Surprise the World Week 2
Bless & Eat
God surprised Adam by creating Eve.
He surprised Abraham by giving him a son in his old age and by making his name great.
He surprised Joseph by making him second in command of Egypt after a lot of crap happened in his life.
He surprised Israel by freeing them from the Egyptians, by parting the Red Sea, by the walls of Jericho falling.
He surprised David by anointing him as King.
He surprised Daniel by closing the mouths of the lions.
He surprised the shepherds with the a heavenly hosts announcing the birth of the Messiah.
He surprised the world by coming to us in the form of a vulnerable infant.
Jesus surprised the blind by giving sight.
He surprised the religious by eating with sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes.
He surprised the world by submitting to the cross.
He surprised Mary Magdalene with an empty tomb.
He surprised Thomas by showing up in the upper room a second time.
He surprised the apostles by sending the Holy Spirit.
He surprised Paul by encountering him on the road to Damascus.
There are 5 habits that we should embody in order to become missional people.
Bless, Eat, Listen, Learn, and Sent.
When looking at those 5 attributes, I noticed that the first two are about how to love others, the second two relate to how we love God, and the last one is how we bring them all together.
Blessing & Eating
Blessing: to build others up, fill them with encouragement for them to increase in strength and prosperity. This helps us to become more generous.
Eating: sharing a meal with someone. It represents hospitality, inclusivity, generosity, and grace. The table is a great equalizer in relationships and the invitation to share a table is profoundly meaningful in every culture. This helps us become more hospitable.
Which really, if you look at how Jesus did his ministry it involved blessing others and sharing a meal with them, which sometimes caused people to ask him some questions!
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of (Matthew) sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Matt got up, left everything and followed him. Then Matt held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
You see, after Jesus called Matt to follow him, Matt held a banquet, a meal, at his house. Jesus ate with these people and did you notice what happened? The Pharisees questioned which gave Jesus the opportunity to feed their curiosity and share his purpose with them.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything I will pay back four times the amount.”
Think about that the team that focused on blessing others had almost 50 times more success in people coming to know Christ! 50 TIMES MORE! Blessing people and eating with people is so effective in ministry. We know that Mark 10 says Jesus came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many and Luke 19 says that Jesus also came to seek and to save the lost. Which both define his purpose to bear witness to the truth. But Jesus shares his METHOD in Luke 7:34 by saying “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.”
For us to be effective in creating missional habits we have to be intentional about who we bless and who we eat with. The book challenges us to bless and eat with 3 people each week. But in each of those three you need to include someone outside of your church community, a non-believer. This helps you to establish a relationship with people first and from there you see what ministry opportunities come naturally as a result of the relationship.
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Learn to take time to listen to those around you, both to what they are saying and what they aren’t saying, read between the lines and anticipate ways you can encourage. Hospitality is about an attitude of the heart and being open to the other person. We need to become attentive to people - their needs, hopes, fears, etc. - in order to bless them well.
Honestly, once you get to know someone and spend time listening to them and learning about them, I think it will be clear on ways you can bless them, but if not, I truly believe blessings are love in action. So think of the 5 love languages:
Quality time (eating with someone)
Word of Affirmation (encouraging them in some way)
Acts of service (do they need help with anything)
Giving gifts (Is there something they could use or would just really enjoy)
Physical Touch (sometimes a hug can be the biggest blessing).
So many people say to bless others because it will also bless you. Which is true! But I don’t think that’s why we should do it! I believe blessing people and eating with them is about making people feel loved, seen, and valued.
The enemy is real and he comes to steal, kill, and destroy the glory of God and as image bearers of Christ, there is a real battle over our lives. I truly believe that one of the schemes of the enemy is to attack our belief in the love God has poured over us and to attack the value and worth God has brought to our lives. Now hear this, the enemy CANNOT destroy the love God has for us or take away the worth he has given us, but he CAN plant lies in our hearts and minds so we no longer believe. It truly breaks my heart to know that people live their lives struggling to think they are loved and important.
And it breaks my heart because I used to be one of them.
I know what it feels like to wonder if people truly want me around.
I know what it feels like to wonder if I’m actually loved.
I know what it feels like to feel like I’m not important or truly seen by those in my life.
I know what it feels like to have low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in myself.
I know what it feels like to be left out and left behind.
I know the desperation that comes from having my mind in such a dark place.
And I allowed the enemy a foothold in my life when I allowed those evil lies to take root in my mind and in my heart.
I allowed the lies to impact the way I viewed myself and my purpose in this world.
I tell you all follow it up by saying those dark places in my mind, never took me too far. Extreme circumstances were never needed in order for me to get help.
You wanna know one of the things that pulled me out of this dark state of mind? People surprised me. God’s people surprised me. They blessed me.
They reached out randomly and affirmed me.
They gave me random gifts.
They spent time with me.
They told me they missed me when I was gone. They came over and painted my room for me instead of going out to do something else.
They sat with me when I was upset or feeling down.
They shared a table with me and listened to me. They blessed me.
It became incredibly hard for me to continue to believe that I was unloved, unseen, and not valued when people invited me to eat with them, or when people reached out to me and blessed me in random ways.
Now, I know not everyone’s story is mine, and I believe that admitting the issue and seeking professional help is important and necessary and there is no shame in that! You have a responsibility to bring trusted people into those dark places. So if this is something you struggle with please find a moment of courage and speak up, don’t wait until it’s too late. If you feel like you don’t have someone to talk to, there are coaches or Adam, or Laura, or you can talk to me. We would love to come alongside you and support you through this!
Now y’all, I can’t help but wonder what this world would look like if every Christian created a habit of blessing people regularly. You never know how a small effort can make a huge difference in someone’s life. You’ve all heard stories about how someone is on a bridge ready to go, but then someone, often times a stranger or a first responder, stops and talks them out of it.
What would happen if we lived our lives talking people off the bridge before they even got to the bridge?
Since it is important for us to receive blessings just like it is important to give blessings. I’m going to ask all of you to stand up and if your comfortable, close your eyes. I’m going to take a second to speak truth and life over each of you from Scripture.
The Lord calls you by name and delights in you.
You are His precious son or daughter, adopted into His family.
You are forgiven and washed clean.
You are His beloved.
You are a masterpiece, wonderfully, and fearfully made, there is no flaw in you.
You have been given His victory.
You are never alone.
You are made new.
You are holy and blameless in His eyes.
You are a bold and mighty warrior.
You are His friend.
You are so loved by God.
You have been given the same power that conquered the grave.
You can do all things through Him.
You are precious to Him.
You are set free.
You are protected.
You were made in the holy image of God.
You are an overcomer.
You do not have to be afraid.
You are healed by His wounds and sacrifice.
You are crowned with His glory and majesty.
You are worth more than rubies.
You are His bride and He pursues you.