Radiant | Fall 2022
Welcome to Radiant, friend!
I am so glad you landed here. As we journey together through the sermon series, Radiant, you are invited to further engage. Jesus, the Radiant King, invites us to hear His word and then follow Him. These resources can help you do just that. As you can see there are weekly Scriptures, questions, and ways to get into action with the practices each week. How might your engagement with these resources open the door to a transformational encounter with the radiant Jesus? The radiant Christ calls us to participate in His radiant Kingdom and to be the radiant Church, a light that shines in the darkness. May you encounter Christ’s radiance and be changed by it in this season.
Director of Adult Discipleship
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Radiant Church | Tara Beth Leach
Consider reading Radiant Church: Restoring the Credibility of our Witness by Tara Beth Leach. A limited number of copies are available for purchase at the Welcome Center. Order online here.
Bible Reading Tools
- Read: Read, write out text, write a key verse, summarize.
- Reflect: What does passage say about God? What does passage say about me, humankind?
- Respond: How is God calling me to action and obedience in response to His Word? Who am I going to tell what God has impressed on my heart?
S - SCRIPTURE: Take your time reading. Allow God to speak to you. Don’t rush. Look and listen for ONE idea, word, phrase, or verse that particularly stands out. Underline it or write it out.
O - OBSERVATION: What do you think God is saying in this scripture? In your own words, record the context of the passage. What jumps out to you in the passage? Who is it written by? Who is it written to? What’s one thing you didn’t notice before? What seems interesting or unusual? What comes before and after the text? Is there repetition, comparison, or contrast?
A - APPLICATION: Personalize it by asking yourself how this applies to your life. In what ways is God showing you this scripture applies to you? Is there a similar situation in your life right now? How can you respond to the Lord? How will you be different because of what you have read? Is there a specific action you need to take or confession to make?
P - PRAYER: Thank God for His Word and care. Pray that God’s Word falls on good soil, takes root and produces fruit. You may even want to write out a prayer of response to what God has shown you in His Word. Remember, God always listens and already knows your needs. This a personal message from you to the Lord so don’t worry about praying the perfect words – make it honest and heartfelt.
Week 1 // September 11
- Psalm 45
- Revelation 1:9-20
- Luke 1:46-55
- Luke 4:14-22
- Colossians 1:15-23
- How does the radiance of Christ bring you hope and encouragement?
- In what way/s is Jesus inviting you to know, love, follow and obey Him?
- What prevents you from beholding Jesus as He is, the radiant King?
- How is the Jesus you profess and follow congruent or incongruent with Scripture?
- Who do you know that might need to meet Jesus or become more familiar with Him?
- Set aside time to engage the Scriptures about the radiance of Christ. Unplug in a quiet place of solitude, be silent and still in a posture of listening. Start with 15 minutes, or try 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to come through prayer.
- Read the Scripture, listen and watch. Write down what you see and hear.
- What is God saying about the radiance of Christ? What is God showing you about the radiance of Jesus? What word or image is God revealing about Christ’s radiance? What is God inviting you to as you notice and receive the radiance of Christ?
Solitude is a “container” practice that supports other spiritual practices. Practicing solitude leaves people, work, and distractions for uninterrupted time alone with God. Solitude provides space for paying attention and listening to God and our life. Journaling is the tool for reflecting on God’s presence, guidance and nurture. Journaling helps us be present to God and ourselves, providing an avenue for self-understanding and evaluation, writing and recording our prayers, meditating on God’s Word, expressing thoughts and feelings to the Lord, tracking progress in our spiritual and emotional growth and seeking the will of God. Journaling in solitude gives God’s Spirit time and space to do deep work.
Week 2 // September 18
- Matthew 5:1-20
- Matthew 5:21-42
- Matthew 5:43-6:24
- Matthew 6:25-7:11
- Matthew 7:12-27
- What is the problem with an overemphasis on a “future only” heaven vs. “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?
- Imagine heaven on earth right now. What would it look like in its fullness?
- What feels challenging reading the invitation and teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount?
- What specific segment of the Sermon on the Mount is Christ inviting you to practice and live out?
- How does the Sermon on the Mount’s kingdom picture align with the way we see Christians living and Christianity’s witness experienced in and by the world?
- Meditate on the “Radiant Kingdom” Scriptures. Purposefully read and repeat the Scripture several times. Read aloud or write the Scripture several times.
- Ask the Lord what He wants you to hear. Listen for His answer.
- Think deeply and pay attention to images that flash in your mind. When a word “lights up” up for you, stop and attend. Let the word or phrase roam around in your mind and heart.
- What is God highlighting for you? What do you hear?
- Pray, telling the Lord what you heard. Pray, asking the Lord to help you receive His Word.
