The Power of Inviting | The Challenge
Monday— “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Mark 1:17
“Come, follow me!” That call had a purpose behind it. Jesus did NOT say, “Come follow me and I will give you everything you want…disappear your bills…let you speak things into existence…make you a god like me.” He called these fishermen to a new life and a new purpose. His purpose, not theirs. Our purposes are usually selfish and temporary (A new job, better marriage, better health). His purposes are God-delighting and eternal. He may grant us earthly blessings along the way, but His sights are set on higher goals. He calls us to repentance, salvation, and holy living, then gives us a mandate: Make more disciples.
“No, you come follow ME!” we reply. Sometimes when we say we’re following Jesus, what we mean is that we’re hoping He follows us: “Follow me, Jesus, and bless my job, my family, my hobbies, my soccer game, my NFL team, my finances and whatever else I decide to do with my life.” Unfortunately, that message is preached from a thousand platforms in a thousand ways and we rarely question it. After all, the teacher used a Bible verse, so the message must be biblical. But, Jesus wouldn’t recognize it. His message was: “Come and die so that you might live.” We must die to ourselves and our own agendas and take on His. When we do, He sharpens us, grows us, and makes us more like Him. In turn, we help other people know Him.
Final Thought: Your salvation has a purpose beyond you. Jesus calls you to come and die that you might learn to live.
Prayer: Lord, have I followed your call or do I expect you to follow mine? My attitude toward you is usually selfish. I want my way and for you to bless it. But I hear another call, to come and die that I might live. I’m ready to follow. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— He said, ‘Go into the highways and hedges and make them come in, so my house may be full.’ Luke 14:23
The master was outraged. “What do you mean they’ve rejected my invitation!” he roared. “Don’t they know what a high honor this is? Forget them! I’m flinging open my banquet doors to whoever will come. I’ll provide evening attire for all who accept my invitation and we’ll feed them like they’ve never been fed before.” He stormed from the room and the servants looked at each other. Okay then, if that’s what the master wanted. They grabbed stacks of invitations and scattered. Such invitations were almost scandalous. Rulers never did that, but their master was different. He wanted everyone to know they were invited.
That’s the message God gives us. “Go everywhere and urge people to come to me. I want an overflowing kingdom filled with every kind of people, every race, every language, the poor, the hungry, the broken, the mentally challenged, the addicted. Tell them to come to me and I will feed them like they’ve never been fed before.” But what if the servants stuffed the invitations between the sofa cushions and flipped on the big screen? What if they waved at the destitute as they sped past on their way to the banquet? What if they ignored the Master’s command, but didn’t hesitate to beg Him for the things they wanted? How would the Master respond? He told us. God has invited everyone to His banquet and entrusted us with His invitations.
Final Thought: If you belong to Jesus, then He’s handed you a stack of invitations. What are you doing with them?
Prayer: Father, I’m afraid I have stacks of invitations gathering dust on my shelves while I pursue my own interests. I don’t want to be one of those servants on judgement day who rejected your command. I’m ready to obey. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. John 1:46
“We found Him!” Philip was nearly leaping when he said it. Sweat covered his face and his eyes danced. “He’s that guy from Nazareth everybody’s talking about! It’s HIM, Nate! The Messiah! God’s promised One!” Nathanael sighed and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, sure. How many messiahs have we gotten excited about and they turned out to be con men? Especially this one. Nazareth? Nothing good comes out of Nazareth. You should know that. Where’s your proof?” Philip grabbed his friend by the shoulders. “I don’t know enough about Him to prove it, but just come and see for yourself. Please. If He turns out to be a fraud, you’ve lost nothing but a couple of hours. I can’t describe Him well enough. You’ve got to meet Jesus and see for yourself.”
Spoiler alert: Nathanael does meet Jesus and later becomes one of the twelve apostles. All it took was an introduction.
Satan exploits our natural timidity and convinces us that we need a Ph.D. in theology to talk to someone about Jesus. When we think about inviting a coworker or neighbor, acid shoots into our stomachs. “What if they ask me how God made a fish swallow a man? What if they say the Bible has errors? What if…?” Terror overwhelms us, so we remain silent while conviction nudges us like a pup wanting a scratch. Philip couldn’t answer any of those questions either, but it didn’t stop him from compelling his friend to come and meet Jesus. Sometimes, all we need is an enthusiastic “Come and see!”
Final Thought: Philip reminds us that we don’t need all the answers to invite people, just a genuine encounter with Jesus.
Prayer: Jesus, I let shyness or embarrassment keep me from inviting people to come and see who you are. But I don’t need all the answers. I just need a saving relationship with you that I want other people to have. I’ll invite them to come and see. Amen.
Thursday— The woman…ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him. John 4:28-30
Hours earlier, she might have been afraid to talk to those people. She’d come to the well alone for a reason. Decent women didn’t want to be seen with her. She’d been a topic of town gossip and she’d kept digging deeper holes for herself. We call her “the woman at the well,” but she had a name. A story. A family. A history. A string of sins that disqualified her for significance. She thought her only value was in serving men. Then she met a Man who looked right through her tattered self-image and pretentious religiosity and saw her soul. He brought light where there had only been darkness, truth where confusion had reigned. And because He saw her, she saw Him for Who He is. That revelation changed everything.
When we see Jesus for Who He is, it makes us bold. For the first time, we see ourselves for who we really are and we want everyone to see themselves the same way. Wrapped in Christ’s righteousness, the opinions of other people lose their power over us. We know who we are and Who Jesus is and that gives us significance. Boldness. Courage to invite other people to the well. For this woman, those haughty looks and leering eyes didn’t matter anymore. She was no longer the woman at the well. She’d met Jesus and He made her the first missionary to the Samaritans. What new title might God have for you?
Final Thought: Neither your past sins nor your present imperfections disqualify you from inviting others to meet Jesus.
Prayer: Father, have I hidden behind my failures as an excuse to avoid inviting people to know you? Please forgive me as you have forgiven me of all other sins. Let me step into the title you have for me as I invite others into your presence. Amen.
Friday— I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:33
“Go shopping with us!” said the chirpy voice on the phone. “You never hang out with us anymore. You’re always down at that mission, doing penance or something.” Lyla smiled into the phone. “It’s not penance. I’m not Catholic. I’m doing what God’s called me to do. Those people are hungry for the gospel, for hope, and I have it. It’s wrong not to share it with them.” A heavy sigh echoed in her ear. “Fine then. Be a do-gooder. I thought when our kids were raised we’d live it up. I never imagined you’d become Father Lyla.” Lyla rolIed her eyes and smiled. “It can be hard, but for all eternity I get to celebrate with these people.”
Lyla had an eternal perspective and it affected how she spent her time on earth. She wasn’t trying to earn God’s favor or punish herself for past sins. She WANTED to be at the mission because she’d heard God’s call. There were days she would have preferred to go shopping, lie by the pool, or take up a hobby. But she’d never find the kind of fulfillment she found in sacrificing for Jesus’ sake. The Bible is filled with good examples of Christians doing the same thing. They set aside their own agendas for the sake of something higher. It was hard. Many were martyred for it. But they’d do it all again because the payoff is unmatched. Earthly life is a nanosecond compared with eternity, so it makes sense to invest our lives wisely.
Final Thought: How much of your life are you investing so that others might be saved?
Prayer: Father, this convicts me. I live mostly for myself and my family. But am I investing in what matters? What will I have to show for my life when I stand before you? Help me set aside my own rights to become a fisher of men. In Jesus’ name, amen.