“Won’t You be my Neighbor?: Take Down Fences”

Week #3: Take Down Fences
 
CARE: Compassion, Action, Relationship, Empowerment
 
Compassion: An emotion that, seeing a person in need, moves us to sacrificial action.
Action: Identify that person’s need and offer your best
Relationship: Enter into a person’s world to learn & love them as they are.
Empowerment: Loan your life & influence to lead a person
 
BIG IDEA: Neighboring is entering into a person’s world to learn, love & lead the person to Jesus
 
Further Conversation
1. Have you ever felt left out or on the outside looking in? What is it like to have someone reach out to include you?
2. We aren’t really neighbors until we swap recipes or borrow power tools. Why do we have to “enter into a person’s world” if we want to build a relationship? How can we do that?
3. How do you define empowerment? How can we “loan our life & influence”? When has someone empowered you?
4. Read John 4:4-10. What did Jesus do to intentionally neighbor?
5. Read John 4:25-30. How did Jesus help this woman feel safe & loved? When have you felt open and safe? What is it like?
6. Read John 4:39-42 How did Jesus and this woman build relationships and empower others? What happened for them?
7. Restate the BIG IDEA in your own words. Why is a relationship with Jesus always the goal? Whose world do you need to enter?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Matthew 11:25-30
What does it feel like to be invited? I remember the excitement of receiving birthday invitations as a child. Wow! I couldn’t wait. I was a special friend. Even today, invitations suggest I matter. I’m wanted. Please be with me at this special moment. Jesus begins his prayer stating the exclusive relationship between him and God the Father. This is unique, special, and revealed to only those whom Jesus chooses to invite. Then he turns and invites us. “Come to me!” Jesus invites us into his relationship with God. How does it feel to be invited? How do you respond? Who will you invite to join you?
Pray: Heavenly Father, I am so thankful to know you and be loved by you because Jesus invited me. I’m so glad to be with Jesus!
 
Tuesday – Acts 11:1-18
Peter didn’t want to go. He was a devout Jew. He prided himself on the company he kept, the food he ate, and the way he lived. But Peter was also obedient. God sent him and he went. He went and formed a relationship with Cornelius and led his entire household to Jesus. This opened the door for all of us Gentiles to know Jesus. It happened because Peter went. We too are commanded to go and lead others to Jesus. We are called to live our faith and boldly invite others. Who is missing an opportunity to know Jesus if we don’t go and invite them? Who do you need to reach out to and love them enough to lead them to Jesus?
Pray: LORD Jesus, you love the people of this world. Help me love them too as I follow your commands and go lead them to you.
 
Wednesday – Acts 2:1-12, 38-41
For fifty days, from the moment Jesus was arrested, these disciples lived in hiding. They feared that what happened to Jesus would happen to them. Even after they watched him ascend into heaven, they hid. Then they received the Holy Spirit. Then everything changed. They became bold. They began sharing the Gospel, leading others to Jesus. They had power! Have you experienced that kind of change? How do you show it?
Pray: Holy LORD, you have given us the Holy Spirit to empower us to lead others to your Son. Fill me and use me to share your love!
 
Thursday – Jonah 4:1-11
Jonah hated the people of Nineveh. When God called him to go to them, he ran in the opposite direction. Finally, after being swallowed by a whale, Jonah does what God commands. Amazingly, the people repent and God gives mercy. And Jonah is angry! Where is his compassion? We can ask ourselves the same question…where is our compassion? The majority of our community does not have a saving relationship with Jesus. Hell is their destiny. We need to go to them, build a relationship and lead them to Jesus. But we don’t. We build nice places and hope they’ll come. We wait to welcome instead of going to invite. Why won’t we go? Why do we too lack compassion?
Pray: Loving Jesus, someone invited me to know you. Thank you for that person. Refuel my compassion so I can lead others to you
 
Friday – Acts 1:6-8
Do you remember the old Popeye cartoons? Brutus or some other villain would get the best of Popeye. Every time Popeye was about to lose it all, he would pull out a trusty can of spinach. Pow! Instantly Popeye received power, super-human power. I always wondered why he waited until it was almost too late to eat the spinach. We Christians could learn something from Popeye. We’ve been given the Holy Spirit. We have the very power of God residing within us. We have this power for a purpose: to live and share the Gospel. We have power. God has loaned us himself. What holds you back from fully living out sharing the Gospel?
Pray: Holy Spirit, remind me every moment that you reside within me. May I live empowered for your purposes to bless the world!
 
Saturday – Luke 4:14-21
Do you have a mission statement? Do you have a clear statement that defines who you are and what you do? For Christ Church, ours is “Helping people take a next step with Jesus.” This passage is a prophecy from Isaiah. Jesus claims it at his mission statement. This is why he lives. Notice that both statements offer direction. The Good News found only is Jesus is the goal for which we must always aim. Are you leading others, sharing the Good News and helping them take a next step with Jesus?
Pray: Almighty God, may my life’s mission be to proclaim the Good News and lead others to their next step with Jesus.

