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Encountering God through Others - First15 - September 23, 2017

Encountering God through Others

Weekly Overview:

Having consistent and transformational encounters with God while on earth is meant to be foundational to the Christian life. Our God has not left us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we’ve been filled with the very Spirit of God who longs to reveal to us daily the nearness and love of our heavenly Father. We are never alone. There is nowhere we can flee from the presence of our God. May this week be filled with transformational encounters with the living God as we learn what it is to seek the face of the one who has formed us, knows us, and loves us unconditionally.

Scripture:“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” - Matthew 18:19-20

Devotional:

One of the most impactful ways God reveals himself is through others. Jesus taught us in Matthew 18:19-20, “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” We can learn aspects of God’s heart through others that we simply can’t learn alone. In relationship with others we learn about God’s heart for unity, grace, humility, and love in new and powerful ways. In fellowship we encounter people with various giftings, perspectives, and past experiences that are different than our own. And in community we discover God’s heart to use others for the building up, healing, and sharpening of ourselves. James 5:13-16 says,

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

God longs for you to give yourself fully to the community around you. He longs to use you for the healing and building up of others. And he longs for you to embrace humility and receive help and sharpening from others around you.

Ephesians 4:16 says, “From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Investing in community gives you the opportunity to be used by God to be built up in love with a group of believers. It positions you to receive help from fellow believers who are pursuing Jesus. And it equips you to pursue freedom and life in areas where you might not have gotten victory without the help of others.

Pursue wholehearted community today, not because fellow believers are perfect, but because you, as an imperfect child of God, need help from fellow imperfect children to encounter the fullness of abundant life God intends for you. Have grace for others. Love when you are unloved. Help when no one else will. Build up the body that Jesus loves that the world might better know the loving and available God we serve.

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on the importance of investing in, and being invested in, by fellow believers.

“From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” - Ephesians 4:16

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” - Matthew 18:19-20

2. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you whom you ought to invest in today and who he wants to use to invest in you. Ask God to help you humble yourself that you might love and show grace regardless of the faults of others.

3. Take some time and encourage a fellow believer. Ask God to show you his heart for that person and send them an encouragement from him. Ask God for a Scripture that he is speaking over that person. May you be used to build up another in love today.

I believe that the Lord has a few people for each of us that we are called to be totally open with. Oftentimes healing for our sin comes through confession and repentance to God and to fellow believers. When our sin is truly brought into the light in front of believers, we can better see it for what it is and gain help and accountability. May Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 encourage you today as you seek to develop much needed community with fellow believers:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Extended Reading: Ephesians 4

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