Overcome: Consumerism – I Was Made to Contribute

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Imagine what it would be like to wake up one day and think to yourself, I have something to contribute to the world and I’m grateful for the opportunity to offer it today!

If this idea sounds far-fetched to you, ask yourself why? Seriously, take time to really dig-in — Why is it so hard for me to think and believe that I have something to contribute and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so? 

Take 5 minutes to ponder and wrestle with the above question. 

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While there may be a lot of potential answers to this question, the simple truth is that God has invited you – and daily invites you – to contribute something each and every day. You’re not simply a consumer – you’re a contributor. Instead of asking yourself, Do I have anything of value to contribute today, remind yourself, I do have something of value to contribute today. And because I do have something to contribute, I’m going to prayerfully and gratefully enter this day with a heart to offer it. I will contribute.

READING & JOURNALING:

     MATTHEW 5:14-16

In what ways will you be intentional in your service of others today? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I simply thank You for the truths I was reminded of this week. Not only did You give me a purpose, but You have invited me into Your story, and to contribute something of value and worth into the lives of others. Thank You for working within me and through me, and for being with me as I strive to reflect Your grace to the world. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Overcome: Consumerism – I Was Made to Serve

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Have you ever walked into a room full of people in search of the leader of the group? Like, who’s the person in charge here? They’re the one I need to speak with. They’re the one who can get things done.

Sometimes it’s necessary to find the person in charge. The person who can get things done. But this mindset may lead you to think that since you’re not the one in charge, you don’t have anything of worth to offer. You may give in to the lie that you don’t have anything good to contribute. 

As Christians, it’s important to remember that each and every one of us was made to contribute something grand. Of the 7+ Billion people in the world, God still created you. There’s no other like you, and He has given you something amazing to contribute to others. What will you do with this contribution? Hide it? Ignore it? Believe the lie that you don’t have anything good to contribute? Or will you allow God to work in and through you to serve others, reflecting the love and grace of God? 

READING & JOURNALING:

    ROMANS 12:3-8, 1 PETER 4:11-13

In what ways has God already prepared you to build up and equip others your church? Try to think of at least three.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess there are times when I don’t feel like I have a specific purpose. Others seem to be extremely gifted at teaching, or singing, or something else, but I feel unprepared and even unworthy to offer anything. Today, I’m once again grateful for the reminder that You created me with a purpose. I wasn’t made to simply sit idly through life, but I was made with a purpose, and a part of that purpose is to build up the church. Thank you for this wonderful gift! In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Overcome: Consumerism – I Have Something to Contribute

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Are you introverted or extroverted? It’s a simple question, and one that’s often asked in everything from job interviews to countless personality profiles. 

Unfortunately, some misunderstand what it means to be introverted or extroverted. In general, it does not mean that somebody prefers to either be alone, or to be with people. Instead, an introvert is able to recharge by spending some time alone. Similarly, an extrovert is able to recharge by spending time with others.

In our society, there are countless introverts who perform in theater, music, or public speaking. They don’t dislike being in groups of people, it just isn’t what fuels them. So they spend time alone to prepare, but then they’ll take the stage and are able to regularly interact with people.

As a Christian, it’s important to remember that whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you have something amazing to contribute to others in your church. You don’t need to label yourself as a consumer, an extrovert, an introvert, or anything else. Instead, you can simply identify yourself as a contributor. 

READING & JOURNALING:

     EPHESIANS 4:11-16

What are three things you believe you are able to contribute to others within your local church? 

In what ways will you offer to contribute these gifts this week? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that sometimes I just don’t like being around other people. There are times when I feel alone, believing the lie that I have nothing to offer the group. Today, I’m grateful for the reminder that I do have something to contribute. As this week continues, I pray that this reminder will help me to change the way I think about my relationships with my family, friends, colleagues, and others. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Overcome: Consumerism – I Am a Consumer?

