Saul’s finest hour: The deliverance of Jabesh-gilead. 1 Samuel 10:27-11:13

The literary structure of 1 Samuel 10:27-11:13

We’re back to the story of Saul in 1 Samuel today, and let’s start off by remembering some of where we’ve been:

  • Israel demanded a king in chapter 8
  • And after a time, Saul was privately anointed as king by Samuel.
  • At the end of this story of anointing, Saul hesitated to attack the Philistines as instructed, which was to have been how his selection was made public, through a military test.
  • So in chapter 10, he is publicly chosen by lot.
  • And today, in chapter 11 we have an alternate test of his ability to fight.

Now, after Saul was chosen by lot, there is a discordant note, which begins our story.

The deliverance of Jabesh-gilead

10:27But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.

Just before this some valiant men gathered around Saul. But these worthless ones call him into question, even though he was just chosen by God. They didn’t give a present, that is, a gift to honor Saul and to help fund the new monarchy.

And it’s true that there will always be some among the people of God who question leaders or who have a critical spirit and don’t support or honor them; and it’s no different here.

Can Saul really save us? This question sets up our story.

11:1Then Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead . . .

 Jabesh-Gilead is on the eastern side of the Jordan river. This is where part of the tribe of Manasseh, the tribe of Gad and the tribe of Reuben settled. It is also next to the nation of Ammon. Jabesh-gilead is in Gad and is about 40 miles from Gibeah where Saul is.

We find out later that Nahash’s growing power is in part why the people wanted a king in the first place (1 Samuel 12:12)

Now some translations have extra verses at the end of chapter 10, which come from the Dead Sea scrolls, that are probably not original to the Hebrew Bible, but might be an ancient scribe’s attempt to give us some background. These verses say, “Now Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites. He would gouge out the right eye of each of them and would not grant Israel a deliverer. No one was left of the Israelites across the Jordan whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had not gouged out. But there were seven thousand men who had escaped from the Ammonites and had entered Jabesh-gilead. About a month later . . .” (NRSV)

 So, some possible background information here on what’s going on.

Then picking up again with the rest of v. 1, Scripture says – 

. . . and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” 2But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition (or by this means) I will make a treaty with you, that I gouge out all your right eyes, and thus bring disgrace on all Israel.”

They ask for a treaty, which means they are willing to pay tribute to Nahash and to live under his rule, if there is peace.

There is a wordplay going on here. To make a treaty is literally “to cut a treaty,”  because animals were sacrificed to ratify these. Here Nahash is saying that the cutting out of their eyes will be the way of ratifying the treaty (Tsumura). (And so, “on this condition” should be translated as “by this means.”)

This was an extreme measure, meant to provoke and shame them and all of Israel, if they allow this to happen to their kinsmen. Almost certainly cutting out their right eye was meant to impair their ability to be skilled warriors, since the right eye was used to aim. It was a way of keeping them under his rule.

3The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.”

They ask for time to see if anyone will help them.

Now, there is a background story to this one, found in Judges 19-21. It’s the gruesome story of when the men of Gibeah in Benjamin sought to rape a Levite visitor, but instead sexually assaulted and murdered his concubine. He then cut her body into 12 pieces and sent these parts all throughout Israel to call them to punish Benjamin for their crime. Well, Jabesh-gilead didn’t respond to this call. And so as they send out a call here, there is reason to question if any will come to their aid.

4When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the ears of the people, and all the people wept aloud.

 Again, there is background here from Judges 21. The other tribes fought against Benjamin and nearly wiped them out. But they didn’t want to lose a tribe, so they relented and sought wives for the remaining men. Since Jabesh-gilead didn’t respond to the call to punish Benjamin and the city of Gibeah, they were attacked and 400 young women from Jabesh-gilead were taken to give to the 600 men that were left of Benjamin. So there is a close kinship connection between Jabesh-gilead and Benjamin, and here specifically the city of Gibeah.

