One big theme from today was reaching out to and caring for the poor. In the first session Scott Marques worked through Matthew 16:13-20, talking about the three dynamics of Gods kingdom you find in the passage. Gods passion for the poor and lost, Gods passion for the Church, and Gods passion for the nations.
I was particularly touched by Scotts challenge to bless those around us, especially those who are against us. God purposes to bless us, but also to bless the nations through us, so its our job as Christians to actively seek to bless people around us in any way possible!
The theme of caring for the poor was David Strouds focus in the third session, and he took us on a wonderful journey through Isaiah 58, provoking us to rethink the importance of the poor in our lives. Isaiah makes it clear that although Israel are fervently praying, fasting and desiring after God, they were not close to God because they didnt care for the poor among them.
Caring for the poor around us is a clear and essential evidence of true faith and obedience to God. It isnt something we tack on once everything else has been finished, caring for those around us is an essential part of being Church. Its also an essential part of our individual lives, and I was particularly challenged by Davids call to first ask what can I do to help? instead of the perhaps more natural cry of what can the Church do to help?
It was also great to hear David unpack the wonderful positive results of caring for the poor. Not just the obvious benefits to those around us, but also the fact that God promises to particularly bless his people when they do care for the poor.