- Take one thought or verse with you throughout the day.
Meditation is a long gaze at God, His work and His Word. It’s slowing and giving undivided attention to God. Richard Foster says it’s “the ability to hear God’s voice and obey His word. It involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras...” Meditation is mulling over and ruminating on God’s word and its application. Meditating develops sight for the interior things of God, going beyond a first impression to the heart of God. Meditation is “deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.” (Donald Whitney) Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “just as you do not analyze the words of someone you love, but accept them...accept the Word of Scripture and ponder it in your heart.”
Week 3 // September 25
- Ephesians 5:1-2, 7-21
- Isaiah 42:1-9
- John 13:1-17
- Mark 8:31-38
- Isaiah 61:1-4
- What is the purpose of God’s people, a radiant people, in the world?
- If Jesus is King then how shall we live, individually and corporately? How does that impact discipleship?
- If the church is a preview to God’s kingdom, what kind of preview are we giving?
- If the cross is the ultimate picture of Jesus, how does that shape the call of Christ-followers?
- As God’s people in what way/s are we reflecting the radiance of Christ? In what way/s are we reflecting a narrative or portrait of God that has been tainted by the world’s system?
- At the end of the day, find space for uninterrupted time. Quiet your mind; calm your body. Become aware of God’s radiant presence. Imagine the Radiant Christ welcoming you.
- Review the day with gratitude. Ask God to show you the ways you’ve engaged your world and people as a Radiant disciple. Focus on the work and the people of the day, what you received of the Kingdom, what you gave of the Kingdom. Notice where you built others up, where you engaged in and with the community.
- Review the day again; notice your feelings. Allow the moments to come; choose a moment for which you are most grateful. Stay there, savor it. Give thanks.
- Review your day, recalling moments for which you are less grateful where you didn’t reveal or participate as a Radiant disciple. Maybe you felt frustrated, angry, drained, sad, overwhelmed, inattentive, absent. Bring these memories before God; ask the Radiant Christ for the healing you need.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the thing God finds most important from the day and pray. Allow prayer to rise spontaneously from your heart whether intercession, gratitude, repentance, or praise.
- Look forward to tomorrow with hope. Ask God for HIs radiance to shine and live through you. Give God access to your heart and mind enabling you to live as a Radiant disciple.
Examen is a simple but powerful prayer of reflection. Experience alone does not teach. But when we reflect, we begin to learn. Examen is a vehicle that creates deeper awareness of the things that bring us life (consolation) and death (desolation). It helps us attend to what we might otherwise miss in the busyness. We listen deeply and pay attention. Critical to engaging Examen are two things – 1) God loves us with a love that no work can earn or sin can diminish, and 2) our awareness of our weakness and brokenness in relation to God. Examen is recognizing God’s presence and developing receptivity to God’s voice. It is best practiced daily (or weekly), beginning with 5-15 minutes.
Week 4 // October 2
- Romans 9:1-5
- Colossians 4:2-6
- Acts 1:1-8
- 2 Corinthians 4:5-15
- Acts 26:12-18
- In what ways has the idea of evangelism been used in coercive ways? Have you experienced “shallow tactics” for evangelism? What was the result?
- What might it look like to have anguish for the lost today?
- In what ways is the Lord calling you to be a minister and witness of the things you have seen and heard?
- What prevents you from sharing Jesus with those around you? What hesitations, excuses, explanations do you find yourself using for not sharing Jesus?
- How has your unique story given you an opportunity to share Jesus?
- When have you shared Jesus and/or shared stories of Jesus at work in your own life with someone? How did that go? What went well? What got you tripped up?
- Each day, twice a day, name five things aloud you are grateful for; consider ending it with “Let us thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wonderful works to humankind!” Verbally share these things with someone around you, giving credit to the Radiant King who has blessed you and why you are thanking Him for it. Text, email or post on social media these things as a way to share your faith. Keep a list of the twice daily five things, at the end of the week you will have 50! Again, share them aloud, giving God credit.
- Hand write a letter of thanks and gratitude to someone who has touched your life. Make sure to mention when and how God was at work through them to impact you.
- Have a thank-you meal. Invite the people you want to honor with a thank you. Verbally express your thanks to them. And alongside your thanksgiving share the ways in which you see God at work through their generosity and kindness toward you.
- Think of a current hardship in your life. How do you feel about this hardship? Tell the truth to God. Where is there evidence of God’s presence in this hardship? Is there anything to be thankful for? Verbally give thanks and give God credit for being present and faithful even in the hard things. Share this with someone.