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Everywhere you look, there’s another advertisement. Each one designed with one overarching message – You are a consumer, we have a product, you should buy our product. The vast majority of these advertisements will do their very best to convince you your life will be better as a result of owning this product. You’ll be happier. More content. More fulfilled. 

Unfortunately, this may lead people to give into the temptation to see ourselves primarily as consumers. Not just at home. Not just at work. But also in a local church. This can lead to an unhealthy mindset: My church exists to benefit my needs and desires.

Those who see the church with a consumer mindset may have the temptation to examine a church by what’s in it for them. For example, how many bible studies are available? How many resources are available? How many classrooms are available? How many ________ are available? And while it’s true that a local church does exist to benefit the needs of the people, this isn’t its sole purpose. As you read today, consider this: What is the primary purpose of a local church?

READING & JOURNALING:

     EPHESIANS 2:19-22

What is the primary purpose of a local church? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I’m grateful for the remainder that I’m not just a consumer in my local church. While there are ministries, sermons, bible studies, and other aspects that do equip me and help me in my growth, I also have something to contribute. This week, help me grow in my understanding as to what this means and how I can more freely offer my services and gifts to my church. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Overcome: The Past – Write it Out

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Take the opportunity to review this week’s questions and scripture readings. 

What is one way you’ve grown this week in your understanding of God, yourself, and others? 

Take some extra time today to write out a prayer to God. Share your heart, fears, and feelings with Him, knowing He is intently listening, and believing He is with you in all things. 

Overcome: The Past – Defining Moments

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It’s a sad reality that we all will experience hurts and trauma in our lives. Every single person reading this has experienced some form of a significant hurt or trauma. One may experience trauma in the form of an abusive parent or loved one, while another may experience it from an unforeseen accident, medical diagnosis, or death in the family. 

From a cultural perspective, there’s a strong temptation to allow traumatic events to define our lives. We’ll even refer to these events as Defining Moments in our lives. But is this the wise and healthy thing to do? Is it wise to allow a moment of trauma to completely define who we are? 

The answer, of course, is no. While it isn’t healthy to ignore or numb the reality of these events, it also isn’t healthy to allow them to completely define our lives. Today, as you dwell on a moment in your life in which your faith was tested, pause to consider whether or not you’ve been providing this event too much power in your life. Are you allowing this event to define who you are? Or are you allowing this event to help you grow in your understanding of God and yourself?

READING & JOURNALING:

     JAMES 1:2-8

Write about a time when your faith was tested. In what ways did this experience ultimately help you grow?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, sometimes I feel like my faith is being tested every day in every way. Today, I simply pray that You will be the defining aspect of my life, and that I will reflect your love and grace to others. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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Overcome: The Past – Numb the Dark, Numb the Light

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Have you ever wanted to simply forget about something? Not just run away from the tension or trauma, but put it completely out of your mind? 

While running away from the past is a temptation we’ll all experience at some point in our lives, numbing the past may be an even greater temptation. Some may attempt to numb the challenges of life with drugs, sex, or alcohol. But others may go another route – numbing with food, tv, social media, video games, sports, or other unhealthy patterns. 

The downfall to these unhealthy choices is that when we numb the darkness in our lives, we also end up numbing the light. There may be less tears, but also less laughter. Less depression, but also less joy. An ongoing pattern of mediocrity may take hold, leaving us resenting those who appear to be living joyful, content lives. 

The solution, of course, is to identify the areas of our lives in which we may be numbing, and to begin forming a healthy lifestyle. A life of engaging with God and with others. A life of observing the beauty of it all. A life of real wonder. 

READING & JOURNALING:

    COLOSSIANS 3:5-13, PSALM 139:23-24

Think of a time when you tried to block out or numb the challenges of life. What was that like? Did you discover that numbing the darkness also numbed the light? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I may not regularly numb the challenges of life in ways that are too unhealthy, but I still recognize that numbing with food, tv, social media, video games, sports, or other ‘normal’ activities doesn’t help me to grow closer to You. Today, I ask that you point out anything in me that may be distracting me from more fully knowing You. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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Overcome: The Past – Where Are You Going?

