Plentiful

 

harvest field

 

Matthew 9: 36-38  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

Eastside Mission had it’s kick-off community block party outreach yesterday.  I must say it was absolutely amazing to be back on the streets after 8 months of “being still” and waiting on God.  During the 8 months God was growing, stretching and preparing us as He was about to expand our borders.  After 4 years of inner city street ministry on Main Street in Hamilton we thought God had really given us a HUGE mission field.  Now, reflecting back we realize that was our time of preparation.  

Back to yesterday, we had all kinds of fun activities for our introduction into the neighborhood. Pastor Felix and I spent the time by getting to know our neighbors, meeting their families and talking about their needs and the community needs.  At one point, I remember standing a midst all the busyness of serving and lovin’ on people I had a count of 175 people that we were blessed to serve this day.  We have approximately 1700 people within immediate radius, we passed out 560 total flyers and served 175 men, women and children.   As I’m standing there and process all of the conversations I was having, watching the kids playing I am feeling overwhelmed with all the needs.  Trust me, the needs in this area are many!  As we suspected there is a lot of heroin and addicted mommies and daddies.  Many generations living together in small houses and not being able to make the ends meet.  

For some time leading up to the kick-off and even more today we have been posting pictures, sharing needs, asking for volunteers and I’m starting to feel myself getting stressed about how in the world are we going to accomplish this.  This is 4x what we did and served over on Main Street.  God what in the world are you thinking?  So as I’m starting into that familiar tailspin I pick up my bible and I start reading about Jesus going into a city and Him telling the disciples that the harvest is plenty but the laborers are few.  Man God is so awesome 2,000 years ago He knew that there would be a great need for workers in the harvest field.  God knows we are facing many needs financial, volunteers, supplies, etc. but God ALSO knows that the laborers are few; therefore, as He is guiding me in His word to ask Him to send out workers into His harvest field.  Because bottom line – He has given Pastor Felix and I the charge of stewardship over this mission and building His church among these un-reached people and whether He sends us 2 or 20 we are going to praise Him, serve others and glorify our God as we pray for God to send the laborers.  Won’t you take a minute and join us in praying for this harvest field and the workers to serve in it!!  God might also be calling you to take a step out, he may be calling you to step outside of the church you are comfortable in with the friends and family you love and do some water walking!

Praise Him!!

Ash Wednesday

 

 

It’s  Ash Wednesday!

Ash Wednesday

Today marks the 1st day of Lent leaving 40 days, not including Sundays, until Easter.  This 40 day period of Lent is symbolic of Jesus’ forty days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:2).  According to the Bible ashes were used as a way to express mourning.  Therefore, on Ash Wednesday people often observe this day as a day of repentance by placing ashes on their foreheads as a way of expressing repentance for their sins. 

 

Many people will fast a certain type of food such as chocolate or soda or perhaps for some it will be the internet.  Whatever, is chosen it is a period whereby people deny themselves a pleasure or release a stronghold as a way of identifying with Jesus’ 40 day fast.

Personally, as I enter into this time I am striving to daily spend time in quiet reflection on Jesus’ sacrifice for me.  This is a time to reflect on what matters most to Him and focus my thoughts and actions on them.  All throughout scripture Jesus has given us a model to shape our lives by and from time to time we all get off track.  During Lent I want to experience a deeper relationship and experience His presence in my life like never before.

In 40 days from today (excluding Sundays) our Savior conquered the grave and death on our behalf to unite us with God the Father for eternity.  He paid our debt and a little retrospection, meditation and study into His Word to deepen our understanding and increase our faith is worth all the time and effort that it takes out of our daily routine.

Whether you choose to observe Lent or not, I am praying for you and encourage you to spend some quality time with Jesus today and this next 40 day period.

Praise Him!

Jesus said, Whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matt. 6:16-18)

 

Unforgiveness

 “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” – Alexander Pope

As we go through life, not one of us is immune to being hurt by someone or hurting someone else.  It will happen on purpose, by mistake or we may not realize we have even hurt someone.  Basically, people are people.  We live in a body of flesh that is imperfect in all ways and we must understand that no one is perfect.

God’s word clearly teaches if we have an issue with a sister or brother we need to take it to them in an effort to bring about restoration and reconciliation.  In today’s world of technology we have brought this to a new level by taking it to our sister or brother via text messages or emails.  This has enabled us to become bold with our words we use toward others because we are hiding behind this technology.  How can a true discussion that will result in restoration and reconciliation take place when you are not willing to sit down with the other person to work it out?

I’ve been doing some studying about forgiveness and really trying to dig in and grasp its meaning.  First, we must realize that forgiveness is the very center of the gospel.  2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NIV) All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

So we are commissioned to take the message of forgiveness to the world.  God has forgiven us a life of sin yet we hold all sorts of things against each other.  How can we take the gospel message to the world when we can’t forgive others as Christ has forgiven us?

It’s something we all need to pray about and think about.  Mark 11:25-26 (NLT) But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.  Friends this is a clear spiritual command from God’s Word. Forgiveness requires an act of your free will to obey God’s command.  I have found many scriptures that have talked about forgiveness; however, this one really sets in how important forgiveness is to God.  If you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive you.  Wow!  Do you get that; that’s serious?  When you forgive you free yourself from forgiveness and strife. God does not look upon forgiveness favorably.  Bottom line, you cannot have God’s forgiveness unless you forgive.

We are told by Jesus that we would know who a person really is by their fruit, by the life this person produces.  The lack of forgiveness means the forgiveness that Christ has given them has not taken root in their lives.  Therefore, if a person lives with forgiveness it shows that they probably don’t understand the payment that Christ made upon the cross.   I know this is a hard teaching but it is God’s command and it is serious stuff.

Whether or not you understand why a person hurt you does not really matter.  If they ask for forgiveness we must choose to forgive them.  After all Jesus shed his blood for all the sins that we have or ever will commit.

In Matthew 18: 21 – 35 we read The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  In verse 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In this parable what is sticking out for me is that an unforgiving person is looked at as a wicked person.  At the very least, they are giving Satan a foothold into their life.  When we allow him a little entrance by having an unforgiving heart it will lead to all sorts of battles and attacks.

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.

Listen, every offense we hold on to allows Satan an opportunity to bring hardheartedness, bitterness and strife.  When we choose not to forgive someone our prayer life will be hindered, God will treat us how we treat others, God will not forgive us and we open the door to all kinds of evil spirits and schemes of the enemy. Is forgiveness really worth any of that?

Luke 6:36-38 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Where are you with forgiveness; do you need to receive it or give it?  Friends, we need to do a heart check.  We need to bow down before God’s throne and ask Him to reveal any forgiveness we may have towards someone.

With many situations I strongly believe that we are unable to meet an expectation that is placed upon you and when you fail to meet that expectation they became offended.  This is especially true when it concerns people in leadership.

Every believer must learn how to live and walk in forgiveness. This totally goes against our human nature because in order to live and walk in forgiveness we must put aside our pride and humble ourselves before others.

We must realize there are many reasons why a person may not forgive you.  Perhaps, they didn’t really value the relationship and were willing to throw it away instead of restore it.  Maybe, they don’t want to be vulnerable and they use forgiveness as a shield because of past hurts.  Or pride may be at the center of forgiveness.

Whatever the underlying issues are we must focus on the examples of Jesus.  We need to stop focusing on the offender and the hurt and forgive as Jesus forgave his offenders.

To that end, I encourage you to seek God and close all doors to the enemy.  Make the commitment now to let go of all bitterness, strife, resentment and unforgiveness.  It is time for the body of Christ to come to maturity in this area.

Praise Him!