Gratitude is a loving and thankful response toward God for his presence in us and in the world. Delighting in God and His good will is the heartbeat of gratitude. We practice gratitude to be sensitive to and cognizant of God’s work in our life. Gratitude is about noticing and expressing the ways in which God is present and at work. We train our heart, mind, eyes, and lips to recognize and express the things for which we are grateful. Gratitude is being intentional to say thank you to the Lord and others. Thankfulness is possible not because everything goes perfectly, but because God is present. We practice by choosing to stitch our days together with a thread of gratitude, no matter the good or the bad.
Week 5 // October 9
- Ephesians 2:11-22
- James 2:14-19
- Micah 6:6-8
- Exodus 23:1-9
- Leviticus 19:33-36; Deuteronomy 10:17-19
- Imagine heaven on earth here and now. What would it look like in its fullness? What might it look like for the church to live this out?
- Why aren’t “thoughts and prayers” always enough? How could the church be better at being merciful?
- In what ways has our imagination for the church been “anemic’?
- What might it look like for you to care for the orphan, widow and fatherless?
- What kind of church do you believe Jesus believes we can be?
- Intentionally welcome people. Be present. Put your phone away. Put your mental ‘to do” list down. Notice each person you encounter at work, in class, at the store, at lunch, at the gas station – smile, say hello, start a conversation, ask how they are and take time to listen. Listen for what the Lord might have you say or do.
- As you encounter people during the day, pray for each one. Pray as they pass by, pray as you wait in line, pray over your classmates and teachers, pray for your colleagues. Ask people how you might pray for them specifically. Pray for them on the spot. Pray for them later and send a note with the prayer you prayed. Pray God’s peace, provision, and protection for them.
- At your work, in a meeting or a conversation, invite one who is more reticent to share (but don’t force). Deliberately withhold your input to leave room for others.
- Invite someone other than your “regulars” for a meal, into your home or invite them out and pay for their meal.
- Attend/Serve at María Magdalena Reformed Church, a bilingual worship service focused on building bridges between different cultures. Sundays at The Fruited Plain Café in Sioux Center. A meal is served at 12:30pm followed by worship at 1:00. If you would like to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- At church, greet and speak to someone you don’t know. Sign up to serve as a greeter.
- Reach out to an unknown neighbor. Stop by with a small token of hospitality. Leave a note in their door saying you prayed for them, their family, and their livelihood. Offer to help with a project along with your cell number.
Hospitality invites us to be a safe person who offers others the grace, shelter, and presence of Jesus. Because we have been welcomed into the love of Christ and received as dearly loved children, we can offer the world a place of safety, healing and the welcoming spirit of Christ. Hospitality includes sharing our home, food, resources, and all that we call our own so that another might experience the reality of God’s welcoming heart. It says, “All I have belongs to God.” Hospitality can be seen by displaying God’s welcoming heart to the world – to children, foreign exchange students, neighbors, immigrants, colleagues. Practicing hospitality seeks to love people rather than impress people, develops conversation skills that put others at ease, and opens a home to those outside the family for lodging and meals.
Week 6 // October 16
- Isaiah 65:17-25
- Daniel 2:44-45
- Daniel 7:9-14
- Isaiah 11:1-9
- Philippians 2:1-15
- What comforts you most when you think about the radiant future?
- What concerns right now when you ponder the radiant future?
- In what ways does the radiant future motivate you to be a radiant church now?
- When you think about the church in twenty years. What do you hope for?
- In light of the unstoppable force of the coming kingdom and radiant future, what might it look like for the church to lean into that future and live it out?
- Ask the Lord each day, “Jesus, as it would please you, bring me someone today whom I can serve.” Watch, listen and ACT. What did you hear and do? How did it impact you and the person you served?
- Participate in hidden acts of service or secret service. Serve someone anonymously in whatever way you sense the Lord leading. Invite the Lord to show you what, who and how. Offer the act of service back to God in thanksgiving.
- Sign-up to set up or take down for an event. What is it like for you to do a simple task that doesn’t require your skill or expertise? What does this tell you about your acts of service?
- Every morning for the next week, ask your spouse, roommate, or colleague, “What can I do for you today?” Then do it. What do you learn about yourself?
- Sign-up to serve in the children’s or youth ministry or the local needs team.
- Consider your spiritual gifts. Ask those who know you their take on your spiritual gifts. Plan and execute a way of using your gifts to benefit others in the coming weeks.
Service is a way of offering resources, time, treasure, influence and expertise for the care, protection, justice, and nurture of others. Acts of service give hands and feet to the second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We yield our will, mind, and body for God’s purposes. We allow God’s Kingdom agenda to shape our choices, relationships, and vocation. Service is rooted in the seeing of others. We serve to be more like Jesus. We live a ‘cross-life’ (Luke 9:23) and engage the ‘ministry of the towel’ (John 13). We serve the Triune God, family, neighbors and those we meet along the way, the body of Christ, the broken and despised, and the interdependent, international world.