8/2 What’s Your Story? The Power of an Invited Guest. Luke 9: 1-10
This story from Luke is about a man named Zacchaeus and his desire to “see” the man called Jesus who was passing through Jericho. His desire was so great that he willingly climbed a tree just to get a look. Reading from verse 5 “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’” Zacchaeus wanted to see, he was looking for Jesus, but it gets even better for Zacchaeus for Jesus said I must stay at your house today! Zacchaeus received him joyfully. As Pastor George stated Sunday, when we look for Jesus, we often find him. In a sense Jesus says to us, come down, I want to go to your house. I’m knocking at your door, will you answer? I want to be in your life, allow me to come in. Is Jesus our invited guest?
We all have had guests in our homes. Family members who come to visit wanting to reconnect. Neighbors visiting so that we can get to know them better. Inviting guests for a purpose or cause that’s important to us to share conversation with them. Within each one of these there is a power, a purpose, a love for, that connects each to the other. These are interacting in-person events that are real. So much can be said for The Power of an Invited Guest. Invites. We all like to receive them. Some more than others like to offer them. One of the most popular invites in our day and age is an invite through Facebook. An invite to friend someone. Once the invite is accepted, you have been welcomed into that person’s life so to speak with Facebook posts that you can read, possibly along with pictures to see of them, of what’s happening in their life. You can then click the like button on what they’ve posted and comment on it if you want. We’ve turned into people who keep constant watch on our phones and devices to see who is liking us today and ultimately how many likes we get when we post something. It gives us a good feeling to see that. If we don’t get the response we’re looking and hoping for that puts us into a different mindset with a feeling of unacceptance. Has Facebook taken control of how we are to feel about ourselves based on the number of friends that we have, based on the number of likes we get on a post, of delivering multiple opinions from multiple people, to have taken control of our social lives, of our time. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I guess that depends on the power of an invited guest, even on Facebook.
This week we viewed the Right Now Media study on the effects of Facebook led by Craig Groeschel entitled Liking Jesus. So how about it, if Jesus sent you a friend request on Facebook would you accept the offer? And to turn it around, if you sent a friend request to Jesus would he accept your offer? We don’t need Facebook to have a relationship with Jesus. But we do need Jesus to help and guide us through the effects of Facebook. This series discussed multiple downfalls of Facebook. Craig Groeschel shared topics of Recovering Contentment; Restoring Intimacy; Revealing Authenticity; Resurrecting Compassion; and Replenishing Rest. What do all these topics have to do with Facebook, well let’s take a look.
Craig says that the use of Facebook has pitted people against each other. In a sense a kind of resentment of God’s goodness in others. We lose a sense of acceptance of who we are, we have an unspoken kind of jealousy. To break this cycle we fill our minds and hearts of Jesus’ love for us, who we are in Him, and draw our strength from him as it reads in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”. To recover contentment, we develop a relationship with Jesus.
The word friend is evolving. Facebook has given it a new term. One can have 328 friends on Facebook, but only 2 or even fewer close friends on average, says Craig. And Facebook gives you the power to do friendship on your own terms, to accept or not to accept. No longer are we face-to-face, engaging with another by spending time with them. Now it’s through technology, machine driven, alone, a limited personal intimacy. This cycle needs restoring to personal involvement, active, being what the word friend really means. Craig reminded us that how much love you showed is what will matter at the end of your life. Knowing Jesus’ love and letting his love work in and through us will make a difference not only in our lives but in the lives of others.
Our phone means that we always have a camera with us to catch those selfie moments to share on Facebook. Craig says that we’ve become a selfie obsessed culture, with added filters. We can and do make ourselves look quite impressive. We hide our flaws by polishing up our look. We are less authentic than we are. What’s really going on? What are we wanting to hide? We connect with people through our weaknesses. Jesus walks with us through our struggles and weaknesses so that we can be a blessing to other’s through theirs. 2 Corinthians 3:16 says “…but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” It’s not what other people think of me – it’s about what He thinks of me. With unveiled faces – our identity is in His love. It’s time to reveal, to get back to authenticity, loving you as you are, created just as God wanted you to be.
Craig shared that we have become a self-centered society. We are caring less of other people. With the rise in social media we’ve become desensitized to the suffering around us. Caring is more than clicking/liking a Facebook post. Caring is acting. To know Jesus is to know a Jesus with compassion. Compassion changes lives. The Bible is filled with accounts of Jesus changing a person’s life. God will use you to show His love. A love through which lives will be changed, other peoples and yours.
#struggles, we all have them. We all get weighed down by them. They keep us awake at night which affects our rest. It’s the inability to shut down on the inside says Craig. We keep looking to our phones for answers. Hoping to see a post that means something, one that we for sure don’t want to miss. It evens keeps us up at night. Or for sure to keep the phone nearby so that if a ping or bells rings of a new post we’ll be sure to know it immediately. Jesus is closer than your phone if you’ll let him and he will give you rest. He says, come to me and I will give you rest. We all need replenishing rest that Jesus gives.
Craig said that we have a power beyond this world. Christ is all you need! We have a purpose to share our story, telling of all Jesus has and is doing for us. Telling of a love that is available to anyone who invites Him into their lives. To know The Power of an Invited Guest, you need to get to know the guest.
The second series that we watched this week in RNM was Your Quiet Time Should Change You by Jen Wilkin. Jen is a Bible study teacher and author. She advises us to regard our quiet time as a time to grow in the foundational knowledge of God’s Word. To love God with our hearts and minds. The heart, she says, cannot love what the mind does not know. She says to find your preference in studying your Bible. Use a Topical Study diving into passages on the chosen topic. Or go the Foundational approach diving into a book of the Bible. Either way this is an investment towards a future payoff. All scripture is useful at some point. 10 years or 15 years from now God could bring to mind, out of the storehouse, to speak to us of something that we’ve learned prior. Quiet time, she says is an accumulated effort, spend the time learning. Jen shared that a disciple is a learner – a person who engages the minds.
As Pastor George spoke of on Sunday, Who is this Jesus, that you consider inviting into your life? He gave us these points 1. Jesus is PASSING through your life in song, in devotion, in worship. Those triggers of awareness. 2. Jesus COMES to you. It’s an intimate thing, the sharing. 3. Jesus FORGIVES you. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost. Cling on – invite Him in. Don’t let Jesus pass by without inviting Him in. Get to know him. He’s the one guest we all need to invite into our lives. To know him is to know THE POWER of an Invited Guest! It’s a relationship to begin now and one that will last throughout all eternity. May you too have the desire to see Jesus.
Larry and Darlene