So it’s no surprise that the messengers come to Gibeah and to Saul hoping for a response. And it’s no surprise that there is such weeping.

5Now, behold, Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen. And Saul said, “What is wrong with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the news of the men of Jabesh.

Though anointed king and publicly selected, he is still a farmer for now, and as we will see below, Samuel still has a leadership role.

And so he comes in from the fields after work to hear the news.

6And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.

The Spirit comes to empower Saul to be king and deliverer. Specifically, the Spirit stirs up righteous anger about what Nahash is doing. Righteous anger is meant to stir us up to do the right thing.

And then in a move reminiscent of Judges 19-21,

7He took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hand of the messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!”

(The phrase, “throughout all the territory of Israel” is also found in Judges 19:29.)

He is calling all of Israel to respond to Nahash and his outrageous behavior.

There must have surely been a temptation for people to want to stay home and do their farm work. But the threat is that if they don’t come their oxen, which today would be equivalent to their farm equipment, will be destroyed. Then they won’t be able to work for the foreseeable future.

(That he kills his own oxen might be a sign that he is not going to be a farmer anymore, but will now be king.)

Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one man. 8When he mustered them at Bezek, the people of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.

God worked through the message that Saul sent out and everyone responded.

9And they said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the men of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have salvation.’” When the messengers came and told the men of Jabesh, they were glad. 10Therefore the men of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.”

The phrase, “we will give ourselves up to you” is more simply translated, “we will come out to you.” Which could mean to surrender or to march out for war. But the Ammonites take it that they will surrender, which instills complacency in them.

11And the next day Saul put the people in three companies. And they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch and struck down the Ammonites until the heat of the day. And those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

So Saul is strategic in dividing up his army and in attacking in the morning watch, sometime between 2 and 6 in the morning, when an already unsuspecting army is further off guard. And it was a complete victory.

(Notice that in the first past of the story that Nahash sought to cut out their eyes. But here the people of Jabesh-gilead say to them “do to us whatever seems good to you or in your eyes” and then the Ammonites are struck or “cut” down.) (The people of Jabesh-gilead were faithful to Saul when he died – 1 Samuel 31:11-13; 2 Samuel 2:4-7; 21:12)

12Then the people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Bring the men, that we may put them to death.” 13But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.”

Remember, before “he held his peace” when they questioned him. And here Saul displays real character and grace, by counseling that no one be punished. And he gives full credit to God for the deliverance wrought through him.

This request “bring us the men (the worthless ones – 10:27) that we may put them to death” echoes Judges 20:13, “give up the men, (the worthless fellows of Gibeah) that we may put them to death.”

So Saul has passed the test! and the people are behind him. Next, we will see him being officially recognized as king and Samuel will give his farewell to the people.

Now let’s look at some –

Challenges for us

– from this story. One lesson is that 1. With the call comes the anointing. I have mentioned this before. God doesn’t call us to do things that he doesn’t empower us to accomplish.

  • Saul was called to be king and we see here that God’s Spirit came upon him and enabled him to defeat the Ammonites.
  • Saul is able, in the Lord, to overcome his fear; his core weakness, to do what God called him to do.

This was his finest hour. But this also shows us that when Saul fails in the coming chapters, it was because of his choices and giving in to his fears, not because he couldn’t do it with God’s help.

What does God want you to do? He will empower you to do it. Even if it goes against your core weakness. God’s power is made perfect in our human weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Saul is and example of this here.

2. God is able to save. This is a key theme in this story. The word for save/salvation (or deliverance) shows up 4 times in this story (10:27, 11:3, 9, 13) ending with Saul’s words, “today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel.”

This is one more in a long line of examples of how God is able to save his people, no matter what the situation is.

Now, this story can be read typologically, that is, it presents to us a foreshadowing of what is true today in the time of Christ.