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“What is the most important step a man can take?”

There’s a fictional character in a novel by author Brandon Sanderson who wrestles with the above question over a period of several months. At first, he concludes that the first step must be the most important step a man can take. No additional steps can be taken without the first step, so it must be the most important one, right? But there’s something about the question that sticks with him. He continues wrestling with it. Finally, it hits him: “The next step is the most important step a man can take. Always the next step.”

When we’re running away from a negative situation, we may discover that we’re running to nowhere. We may be putting one foot in front of the other, but we’re not actually making forward progress. When asked the question, Where are you going? we may acknowledge what it is we’re running from but may not have a clear idea of what we’re running to. As you read today, consider this: What is the most important step you can take?  

READING & JOURNALING:

     ROMANS 8:38-39

What is the most important step you can take today? The step that will help you see God, see yourself, and see others as they really are? 

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I recognize that the best step a person can take is always the next step…but I confess that I don’t always know exactly what the next step is for me to take. Nevertheless, I trust You to lead, guide, and direct me along this path. Whatever the next step may be, I trust in Your wisdom, grace, and love to help me navigate it well. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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Overcome: The Past – Where Have You Come From?

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Have you ever wanted to get away? Have a fresh start? You’re certainly not alone. 

Negative experiences and trauma are unfortunate realities of the broken world in which we live. Sometimes we just want to run and get away from it all. And we’ll go to big lengths to make it happen. We may do this by intentionally avoiding someone who has hurt us or someone we’ve hurt. Trying out a new job. Some may even move to another community in order to have a fresh start. 

But unfortunately, running away from past hurts or mistakes isn’t helpful or healthy. Running away simply doesn’t work. 

There’s a similar theme woven throughout a number of stories in the Old Testament. Somebody is clearly running away from their past when a wise person challenges them with two questions: Where have you come from? Where you are going?

These questions may seem simple, but there’s tremendous wisdom in them. They provide opportunities to confront the traumatic experiences of the past. They provide opportunities to heal. They provide opportunities to grow. 

READING & JOURNALING:

GENESIS 16:8, JOHN 16:33

Where have you come from? What negative or traumatic experiences have led you to want to have a fresh start?

Is there anything you’re still running from today?  

Extra: During Sunday’s message, Pastor Justin mentioned this scene from The Chosen, which is a creative telling of the story that occurs in John 4. Feel free to watch it by clicking here.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that I don’t like to think about some aspects of my past. There’s a fear that the pain of some events may overwhelm me, and my life already feels overwhelming. But I’m beginning to see that ignoring these events isn’t helping. So today I pray that you will help me to see these events through fresh eyes. I also pray that I will regularly remember that You have overcome the world, and I can rest in You in all things. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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The Prayers of Paul

In Timothy Keller’s book Prayer, he observes the startling truth that Paul never prayers for the circumstances of his friends. Keller writes, “It is remarkable that in all of his writings Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances. It is certain that they lived in the midst of many dangers and hardships. They faced persecution, death from disease, oppression by powerful forces, and separation from loved ones. Yet in these prayers you see not one petition for a better emperor, for protection from marauding armies, or even for bread for the next meal. Paul does not pray for the goods we would usually have near the top of our lists of requests…[what] he most frequently prayed for his friends, was for them to know God better. ”

So…what exactly did Paul pray for his friends? Below is a compilation of passages to answer this question.

Prayers of Paul:

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

(Phil. 1:3-6; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-12; Eph. 3:16-19; Eph. 1:17-19; Col. 3:12-17; Phil. 4:8-9)

Questions to Consider:

What do you find most interesting about Paul’s prayers for his friends?

In what ways may God be inviting you to change how you pray?