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South Fellowship Church

Not Like Me

Activity Post | 1 Peter 2:9-11

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:9-11

Where do you begin to relate to those whose religion is not like yours? To relate well, we need information, how much do you know about other peoples’ religions? And we need vision, Jesus himself showed us how to get out of a religion and into a relationship with God. Here are some suggested activities to do individually, as a family or life group.

1. Put an up-to-date world map or globe in your living space to see daily,
or use a global geography learning game regularly.
2. Use a prayer guide like OPERATION WORLD by Patrick Johnstone which will
help you to pray for every country in the world systematically over the year.
3. Do a research study on a particular country, people group, religion or culture. Let God lead your choice and help you to grow in compassion for it. Ask God to show you those of other religions he’s already put in your life..
4. View a movie or video about another part of the world, people, religion or culture.
5. Use the international articles in a newspaper or missions’ magazine for prayer prompts.
6. Read a missionary biography from an area of interest or about building friendships. The more you know about.another’s culture/religion, the more you can relate in friendship with sensitivity and respect. Learn from those who have gone before.
7. Investigate opportunities to reach out to immigrants and international students in your city. Find the pockets of other nationalities in your area to reach out to. Seek out ways to build friendships, show hospitality, and care by praying for them. Give them the opportunity to see God in your life. How many international people have been in your living room or your patio? How many of their homes have you been in? They want to meet Americans.
8. Attend a Missions Advocacy Team (MAT) meeting. There is one for a different part of the world every Sunday at South Fellowship.

Our heart is to be like God’s heart, to desire the experience of the glorious time when people from every nation, tribe, people and language will be worshiping before his throne (Revelation 7:9). Look at different YouTube videos of Christian worship services around the world. Try the largest Christian church in Seoul, Korea; Ghana, Africa; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Kerala, India. It is inspiring and beautiful to see international Christians worshiping like we will all be doing together someday.

By Donna Burns

Activity Post | 1 Peter 2:9-112020-06-25T14:15:45-06:00

A Lived Apologetic | 1 Peter 3:15-16

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:2, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.” In the passage above Peter alludes to similar ideas when he tells us to be prepared to give an answer to people for our hope. We are called to live in such a way that others would “read” our lives and be curious. Peter assumes that questions will be asked when people see our lives and he challenges us to be ready.

There is a kind of living that causes people to ask questions about our hope but it doesn’t stop there. Peter also tells us the spirit with which we are to answer them when they do ask. He says, “do this with gentleness and respect.” The way we live and the way we speak to people can often be more important than the content of our beliefs or message. This is not to say that content is unimportant but it is unheard without life evidence and gentle words. We are living letters, read by all people, what does our letter say to them? Is the letter harsh? Is it welcoming? Is it kind? Does the letter of our lives sound like the voice of Jesus to those around us?

Take a moment to confess the many ways in which your life does not communicate the message of Jesus to people.

Merciful God, your voice is sweetness to my soul. You spoke kindness, love, and grace to me. You embraced me while I was undeserving. I confess that my life does not reflect the same love and kindness that yours does to me. I confess that the letter of my life does not always draw people to your love. Forgive me for not reflecting you. Help me this week to live in such a way that someone asks me about my hope in you!

By Aaron Bjorklund

A Lived Apologetic | 1 Peter 3:15-162020-06-25T14:12:44-06:00

A Wise Apologetic | 1 Peter 3:10-12

For, “Whoever would love life

and see good days

must keep their tongue from evil

and their lips from deceitful speech.

They must turn from evil and do good;

they must seek peace and pursue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous

and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:10-12

In Katherine Applegate’s novel, The One and Only Ivan, Ivan the gorilla utters a profound statement when he says, “Humans waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot. Everyone knows the peels are the best part.” And ya know what…he’s right. We live in a day and age where words are everywhere. It is hard to escape from the deafening noise of so many words.

When it comes to discussions about religion, we must ask ourselves this question: Are we adding to the noise? When we demoralize and dehumanize another because their beliefs are not like ours, we certainly are. A much better and wiser approach? Listening.