Nahash’s name means serpent. The people of Jabesh-gilead are thus under the power of the evil one. Saul the deliverer represents the promised Messiah; God’s anointed one who saves.

And so the question is, what do you need delivered from? Sin and Satan are spoken of as powers that enslaves us.

  • Jesus says in John 8:34, “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” But he also says, “if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed.”
  • In Luke 11 Jesus speaks of us as captives of the strongman, Satan. But he says of himself, “when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him . . . he takes away his spoil,” that is, us.

What do you need to be delivered from? God will work through our king, Jesus to set you free! And not only that, he can begin to use us to help set others free, just as the Israelite army does in this story.

God is able to save. God saves us from Sin and the evil one. And God wants to use us to set other people free.

Living like we actually believe Jesus is alive

Luke 23:54-24:7

After Jesus’ crucifixion and burial –

The disciples acted as if Jesus was dead and gone

This is what they believed, and you can tell what they really believed by their actions:

  • The eleven were overcome by fear – John 20:19. In fact, they were huddled together behind locked doors for fear of the authorities. Jesus was dead, and they were afraid they might be next.
  • The two disciples on the Emmaus road were despairing – Luke 24:21. They said, “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” But now, here Jesus is dead.
  • The women (from our own text) had given up – Luke 24:1. They went to the tomb in order to treat Jesus’ body with spices and ointments they had prepared. It’s what you do when someone’s dead.

All of these believed that Jesus was dead and gone, and they acted accordingly.

But Jesus is alive!

Picking up again with our text, first the women found the tomb was empty – vs. 3-4. But, since this didn’t fit their belief “they were perplexed” – v. 4. And then they heard the message of the angels, who told the women two crucial things. And I want us to get this.

1. You need to remember what Jesus said. Luke 24:6-7 – “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” He said he would rise from the dead

And even deeper than this, 2. You need to understand who Jesus is. Luke 24:5-6 – “Why do you seek the Living One among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Jesus is the Living One. Why would he be found in a tomb? That’s not who Jesus is!

No, Jesus isn’t dead, as you think and as you are living. Rather –

Jesus lives, and they should live based on this truth

  • So, the eleven don’t have to huddle in fear, they can go forth with courage and serve God boldly
  • The two disciples on the Emmaus road can have hope for the salvation of God
  • The women don’t have to give up and move on. They can press on in their service to Jesus

That’s the difference it makes to truly realize that Jesus is alive and to live like this is so.  And as we know from the scriptures – Jesus’ disciples were transformed by this realization from despair to new life.

Well, you know what?

We often act as if Jesus is dead and gone

Oh, we say Jesus is alive. But just as with the disciples our actions (our attitudes and outlook) often betray a different belief.  We act as if Jesus is unable to hear us, unable to respond to us, unable to help us; as if he’s as good as dead.

Like the disciples –

  • We too are overcome by fear, hiding away under the weight of our struggles in life and serving God
  • We too become despairing, thinking our situation is impossible
  • We too give up in the face of our difficulties

But, sisters and brothers, the truth is that Jesus is alive!

We need to hear the twofold message of the angles, just as the women did 2,000 years ago. 1. We need to remember that what Jesus said happened. Jesus was raised. He told his disciples ahead of time and they witness to us of this truth.

  • Peter said, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.” – Acts 2:32
  • Peter also said, “You killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” – Acts 3:15
  • Again Peter said, “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things . . .” – Acts 5:30-32
  • Peter preached, “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses” – Acts 10:39-41
  • Paul preached, “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took Jesus down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.” – Acts 13:29-31
  • Paul said, Jesus “was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead. . .” – Romans 1:4
  • Paul wrote, “Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father” – Romans 6:4
  • Paul delivered to his hearers that Jesus “was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (or Peter), then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:4-8
  • Paul taught that “God raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named” – Ephesians 1:20-21

 What Jesus said has indeed happened!!!

