“ENDGAME: Enemy Territory”

ENDGAME: Enemy Territory
 
-Jesus incited a battle he intended to lose.
-Jesus picked a fight he planned to forfeit.
-Jesus chose defeat when he could easily win.
-Jesus took the pain instead of inflicting it.
-Jesus forgave injustice instead of demanding justice.
-Jesus surrendered to death even though he created life.
-Death was given a momentary win so that Jesus could have an eternal victory.
 
In a world that whispers “take it!” Jesus won by saying “take me!”
 
Further Conversation
1. What is your favorite possession? Why? What did it cost?
2. Read Matt 21:1-17 How did these two events intentionally incite a battle with the political powers that be?
3. Read Matt 26:52-54 Why didn’t Jesus ask God to send the angels? How do you think the disciples felt watching Jesus lose?
4. Read Mark 14:64b-65 & Luke 23:33-34 When have you endured injustice or unfair pain? How did you respond?
5. Read John 19:28-30 & Hebrews 2:14 How did Jesus win by “losing”? What do you think of this plan? Would you choose it?
6. How does the world whisper “take it!”? What are the consequences of thinking “might makes right”?
7. Read Matthew 16:24-25 How does Jesus ask of his followers? How is this a winning formula for life? How do we live into this?
8. Where do you need to pick up your cross and say “take me”?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – John 3:16-21
Does anyone “like” going to the DMV? I’d never had a positive experience. Every trip required long lines and being told I had the wrong forms, requiring I return another day. However, I’ll never forget my first experience at the DMV in Macon County, NC. I walked in prepared for misery. Instead, I was shocked to be in and out in 10 minutes with everything finished. The people were even pleasant! It was not what I expected! Jesus was not what the people, especially the religious people, expected. They had come to expect God to be harsh, demanding, and merciless with sinful people. Judgement was necessary. Jesus did not disagree that sin requires judgement. This passage says we all stand condemned because of sin. But Jesus came not to reinforce the condemnation but to offer forgiveness and hope. Jesus came on a rescue mission for those who want saved! It was not what they expected of God. It is so much better! What do you expect of God? Are you open to a loving God who is eager to forgive?
Pray: LORD Jesus, I am so grateful for your love and mercy that came to forgive. I know I don’t deserve it. Thank you!
 
Tuesday – Matthew 20:50-54
I don’t know how Jesus did it. Dying on the cross, brutally beaten and verbally abused, Jesus offers forgiveness to the vey people harming them. “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” For someone stuck on the cross, the words might seem hollow. But Jesus could have called down an army of angels. Jesus could have sought vengeance. In all that pain, Jesus didn’t retaliate. Jesus showed grace, mercy…forgiveness. What do you think Jesus thinks about you? Do you know his love?
Pray: Holy LORD, you offer grace and forgiveness when you could have demanded vengeance. Help me live into your amazing love!
 
Wednesday – Romans 5:6-8
“While” is a powerful word. Think about the word and what it means for a moment. “While we were still sinners.” We didn’t say sorry. We weren’t sorry yet. We were still neck deep in rebellion and sin. We were murderous enemies of God. While we curse God, God loves us! How do you respond to those harming you? What does this passage say about how God loves you? What will you do with love like that?
Pray: My God Savior, while we deny and abuse you, you forgive us. I can’t fathom it, but I don’t want to miss it. Thank you!
 
Thursday – Matthew 18:21-35
Where is the line & limit? When driving, we like to know the Speed limit. When volunteering, we like to know the time commitment. How much do I forgive? Peter believes he is offering a generous line when he suggests forgiving someone seven times. Jesus instead presents a radical level of forgiveness. Jesus essentially says there is no line, no limit to how much we should forgive others. Our willingness to forgive instead should reflect our thankfulness for our forgiven-ness. We are graciously forgiven by God. While we were sinners, without repentance, God forgave. Jesus says we need to do the same. No line! No limit! Well, unless we want to limit how much God is willing to forgive us. Hmmm…how much do you need God’s forgiveness? The more we know forgiveness, the more we forgive
Pray: Holy Spirit, it is hard to forgive those that harm me. Help me see how God has graciously forgiven me, so that I may put aside my demand for justice and instead offer God’s grace.
 
Friday – Matthew 6:14-15
I think we misunderstand Jesus sometimes. We know God is always gracious. We trust that God will forgive. I can’t and do not have to earn God’s love. So therefore, passages like this one we bury or ignore. It doesn’t make sense that God would withhold forgiveness. And here is where we make our mistake. God doesn’t withhold. We are unable to receive God’s forgiveness if we won’t forgive others. If I want revenge against others, I’m not really open to grace for me. Getting to know the depth of God’s forgiveness for me naturally opens my heart to willingly forgive others. Receiving and giving forgiveness are intimately connected. As one rises, so does the other. How gracious and forgiving are you with others? What does that say about your openness to God’s grace?
Pray: Heavenly Father, help me know your love and grace more and more. Open my heart. Change me. And help me share it.
 
Saturday – 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2
Forgiveness is step one to reconciliation. You might think the first step is repentance, but forgiveness always precedes repentance. God forgave us first. The very ministry of Christ on earth is to bring reconciliation. How are you sharing God’s forgiveness with others? Do you wait to forgive? Do you know you are forgiven?
Pray: LORD of Heaven and Earth, the world needs to know your gracious forgiveness. We need reconciled with you. Help me share your message of grace and reconciliation today