Monday, January 5, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 1

WEEK 1 –The Big Question: Why am I here?

Day 1 Because God Wants You!

God’s Word is an amazing gift. Do you know what it is? Some say that the Bible is humanity’s Instruction Manual. And we certainly do get lots of wonderful instructions from the Bible. But that’s not really what it is. Some say it’s the history of mankind’s interaction with God. And there certainly is a lot of history in the Bible. But that’s not really what it is, either.

Do you know why? Because, when we want to make the Bible be about us – our instructions, our history, our whatever – we’re bound to be disappointed. Disappointed because we cannot find exact instructions for every daily decision we must make. Disappointed because so many details in the history are left out and leave us hanging with so many questions to which we want answers.

So, the sooner we give up our desire to make the Bible a complete, historical, instruction manual, the better. The Bible is not really about us. It is about God. It is God’s Word to us. It is what he wants us to know about him and his plan for his Creation.

It is, as has been so often said, a love story. For God so loved the world, that he gave himself to us. (See John 3:16-17.) He wanted to have a loving, dynamic relationship with us—each one of us—and he wanted that relationship to continue forever. He still does.

Relationships, however, are challenging. When you have more than one person involved in anything, then you have to spend time talking about what you want to do. You have to communicate clearly what you want the other to understand. You have to agree to some boundaries and ground rules for executing the plan. If you don’t, then you’ll rarely get anywhere except into an argument.

Where do we learn how relationships are supposed to work? You guessed it – from the Bible! Now remember, it’s not because the Bible is an exhaustive instruction manual on communication techniques. It’s because the Bible is about God. And the first thing we must understand about God is that he exists in dynamic relationship. He calls it community. We call it the Trinity.

God has always existed in community. Since before creation, God has been an eternal community as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God with three equal-but-different aspects and a singular goal: intimate, creative community. And God’s goal is always accomplished because Father, Son and Holy Spirit are constantly engaged in effective communication that allows them to function in absolute harmony and unity.

The amazing thing is that God wants us to join his community. God wants us to be involved in his Kingdom business. And if you don’t already know what that business is or how to join his community, you will before the end of this journey!

Because joining God’s eternal community is what we’re here for, and our chores in the Kingdom business are the good works God has prepared for us to do!

Today’s Look at 1 John

Many of us have gotten into the habit of reading the Bible a verse here and a verse there, when it is meant to be read book-by-book—or at least section-by-section. During our 40 days, we’re going to be spending time soaking up a small, but amazingly powerful, book in the New Testament called 1 John. The first of three small books written by the Apostle John, it is found near the end of the New Testament after 2 Peter and before Revelation.

Each day we’ll encourage you to spend a few minutes reading through an entire section without stopping. We want you to feel the flow of John’s thoughts so that you’ll have a better understanding of John’s words. And each week you’ll dig a little deeper into 1 John in your small groups.

Read 1 John 1:1 through 2:11—it will only take a few minutes. While you’re reading, look for some of John’s themes: God becoming flesh in Jesus; sin and forgiveness; and love and hate.

Getting In Shape

Just as our physical bodies cannot function properly without sufficient oxygen, our spiritual souls cannot function properly without the Breath of Life that comes from intimate communication with God. Any physical exercise requires good breathing technique. A life lived according to God’s purpose does too. So we’re going to coach you toward spending time each day building your capacity to “oxygenate” your soul in order for you to build relational strength and endurance.

But every exercise program has to start with small steps and build on them over time. Over the next 40 days, you’ll be adding a new discipline each week designed to strengthen your intimate relationship with God. And you’ll be encouraged to “keep breathing” in each daily reading.

This first week we want you to start by inviting God to spend the day with you. Stop right now and do it!

Inviting God to spend the day with you means that you seek his presence on purpose. This simple invitation will mean a great deal to God. And you will find that it will begin to mean a great deal to you, too.

Police officers sometimes allow civilians to “ride along” to see how life is on the beat. Businesses encourage parents to participate in a “Take your child to work” day so their children see what Mom or Dad does all day. These activities foster better understanding between persons and provide wonderful starting points for conversations. They are invitations into relationship.

It will take some practice – we’ll be working on a different exercise each week – but if you keep at it every day, we’re confident you’ll begin to establish this essential habit by the end of the week.

Look for our daily encouragement to Keep Breathing!

No comments: