Upward, Outward: Missional Community.


36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew22:36-40NIV

Epidemic…
A friend of mine has traveled extensively and spoken to numerous pastors and church leaders. As a result, he’s discovered there is an epidemic. It seems there is a vacuum in many hearts; the vacuum is often discovered when believer’s feel / sense there must be more to life than what they are living. They may be encouraged to pray, worship, journal, read books, attend conferences, attend church or meditate upon scripture to fill their void. In reality, the vacuum they are sensing may be a purpose deficit.

All inflow, with no outflow, creates a sick heart. You and I were created to flow outward, to do good works.

Eph 2: 8-10NIV
  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

We are saved by grace through faith not by works. However, we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

Good works don’t save us, good works reveal us. 

If you and I are not giving our lives away by serving others… somewhere we, at our core, are purpose impaired.

The below diagram illustrates:

                                                                                                                                                            

Upward:Give. Upward:Receive. 
Everything in life flows from our connective relationship to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everything. He is the source of our identity. Knowing Whose we are enables us to draw near with confidence.

In Him, we live and move and have our being. Our heart connection is so important. We draw near, and He draws near to us. His promise is true. 

All life flows from our relationship with Him. We draw near to give: to give our hearts, to give our lives, to give our worship. 

I give my worship because He is so worthy, so gracious, so loving, so forgiving. 

It’s amazing… as we give, we often receive. (I personally believe we receive more than we are aware when we spend time in His  presence.) 

What we receive is a by-product of our worshipful giving. I give my time, I give my life as worship. He, in turn, pours His love and grace into my heart. When we receive, we then have something to give. Knowing Him, I can then make Him known. (I John 1:1-9)
                                                                                                                                                                 
Outward:Give. Outward:Receive. 
The great Investor invests into our lives so that we are built up, and have something to give away to others. 

He gives us love, joy, hope, faith, grace, power, talents, giftings, gifts, and passions for others. 

As I make Him known, through active love and service, He in turn, gives something back… a sense of destiny, a sense of purpose, a sense of fulfillment.

It’s in the very act of giving, laying our lives down for others we receive. We receive encouragement when someone is genuinely encouraged and cared for through our service. We also can sense God’s favor as we give away what we have received. When we bless others, we are blessed.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

My friend Shana has a new photography business. She decided to dedicate 10% of what she earns to help people in need. Yesterday, she went shopping for groceries and toiletries. She then headed up to Trotwood to deliver the groceries and supplies to women in crisis. She stayed awhile encouraging the women and children. 

                                                                                                                                                                       
Here is a snippet of her story.
 “There are days when my envy for what others have makes it hard to breathe and others when my heart aches for what others do not. Every day I work hard to be a humble servant, putting others ahead of myself in my relationships and in my business. All the money in the world would mean nothing to me if I couldn’t help others.
Today was hard and beautiful all in the same, I was able to gift a car full of groceries to the Mustard Seed Foundation in Trotwood, a home for teenage mothers. These girls are facing challenges on so many levels and I am so thankful this home exists. I was greeted with warm smiles and big hearts and I left behind a little goodness and grace.” 

Her passion intersects with God’s purpose.  

Her passion:To care for people. Her purpose:Release her creative gifting to care for others, both in her chosen profession as a photographer and giving to people in need.

Guess where her tank is filled? Shana’s life passion is connected to her life purpose. She genuinely cares for her clients and for the people in need in her community.

My wife teaches literacy enrichment.  
Her passion:Child development. Her purpose:Teaching literacy. 
She wants to love the kids as Jesus loves. She has done this well. She is loving, creative, joyful, kind and open hearted. Guess what? Kids love being with her. Her love for Jesus overflows in creative teaching.


  Note: Both are not “full time” church workers. They are full-time Jesus followers.

Where does your passion intersect with God’s purpose?

                                                                                                                                                               
Together:A Missional Community.

When we, together, worship, love, serve and care for others we become a missional community; a community on mission. 

I’ve heard it stated, “If you pursue community you may develop community, but you may not be on mission. However, if you(all ya all), as a group of people, pursue mission you will form a community.”