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“Won’t You be my Neighbor: See a Person”

Week #2: See a Person
 
-Neighboring is an action, not an address
 
CARE: Compassion, Action, Relationship, Empowerment 
 
Compassion: An emotion that, seeing a person in need
moves us to sacrificial action.
 
Action: Identify that person’s need and offer your best
We cannot solve a chronic problem with a crisis solution.
“Do for one what you wish you could do for all.”  -Andy Stanley
BIG IDEA: Neighboring is seeing and serving a person, not solving a problem.
Further Conversation
1. Have you ever been treated like a “number”? How did it feel?
2. Read Mark 6:30-34. How would you define compassion? Why do you think Jesus felt and responded this way?
3. Read Mark 6:35-38 How do you think the disciples? Has frustration or weariness ever affect your compassion? How so?
4. Read Mark 6:39-44. What does Jesus do with the disciple’s best? How has you witnessed God multiply your best effort?
5. Do for one what you wish you could do for all. What does this statement communicate to you? How do we put this into action?
6. How have you seen people or organizations seeking to solve a problem rather than seeing & serving a person? Why is it so important to see the person? How did Jesus “see the person”?
7. Where have you been guilty of not “seeing a person”? How’s your compassion level? What action will you take this week?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Psalm 139
Who do you allow to see you at your worst? After 11 years of marriage, my wife knows my worst attributes the best. She has experienced my morning breath, my times of nausea, my fits of anger, my moments of jealousy, my brokenness and my shame. God bless her that she loves me! I’m embarrassed to acknowledge my worst, because, like you I like to be known for my best. Psalm 139 is an incredible prayer of intimacy and comfort because it is a confession of being fully and deeply known by God. God knows our best and our worst. God knows everything about you, and God still loves you. Even at your worst God gave his best for you! You are loved by God! Bask in God’s knowledge of you and God’s unrelenting love. How will you respond to that love?
Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you! You know me completely. You know my worst yet give me your best…your grace through Jesus.
 
Tuesday – Mark 3:1-6
Jesus noticed a man with a deformed hand in the synagogue. I wonder how many people had intentionally ignored this man? Did they avoid eye contact. Whereas they saw a problem, Jesus noticed the person. Jesus saw him and served him. Jesus showed deep compassion and took action despite the opposition. Would you have done the same? Who around you is unnoticed right now? Who needs your compassion and action?
Pray: Holy Spirit, give me eyes to see as you see! When I begin to see a problem, help me see the person. Help me love like you!
 
Wednesday – Matthew 8:1-4
“If you are willing.” The broken man cursed with leprosy has felt rejection. People run from his presence. A leper colony, an isolated location where people like him are cast away, is probably his home. No wonder he questions Jesus. No one else has been willing. Whereas others say a disease and danger, Jesus sees a person. I believe this question broke Jesus’s heart as he extended his hand to touch the man and said, “I am willing, be clean.” If you’ve become jaded by rejection, know that Jesus is willing. He sees you, knows you, and love you. He is willing!
Pray: Loving Jesus, I’ve been rejected by so many but I come to you. Help me hear you say, “I am willing,” Make me new today.
 
Thursday – Romans 15:1-6
Might make right! This has been the motto of humanity for much of our history. Our world operates by survival of the fittest. Even today, political battles wage by who shouts the loudest or gathers the most influence. For followers of Jesus, life should be different. Paul reminds us that the strong among us should be sensitive to the weak. The powerful among us should leverage their influence for the sake of those less fortunate. We are to love and care for others because that is what Jesus did for us. We are to see and serve people, not please ourselves. How would you define your motto for life. Is it “might makes right”? Or “my might for whats right for you”? May we live like Jesus, serving others.
Pray: LORD Jesus, you are one with God yet stooped to love and serve each of us. May my heart choose the same today as you.
 
Friday – Mark 5:25-34
This woman slipped through the crowd and managed to touch Jesus without being noticed. After twelve years of bleeding, twelve years of failure, and twelve years of being officially deemed unclean by her community, this poor woman mastered the art of being invisible. She was certain no one wanted to see her anyway. But Jesus wanted to see her. Jesus knew something no one else could see. He knew she had great faith, faith that led to her healing. He looked for her and he looks for you. He wants to see you, to heal you today. What do you hide? Where do you feel shame? Come to Jesus. Have faith. He can heal you.
Pray: Jesus, you are my Lord & Savior. When shame tells me to hide, help me have faith to be seen and be made new by you.
 
Saturday – Genesis 18:16-33
Abraham pleaded with God. Sodom and Gomorrah were cities of sin and bad decisions. God was preparing the consequence when Abraham interjected. He pleaded on behalf of these cities, these people. Our sin and our bad decisions carry consequences. Its been warned that all of us are merely one bad decision from poverty and ruin. Do we plead for our neighbors? Do we beg God for grace for the people of our community? May our prayers be as passionate and persistent as Abraham. Who are you praying for?
Pray: Almighty God, I beg for grace and mercy on behalf of the people of Gastonia. May we all find forgiveness and healing!
 