It’s long been said that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, so why is it that our mouths get all the credit? When we speak out of turn or with an agenda, we only end up looking foolish. But, when we listen, we love. When we listen, people stop being viewed as agendas to us, and once again become people—beautiful, broken people dearly loved by the God who made them in His likeness. Listening, just simply holding our tongue and listening, helps us accomplish this.

I love the way the Message renders Proverbs 21:23,

“Watch your words and hold your tongue;
you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.”

We not only save ourselves a lot of grief, but those around us. No wonder James admonished us about the tongue. One misplaced or ill-spoken word can be like a small spark that sets a forest on fire. That is why he also calls us to be quick to listen and slow to speak.

When we take the time to listen and to ask better questions like, “Can you tell me more about what you believe?” or “What caused you to believe that?” we not only employ wisdom, but we show Christ-like honor and love to those who so desperately need Him.

Today, consecrate your members in prayer. Begin with your ears, then move to your eyes, mouth, mind, heart, and so on until you make it all the way to your feet. As you do, confess any sin present and ask God to use your members for His glory and honor to build others up.

By Sheila Rennau

A Wise Apologetic | 1 Peter 3:10-122020-06-25T13:59:46-06:00

A Fearless Apologetic | 1 Peter 3:13-14

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 1 Peter 3:13-14

There are those who perish every day for their faith, and many of them are Jesus followers. Perhaps one of the better books outlining past martyrs is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. If you haven’t read this, I would highly recommend your reading it to understand more fully the suffering martyrs past and present have experienced. Their martyrdom came mostly by living and sharing their faith. Learning of their journey of suffering may leave you in awe. See if it doesn’t change your concept of persecution. I believe it will because it changed mine.

There are many reasons for fear in sharing your faith. Perhaps, like me, the fear of rejection causes hesitation or not sharing at all. My father-in-law used to do and say things that would cause me to cringe when we were at restaurants. There were times he’d actually walk into the kitchen to chat with the chef. Other times, he’d ask questions about getting something free or at a reduced rate. Whenever we would say something, he’d always reply with, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ Invariably, the answer was always ‘they might say no.’ It was amazing what he’d be able to get!

Why not do the same in sharing our faith? What’s the worst thing that can happen? According to Matthew 10:28, we could lose our lives but our souls remain intact in God’s hands. In reality, at least in most countries, asking to share your faith with someone in conversation is rarely turned away, sometimes taken as you’re truly and deeply caring for them. If they refuse, no matter. Their refusing the Gospel is held to their account, similar to the people who didn’t listen to the watchman’s warning (Ezekiel 33:1-5). And hope helps us understand it may still be that little seed sown in fertile soil to bloom one day.

Fear isn’t from the Lord. It’s in the Evil One’s tool kit, and it’s perhaps the most widely used instrument. As those times come along where you sense a voice prompting the sharing of your faith, but it’s drowned out by fear, pause for just a moment. As you pause, pray for courage, and invoke the name of Christ against the fear. In your prayerful moment, see if Christ doesn’t dispel your fear and increase your courage to share your faith!

By Rich Obrecht

A Fearless Apologetic | 1 Peter 3:13-142020-06-25T13:57:30-06:00

Foundation for Apologetics | 1 Peter 3:8-9

You have heard it said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and send rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, (holy) therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (holy). Matthew 5:43-48 NIV parentheses mine.

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil, or insult with insult, but with blessing, because you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. I Peter 3:8-9 NIV

Let’s picture Jesus on a hillside, teaching to the crowds, talking about what we now call his Sermon on the Mount. Men and women, people of all ages, of various religious beliefs, of different economic backgrounds, and possibly different races were gathered to hear Jesus teach. Early in this talk he says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God,” Matthew 5:9. Later, he speaks of loving our neighbors, and our enemies. In our relationships with others he calls us to be holy, as God is holy, just as Leviticus 19:2 calls us to be holy.

Jesus’ rules for living were radically different from anything his listeners had heard before. In Colossians 3:1-17, and in Romans 12:9-21 Paul gives believers in Christ practical lists of rules for holy living and examples of how we are to love one another. I Peter 3:8-16 gives us Peter’s perspective on how we as Christians should treat each other. Both Paul and Peter were writing to believers, but the principles given in these passages can be applied to all of our relationships, with all sorts of people we may encounter in our daily lives. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus advocated for us to be peacemakers and to love both our enemies and our neighbors.