And even deeper than this, as the angels told the women, 2. We need to understand who Jesus is. He is “The Living One”; this is his very identity.

  •  Jesus said about himself, “I am the resurrection and the life” – John 11:25
  • Jesus states “just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” – John 5:26
  • Jesus calls himself “the first and the last and the living One” – Revelation 1:17-18
  • Jesus said, “I was dead, and see, I am alive forevermore; and I have the keys to death and Hades” – Revelation 1:18
  • Jesus is called the “Author of life” in Acts 3:15
  • “The word of life” in 1 John 1:11
  • John 1:4 says, “what has come into being in him is life”  (NRSV)
  • Hebrews 7:16 says that Jesus had “the power of an indestructible life”
  • And because of this as Acts 2:24 testifies, “it was impossible for Jesus to be held by the power of death.”

This is who Jesus is. Jesus is life! He cannot, not live! This is the very identity of Jesus. And we need to remember this.

Jesus lives, and we should live based on this truth

  • So, we don’t need to be overwhelmed by our fears. We can have courage to move forward in life as we serve God.
  • We don’t need to despair. We can have hope for the salvation of God in our lives.
  • We don’t need to give up. We can press on when things get difficult

Why? Because Jesus is alive and he can hear us and respond to us and walk with us. So let’s live our lives based on this truth and move forward with boldness and faith in our lives and in our service to God.

How will you respond to Jesus?

Today is Palm Sunday, so named because the crowds placed palm branches on the path before Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. Let’s read this story, as it’s found in Mark 11:1-11.

This is sometimes called Jesus’ triumphal procession. It was quite a sight – Jesus on a donkey, crowds putting clothes and branches on the road and praising God, saying “hosanna,” which means “praise God for salvation.”

But –

What does this all mean?

We have six clues:

1. This event comes right after the story of the healing of blind Bartimaeus, where Bartimaeus called Jesus “Son of David;” a royal title in reference to the Messiah. And Jesus accepts this.

2. That Jesus rode a donkey connects to when Solomon was anointed King of Israel – 1 Kings 1:33-34. David said, “have Solomon my son ride on my own mule . . . And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet there anoint him king over Israel.” Jesus presents himself to Jerusalem as David’s son, come to be king, just as Solomon did.

3. Riding on a donkey connects to Zechariah 9:9, a prophecy that talks about the coming royal Messiah. This verse says, “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Jesus is saying, “I am the one spoken of in this prophecy.” Matthew and John make this connection explicit by quoting this verse.

4. That people laid down their cloaks connects with the anointing of king Jehu – 2 Kings 9:12-13. Jehu said, “Thus and so the prophet spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel.’ ” Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.” The crowd knew this custom and so understood and accepted, at least here, that Jesus was coming as the king of Israel.

5. The words of the crowd in v. 9 are a praise to God for the king/Messiah. They say, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” This comes from Psalm 118:25-26, which says, “Save us (Hosanna)! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The crowd is applying this royal, Davidic, Messianic psalm to Jesus. He is the one who comes to save.

6. The words of the crowd in v. 10 show that they are expecting David’s kingdom to be established. They say, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” – Mark 11:10.

So what is going on? Jesus is presenting himself as Messiah and King to Jerusalem. “Here I am ,your Lord” If he was cautious before, because it wasn’t his time. Now it’s all out in the open. “I am the promised one, long predicted in the Scriptures, and I have come.” He has come to be received as king and Lord. A response is expected.

But let’s also notice that –

Jesus is a different kind of Lord

Most kings (dare we say politicians, even today?) are power hungry, arrogant, self-interested and try to get what they can get out of their power and position. Right before this parade into Jerusalem, Jesus said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them” – Mark 10:42. They seek “to be served” – Mark 10:45.

But Jesus is nothing like this. And this is why Jesus was so careful with the imagery of kingship. He didn’t want people to misunderstand what kind of Messiah and king he is.  We can see this difference, even in this triumphal entry.

