Uninvited Small Group Bible Study by Lysa TerKeurst – Session One

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L: Welcome to the “Uninvited” study, and
welcome to the Holy Land! And I couldn’t be more excited. Honestly, of all the studies I’ve done,
this one has profoundly shifted something deep inside of me. You see, the topic we’re tackling in “Uninvited”
is rejection. I wanted to know — I needed to know — can
the Bible help me process the devastating feelings of being left out, lonely, less than,
all those feelings of rejection? You know, rejection is such a tough emotion
to deal with because it never comes as an isolated feeling. Today’s rejections, big or small, they’re
like stealth bombs that zing straight to my core, locating hurts from my past and making
them extremely present all over again. They send messages that scramble up my carefully
established formulas for keeping life stable. The voices of doubt and insecurity, they whisper
to me and say, see? I’ve been telling you for years what an
utter disappointment you are. Those voices don’t have to scream because
the pain does that in deafening tones. You know, rejection, it steals the best of
who I am by reinforcing the very worst that’s been said to me. And it kinda just sneaks up on me time and
time again. It’s like, I’ll hop on Instagram one morning
and I’ll see that three of my close friends had dinner last night, and they didn’t invite
me. And suddenly my mind races with reasons why. All the emotions from the rejections from
my past, they sneak into these little situations of today, and suddenly, they just don’t
feel so little any more. Rejection lands heavy on a girl’s heart
and leaves the darkest marks. Like when my dad left and decided he wanted
nothing to do with my sister and I. You know, it’s been over 24 years since
I’ve heard his voice. Or, when I was in college there was a guy
that I thought was going to propose to me, but instead, he admitted that he had fallen
in love with someone else. Rejection is harsh and hurtful and even quite
haunting. So today, I wanted to start here, at the Church
of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This church marks the spot where they believe
that the manger or the sheepfold where Jesus was born could have been located. And I want you to notice something so odd
but incredibly beautiful about this church. To enter in, you must bow low. The front entrance is called “the door of
humility.” Now think about that as I read this verse
from Matthew 11:28-29. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for
I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Rest for your soul is waiting when we bow
low and come to Him and learn from Him. He is gentle, and He is humble. In Him, we find all the acceptance that we’ve
ever longed for. Well, I can’t wait to share with you my
absolute favorite places and the teachings that I know will help you look at rejections
in your life in a whole new and honestly much more healthy way. We’re gonna travel during this study to
the Mount of Beatitudes; then we’re gonna go to Caiaphas’s House, where Peter betrayed
Jesus; the Cave of Adullam, where David hid from Saul; Shiloh, where Hannah prayed; the
cliffs of Mount Arbel; and the Garden of Gethsemane, where we’re gonna learn something truly
unforgettable. And each week, I’m gonna be giving you a
statement to hold onto that will really help you live the message that we’re learning. It’s going to be a really exciting 6 weeks. It’ll be a time of healing and new perspectives;
A time for us to go to new places with Jesus and experience Him like never before. So, before we jump into Lesson One, let me
assure you of something. Rejection never has the final say. Rejection may be a delay or a distraction
or even a devastation for a season, but it’s never a final destination. You are destined for a love that cannot ever
be diminished, tarnished, shaken, or taken. With Jesus, you are forever safe, forever
accepted, forever held, completely loved, and always invited in. Welcome to Lesson One of “Uninvited,”
and welcome to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus preached a sermon that I’m convinced
He thought of all the way back in creation. I’ll say this several times while we’re
here in the Holy Land, but after studying John chapter 1, where we’re told that Jesus
was here in the beginning, and through Him, all things were made, well, I know He set
the scene for this place. This sermon and this place — it was not just
an eloquent message — it was a proclamation, a declaration that today on this mountainside,
I have come to announce prophesy has been fulfilled. The words you’ve heard me read in the synagogue
from the scroll of Isaiah, They are true and they are now reality. Interestingly enough, Jesus is the first recorded
proof that the Prophets were read from in the synagogue. You can see this in Luke chapter 4, starting
in verse 16. He reads from Isaiah 61:1-2. He said, “the spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.” And then, in the middle of verse two, He stops
mid-sentence and He just sits down. Think of how awkward this would be in church
today if your pastor did that. And then it says in verse 21 Jesus says, “today
the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Wow, it was an earth-shaking moment for sure. At first they accept Him and then they reject
Him and then they run Him out of town. Their hearts weren’t ready to receive His
message. So He stopped. He didn’t force it, but He revisits the
same theme here at the Mount of Beatitudes. And this time, it’s not in a synagogue,