How does this apply to someone with different religious beliefs than we may have? First, I believe it requires we treat all people with respect, remembering all people are made in the image of God. Be willing to listen, be willing to learn. Then we can engage in a conversation about those beliefs, asking questions, listening to the answers and being willing to learn. If we use Romans 12:15-16 as a guide to our interactions, many opportunities to share with others will naturally occur. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do to be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited,” Romans 12:15-16.

Do you have someone in your circle of family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors who have different religious beliefs from you? Perhaps you could have a conversation with that person, or you could send him or her a card, or an email. Ask if they have needs you could pray for, or offer to help with a need they have.

By Grace Hunter

Foundation for Apologetics | 1 Peter 3:8-92020-06-25T13:55:30-06:00

Attitude for Apologetics | 1 Peter 3:15

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… 1 Peter 3:15

I’m not sure where I picked this up, but when I was younger I believed that every good Christian needed to be a good apologist. And being a good apologist meant being a good debater to argue people into accepting the gospel. Learn all the arguments and counter-arguments. Don’t back down. Break down every objection until they have no choice but to accept the Truth and become a Christian.

Interestingly, as I just wrote out what I once believed apologetics to be, I realized something was missing: Jesus. In this perspective, it’s not about Jesus, it’s about winning, whether a soul or the argument. It’s about getting someone to accept a set of propositions and a label.

Scripture actually gives us a different approach to apologetics: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15-16). Eyes on Jesus. Gentleness, respect, and humility. And a readiness to share the hope that we profess because we know Jesus Christ. This should be our attitude towards apologetics.

Today, imagine Jesus going with you throughout your day. Let his presence remind you to interact with others with gentleness and respect.

By Jessica Rust

Attitude for Apologetics | 1 Peter 3:152020-06-25T13:53:29-06:00

Call to Worship | If the Lord is God, Follow Him!

Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21

With 450 prophets pulling the people of Israel in the opposite direction, Elijah felt very alone (1 Kings 18:22). Yet, he was surprisingly confident.

Strangely enough, he had such amazing confidence in Yahweh, God that we notice him:
1) challenging the others prophets to a fiery duel
2) taunting his opponents with sarcastic jabs
3) going above and beyond to prove the extraordinary power of his God.

Now, it’s not clear where this idea came from but Elijah’s passion for God was revealed on that day and God’s response was both gracious and powerful. Elijah’s bold confidence aimed to glorify his God was remarkable and we, too, can walk in confidence in our resurrected Lord!

Perhaps some of Elijah’s confidence came from the resurrection he witnessed a few years earlier. Like Elijah we trust in the power of our God’s resurrecting powers and we pray confidently to him for more stories that will testify to his fame!

You can join us in praising God for being the one and only true God tonight at Littles Creek Park at 4pm. We will finish this week of 28days of Prayer with an attitude of thanksgiving.

By Yvonne Biel

Call to Worship | If the Lord is God, Follow Him!2020-06-25T13:51:42-06:00

Activity Practice | Psalm 102:25-28

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,

    and the heavens are the work of your hands.

 They will perish, but you will remain;

    they will all wear out like a garment.

You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,

     but you are the same, and your years have no end.

The children of your servants shall dwell secure;

    their offspring shall be established before you.  Psalm 102:25-28

Long straight black hair, every kind and color of bracelet covering both her arms from wrist bone to elbow, and symbolic necklaces adorn this young adult cash register attendant. It’s like she wants you to know exactly where she stands and what she stands for. I know she is not like me. Every time I go to the store, I look for her, greet her by her name and ask the Lord to lead me in a conversation with her. Over the years I have found out lots of tidbits about her and keep praying for her, and have asked others to pray for her.

A friend of mine frequents his favorite fast food restaurant and has for years. He spends time in his Bible there regularly and God has led him to conversations about Jesus with many. Contact with those not like us abound if you make the effort to seek them out. Those not like us could be younger, older, of different ethnicity, religion, politics and perspectives. If you have read the Not Like Me book by Eric Bryant, he shares a story about a gas station attendant that he talked to regularly when he fueled his car. The Lord used Eric to bring this man a Bible and more.

