His Name was Sparky
When he was a boy his friends gave him the nickname, “Sparky.” Though he was quite intelligent, Sparky’s shyness and timidity made school an agonizing experience. High School was especially challenging. He was a small, 136-pound nobody. He remembered being astonished whenever anyone said hello. He had some skill in golf, but lost an important match. He was a fair artist, but his school yearbook did not include any of his drawings. He was never invited to parties. He later said, “I never regarded myself as being much and I never regarded my self as being good-looking and I never had a date in high school, because I thought, who’d want to date me?”
We live in a world where we can feel excluded and abandoned. Share a time when you felt excluded or abandoned. How did it make you feel?
Read Psalm 18:4–6.
- Where do we need to turn when we’re feeling left out and our negative thoughts and feelings surround us?
His Name was Matthew
Matthew had a highly unpopular job. In fact people generally ran when they saw Matthew or any of his co-workers approaching. He was a tax collector in Capernaum for the Roman government. The Jews considered tax collectors traitors. They were despised because they generally collected more than necessary and pocketed the difference, vastly enriching themselves.
His neighbors rarely invited Matthew out to lunch or over to their house. Matthew probably felt left out and he also left others feeling rejected and forgotten as he probably levied taxes that took away their hard-earned money.
His Name is Jesus
One day Matthew was sitting in the tax office as Jesus passed through the outskirts of Capernaum. It was to that man, the most despised of the despicable, to whom Jesus said, “Follow Me!” Matthew was invited. He was included. These two words made it clear that Jesus extended His forgiveness even to the outcasts of society.
Luke tells us that the moment Jesus called him. Matthew “left everything and followed Him” (Luke 5:28). That simple call by Jesus was more than enough reason for Matthew to turn his back on everything he was and possessed. Because of his position as an agent of Rome, he knew that once he forsook his post he would never be able to return to it. He knew the cost and he was willingly paid it because he received a personal call from Jesus who accepted, loved and invited him.
Read Matthew 9:9–13.
- Describe how Matthew must have felt. What did Jesus invitation show the other people who may be watching?
Read Acts 9:1–6.
- Do you think Christians were surprised when Saul accepted Jesus’ invitation?
- Would he have been included before this encounter? Why?
- Did his past matter to Jesus? Does ours?
God has a special invitation for you. While we live in a world where we feel excluded and feel like Sparky (who grew up to be famous Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz), we don’t have to feel that way. God has an invitation for each one of us. All we need to do, as Matthew did, is RSVP—say “yes” to Him.
Read Psalm 23:5–6.
- What is God’s invitation saying? What will He do for those who say, “yes” to His invitation?
Read Mark 1:16–18.
- What kind of men were Peter and his friends? Educated? Trained? What was Jesus invitation?
- Have you accepted Jesus personal invitation? He’s open, accepting and loves you more than you can imagine.
- »The Invitation, December 26-30, 2011
- »One More Thing . . ., December 19-23, 2011
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- »I’ve Got It Under Control
- »Parenting is a Verb—Choosing to be a Great Parent
- »Being a Great Mate
- »Lifelong Partners: Choosing Wisely
- »Locking Arms
- »Putting in the Hard Work
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