but to simple people on a mountainside. Again, it was profound. Because Jesus didn’t announce that He was
the fulfillment of Isaiah 61 with trumpets and fanfare. No, He just simply and lovingly started, “Blessed
are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Indeed, this was, as Isaiah says, good news
to the poor. So turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter
5. In Matthew chapter 5, starting in verse 1,
it says this: “Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to
teach them.” Saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs in the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will
be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit
the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for
righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be
shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will
see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will
be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because
of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute
you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your
reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how can it
be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except
to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it
under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives
light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before
men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” And of course He continues to go on, but listen
for the music in the text as He continues in Matthew chapter 6 and Matthew chapter 7. It’s so fascinating, if you look over at
Matthew chapter 6, starting in verse 26, I believe that Jesus would have, at this moment,
it would have been springtime and the grass would have been green, and the rocks they
were sitting on, they would have been volcanic rocks. Not sharp rocks, but they would have been
rocks with soft edges. And they were comfortable — they were good
seats. It’s like He set the theater. He set this scene to tell His people and to
tell us that the Messiah has come to live with you. And if you remain with me, you can live loved. And it’s so fun — you can hear the birds
now, because then, I picture Him cuing the birds. You see, every year there’s millions of
birds in the springtime that suddenly migrate right over this area. And I think that He would have cued them:
migrate now! And then He would have said Matthew 6 verse
26, look at the birds of the air, and it was like music. The birds of the air just swarmed by. Millions. I mean, even to this day, if you’re driving
down the road and you happen to be here in the springtime when the migration happens,
you’ll have to pull your car over because it’s so breathtakingly beautiful. He created this so He could cue it at this
moment. “Look at the birds of the air!” And then He would have let the people look
and observe and watch in wonder as they went by. And then He would have continued, “They
do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Verse 27: “Who of you by worrying can add
a single hour to his life?” And then there would have been lots of little
kids. Now, the little kids wouldn’t have been
sitting on the rocks — I imagine the adults were doing that — the little kids would have
been scampering around on the beautiful green grass. If you’re here in the springtime, I’m
telling you, it’s like a green carpet, and there are these yellow mustard flowers. It’s gorgeous — it’s just beautiful. And I imagine that the kids were running around
and then they would come, and like little kids of today, they would say to their parents,
“I’m hungry, I’m hungry, I need a snack!” Except they wouldn’t have asked for goldfish
in baggies like we ask for today, or our kids ask for today; they would have asked for fish. Yes, certainly they would have asked for fish,
but they would have been little salt fish. That was their snack, and the parents would
have given them salt fish. And then all of a sudden, because now the
weather is warm, and suddenly this group over here, they start yelling, “Ah! A snake! A snake!” Indeed, the snakes would have come out, and
Jesus would have calmed them down. And then He would have said Matthew chapter
7 verse 9: “Which of you if his son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how
to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good
gifts to those who ask him? So in everything, do to others what you would
have them do to you. For this sums up the law and the Prophets.” Yes, He set this scene, and He painted this
glorious picture, and He used the everyday objects that were around Him, and He spoke
tenderly to proclaim to the people, the Messiah has come to live with you. And if you remain with me, you can live loved. Read Isaiah 61 this week when you have a chance. It’s glorious. And then read right here, Matthew, chapter
5, and compare the Scriptures. It will astound you. It’s beautiful, and it will also show you,
you don’t have to beg for acceptance from others, Jesus says, if you live with accepting
my love. The statement to hold onto this week is, live
from a deep assurance that you are fully loved, and you won’t find yourself begging others
for scraps of love. Yes, live loved. You know, rejection, it never has the final
say. With Jesus, you are forever safe. You are forever accepted, you are forever
held, completely loved, and always invited in. Several years ago, I watched an author friend
of mine sign some books for people. Her approach, it was so simple — before signing
