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God's big purpose for the church

August 26, 2022

Daily Scripture

Matthew 25:31-45, Ephesians 3:10-11, 17-21

Matthew 25

31 “Now when the Human One [or Son of Man] comes in his majesty and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his majestic throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them from each other, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right side. But the goats he will put on his left.
34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ 45 Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’

Ephesians 3

10 God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church. 11 This was consistent with the plan he had from the beginning of time that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord.

17 I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, 18 I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. 19 I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.
20 Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; 21 glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

God has big goals! God’s mission is to restore our broken world to full wholeness. Ephesians said a main way God aims to carry out this vital mission is through God’s people, working together in and through the church. Doing Jesus’ work to renew the world means that the poor, sick, prisoners, and aliens are not “them,” but “us.” Jesus called us to build a legacy of loving our neighbors, those he called “these brothers and sisters of mine,” as one human family, caring and sharing as he did.

  • As we’ve noted earlier this week, because God has big goals for the church, Resurrection has big, demanding goals about ways we aim to change the world by 2030. In what specific ways can you personally join in Christ’s purpose (at Resurrection or elsewhere) to change the world for the better? In prayer, invite Jesus to ignite your imagination and give you big dreams. Write or print those God-given dreams and put them where you will see them often.
  • In Ephesians 3:18, Paul prayed that his readers would have the power to grasp the greatness of God’s love for them, together with all believers. How have you experienced God’s love in your life? In the lives of others? In verse 21, he prayed that the church would glorify God through all generations. In what ways has your church home been a channel of God’s love and glory for you?

O God, keep my eyes and my heart open to see your face in the faces of hurting people around me who need your touch through me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of  Leah Swank-Miller

Leah Swank-Miller

Leah Swank-Miller is Director of Student Ministries at Resurrection Overland Park. A Kansas native, she has been a professional actress for the past 15 years, and she loves to see the vastness of God’s creation through theatre and the arts. Leah is pursuing an M.Div. from Saint Paul School of Theology. Leah, Brian, and their two children love to play tennis, golf, soccer, and board games.

‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’

The least of these…

Have you ever been the “least of these”? Have you ever been poor, sick, or lonely? Have you ever needed care desperately, or perhaps a debt paid? When I read these words from Matthew 25, at first I don’t necessarily find myself as the “least of these.” Many in the world have far greater struggles and pains than what I’ve had to endure in my life. Yet, as I pray through these passages, I am reminded that while that is true it does not take away from the trials and the pains I have endured, and the beautiful way the church has cared for me through them.

I’m a part-time youth pastor and a full-time seminary student. Multiply that by being a full-time mom and wife and, well, you get the picture. When I decided to follow my call into ministry two years ago my husband was (and continues to be) fully on board. But we still had no idea of exactly how to pay for a master’s degree. Honestly, we were nervous and scared about how to make it all work. And yet God continues to make it work. For the past two years, we’ve been blessed with scholarships through individuals at the Church of the Resurrection.

This year I was blessed with the Builder’s Class Scholarship, funded by Dick and Dorothy Radford. I had the privilege of speaking with Dick Radford a few weeks ago–he happens to share a birthday with me! We laughed over that coincidence, and we also shared our life stories, and the way God has richly blessed us through our family and the Church. I was so touched by Mr. Radford’s desire to give the scholarship on behalf of him and his late wife while he is still alive in order to meet and get to know those who are receiving this scholarship. He shared how he too had been blessed and helped through his college experience and ultimately why he and his wife had the desire to do the same for others working towards a call into ministry.

As this a man who just celebrated his 95th birthday, mind you, shared his dreams for the future, I kept thinking of the phrase “pay it forward.” Perhaps that’s a more modern way of expressing what Jesus said in this verse. We are all called to continually pay it forward to the next person needing care. No matter how young or old. No matter who they are or where they’ve come from, we pay it forward. This is how we love the least of these. This is how we love Jesus, and love like Jesus.

Dick and Dorothy had a dream of blessing future generations. I wonder what your dream is and how you can bless those around you. As you think of the future of Resurrection and our future generations, how can you be the hands and feet of Jesus and love the least of these? Thanks to Dick and Dorothy my dreams are now becoming a reality.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.