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Won’t You be my Neighbor: Neighboring 101

Week #1: Neighboring 101
 
We make Christianity complicated. We’ve added rules, systems and strategies, but Jesus’ original mandate was embarrassingly simple: love God & your neighbor. His followers changed the world! Won’t You Be My Neighbor gives us simple, practical ways to show we care.
 
Key Points:
-“Won’t you be my neighbor? Its an invitation to help somebody know that they are loved and capable of loving.” ~ Fred Rogers
-I can try to love my neighbor without loving Jesus but…
-I can not love Jesus without also loving my neighbor.
 
BIG IDEA: Neighboring is not where we live but what we do!
Neighbors CARE:
C – Compassion
A – Action
R – Relationship
E – Empowerment
 
Further Conversation:
1. Why do you think Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was so popular? Why do you think our culture is nostalgic for Mr. Rogers?
2. Read Luke 10:25-28. How are the two “love” statements a summarization the law?
3. I can try to live my neighbor without loving Jesus but I can not love Jesus without also loving my neighbor. Do you agree? Why?
4. Read Luke 10:29-39. What motivated the Samaritan?
5. Neighboring is not where we live but what we do. How do you see neighboring as more about action and less about address?
6. What is CARE? How is CARE demonstrated by the Samaritan? How does Jesus neighbor and show us CARE?
7. Restate the BIG IDEA in your own words. Who do you know that needs a neighbor? How can you CARE for them? How can we assist you?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Galatians 5:13-14
We are free. Image being imprisoned for years. If you were released, what would you do? The question, even though its rhetorical, is very telling. Most of us would do something we have longed to do for ourselves. We want for us. And freed from the bondage of sin, many still chose to use this freedom to satisfy sinful desires. But freedom is meant for so much more. We are free to live into how God designed us. We are to be neighbors, loving God and others. What are you doing with your freedom?
Pray: Heavenly Father, by your grace I have been freed from sin. Help me live into your neighborhood design of love for others!
 
Tuesday – Genesis 1:26-31
Chances are that if you live in the suburbs you live in a designed community. City planners invest a great deal of time and resources to strategically and aesthetically design neighborhoods to both appeal to home buyers as well as create community. This passage reveals that God was the first community designer. Note in verse 26 that God uses the plural to describe both God and humanity. God wasn’t making individuals but a community of people. God too is a community, three persons in one. We were designed to be neighbors in a neighborhood loving one another and loving God. We were not meant to be lonely. Loneliness is a byproduct of our sinful broken world. So, how are you living into God’s original design? For who can you be a neighbor?
Pray: Holy Spirit, remind me often that I am loved and made to be in community. Direct and empower me be a neighbor!
 
Wednesday – Deuteronomy 5:6-22
We have laws to protect us. They protect us from selfish and dangerous behavior. If everyone was selfless and loving, there would be no need for laws. The law reminds us that our world is broken. The 10 commandments do the same. Yes, they are our excellent guide to living holy. But haven’t we broken them? Yes, they are our constant reminder that we are sinful and desperately need grace? Don’t excuse failure, let it drive you to God’s grace.
Pray: Holy LORD, you gave the law to guide us to holiness and show us how far short we’ve fallen Forgive me. Make me new.
 
Thursday – John 8:1-11
There are consequences to breaking the law. I almost lost my license once for speeding. I went before the judge, confessed and threw myself on the mercy of the court. I couldn’t hide my failure. I was desperate for mercy. This poor woman couldn’t hide her failure. She was dragged before a crowd that was longing to trap Jesus and extract justice. Justice is important. Sin has consequences. But Jesus came to be a neighbor. He had compassion, he showed mercy. His actions humbled the crowd. He invited her to go and sin no more. Mercy freed her. Do you know the mercy of Jesus? Do you show his mercy to others?
Pray: Loving Jesus, I need your mercy. Help me know your love and love others, becoming a neighbor who shows mercy.
 
Friday – John 1:1-14
I love how The Message conveys John 1:14a “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” Jesus basically asks, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” Fred Rogers understood that question as “an invitation to help somebody know that they are loved and capable of loving.” So…Jesus extends an invitation. He loves us. And he wants us to know we are capable of great love. With Jesus, we are capable. I think that is a beautiful message of hope, message many need to hear. How do you respond to his invitation? Do you know that love?
Pray: LORD Jesus, you love me and see potential in me even when I don’t. Help me love you and share your love with others.
 
Saturday – Philippians 2:6-11
It wasn’t easy moving from Kings Mountain, NC to Franklin, NC nearly 6 years ago. We had a toddler and were expecting our second child within a month. We moved from family and friends to a far away town where we knew almost no one. Its hard to leave home and move to a new place. Think about Jesus and what he left when he moved into our “neighborhood”. What do you think he missed? He did it to love God (obey)…and love others. He did it to be a neighbor to us. Jesus moved for you. How will you respond to Jesus’ love for you?
Pray: Almighty God, I am so thankful for the grace and love Jesus shows me. Help me think hard about the depths of his love and what he did for me so that I dare not take his love for granted.
 

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