December 9

Our precious sister Betty Sell responded Sunday morning to the invitation. Our hearts and prayers will certainly be with Betty in all the difficult trials she has faced and continues to struggle through.
Betty’s response makes me think of what we do when we “offer the invitation” at the end of each sermon.
What exactly is that?
*It is Christ’s invitation. Our Lord calls on everyone to look to Him for salvation and rest. He says, “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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) How important is that? He tells us the answer Himself with these words: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) And the disciples understood that, at least at times. Peter responds to Jesus when He challenges them to see if they would stay with Him or leave like so many others and says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69) This invitation is always open, not just at the end of sermons, not just on Sundays. It is the invitation of Christ for forgiveness and salvation, hope and joy, and can be found nowhere else. But there is another aspect to the invitation we offer each Sunday.
*It  is our invitation. We invite others to come not only to Jesus, but to come to us!! No, we cannot offer them what He does, but we can and must offer them the things they need as they continue their journey of faith. Such as:
*Prayer
*Encouragement
*Help
*Whatever is needed
Notice this is not the preacher’s invitation. Not the elders’ invitation. It’s Christ’s invitation. And it’s the church’s invitation. All of the church.
As we continue through December and look toward 2013, I hope that you will challenge yourself to look at your own journey of faith and ask yourself—and act upon—these two questions.
1. Do I need to respond to the invitation, either publicly or privately?
2. Do I need to respond to someone else, who in responding has asked for my help?

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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