So, your activity for this week is to pick a place you frequent or a person that you often see somewhere and be intentional about asking God to lead you. The last couple weeks we’ve made prayer cards to help you keep praying about those not like you, prayer walked and observed in your neighborhood, and now this week look for a business or an event to frequent with your presence in your neighborhood. You could do this yourself, as a family or with other Christ followers. Early in my discipleship I learned that only people and God’s word last for eternity. Through ministry I learned gaining people’s trust earns the privilege of sharing the lifesaving news of Jesus with them. God has given you a story and he has people he wants you to share that story with. Jesus said “go” (Matthew 28:19-20), we are his hands and feet. There is a whole world of people waiting to hear.

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:8

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

By Donna Burns

Activity Practice | Psalm 102:25-282020-06-18T13:31:11-06:00

Everyone Was Young Once | 1 Timothy 4:11-16

Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:11-16

When I was in seminary, I was one of a very few twenty-somethings in my church. There were a couple college students, but most of the church population was older than me and in a different stage of life. Young families, empty nesters, retirees. I felt so insecure as I tried to minister to them. How could I have anything to say to them, not having had so many life experiences that they had? And why would they listen to me or see me as a contributor to the kingdom and not just someone who needs to learn? It was hard not to feel disqualified from meaningful ministry because of my youth.

This week we have addressed the tendency for generations to disdain, disregard, and question one another. The old and young alike shake their heads and think “they just don’t get it.” But the full picture of God’s people, which our church is supposed to mirror, includes those of all ages. Instead of looking down on those who are different, especially those who are younger, seek to honor them instead. We see over and over again in Scripture and in history God using those of different age groups, old and young. He called Timothy, he called Jeremiah, he called Mary. Why would he think he’s suddenly stopped using, calling, and equipping the young with this generation?

This week, reach out to someone who is younger than you. Commend and encourage them for the ways you see them contributing to the Kingdom. If you can, give specific examples of their gifting or times you have seen them step up. Maybe put it in writing so they can hold on to your thoughts and be encouraged in the future. After you have reached out to them, continue to pray for them.

By Jessica Rust

Everyone Was Young Once | 1 Timothy 4:11-162020-06-18T13:28:35-06:00

Discipleship to All Generations | Titus 2:1-15

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. Titus 2:1-8

You can’t go far without spotting generational tension. The older generation desires respect, the young generation desires understanding. Before too long, walls are built to divide instead of bridges to connect.

It can be interesting to discover the generation you are a part of and the hallmarks of it. Regardless, with whether you are from the Silent Generation or Gen Alpha, we have to begin to do 3 basic things: Listen, Teach/Learn, and Pray

Listen

All people want to be heard. There is great wisdom to be gleaned from older generations. Older generations should not be feared or looked down upon, but should be treated with respect and honor. Their stories of life, and the hard lessons learned can help to guide and stabilize younger generations. Younger generations should also be heard. They are full of zeal! Yet, those visions need to be tempered with wisdom. Both generations can help encourage the other.

Teach/Learn

Whether it is how to operate a cell phone app or an eyewitness account of a historical moment, we can teach and learn from each other. Paul admonished Titus to teach and encourage the generations. If we do not teach each other, I fear we will be lost. The older generation will become stagnant, and the younger will have no mooring. We must be patient and hand down the lessons, especially the lesson of faith, just as Israel was instructed to do by Moses. As it says in Psalm 145:4, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.”

Pray

Finally, but most importantly, we must pray for the generations that are now, and for the ones that are to come. In a humorous sketch, “Millennials”, Micah Tyler calls us to pray for the rising generation because soon we will look up to them in business, industry, education and politics. Those are huge and scary shoes to fill! The young around us need our help to grow not only into productive citizens, but also into men and women who will whole-heartedly fear the Lord. We have the awesome responsibility and privilege to teach them how to study, think and pray.

This week, I encourage you to make a prayer journal of generations. Beside a picture or name of a person from a generation that is different from yours, write how you have been blessed by the individual. Think of ways you can pray for them, or praise God for them. Finally, think of ways you can better serve, honor, or listen to them.

By Sheila Rennau

Discipleship to All Generations | Titus 2:1-152020-06-18T13:13:24-06:00
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