"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, November 1, 2013


Romans 10:14 (NIV 1984)  "How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?"

A life changing invitation was presented to me in junior high.  As a twelve year old, I was insecure and unstable.  I struggled with a difficult home life for a variety of reasons.  In the small community where I lived there was a vibrant and healthy youth ministry.  Our family began to attend church and the youth leaders invited me right into their home, into their lives, and into their hearts.

They showed me Christ's love.  They attended athletic events, paid my way to church camp and other events again and again.  They often took me and others out for pie and fries.  Their home was open, snacks and meals were available and laughter was abundant.  They pursued me.  Even regular notes of encouragement arrived in the mail.  Hundreds of others also experienced this same love and open invitation.

Their effort in ministry was tireless. (I'm sure I gave them a few gray hairs in the process).  Never once did I feel like an inconvenience even though I was a needy girl.  They cared enough to reach beyond the comfort of being empty-nesters to invest in the lives of young people.  Their vacations weren't spent in Hawaii but rather at church camp with wayward and seeking youth.

Their sacrifice continues to make an eternal impact.  The love I experienced through them led me to accept the grandest invitation available to man.  Because of their influence I surrendered my life to Christ and accepted His blood as payment for my sin. This is the most important RSVP I have ever made!

Our lives are an invitation.  

How we interact and respond to others reveals how openly we invite people into our life.  Does our life say "welcome" or is their caution tape around our heart?  Do we hold people at a distance or is our life receptive to their hurts and needs?  Perhaps we are closed off and only exclusive to our inner circle.  Maybe we are too busy or simply lack compassion for the lost.

When we experience Christ's radical love, forgiveness and grace, a natural response is to share it with others, not keep it to ourselves.  If we had an immediate cure for cancer we wouldn't lock this knowledge up inside us.  Christians possess the greatest cure for mankind; the remedy for hopelessness, brokenness, and sinfulness.  We cannot hoard His love.

People are a priority to Jesus.

Christ's passion was people. People fulfilled His purpose.  He came so people might come to know Him.  He made time for others.  He welcomed them with open arms.  He lavished His grace and mercy.  He extended compassion and love.  He corrected community wrongs and He delivered justice to the oppressed.

Christ extended an invitation with nail pierced hands written with His blood.  If people are a priority to Christ, they should be for those who follow Him.  As our key verse shows, how will others know Christ if we don't tell them or express Him to them?

Matthew 25:35-46 reveals Christ's priority regarding others.  Jesus is teaching His disciples the separation He will make between the sheep and the goats at the end of time.  He tells them in verses 35-36, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."  He continues in verse 40, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

All five examples Jesus uses involve people.  He makes a direct connection to how we welcome others into our lives and minister to their needs.  How we respond to others is actually equated to how we treat Christ.  In verse 45 He concludes, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."  Ouch.  This reality should cause us to view others a little differently than we're used to.  When we view others through the "Jesus lens" it helps us to respond to others with love.  In effect, how we treat others is how we treat Christ.

We all want to belong.  

We all want friends.  We all want to know we are loved.  I believe there are many people within our grasp who internally ache and just wait to be invited into someone's life who actually cares.  It's time to get rid of our excuses and begin to develop meaningful friendships with our neighbors, co-workers and others Christ intersects with our lives.

Here are a few examples of ways that God has graciously convicted and continues to stretch me with how our lives can better say, "You're Invited, Please Come In."
  • Look beyond your personal needs and interests. (Is your neighbor sick or a child's classmate in need?)
  • View 'interuptions' as divine appointments. (Resist controlling every minute of your day)
  • Engage with others. (Bank, gas station, store, hair salon, kids events etc.)
  • Reach out and make new friends. (Be willing to get uncomfortable for the sake of the Gospel)
  • Look for new faces at church. (Resist sitting with your friends)
  • Invite people to your home for dinner, dessert or a game night. (Who cares if your house is not clean)
  • Ask others to join your small group. (Be inclusive not exclusive)
  • Respond when you are aware of a need in someone's life. (Don't wonder what you 'could do,' offer to bring dinner, watch children etc. etc. )
  • Slow down, make time and make room for people.  (Intentionally create white space.  This may require rearranging your family priorities for the sake of Kingdom living and Kingdom building)
  • Ask God to give you His love, compassion  and desire for others.  (Be ready, He may align you with someone you wouldn't normally reach out to)
Sometimes life change simply takes an invitation.  By allowing others into our life we can show them Jesus.  We can love them like Christ and embrace them as He would.  When others experience the love of Christ through us, their hearts can soften.  In turn, they become more receptive to Him and the truth of His Word.  This can ultimately lead them to respond and accept the most gracious and beautiful invitation offered.  Will your life deliver this invitation to another?

More importantly, have you accepted Christ's invitation?

You are lovingly invited
by the Creator of the Universe

Friday, November 1, 2013

This invitation includes
A radical life transformation:

Surrender your old life to gain new life
Depart 'goodness' for His grace
Accept His blood as payment for your sin, not personal merit
Acknowledge your need of His control in your life
Leave bondage and embrace freedom
Live empowered by the Holy Spirit!

Forgiveness, Fruitful Living and Eternal Life is available to all

Don't Delay,
Respond Today!

* This post is lovingly dedicated to my leaders: Ray and Roberta Heaton & Jim and Donna Fleming.

Heart Work:
Undoubtedly, our first mission is within the four walls of our home.  Ask God to reveal who else He may want you to invite into your life.

Trust in God's ability to stretch you beyond your comfort zone in order to reach out to others as Christ would, then, join Him as He leads you.

Heart Exam:
What excuses do you use for not being an open invitation to others?

How does Christ example show you how important people should be?  How does this motivate you to change?

What practical ways can your life say "welcome" to others?

Heart Transforming Word:
Matthew 25:45 (NIV 1984)  'He will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

1 John 3:16 "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen.  Edited 2013.  All rights reserved.

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