The Big Finish to the Beatitudes

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:10 ESV

Why does “persecution” follow “peacemakers”?

When is my suffering persecution and when is it just punishment?

“When a man is called on to suffer something for his Christianity that is always a crucial moment; it is the great occasion; it is the clash between the world and Christ; it is a moment in the drama of eternity. To have a share in such a moment is not a penalty but a glory.”  Barclay

This past Sunday we finished the first section on the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus did; with talk of persecution and the desired blessing that comes with suffering for righteousness sake.  To follow the saints and prophets who have gone before us, to be different from the world, not because we’re righteous, but because Jesus is. To taste of the agony of being called names and mocked at, all because those who don’t yet know Jesus only know there’s a difference. And we’re called to live in that difference.

“Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.”

  • Pray for the persecuted church around the world.
  • Pray for brothers and sisters in your community being harassed and mistreated as they live out the Kingdom principles of Matt 5.
  • Pray for a prepared heart for when the insults and rejections come your way.
  • Rejoice and endure

When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. 1 Cor 4:12-13

41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.  Acts 5:41

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:10

Give thanks to the Lord for what He suffered for our sake and for the privilege to be called His.

 

Power in Prayer: Especially for our Missionary Friends

We believe in prayer.

Prayer for each other, for friends that don’t know God loves them yet, prayer for our church, our nation, our missionaries. Ah, yes, the missionaries.

It’s easy to lump them all together in a quick moment of “Lord, bless all the missionaries”, isn’t it?  And they might even say “we’ll take what we can get”. But actually prayer is a lot more than the quick, all-inclusive broad brush stroke of divine ‘blessing’ on whoever and wherever and whatever it is they actually need.

Prayer is a specific conversation between you and our Almighty God!  He teaches us to pray, He awaits our prayer, and He hears our prayer.  Sometimes our prayers may seem quick and sound much like the last time we prayed. I’m betting God is saying, “Come on kid, go ahead and put a little something on that. You’re talking to me and I’ve got all day, I’m all yours!”  Isn’t it amazing that God invites us to come to Him, to share our heart and our hurts and our desires?

A few weeks ago in our study of 2 Thessalonians we came across this little jewel of powerful prayer:

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you.  2 Thessalonians 3:1

Powerful prayer is specific. Nothing wrong with asking God for “blessings” for our missionaries. But what Paul says is, “listen, the Word of God came to you so you now know Him and have a cool church. As we continue to do missionary work pray for us. But not just for safety or blessing or prosperity or good health. Pray that God’s Word would go forward, and go fast!”  That’s what I call the Urgency of Grace! When people hear the Word, they can respond in faith becoming followers of Jesus Christ, therefore they are also honoring, or glorifying God, just by being His!  How many people need Jesus?  All of them!

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Jaron, Nicki, Noelia and Evalie Rogers

At Grace we’ve been blessed to see several of our missionaries over the past few months. Most recently the Rogers stopped in this past Sunday. You can hear Jaron’s message here.  As we send them off, let’s remember how to best pray for them and our other missionaries and ministries. That God’s Word would do what only God’s Word can do. Change lives for eternity. 

#KSA

At Grace we are in a series called Prepare. The idea is this: What would happen if God answered your prayers?  Are you prepared?  Most of us have some idea of what we’d love to see God do, whether it’s related to our work, relationships, unsaved family and friends converted, or to see our church family grow.  Before the people of Israel entered the new promised land, Joshua provided leadership with these words:

‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’  Joshua 1:11

As the day approached, Joshua continued:

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 3:5

This past Sunday the topic was Confession.  Considering the awful scene in Joshua 7 where one man’s sin kept the entire nation from a presumed victory, God judged sin in a most dramatic fashion.  Similarly in Acts 5, we see a unique demonstration of discipline on sin during the offering part of the church service.  God has never looked lightly upon sin. And that’s why Jesus had to die for our sins.

Confession is good for the soul, true. But it’s more than that.  Confession keeps me humbly aware of God’s holy character and my need for His presence, through the Holy Spirit. My sin is less about me than it is my need to see God as revered and holy.

One application from the study on confessions is to keep short accounts. That simple phrase simply means, don’t allow something to go unsaid, misunderstood, or unconfessed.  If you’ve wronged someone, make it right. Say something. Go to them, not someone else.  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Eph 4:26-27

We all want to see God answer our prayers. Let’s be prepared for whatever God wants to do through our circumstances by making sure we keep short accounts.  Seriously, that’s a good hashtag right there: #ksa!

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:13-15

Access

If you missed this past Sunday’s sermon at Grace Community, you can hear it here. In Jesus’ Name.  The passage was John 14:1-14.

I’ve been thinking about this all week!  Because Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life, we can now have access to the Father ONLY through Him.  Because Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him, (meaning: Jesus IS God) we can now have access to the Father, through the Son.  What an amazing gift. To pray to the Father, in the Name of Jesus.

So, what are you praying for?  What would happen if God said yes to what you’re asking of Him?  How will the Father be glorified through our prayers?

20 People for 20th Year

As Grace Community Church celebrates our 20th anniversary later this year, the challenge has been made to pray for 20 people. Let’s pray for people that need Jesus as Savior, let’s also pray for those who need to return to the Lord.

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Instead of coming up with a ‘top ten’ list to pray for, pair up with someone and the two of you combine your lists to come up with 20 people. Maybe you can only think of a few and your partner has more.  Either way, the beauty of pairing up is that you are encouraging and reminding each other to pray.  And remember, prayer is near the heart of God. He loves to hear us come to him in worship, adoration and dependency. We’re asking Him to do His work of saving people.  Let’s ask.

Two ways to help those in the Philippines

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40

Pray. Whether you can give or not, the best thing we have going for us is to pray earnestly. So, let’s do that.

Give. There are many opportunities to help those suffering in the Philippines.  At Grace we’ve primarily used Samaritan’s Purse in the past. So we will again this time.  If you’d like to go online and give directly through their site, you can do so here.

If you’d like to give through our church, you can do so these next few weeks. Whether you give at church or online we’ll send whatever comes in to Samaritan’s Purse. We love what they do and how they do it.

 

Headed Home

 

 

It’s been a great few days in Bangkok.  We were able to worship with Molly on Sunday morning; then spent time with her at the school on Monday.  Molly is doing great with language school and working in the ministry at Word Made Flesh as she’s able. We met her kids and coworkers as we got to tour the Community Center. It was so nice to have lots of time to visit and catch up.  I think we were all mutually encouraged.  One of the highlights was presenting the kids with the supplies that Grace sent over, including ipads for the classroom!  Great job Grace! Your generosity is a huge blessing.Newspring BangkokGreat to be with Molly at her church in Bangkok on Sunday morning.

BangkokWe are getting ready to go to bed. Tomorrow morning we leave early for the airport and the beginning of our long journey home.  Thanks again for your prayers.