Let’s Be Ready!

I absolutely love this week. Here’s why:

I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.”  Rev 1:18.

Tomorrow evening we will have two Good Friday services at our Ministry Center.  The first is at 5:30 with childcare for infants to preschool. The second service will be at 6:30.  This is a special time for the church to gather and consider the cross of Jesus.  We will remember the Lord’s Supper together during our service.

Then Sunday!  For the first time, we’re having two Sunday morning services at Sinagua. The first is at 9 and the second will be at 10:30.  There will be children’s ministry during both services.  The only change is that you will check your child in, and they will go directly to their classes.

I came across this blog from church consultant Thom Rainer.  Rather than trying to reword it and say the same thing, I paste it here for your edification!  This is good stuff to remember as we come on Sunday morning.

Nine Considerations for Church Members This Easter

It will be one of the highest attended days of the year for your church. It may be the highest.

There will be some people you don’t know. Some of them are guests. Others are members who attend infrequently.

You have an opportunity to make a gospel impression on these people with a few simple acts. Indeed, you have an opportunity to make an eternal difference. Here are nine servant actions for you to consider.

  1. Pray as you enter the property. Pray for the guests. Pray for the services. Pray for the pastor and the sermon.
  2. Park at the most distant spot available. Save the closer parking places for guests.
  3. Greet people. They may be guests. They may be members. It’s okay to introduce yourself to either.
  4. Look for people to help. You know the place well. Many others will not. Be a guide. Help someone who looks like he or she needs help.
  5. Sit as close as possible to the front of the worship center. Save the back rows for guests and late entrants, so they don’t have to walk past so many people.
  6. Sit in the middle. Don’t claim that aisle seat where people have to walk over you or past you.
  7. Sit closely. Your worship center may be packed. If so, be willing to sit together.
  8. Volunteer to serve. As the number of attendees increase, so does the need for volunteers. The parking team, kids ministry, and church greeter ministry are a few of the areas that will need more volunteers to help serve and minister to members and guests.
  9. Pray as you leave. The Holy Spirit is likely working in many persons who attended. Pray for His continual work of conviction and comfort.

These are simple acts. They are acts of service. And if you survive doing these acts of kindness and service on Easter, you just might be able to do them on other days of worship as well.

The post Nine Considerations for Church Members This Easter appeared first onThomRainer.com.

Good Friday

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Salvation. It’s really all about salvation.

He came and died in my place, your place. He took my sin, and yours. He became sin so that we can become the righteousness of God.

Wait, WHAT?

Yep, look at this: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:21 

For the criminal on the cross it was a good Friday. He woke up in Paradise, and there was Jesus. BAM!

For us, today is a great day, because of what He did for us on that one day.  My prayer this weekend is that many people in many churches will come to Christ. I’m praying for pastors who will preach the simple message of the cross and empty tomb. I’m praying for guests that have been invited.  People need Jesus.  Two criminals on two crosses. One mocks, the other cries out in faith.

Thank you, Jesus for the cross.  And for saving me.

I’m praying for Grace this Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection and welcome guests into our church community.  I’m starting a new series this Sunday, check this out.

Many of you remember the impact Zac Smith (my nephew) had on my life and our church family. Zac passed away 4 years ago. This Easter weekend NewSpring Church is retelling his story as Mandy and the kids each give testimony to the glory of God, just as Zac did. Check it out here.

“Grab a Corner”

And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2:3-5

Jesus wants us to let others know about Him.  Resurrection Sunday, and really every single Sunday, is a great opportunity to invite people to come and see who Jesus is and what He’s done for them. In Sunday’s message, four people had faith and they acted on that faith to do the unusual so a man could be both forgiven and healed. As I understand the passage, the paralytic wanted to see Jesus, probably for the healing. I wonder if the forgiveness was unexpected.  Sometimes God asks us to do the unusual so the unexpected can happen. And sometimes He calls us to do it together with others. Personal evangelism is more of a team sport than we think it is. Most of us don’t do a great job with evangelism because we erroneously think it’s all up to us. The church and the work of the church is a team event. None of us are meant to go this alone. Can you imagine just one of the four friends trying to do what the four eventually had to do?