  • Most kings are proud, but Jesus is a humble king. He came riding on a donkey. He didn’t even have his own animal. He had to borrow one.
  • Most kings seek to be served, but Jesus is a servant king. In contrast to the rulers of the Gentiles, Jesus said, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” – Mark 10:45. He is not in it for what he gets out of it. He is in it for us; to save us.
  • Most kings use force to ensure their will. But Jesus is a vulnerable king. He could have come with angel armies to take the city. But he used no force. He let people choose whether they would accept him or reject him. And sure enough, just as he predicted most eventually did reject him.

Well, just as he presented himself to these people 2,000 years ago –

 Jesus presents himself to us as our Lord

He continues to seek those who will receive him as king. And he is here among us to present himself to each of you this morning. How will you respond? Will you receive him as king? Or reject him?

Jesus is the king of kings and the Lord of lords, who sits at the right hand of God in glory. 1 Peter 3:22 says, Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” As Philippians 2:9-11 says, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord

Jesus is indeed the king of kings. But remember what kind of King Jesus is:

  • He is the alpha and the omegathe first and the last, but he is also humble. He will not try to impress you or make a big show of things.
  • He is the Lord of glory, but he is also a servant. He has given you much more than you will ever give him having laid down his life for you.
  • He is the bright morning star, but he has made himself vulnerable before you. So you can choose. And you can reject him if you like.

I put it before you today – How will you respond to Jesus?

Some of you need to respond to Jesus as your king and Lord, because you’ve never done it, or you haven’t gone public with it. Jesus waits for your response, even this morning.

Some of you have responded to Jesus in the past, but you have walked away from him. You may have claimed him as Lord at one time, but you know that you’re not living like he is Lord. Jesus is right now waiting for your response

What will it be?

If this is your situation, I want to invite you to pray this prayer. Listen to it first – “Jesus, I acknowledge that you are Lord and I want to submit my life to you. Cleanse me of my sin where I have not followed you and guide me in your ways. Give me your power so that I can live like you want me to live from now on. Amen”

This is the right response to Jesus. This is where to begin.

Seven disciplines for joining in God’s mission

Some of what I will share with you today will be familiar. And that for two reasons:

  • Back in July I taught on this topic of joining in God’s mission.
  • And since then, I have refocused the teaching and have been putting it up on the screen before our services for the last several months.

I want to share it in this form, this morning as we relaunch, as it were, our efforts to connect with our neighbors and others.

I am taking a cue from Peter when he says in, 2 Peter 1:12 – “I intend always to remind you of these (things), though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” And so I am here this morning reminding you of some things.

God’s mission

As we read the Bible we come to understand that God is on a mission, stretching all the way back to Abraham, through Moses, Israel, the prophets and culminating in the coming of Jesus. God’s mission is that every single person will be transformed and made whole through Jesus; that each person will become a part of his people and serve him, and eventually will be raised from the dead when Jesus returns and rules on this earth in righteousness and peace; when he makes all things new. And God’s mission is to be our mission, for we are his people; it’s to be our priority.

The title says, “disciplines” of joining in God’s mission. And that’s because –

It takes work!

– to accomplish God’s mission. Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 3:6-9. Here Paul is talking about how he and Apollos are both working together on the same team, fulfilling God’s mission to the world. And notice the language that’s used. Paul speaks of “planting” and “watering;” that is, farming language. He says in v. 6 – “I planted, Apollos watered.” This continues in vs. 7 and 8. And then in v. 9 he says of himself and Apollos that they are “God’s fellow workers.” Being a part of God’s mission is real labor and it is hard work and toil.

And so what I am sharing with you are seven disciplines for joining in God’s mission. These are practices that we have to work at for sure, but they allow us to be used by God to accomplish his mission in this world.

