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We Are GCI—Randy Bloom

In this episode of We Are GCI, GCI President, Dr. Greg Williams interviews Randy Bloom, the GCI Board Chair. Together they discuss Randy’s new role as the Board Chair for GCI and his love for American History.

Devotional—But the Lord Said Go

Editor’s Note: Our overarching theme for devotions during the five months of the liturgical calendar called Ordinary Time is Jesus is sending his church. Using Michael Frost’s B.E.L.L.S. acronym as a framework, the topics will relate to missional living.

    • As “sent” people, we are invited to…
  • bless others generously, in word and deed (July),
  • eat with others hospitably (August),
  • listen to the Spirit while engaging with others (September),
  • learn Jesus’ teachings as a disciple (October),
  • and, sent people share the good news with others (November)

10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem, 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; Acts 9:10-15 NRSVUE

Paul was infamous for persecuting Christians until he met Jesus while travelling to Damascus. Paul was blinded, but God used this blindness as a way of getting his attention.

Meanwhile, God spoke to the disciple Ananias. He did not anticipate that the Lord would send him to the likes of Paul. It must have been confusing and frightening for Ananias. He was asked to show compassion and extend healing to someone known for arresting and killing his fellow believers. But despite the uncertainty and fears for his own safety, Ananias obeyed. In doing so, he participated not only in bringing light to Paul by restoring his eyesight, but in God’s bigger work through Paul to bring the light of gospel to the world.

Witnessing for Christ can be daunting. It is a call that sometimes takes us to difficult places and people. We see our neighbors’ and co-workers’ offenses and flaws. We may be deterred by the reputations that precede them. But Jesus compels us to love them just the same, because his desire is to reach all people.

Like Ananias, we too are being sent to minister to others, even to those who are difficult or with whom we have differences. It can feel scary and confusing, and we may even wonder to God: “where are you going with this?” But where the Lord sends us, we can follow him in faith, trusting that he is already at work, and that there is no limit to what he can do in the lives of the people around us.

Prayer:
Thank you, God, for bringing us into this relationship with you, for allowing us to know your heart, and for giving us space to participate in your ministry of reconciliation towards all people. Open our eyes to opportunities for sharing the good news of Jesus. As you send us, grant us the courage and compassion to extend your love to others in intentional and meaningful ways. Amen.

By Joyce Tolentino
Hope Avenue Team, GC Crossway, Manila, PH

 

Devotional—Jesus Is Sending His Church

Editor’s Note: Our overarching theme for devotions during the five months of the liturgical calendar called Ordinary Time is Jesus is sending his church. Using Michael Frost’s B.E.L.L.S. acronym as a framework, the topics will relate to missional living.

    • As “sent” people, we are invited to…
  • bless others generously, in word and deed (July),
  • eat with others hospitably (August),
  • listen to the Spirit while engaging with others (September),
  • learn Jesus’ teachings as a disciple (October),
  • and, sent people share the good news with others (November)

What is your mission in life? How are you serving others? Regardless of what you do, Jesus Christ gives all his disciples a mission:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matt 28:19-20 NIV

God has given us many gifts and talents to worship him. I like to sing and play the piano. I used to think that singing was the way for me to preach to the world. But then I discovered that singing is just one of the ways I can express praise to God. It does not matter if I’m a talented musician if I am not living my life in a transformed way. It is not merely about how perfect the worship time is, but who I am in my day-by-day relationships.

When we surrender to God, every aspect of our lives can glorify God. God is the one who talks to our heart and gives us the correct words and decisions when things are difficult. We can use social media to reach others and have conversations about God. Apart from our lived example, social media is one of the most powerful ways for the church to continue. COVID brought something new – the reassurance that the church is not a place. We are the church. Let’s enjoy every opportunity to discuss our amazing Creator.

Prayer:

Jesus, thank you that we are participants in your mission. Holy Spirit, empower us to use our gifts and talents to proclaim the kingdom of God. Thank you for your plan of salvation for humanity, for indeed we are lost without it. Amen.

By Juanka Barrero, Hope Avenue Champion
Communion de Gracia Internacional Bogota, Columbia

 

Devotional – Let Christ’s Message Fill Your Life

Editor’s Note: Our overarching theme for devotions during the five months of the liturgical calendar called Ordinary Time is Jesus is sending his church. Using Michael Frost’s B.E.L.L.S. acronym as a framework, the topics will relate to missional living.

    • As “sent” people, we are invited to…
  • bless others generously, in word and deed (July),
  • eat with others hospitably (August),
  • listen to the Spirit while engaging with others (September),
  • learn Jesus’ teachings as a disciple (October),
  • and, sent people share the good news with others (November)

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. Colossians 3:16 NLT

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Jesus, being the ultimate teacher, involves us and invites us to participate in the life of his church and his ministry. Col 3:16 starts with “Let,” as in permit. Participation with Christ is a choice – our choice.