Upward:Give. Upward:Receive.

Outward:Give. Outward:Receive. 

Upward:Give. Give thanks and praise for what He did in you and through you and through… all ya all. Community on Mission=Missional Community.

Take a selfie

What is God Space? It is a space that we create by faith. It’s an atmosphere or an environment where God’s goodness, power, presence, love, and kindness can touch another human being…

Take a selfie. What do you see? Who do you see?

It’s interesting that God chooses to reveal His nature through imperfect people. He always will, and He always has. He chose messengers to embody and to reveal His message. 


Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ester, Daniel, Jesus, the Disciples, Martin Luther King, William Wilberforce, John Wesley, John G. Lake, Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, and people like you and me embody the message. 

Amazing is this grace. Awesome is the responsibility. Joyful is the privilege. 

We are stewards, entrusted ones, and great is His investment in us. He invests His love and grace into us in order to flow through us.


Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Notice, He didn’t say we would do witnessing, but we would beand be His witnesses.


A witness: a person who has seen, heard, or experienced something: to have personal or direct cognizance of a fact, a situation, an event or a person.

A witness is one who attests, authenticates, testifies (to), vouches (for), one who certifies as true. A witness is one who sees, declares what they have seen, heard and experienced.

The Disciples were experiential witnesses

When is the last time you had an experiential connection to Whom you believe?

1John 1:1-3 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touchedthis we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 
The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard,  
so that you also may have fellowship with us. 
And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 
We write this to make our joy complete. 

Jesus reflected the Fathers love. 

He was the Light, the Revealer. The disciples walked with Jesus for three years; at the end they still didn’t understand. They saw and heard what Jesus said and did. They saw His compassion, His anger, His love, His friendship, His power, and were soon to see His agony, then His glory. 

Bottom line if we really see, behold, and experience Jesus, we see, behold and experience the Father’s love.

 Scenario:
Last discourse with the disciples. A last meal. Last words of encouragement. Last action before the cross… Washing the disciples feet. Last command… Love well.

He states, “If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, 
Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am?  

                                  Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!                                                              
Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. 
                        Or at least believe because of the works you have seen me do.“                                                        John 14:7-9 (NLT)

Jesus came to reveal the Father. 
All He was and all He did revealed, reflected and pointed to the nature and character of the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. See Jesus, you see the Father.
They, (the words and works of Jesus) were written to encourage people to believe Jesus was the Son of God and pointed toward the nature of a loving Father.
Jesus reflected the Father because He was with the Father. He only did what the Father asked Him to do. He only did what He saw the Father doing. Jesus reflected His love for His Father in His final act on earth by going to the cross. See the cross, you see the love the Father has for the world. You also receive a glimpse of Jesus’s great love for His Father. He loved His Father so much that He gave it all. This is amazing love!

Jesus often went to a garden in the Mount of Olives to talk to His Father .  

It was His custom… He went to the Mt. of Olives… He would leave crowds, slip away, spend time alone in His Father’s Presence. 

Pattie Bowen Bible Journal
 
In the same way our life disciplines / habits / customs are stepping stones that move us forward toward knowing the Father’s heart.

Good habits build a bridge to help us move from where we are, toward where we want to go.

The importance of Being
The messenger is the message. We reflect who we are, and who we have been with. This is why it is so important to spend time in the Fathers presence and learn to be. As we experienced Him, we then become His witness.

When we serve someone we reveal the love and care of our Father. 
When we pray for someone we reveal the love and care of our Father. 
When we encourage someone we reveal the love and the care of our Father. 
We in a very real way reveal the Father’s nature. 

Our good deeds reflect the Father’s love.

For a couple of years I prayed daily. “Jesus, you reveal the Love of the Father, please reveal the love of the Father to my heart.” I also prayed, “Father,  no one can come to Jesus unless you draw them. Father please draw me closer to Jesus.”

I was expecting an encounter that would come upon me and give direct revelation of the love of the Father. I thought the revelation would come during my worship time, or my prayer time or at a special meeting. 