So, who is our team? Well, it’s me, it’s you, it’s our church. I believe it’s a work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  As you pray to the Father for your unsaved and unchurched friends, ask the Holy Spirit to help you and to show you the opportunities to invite and to encourage.  Join me and simply grab one of the corners of the mat. It’s NOT all up to you.  Salvation is God’s work. Jesus accomplished it on the cross, and now the Holy Spirit is convicting.  Let’s do this together, with each other, joining our church family and seeing what God will do.  When we only do the usual, we get the expected. Let’s ask God for more. Let’s be willing to do the unusual so we can experience the unexpected!

Pray, invite, bring

I remember in college I entered a “preaching” challenge. I’m guessing most of you didn’t have that opportunity at your college. I did. I was a senior preparing for ministry and one of the courses in my theology and ministry training was for ‘homiletics’ or preaching.

This sermon was to be preached in front of my peers and visiting pastors.  The reason the message stands out is because I got it from my older brother.  My brother Jim was probably voted most likely to be a good preacher when he was in grade school!  I can’t remember if I heard him preach this message or I just asked and he gave me the reference and an outline.  As in most sermons, it’s not always about the originality, because God already gets the credit for that one in the actual text!  But it’s about being true to the text and relevant in application to your audience.

This is a long way to get to what I want to say.  The text was Mark 2:1-12.  The main idea is that a man is healed because his friends brought him to Jesus.  Literally.  But before the physical healing in vs 11-12, Jesus gave him forgiveness in v5. That was the bigger deal. Still is.

People may think they’re biggest need is to be ‘made whole’ or experience a healing or a positive turn in the events of their life, some pain to be removed. But the truth is, and we all know it, we need true genuine, unconditional forgiveness.  And that’s exactly what Jesus offers. That’s the gospel. And that’s exactly what we celebrate when we get excited about Resurrection Sunday.

The problem is most people don’t yet know about it. That’s where you and I come in.  God has forgiven us so we can demonstrate his love and grace and kindness and mercy towards others.

Let’s be the friends.  Let’s be the ones who will do anything to get someone in the presence of Christ.  Read the text; these guys literally tore the roof apart to let the man down through the new opening.

Pray for your friends. Then invite them. Then offer a ride, or lunch afterwards.  Bring them, introduce them to someone and sit with them.  And when you pray, pray believing!

Two Hundred and Ten

That’s how many people at Grace came to the One Answer event, ready now to lead someone to Jesus as God brings them.  Because Jesus came and died and rose again, we have a message to pass on to others.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”  John 3:17

This coming Sunday our church family will celebrate Palm Sunday, remembering the Sunday Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, hailed as the Son of David, but soon to be treated as a criminal. Not because of His crime, but because of my sin.

The sin that separated me from God.  Then Jesus died.  His blood covered my sin, satisfying the wrath of God.

Odd isn’t it?

I sinned, He didn’t

He died, so I could live.

As Palm Sunday ushers in the events of “holy week”, we remember the death and burial of Jesus.  But then we get to Resurrection Sunday!  Jesus is no longer dead, but He’s alive.  Join the 210 people of Grace that are asking God for the opportunity to invite someone.  This is by far the most significant time of the year for the message of the Gospel to go unhindered.  Let’s be clear: every single Sunday we celebrate the Resurrected Jesus, but this one coming up is special.  I believe God is calling people to Himself.  And He’s put me and you in their path to show them and speak of His great love and grace.  Go ahead, ask someone. Simply invite them to church with you.  Let’s see what God does.

The Costs

Sin is expensive. It always costs more than it says. It always lets down the buyer. It’s never worth the cost. And the cost most always shows up later.  And the cost of sin is always spread out to others, not just the one making the decision.

Grace is free. It’s not cheap, but free. It cost God His only Son.  Jesus paid it all.

I hate sin and the obvious consequences.  Today I learned again of the tragic news of sin’s consequences. You can see it any day. Matter of fact, everyday. Sin is the hottest thing for the news outlets. And it’s as rotten and costly as ever.

Today is the day we remember Jesus died on the cross, once for all! Grace enters, sin exits. As we are daily reminded of the cost of sin, let’s remember to thank God for the high cost of paying for it, once for all.

Thank You, Jesus. For grace. For the cross. For paying my debt.

We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. Rom 6:9-10

For Christ also suffered  once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,  1 Pt 3:18

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Pt 2:22-24