her name, she just wrote, “live loved.” Instead of an instruction, it was really a
proclamation, one that now so completely arrests my soul. And it’s so applicable to our discussion
at hand today. You see, I know “living loved,” well,
it’s a bit of a tricky concept. It preaches well, but sometimes it’s hard
to live it well. When I posted this concept on my blog last
year, my cyberfriends were ever so clear, they liked the idea of living loved, but they
couldn’t quite connect how it should actually work. So I had typed up this entire article with
the instruction to “live loved.” And I hit “send” with that ooh-yeah! feeling
that you get when all of life seems solved. I did a little fist pump in the air, indicating
I might just be about to party like it’s 1999 — in a Bible study sort of way, of course! You know, “live loved” — it’s certainly,
like I said, a sermon that preaches well. But walk outside for 2.3 seconds, and the
music comes to a screeching halt while my fist pump just wilts. It preaches well, but it’s crazy hard to
live some days, because it’s hard to live something you sometimes don’t feel. You know, it’s easy to live loved when I
feel loved, but sometimes I’m not feeling it. When life karate chops my feelings into words
like “hurt,” “brushed aside,” “left out,” I’m gonna get into a funk because
that’s what I do. I’ll feel put off, and then I’ll put on
that ratty robe of rejection and wear it all day long. But I don’t want to keep being a slave to
my runaway emotions and assumptions. I don’t want my days to be dictated by the
moods of other people. And I really don’t want the rejections of
my past feeding my propensity to feel rejected today. I want the kind of emotional stability I read
about in the Bible in Zephaniah 3:17, where it says, “the Lord your God is in your midst. A mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you by His love. He will exult over you with loud singing.” I love the thought that God is in our midst,
and that He will quiet us by His love. Yes, please! I’ll take an extra large order of that every
morning! I want to believe it’s possible for me not
just to live this in the middle of Bible study, but I want to live it in the middle of life. So I decided to go on a live loved quest. I decided to be a one-woman experiment in
whether or not it’s actually possible to live from a place of being loved. I wanted to get to a place where my immediate
reaction to off kilter interactions with others wasn’t a downward spiral of wonky feelings,
but stable love instead. That was a tall order, for sure. A Venti order from life, really. Because immediately when I started, I struggled. My natural reaction to things happening to
me is not feeling loved and not being in that place of living loved all the time. You see, love is full, and I was quite empty. I should have been happy — I knew it. I could have listed out so many things for
which I was thankful. But, I just had this undercurrent of disappointment
that ebbed and flowed just beneath the surface of my more honest moments. I got still, and I got sad, then I would see
something on the news that other people were facing, something horrific, and I would feel
so horribly guilty for even daring to give myself permission to entertain feeling anything
other than gratitude, which just heaps shame on top of my sadness. So I’d reach for a handful of something
chocolate and wash it down with a Diet Coke. I determined that maybe all this off-kilteredness
was just because I was running a little low on sugar and caffeine. Then I would rev up my Christian to-do list
with all manners of serving and blessing and giving and really just giving others the kind
of love that I was so desperate to have boomerang back on me. Those are all good things, fabulous activities,
Biblical instructions. But when given from a heart whose real motivation
is what I’m hoping I’ll get in return, it’s not really love at all. That’s not the answer. No soul can soar to the place of living loved
when it’s a performance-based endeavor. Living loved is sourced in your quiet, daily
surrender to the one who made you. You know, It’s like this crazy notion I
had as a little girl. I really believed that ballerinas could fly! I wanted to fly. So I begged my mom for lessons and pink shoes. I wore myself out from all the leaping around
the house. Sure, when I would leap I would catch a bit
of brief air. But I never did take off and soar; I never
did fly. I simply landed with a thud. There was something crucial I misunderstood. Real ballerinas don’t attempt to fly. They simply infuse each moment with such grace
that the audience scarcely remembers she’s as much a victim of gravity as we are. But make no mistake what you’re observing
when you watch her effortless elegance and softness. Underneath those floating layers of tulle,
perched on top of those pink ribbon shoes, is a soul full of disciplined grit and toes
bloody from the daily practice floor. That stage performance ending in applause
— it isn’t what enables the ballerina. It’s her daily return to the instructor,
that because of his love, tweaks her in the quiet studio. That tweaking of her in the quiet is the saving
of her in public. And I imagine it’s the instructor’s approval
that she longs for the most. It’s the source for her soaring, and we
are much the same. The gravity of living in a sin-soaked world
will always try to hold us back from living loved. But, if we will remember to return often to
to our instructor, our creator, we will discover His loving hand still hopes to continue making
