Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 8.8.11

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Series: Before I Die I Want To…
This Week: Make the World a Better Place

Psalm 139:14 says that God’s works are wonderful, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Certainly, we are His workmanship—God made us. He formed us in the womb and causes us to grow, both physically and spiritually. We’re products of God’s personal attention and handiwork. Why has He made us so carefully and wonderfully, why were you made, and what is the meaning of your life? You were created in Christ for good works—it’s your purpose and why He made you!

Some argue that our purpose is to witness; but, in fact, your good works are what open up the opportunity to witness. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Others say the purpose of our lives is to worship God; but again, good works are key to this as well. Worship is much more than singing—it’s the good things that we do, and the sin that we avoid by doing them, that is our spiritual service of worship. And some might argue that our purpose in this life is to learn of God — to know Him and to learn His Word; but, once again, the Bible says these things are inseparable from doing good works—if we aren’t bearing fruit in good works, our knowledge means nothing (Colossians 1:10).

Some people get hung up on the religiousness of doing good works. They argue that talking about the necessity of good works is preaching a righteousness that comes from doing good. Romans 11:6, “And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved,” 2 Timothy 1:9, and plenty of others all clearly explain that our works do not save. Instead, our works are to be the evidence that we are saved! In fact, it’s important to continually remind ourselves that our good works don’t save us or make us righteous. The simple fact is that when we do them, we are reflecting the good work that Christ accomplished for us and in us!

As we go through our daily lives, God puts opportunities before us to do good. God makes sure that we see someone who is in trouble, and He expects us to rescue them. God makes sure that the basket is passed in front of us, and He expects us to give a financial sacrifice. God makes sure that we see someone in need, and He expects us to help them. Think of these good works that God prepares for us as doors. They are doors placed in front of us that we choose to walk through. His job is to put the door in front of us, our job is to walk through it.

How many times a day do we see a door and keep going? We turn our heads and keep walking because, “We don’t have the time or the money, don’t want to get involved, or want to mind our own business.” Christians, good works are our business, and why we’ve been created in Christ Jesus! When God prepares a good work for you to do, walk in it. It will open up opportunities to witness, be an act of worship, will help you to increase in your knowledge and understanding of God, and it will leave the world a better place!

Monday —Make the World a Better Place: A Higher Calling
Big Point: Christians have a higher calling—to better the world by “doing the good things God planned for us long ago.”

Although we’re all differently gifted and appointed, we are ALL FULLY CALLED! Jesus rescued us, and the Holy Spirit is re-creating us daily into the image in which we were created—the imago dei. We are truly free—free to co-create with God, to help Him cultivate the community and culture which He called us to at the beginning of time. So instead of asking yourself, “What do I want from others?” ask, “What do I want for them?” When we see a need and answer this vital question then we step out in faith and use our time, talents and treasure to honor God by serving others. Do you remember these inspiring stories from this weekend’s service:

Hannah’s Socks…Hannah Turner was only three years old when she gave away her pink socks to a homeless man because he had holes in his shoes. The next day, Hannah and her mother brought 100 pairs of socks to give away and “Hannah’s Socks” was born. For the past eight years, individuals and organizations have donated socks to help Hannah achieve her goal: “warm feet, warm hearts.” Her father, Victor Turner says this: “It only happens because we have a lot of people with warm hearts who have been touched by what Hannah has done. We know we are doing something to help people in need and to live out this part of our faith.”

Steve Whitlow, Vision Kitchen…In 2009, Steve was at the low point in his life. His son suggested that he volunteer at Vision Kitchen. Not only did Steve develop wonderful new relationships, but within a few months Steve began serving as volunteer coordinator. “Now I get the great privilege of serving over 14,000 meals this year. Serving for me has allowed me to focus on others instead of my own problems. I’ve been able to develop deep and lasting relationships.”

Both Hannah and Steve have made a tremendous difference in the world—not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it is a way for them to live out their faith. (Check out the back page for how to contact these organizations.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Ephesians 2:8-10 (New Living Translation)
God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 4:2-3 (New Living Translation)
2Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

Titus 2:12,14 (NLT)
And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God…14He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

THINK…Find the answers.
How are we, as Christians, described in Ephesians 2:10 and Titus 2:12,14?

Why did God redeem us, and why must we first receive God’s work for us and in us before He can do His work through us?

What are the attributes, as listed in Ephesians 4:2- 3, of a life being lived ‘worthy of its calling’?

LIVE…What will you do now?
How does realizing you were created in God’s image affect how you make decisions, and how you see others?

Ephesians 2:10 says we’re God’s workmanship/masterpiece/work of art. In what ways do you find it hard to apply these words to yourself? And, on the reverse of that, how does knowing that God made you special (He has particular good works planned for you that only you can do) make you feel?

How does knowing that God prepared good works for you to do in advance affect your view towards your particular ministry/high calling; and how might you discover what these good works are? If you are living out how God has gifted you to serve others, what have you seen God do through your life? How does it make you feel?

How can an understanding that you were shaped to serve God, and not to serve yourself or your passions, change the way you live?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
What’s your ‘calling’ (the work which God has given you to do)? Ask Him to reveal your gifts and give you opportunities to use them, then let the Holy Spirit lead you.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Leviticus 13-15
13:2 “leprous” A term referring to various ancient skin disorders—sometimes superficial, sometimes serious. For the protection of the people, observation and isolation were demanded for all suspected cases of what could be a contagious disease. This biblical leprosy disfigured its victim, but did not disable him.
13:45 “Unclean! Unclean!…” This cry is a symbol of their grief and isolation.
13:59 “for pronouncing them clean or unclean…” The language of the passage indicates disease that affects the clothes as it did the person. This provided more illustrations of the devastating infection of sin and how essential cleansing was spiritually.
14:2 The sense of this law is a prescription, not for healing from leprosy and other such diseases, but rather for the ceremonial cleansing, which needed to be performed after the person was declared clean.
14:3 The leper was not allowed to return to society until a priest, skilled in the diagnosis of disease, examined him and assisted with the ritual cleansing.
15:31-33 God was showing the Israelites that they must have a profound reverence for holy things. In order to mark out His people as dwelling before Him in holiness, God required of them complete purity and didn’t allow them to come before Him when defiled, even by involuntary or secret impurities.

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