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.” I love this translation: Let the word be at home in your heart.

Home is where we wear pajamas and no makeup; where we relax and share our hearts’ desires and innermost fears with those closest to us. Inviting the word to be at home in our hearts is not much different. We spend lots of time together, but there are no formalities. As I heard one pastor amusingly describe it, we invite the word into the family room (not the formal living room), we put our feet up on the coffee table, we watch Netflix, and we eat cereal together!

This is not disrespectful. It’s merely the casualness and intimacy that comes from knowing someone well and regularly hanging out in God’s word.

“Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” There are few things that revive the soul quite like good praise and worship music. It can move me to tears. I’ve been known to listen to a great song on repeat for – well, a long time!

There are also few things that bring joy to the soul quite like gratitude. Several years ago, I committed to writing a short daily gratitude entry for fifty days. I ended up looking for ‘gratitude opportunities’ all day long, and the side effect of these fifty short daily writings was life changing. Even in the mess of daily life, my heart was full as I looked for the positives.

So, how can we be involved and participate in the life of Christ? I’m pretty sure it starts with these two things in Col 3:16 – we put the words of God into our life, and we put the worship of God with gratitude into our life.

Prayer:
Lord, I invite your word into my heart and mind.
Holy Spirit, please flood my soul with your word.
Let me be saturated with your word of truth and get to know you more and more each day.
I want to know you, and be known by you, so I can participate in your love.
Let me love others like you love us.
Lord, I praise you and give thanks for all your good and wonderful blessings.
In Jesus name, amen.

By Gillian Houghton
GCI Canadian Board Chair

We Are GCI – Dishon Mills

The We Are GCI series is a collection of videos highlighting various GCI leaders and members.

In this episode, get to know GCI Pastor Dishon Mills, how he experiences Christ, and why he genuinely enjoys bad sci-fi.

You can view other We Are GCI episodes here: We Are GCI
Facebook: Facebook We Are GCI

Copyright 2022 – Grace Communion International All Rights Reserved

Devotional – Not I But Christ

The apostle Paul was a remarkable man of God and his posture of complete reliance on Jesus speaks to us today.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 KJV)

This is a case where the King James Version really got it right. The life found in Christ is also sustained by the faith of Jesus in the believer. It is not a self-sustaining life, rather a Jesus-dependent life. His faith, his hope, his love imparted to us, are moving us closer to being more like him.

Compared to our lives, Paul’s life seems spectacular. Yet Paul eagerly wants us to know that Jesus is just as real to us as he was to him.

It was Jesus who found Saul and transformed him into Paul, who became the prolific apostle. Let me suggest it is always Jesus who finds us. It his goodness and kindness that leads us to repentance, not human-engineered goodness (Romans 2:4).

It is important to note that Paul never forgot where he came from and what his former life was like.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)

Paul saw himself as the chief of all sinners. In this personal letter to Timothy, he is assuring Timothy that the focused purpose of Jesus is to save sinners (all of us). And, if Paul himself could be saved, everybody else is salvageable too. This brings us back to the “Not I, but Christ theme.”

As I continue to read through Paul’s writings, I am continually reminded just how Christ-centric Paul is. Consider how many times Paul uses the phrase, “in Christ.”

Being in Christ may seem like something beyond our physical comprehension. The Bible speaks to this concept in several descriptive ways. Jesus tells Nicodemus you must be born again (John 3:3, 5). Paul speaks to becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then in his letter to the Ephesians he talks about being redeemed and adopted as sons and daughters.

When Christ saves us, by the Spirit, he places us within his own sphere and joins us to him. We belong to him. As the praise song says, “I am yours, and you are mine.” There is a closeness and a union that is not fragile nor dependent on our daily emotions or good works. We are united with him because of him. We are “in Christ.” Hallelujah!

During this month when we show our appreciation to our pastors, it is fitting to conclude with Paul’s words, “Follow me, as I follow Jesus.” And it is his good pleasure to be doing his good work in us. This gives assurance beyond assurance.

Prayer:

Lord, be with the pastors around the world. Give them peace, resting on the truth that Christ is alive in us. Bless them with wisdom and discernment as they follow you, Jesus. In your strong name, you are our assurance. Amen!

By Greg Williams, President

 

 

 

Devotional—Listening for Encouragement

Editor’s Note: Our overarching theme for devotions during the five months of the liturgical calendar called Ordinary Time is Jesus is sending his church. Using Michael Frost’s B.E.L.L.S. acronym as a framework, the topics will relate to missional living.