Over time I realized as I was praying for people, I was seeing the love of the Father reflected through what He revealed and what He gave to the people I was praying for. 

Recently, I’ve had several people stop me and thank me for praying for them. One lady told me I prayed for her over a year ago and she has had no pain or issues since. Amazing!

I marvel, “Wow! Father I see your nature. I see your love. You loved her so much that you met her need abundantly beyond all we could ask or think! You are truly a loving Father.”

God’s love for me was revealed not by some mysterious experience, (I’m all in for those) but by her need being met through an answered prayer… through me. He reveals His love as I serve someone, or when I stop for the one. Sometimes He reveals His love as I encourage someone with prophetic insight or by giving a gift to someone.

Here’s the deal. God almost always reveals His love and grace toward people… through us, His imperfect people. This is both amazing and most humbling.

The message is the messenger. The messenger is the message. If you are in doubt, take a selfie.

The power of Kindness.

Serve others, good deeds a lifestyle value.

The focused power of God’s love expressed through our acts of kindness often opens hearts to the good news. Our good deeds reflect God’s love for an individual and for our community in a tangible way. 

Good deeds, create good will, that opens hearts to the good news. 
Rusaw, Swanson The Externally Focused Church


Jesus went about doing good. His nature was reflected by His action. 

I can never imagine Jesus as someone who was continually angry or grumpy or had a fixed scowl upon His face. Nor can I see Him as being self promoting or self seeking. These attitudes are against the very nature and character of God.
 

I understand Jesus is a generous person who has an infectious sense of humor. It is certainly clear people wanted to be around Jesus. He reflected a life which was characterized by grace, peace, kindness, love, joy and spiritual power. 

He was the most friendly open-hearted person on the planet! His life was attractive. He was known as a friend of sinners.

Believers are also called to reflect God’s nature toward others. We are called to be friendly open-hearted people.

We live this out through our attitudes and our actions, by being generous people who are rich in good deeds. 

Believers are servants who are committed to serve others just as Jesus served. 
John stated,
“Whoever claims to live in him, must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6, NIV

Evangelism is more than developing a certain method,
it’s more about developing spiritual sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

Reaching others is about seeking to know what He is doing, and what He wants to do in the life of the person we are talking to. 
 

We had planned an outreach for our Dayton Supernatural School of Ministry students and made some simple bags filled with granola bars, peanuts, peanut butter crackers, Cracker Jacks, breath mints. The bags were a bridge to help us connect with the people we about to encounter.


When the students returned. Most had amazing stories. 

At the end of our time together Pattie and I grabbed a couple of friends and headed to Olive Garden for a late lunch. We took two gift bags to give to the waitress at the end of our meal. 

We arrived and began to talk to the waitress and ordered. During the time I leaned into the Holy Spirit expecting to receive a prophetic encouragement for the waitress. Nothing. No sense of anything to say. I continued to wait, observe and look for a sign or a prompt. Nothing. I remember thinking, “This is a supernatural school outreach. I’m supposed to be able to hear, see, or receive a God prompt for people. I‘m leading and I’m receiving nada, zero, nothing.

At the end of our meal we told the waitress we had a gift for her and her team. We gave her our gift bags and thanked her for being such a pleasant, joyful person. When she received the bags suddenly she began to become visibly excited, thanked us, went around the table and hugged each of us and exclaimed, “This is the nicest thing I have ever experienced!” I questioned, “Really this is the nicest thing you have ever experienced?” She exclaimed, “Yes! Here at work. Yes! This is the nicest thing.” 

She then turned and quickly to give gifts to all of the people working on her shift. She returned and said, “The prep chef says, “Thank you so much for the granola bar!” 

I was stunned. I pondered what just transpired. I asked Jesus, “What just happened? I was ready to pray for healing, or to receive a word of encouragement and I received nothing. What are you doing?” 

In an instant I heard, “Im showing you the power of kindness in action.” 

We tipped big; thanked the waitress and headed home. 

Lesson learned. There is power in an act of kindness. Small things done with great love can change our world. Tip: Practice kindness in action.