We dine together

This week's devotion is from Pastor Ben

ENCOUNTER: Read Matthew 9:9-13

In my sermon, I told the story of Denis Estimon from Boca Raton High School in Florida.  Denis was a Haitian immigrant who came to this country and found himself isolated and alone at school and spent years eating alone. 

As Denis grew up and grew in status among his peers, he never forgot his humble beginnings and the loneliness he experienced as a young child.  Because Denis came to understand that he was loved and had esteem, he found courage in the love he experienced from his peers and then extended that to others.  

This is exactly what the apostle John is talking about in 1 John 4:19 when he says that "We love because he first loved us." The love God has poured out on us is not to be collected and wrapped up in a cozy blanket to give us rest.  Rather, God's love has been poured out all over us so that we can live free from fear of others and be the actual body of Christ as we express God's love, grace, and mercy to others.  

Denis understood this and put it into practice.  The challenge is for us to do the same!

REFLECT: How have you understood and experienced the love of God?  In your walk with God, how much of it is defined by love? The entire gospel story is rooted in God's love for you and the invitation for you to love God back.  In fact, the only two commandments God has for us is to love in return.  How is fear holding you back from experiencing the love of God and/or expressing it towards others?

BE A BLESSING: This is simple.  In your world, there are people who are "eating alone." God has simply called you to move past your fear and embrace them, love them, and extend the grace and mercy that God has extended to you.  What is one simple step you can take towards that end today?

BE TOGETHER: Let's be honest that taking this step of engaging with others is scary and there is a lot to be afraid of.  But Denis leads the way.  He had an idea, he got others to join him, and then together they changed the culture of their school.  Who can you enlist to give you courage in this endeavor?