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Archive for April, 2012

It is finished!

Good Friday, remembered two days ago, was the darkest day in all of history. The disciples had bolted, Judas had killed himself, Jesus had been scourged and beaten, forced to drag the implement of his death, stripped, spiked to “the tree”, and hung above the ground to be pitied or ridiculed by friend and foe. The forces of darkness celebrated. The Father turned as Jesus took my sin upon Himself – “Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?”.

And then Jesus uttered, “It is finished” and gave up the last bit of human life in him.

The third day started almost as badly as Good Friday ended. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” says Mary Magdalene.

Jesus body had been stolen, but not by the Romans or His earthly enemies. The Spirit of God raised Him from the dead, glorified to victory and life forever. The disciples see Jesus and now our Lord's statement, "it is finished", is clear. God had crushed sin and death by experiencing it in our place! There was forgiveness of sin for those who believe on His name, and life everlasting on the other side, proven by Christ, conquering firstborn from the dead. And now, the forces of darkness trembled...

In light of the miracle of Easter, how will I live the rest of my days? Will I please my Savior or go my own way? Shall I put my faith and trust in The ONE who gave His all for me? Shall I ask the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead for the power to live more each day in a way that exalts God? Shall I live a life that says, “Thank you” for the writ of pardon issued to me? Join me in recommitting to Him, repenting and believing, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

He is risen!


Categories: Devotionals Tags:

Good Friday

Crown of Thorns

Image Provided By FreeImages.com/Patrizio Martorana

Today we remember and honor "...Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)

Please take some time today to reflect on the suffering Servant King and "...the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!" John 1:29.

Isaiah 53

1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Categories: Devotionals, Evangelism Tags:

How to start your service day off right

Team PrayerSo you have it all planned out, got the materials on site, tools in the trucks, enough people that you don’t make anyone’s wife mad for too many hours away from home and they & the homeowner have signed the liability waivers. How do you start the day?

I usually explain why we’re needed, intro the owner if appropriate (or do that later in the day), thank the volunteers and do a devotion before we pray. What do we pray for? How about the owner and the pile of needs that brought her to need you, often for healing of a physical or spiritual nature, for volunteer’s skill, wisdom, safety & good progress, for God’s blessing the household.

Now back up. What are you going to use for a devotion? You’re not a preacher or something like that. You have deed gifts, not Word gifts, right? Well, I have a long list of “mercy” passages from the New and Old Testaments compiled, from which you could work from. I’d be glad to pass these along if you email me and indicate your interest. How about a few now?

  • Romans 12 begins with presenting our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God and is your spiritual worship. Worshipping through service with tools and offering the Lord more of us: our bodies for the project. The problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off of the altar. Today, we’re crawling onto the altar to serve, IF we’re doing it because Jesus loved us first and giving Him our day.
  • Romans 12:4 talks about one body and many parts with different functions. We’re here today to operate as the part of the body with some handy skills (or wanting to learn some. . . ), being used as the hands and feet of Jesus. The Body metaphor can be applied to your team, within an individual church, among many churches, or meaning all of the Jesus followers on Planet Earth, today.
  • Deuteronomy 15 - Sabbath year – doing things to relieve the hurt of those in debt – mercy ministry to the needy. Who owes us that we can forgive in order to provide them a fresh start? Our time to them makes them owe us time if you want to think of it that way, but we don’t keep records on how many hours we’ve spent helping a given family. The principle is: God’s heart cares for the hurting and we need to do something about it when possible. Note: the land and all of the people were to take one year off out of seven, away from the day-to-day plowing, sowing, tending, harvesting, etc. The promise is that if Israel would do their part in forgiving debts, God would provide the food needed for the Sabbath Year (through the abundance of fallow-year crops) and the year following that until crops were to be harvested. Do you trust Him that much?
  • James 1: 27-28 - How religious living should look if rooted in Jesus Christ. It's called Mercy Ministry – caring from those with financial problems, the disenfranchised, widows (single mothers?) and orphans (foster children?). There are plenty of vulnerable, hurting people to pick from. We just need to make sure we’re picking some.
  • Leviticus 19: 9 & 10 – The gleanings and edges of your fields. What is your field in our urban society? What will you leave out for others to use? Or which are you going to invest in God’s Kingdom as we care for those in need?
  • 2 Corinthians 8 – example of the Macedonians, who were in need themselves, making financial gifts to the Church in Jerusalem which was under persecution. How much more, we, who have some margin in our lives, to help those who need a hand.
  • 2 Corinthians 9 – more from the previous chapter (above) including sowing & reaping, God's abounding in our service (verse 8), and culminating in the people being served giving glory to God in verse 13.
  • Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven. Fun to contrast this to Matthew 6:1-4 and talk about motives – Look at me? I hope God will like me more if I sweat a lot today? How about, “God, I give you my time today because you have reconciled me to you, made peace with me through the blood of Jesus, and for that I serve as a thank you."
  • The Great Commandment . . . and love your neighbor as yourself. What does that look like? Assuming that we know that we cannot love God apart from a heart changed by His grace through the indwelling Holy Spirit, then today we can demonstrate his love for others, too! We’re giving our neighbor a hug from Jesus if He’s in us.
  • Leviticus 19: 9 & 10 – God asked His people not to reap to the edges of their fields so that those in need would have provision. If you don’t have a field, what would be your field in today’s economy? What will you leave or provide for people in need? Your time, like your money, should be an offering to God. If you’re a tool person, my guess is that it is time to pick them up. How about using them today, because Jesus gave his All for you.

  • Use God’s Word as you lead those working in God’s vineyard.

So, How Exactly Do We Pay For This? 11 Ideas That Will Cost You Little or Nothing!

Have you found yourself on one of these two situations?

1) You want to start a service/mercy or outreach ministry but there's no budget?

2) Or you have a ministry, but there's not enough funding to do much?

If you answered "Yes", take heart! We've seen God provide for projects when we didn’t have the funds for materials. Here are some ways that you can get projects funded outside of an existing budget.

  • Pray and acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord of all funding sources. It is a great testimony to do this with the person you are helping. What a great foundation for the Gospel.
  • Check out your local materials supplier. We’ve found that if you can get the manager to listen long enough to tell some of the story of what is needed and why, you will have much more favor with them. Perhaps they can help with a discount or donation. These asks can be more difficult if it is a church asking which is another conversation about forming separate non-profits.
  • Other community-minded business leaders.
  • Deacons’ benevolence fund.
  • Women of the Church or the Men’s Group.
  • Your Sunday school class or small group can often kick in.
  • Service organizations and business groups.
  • People from the volunteer team often are willing to help.
  • Partnerships between HRM and other local charities are attractive, especially if the charity made the referral in the first place.
  • Request a grant or ask a local non-profit to apply for a special grant for a larger project. We had a local charity, which had already received a grant in 2011 ask us to apply on behalf of a family needing a handicap lift. The grant request would go the Electrical Membership Cooperative (EMC) from which the family got power. We got it and the family got a matching amount and the lift was funded. The lift has blessed both the parents and their sixteen year-old with cerebral palsy.
  • Some municipalities and some non-faith-based charities get Federal grants and must find ways to spend them for any qualifying need, no matter that volunteers come from a church, and come without restrictions on your activities, such as prayer or sharing your faith. They are usually earmarked for specific kinds of project or people groups. These are really good resources to know about on an on-going basis. Find volunteers who have connections to find out about such programs and use them, even if you’d rather they never pick up a hammer! God has given each church and each person different gifts to use for His Glory – Romans 12: 4-8.

Have you had success funding projects in creative or unorthodox ways? Please share your experiences with us by leaving a comment!