him to minister, challenge, encourage me to become the best that God created for me. Without Magie and how the Lord used her specifically, I would not be who I am today.

Something Pastor Nick stated in a sermon recently was the fact that in any recovery program, the people, the sponsors aren’t meant to just come and go to a meeting, but they jump into the trenches with the newly sober in order to build them up, to support them and walk life with them. This is essentially the point that Paul is trying to make in 1 Corinthians. He is stating the value of one another in another’s life. I love this value of our church because it is a value that Magie taught me early on in my walk with the Lord. She was there. She stood by me as I repented, as I healed, as I grew and she pushed me into a biblical world view that I couldn’t see before and I will be forever grateful for the lives and women the Lord has placed in my life since her. Life, truly is, better together!

Do you have a pillar? Is there someone in your life that lives life with you and builds you up, points you back to Jesus? Someone who sharpens you?

Are you connected within our church, serving or involved in a Grace Group?
What is your next step when it comes to connection? Do you believe this is God’s best for you?

Kelly Lawson

Questions to consider:

  • Do you have a “pillar” in your life? If you don’t who comes to mind that you could reach out to?
  • Do you believe that God is relational? What does that characteristic of His mean to you?

October 8 – Our Values – Saved people serve people

Read Matthew 20:26-28

At a local high school is a sign on the wall near the exit that reads: “GO AND SERVE.” It is a reminder that after you graduate, your job is to serve. Serving as a Christian includes listening, honesty, being trustworthy and using our spiritual gifts (Romans 12).

Serving is a great thing to do: Jesus said, ”whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” (Matt. 20:26b).

Listen to the heart of other people! Part of serving is the intentional effort to listen to others: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9b.

A servant must have integrity and be trustworthy: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10). SO BE HONEST IN EVERY AREA OF YOUR LIFE!

To achieve Jesus-style success as a servant, be sure to model your life after Jesus and share his vision: “If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me.” (John 12:26).

Sometimes we will work with those who are not interested in serving Christ. In that common situation, just stay poised and patient. Just be yourself. Work hard. Do not be a slacker. Be punctual. Do not gossip. Never use profanity. Model Christianity.

We all have different spiritual gifts given to us by God and can use them while serving. Some of the examples from Romans 12 would be serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, giving generously, leadership and showing mercy. There are many others. Do you know yours?

I know of a person who has the spiritual gift of teaching and he is a high school teacher. Here is a statement from one of his students: “Throughout my years in this high school, Mr. ____has been there for me day in and day out. Whatever the case may be, it may be about sports, life or whatever questions I wanted to ask him, he was always there with an answer. Thank you Mr. ______ for inspiring me and making me a better student and a better man.”

Be yourself! Use your spiritual gifts that God has given you.

Tom Weckesser

Questions to consider:

1-Do you know your spiritual gifts? Take an online test.

2-How can you serve others right where you are?

 

October 7 – Our Values – Life change is an invitation away

Read Mathew 4:18-22, 9:35-38, Colossians 1:1-29 and 4:2-6 and 2 Timothy 1:7-14

We stood in my driveway. It was probably the most awkward attempt at sharing the gospel I ever made. We left emotionally drained. I felt like I failed but Jesus was at work. With one question the holy spirit cracked the surface of a crusty heart and a soul began its pilgrimage out of darkness. It was a process. God sprinkled hope and help along the way and eventually, this soul surrendered, ever to be in the light.

“Come, follow me,”Jesus said, “And I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

Jesus has changed my life. Once through salvation, and a million more times through calling me to surrender and follow him.

As I stood in my driveway that day, I longed to prove everything I believed about Jesus. It made me feel desperate. It made my words come out all wrong. But God is a miracle worker. He made his invitation clear and He used my life…a life of a follower…to call and create a new one.

Amazing. Gracious. Inspiring.

“They left their nets.”

What’s in yours? All kinds of things sift into mine.

Fear.

Not wanting to be uncomfortable.

Apathy, rooted in forgetting God’s purpose for my life and the destination of lost souls.

Insecurity.

Dreading rejection.

Unbelief.

Busyness.

And then I remember the day in my driveway. The way God moved.  And I lay down my net and run hard after the life changing Savior of the world…of my heart. He is worth the awkward, the sacrifice, the time, the ‘trouble.’

Let’s keep following and pointing to the one who saves. No. Matter. What.

Shelly Eberly

Questions to consider:

  • Pray – Ask God to show you what’s in your ‘net’ and for His help in surrendering them. Ask for his forgiveness in areas of unbelief and selfishness. Ask God for eyes to see the ‘fish’ within your circle of influence. Ask Him to prepare their hearts for the gospel and that He will give you opportunities to share your hope with them. Ask for courage.
  • Share your desire to reach someone with a friend that will pray with you. Celebrate together when God moves in miraculous ways!

 

October 6 – Our Values – There is always a next step

Read I Peter 2:1-12

It is amazing to think that infants survive on a liquid substance! This substance has all they need for growth. This is, as we all know, just for a season. Peter challenged his readers then and us today to be aware of our diets. He tells us what our cravings should look like and what our appetites should be.

Let’s pause to think about this in the historical context in which Peter was writing. Nero was in power and Rome had been burned. All that the people prided themselves in was taken away. Their idols and the places of their pagan worship were gone.  The people had believed that Nero set the fire and were naturally angry. To deflect the accusations, Nero blamed the Christians for burning Rome and persecution of Christians ensued causing them to scatter to neighboring provinces. Peter was telling them, then, how to live and evangelize in their hostile environment. The truth of this passage gives them the spiritual direction and help to navigate their culture.

The spiritual climate in which we live today is also antagonistic. In this moment in time, we should also crave spiritual nourishment instead of following fleshly desires. This allows us growth and others may see our good lives, molded by Him, the Chief Architect, and glorify God. We can allow Him to continue to shape and build us into the people our culture needs to see.  The beautiful growth He brings in our lives gives us the platform to declare His praises.  Praises that come out of a grateful heart and a life that has been rescued out of darkness! Later in this chapter, we are called “God’s special possession.” He is showing us through His word what our next step is. Obedience is the barrier between us and growth. This is hard to swallow and yet it’s true, isn’t it? It takes me too long to reason and rationalize why I “feel “ the way I do and why “I need time to process.”  In fact, I am refusing to obey and be used as a “living stone” that is being built into a spiritual house to glorify God (vv. 5-12). Let’s submit to His plan!

There is always a next step! Take a few minutes each day to let the Word of God and the Holy Spirit reveal to you what yours is.

Celeste Kern

Questions to consider:

1. Listen to I Peter 2 and think through the ways to grow in your faith.

.https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/dramatized/niv/1Pet.2

  1. Pray and act on the good things God is revealing to you to do today.