    • As “sent” people, we are invited to…
  • bless others generously, in word and deed (July),
  • eat with others hospitably (August),
  • listen to the Spirit while engaging with others (September),
  • learn Jesus’ teachings as a disciple (October),
  • and, sent people share the good news with others (November)

Silent battles are being fought every day. Many people daily are tripping over every obstacle of doubt and frustration. We have seen how many people faced seemingly insurmountable challenges during the past two years. And we have been encouraged to be kind to one another because we are not aware of the silent battles that the next person is facing. How are you? Are you almost at the end of your rope? Are you feeling lost and barely hanging on to the hope that is being eaten up by wave upon wave of discouragement?

Can we listen to the Holy Spirit for encouragement? And can we share encouragement as we listen to our friends and neighbors express their frustrations and troubles? Read Paul’s encouragement.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NIV)

Paul urges us “therefore, we do not lose heart…” stemming from a faith conviction, not merely a positive courageous attitude. Notice the contrasts in the words of the apostle. We’re wasting away outwardly, yet inwardly being renewed. Though our troubles seem to go on forever, are but momentary. While the weight of our troubles may seem heavy, he declares them as light – and they are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs all. The wasting away of our outer self corresponds to our mortal frame going through the hardships mentioned in verses 7 -12 of the previous chapter. God who has shaped us assures that we do not simply walk alongside him, but in him we live, move, and have our being. We are being renewed within the reality of his love.Our joy in this life is not contingent upon our circumstances. He can make our heart to sing even in time of difficulty. He can give us joy that is deeper than our suffering. We can trust our God. We can learn to enjoy this journey through the freedom of faith-filled expectation.Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank you for carrying us through our difficulties. We surrender everything in your hands. We may not see everything nor understand all these painful challenges, but we trust your heart. Use these difficult experiences to renew us from the inside out. Empower us to listen for your voice. And equip us to be good listeners to others, sharing your voice of hope as they need it. Amen.

By Rex Dela Pena
Pastor and The Philippines Leadership Development Coordinator

 

Meet Jen Gregory

“Not everyone receives love expressed to them in the same way. Our congregations and individual members work hard to learn how to best express that love to their neighbors in a way that is most meaningful to them. Some people might need help with food, others with clothing, while still others might need childcare. Some people simply need an ear to listen to them.”—Jen Gregory

Check out this month’s GCI profile to get to know Jen Gregory, Elder and GCI Board Member.

To read her full profile, click the link below. #WeAreGCI

Devotional—Listening to the Spirit of Truth

Editor’s Note: Our overarching theme for devotions during the five months of the liturgical calendar called Ordinary Time is Jesus is sending his church. Using Michael Frost’s B.E.L.L.S. acronym as a framework, the topics will relate to missional living.

    • As “sent” people, we are invited to…
  • bless others generously, in word and deed (July),
  • eat with others hospitably (August),
  • listen to the Spirit while engaging with others (September),
  • learn Jesus’ teachings as a disciple (October),
  • and, sent people share the good news with others (November)

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13 (NIV)

Our Lord Jesus Christ, when he ascended to the Father, gave us this magnificent, lovely parting gift– the gift of the Holy Spirit. The verse above instructs us on one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit – to guide us into all truth. Whatever we hear from the Spirit guides us and lets us know what is yet to come. As children of the Most High, we know the mind of God through the Holy Spirit’s leading. In missions, we are out and about walking in his truth, letting the world know about his kingdom. The best companion to have, trust, and listen to is the Holy Spirit. He knows the mind of the Father, and he is the one directing us as we speak about God’s kingdom. Not listening to him would be like telling your parents that you are of age and do not need their guidance anymore.

Missional practices, journeys, or events are our way of telling God that we are privileged to be telling the world about who he is and obeying his commandments. We are grateful to be carrying his presence. It will be very unwise of us to say that we will not listen to the one who is to teach us how to speak, walk, who to talk to, what to say, how to say it, when to say it, to whom to say it, and where to say it. The missional field is a dynamic field, and we need to listen to the Spirit, not only because he is God and knows the mind of Christ, but he also knows the minds of those we are being sent to. It is the Spirit’s ministry to convict the individual being spoken to. It should be a deliberate action. He should be our best friend, helping us navigate through life in our personal and missional lives.

Prayer:
Our Father, the great God of heavens and earth, we pray, oh Lord, that we will trust you enough to let you lead as we share your word with others through our lives, actions, and words. May we have a listening ear and be sensitive to your promptings as you direct us in this world to let the world know about you. May we be like the sheep who know your voice and follow where you lead. May we never go astray from you because you are the way-maker and the road map to our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.

By Brenda Asare-Akoto
National Youth Pastor, Ghana