us, to tweak us, to mold us, to fill us, and daily the complete the good work He began
work in us. Yes, this is what I was missing in this living
loved endeavor. I was doing many things with God in mind,
but not really spending time getting refilled by God in His abundant love. I was saying I was connecting with Him, but
in all honesty, I was just letting the world stir my deep affections. I’d say I put God first in my life, but
then I’d give all my first moments each day to checking my text messages, rather than
check in with His Message. I’d post a Bible verse on social media,
and then I’d return 15 times that next hour to see how many “likes” I got. I’d think, “I’m doing everything I can
to protect my marriage!” But, then I’d go see a movie with so much
air-brushed love that I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed with my reality. I believed that I prayed about things, but
in reality I only worried about them, talked to friends about them, and tried to figure
out how to solve them myself. How dangerous that is. How dangerous it is when our soul is gasping
for God but we’re too distracted flirting with the world to notice. You know, flirting, it will always give you
brief surges of fun feelings, but it’ll never pull you in, hold you close, and love
on you. Indeed, the world entices our flesh, but never
embraces our soul. And all the while the only love caring enough
to embrace us and completely fill us — He waits. He waits every day, with every answer we need,
every comfort we crave, every affection we’re desperate for while we are out looking for
love everywhere else but at Him. I was just, quite honestly, I was just getting
it wrong. Maybe you are right there with me. Maybe you can relate. We run at a breakneck pace trying to achieve
what God simply wants us to slow down enough to receive. He really does have it all worked out. The gaps are filled, the heartache is eased,
the provisions are ready, the needs are met, the questions are answered, and the problems
are solved. Your problems are already solved, fully, completely,
perfectly in Him, with Him, by Him. We just have to remember to turn to Him and
sit with Him, no matter what, even if our toes, bloody from the constant wear and tear,
from desperately running to Him, get to Him daily. How it must absolutely break His heart when
we walk around so desperate for a love He waits to give us each and every day. As a matter of fact, let’s quickly look
at Jesus’s instructions to the disciples. In Mark chapter 1 — and it’s so fascinating
to me — I’ve missed this for so long — but in Mark chapter 1, starting in verse 16, it
says, “As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew
casting a net into the lake, for they were fisherman.” And verse 17 says, “He instructed them ‘Come,
follow me,’ Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” So this was where he called them, and then,
if we look over in Mark chapter 6 verses 7, let’s see, let’s start in verse 7. It says: “Calling the Twelve to him, he
sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.” And then in verse 12, it says “They went
out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many
sick people with oil and healed them.” So we find in Mark chapter 1 the calling to
Him, and then in Mark chapter six, we find Him sending out for Him. But there’s something we must not miss in
Mark chapter 3. If we look at Mark chapter 3, we find Jesus
appointing the 12 apostles. Starting in verse 13 of Mark 3, it says, “Jesus
went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, they came to him. He appointed twelve — designating them apostles
–” And then He establishes the two parts to their calling: “that they might be with
him and that he might send them out to preach and have authority to drive out demons.” Yes, they were to go out and preach and drive
out demons. But the first part of their calling, it says
so clearly in Mark 3, was to be with Him. Fullness comes to us when we remember to be
with Him before going out to serve Him. He wants our hearts to be in alignment with
Him. Before our hands set about doing today’s
assignment for Him. It was true for the disciples, and it’s
true for us. You see, He extends what we need and invites
us each day to receive in prayer, worship and truth from His word, and He lovingly replenishes
us while whispering, “this isn’t a race to test the fastest pace. I want you to persevere on the path I’ve
marked out especially for you. Fix your eyes not on a worldly prize, but
on staying in love with me.” Then, and only then, will I stop flirting
with this world and instead operate from the full assurance of His love. You know, it’s not deciding in my mind I
deserve to be loved. And it’s definitely not me manipulating
my heart to feel loved. It’s settling in my soul — I was created
by God who formed me because He so very much loved the very thought of me. When I was nothing, He saw something, and
He declared me very good and very loved. Therefore, I can bring the atmosphere of love
into any situation I face. I don’t have to wait for it, hope for it,
or even earn it. Then, when I finally get all of that, I’m
not so tempted to flirt with the world, hoping for approval, because I have the real thing
with God. I am loved. You are loved. This should be the genesis thought of every
day. Not because of how terrific I am. God doesn’t base His thoughts toward me
on my own fragile efforts. No, God’s love isn’t based on me; it’s
simply placed on me, and it’s the place from which I should live — loved.

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