1. Let your life be a witness to others

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14, 16

And who wants to hear people ‘go on’ about a topic when you know full well that they don’t put those things into practice themselves? The way you live your life is foundational. No Christian is perfect, but we must be about the business of living the Christian life ourselves, to join in God’s mission. And then if you fail, be a model for others about how to confess, repent and get back on your feet.

Our lives are our most basic witness to what we believe about God and the saving work that he is doing through his Son, Jesus. Let your life be a light to this. Be disciplined in your walk with God.

2. Build relationships with the lost

Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners – Luke 15:1-2. He engaged those who needed God’s love and grace. As he said in Matthew 9:12 – “those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.”

And we must also relate to those who need God’s saving grace, and not just fellow believers. But this takes time to invest in people’s lives. It means making room for them in your life – beyond your family and current friends to love them and to serve their needs.

And everyone is so busy today! Will we make the effort? Will we make the time? This takes concerted effort.

3. Regularly ask God to give you compassion for the lost

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” – Matthew 9:36.

We need Jesus’ compassion in our hearts. This should be our true motivation. We should not be motivated by just getting people to come to our church. Who knows where they might end up? This church won’t be right for everyone we relate to.  The point is that we care and love those we relate to and seek what is best for them.

We also need Jesus’ compassion because we easily fall into self-righteousness. Some people’s struggles and failure we judge and then we hold them at a distance. But Jesus has compassion on each of us no matter what our struggle; and we have all failed God terribly.

This will stretch us; but it’s the same grace that allowed us to be saved and to be a part of his people. And so we must give it to all.

4. Regularly pray for someone who is lost

Pray for God’s will, who “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” – 1 Timothy 2:4.

Ask God to bring about his will that all people be saved. This is what prayer is all about. As Jesus says in the Lord’s prayer, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Prayer brings about God’s heavenly purpose here on earth.

Ask God to put someone, or several people on your heart. Who does God want you praying for regularly?

5. Be alert for opportunities to share

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” – Colossians 4:5-6

 God is working all around us, and we need to open our eyes so we can join in and contribute to God’s work in the lives of others. God wants to work through us. So we need to hear and be led by the Spirit.

Ask God to show you even this week, someone to get to know; someone to share with.

6. Invite people to be a part of the kingdom

Jesus said, “Go out to the highways and hedges and urge people to come in, that my house may be filled” – Luke 14:23

I recently gave a whole message on this passage. So let me share with you a short video on inviting people, focused on Easter.

Who can you invite???

 7. Welcome with love all who come

“Don’t forget to welcome outsiders. By doing that, some people have welcomed angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2. To be hospitable means to be warm and friendly, to make room for someone, to include someone among us.

Let me share this with you again: According to the experts a person decides if they like a church and will come back within their first 11 minutes, which may well mean even before the service starts.

So we need to be a warm and welcoming church. And we need to be proactive about this.

Again I say This is work! It can be hard to make sure your own life is right, to relate to new people, to be stretched to act with compassion, to pray regularly, to keep alert during the day for opportunities to share, to invite and to welcome. That’s why I am using the language of “disciplines.” These are things we do that are good, but don’t necessarily come naturally to us.

We have these kinds of disciplines in many areas of our lives. So, for instance, if you are in school you need to do things like attend class, study and finish your assignments, if you want to be a good student.

And with all disciplines, the point is that they become second nature, so that we don’t even think about it. They just become a part of who we are. We become people who are compassionate toward those who don’t know Jesus. We just regularly pray for those who are lost. We become inviters and welcomers and so forth. This is the goal.

Let me end by saying – 

It is God who gives life

Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, because it also makes the point that, even with all our work, in the end it is God who counts, for God gives the growth.

6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

God is the key. Nothing we do apart from him will yield any results; nothing of eternal value. But God does ask us to do our part because he wants to work through us to bring new life and growth.

So during this year that we have set aside to focus on connecting with neighbors and others let’s each one join in God’s mission and work hard at it. And let’s each pray that God will move among us to bring new life and growth.