Thirty-six Communities

Luke 10 begins with the account of Jesus appointing 72 followers and sending them out 2 by 2 to every town and place that He was planning to visit. This implies that Jesus sent out 36 pairs of followers to at least 36 communities, maybe more. Jesus goes on to ask His followers to ask the “Lord of the harvest” (His Father) to send out workers into the “harvest field” because the workers are few. This implies that Jesus wanted to reach more communities than was possible with the 36 pairs of workers He had.

This passage raises some questions for me. Were the 72 trained? I think the answer is yes. Verses 2 through 16 capture some of what Jesus taught them in preparation for their assignment. Also, it is interesting that the number sent out is divisible by 12. Could it be that each of the 12 disciples were to train 6 others (12×6=72), half the number of the 12 disciples that Jesus Himself was training? What could happen in churches today if each pastor set a goal to disciple and train 12 who were then challenged to disciple and train 6 who were expected to do the same and so on?

Another question came to mind: Could we find ways to reach 36 “towns” or communities? In our country we tend to cluster people in cities, towns, unincorporated communities, and subdivisions. What if our church attempted to reach at least 36 subdivisions or communities in our local area or county? Jesus’ 36 teams were not given a budget or supplies (v. 4). They were to avoid distractions (v. 4b) that would delay the fulfillment of their mission. They were to bless the people of that community, offering peace to them, and letting them know that God had taken notice of them and had invited them to join His Kingdom. They were to pray for people to be healed. They were to get to know the people, to sit and eat with them; whatever the people ate, they were to eat. They were commissioned as agents of Christ and His Father. If they were rejected, they were not to take it personally. Their commissioning gave them authority even over Satan, since his destiny is downfall. They were not to look at their accomplishments with pride, but were to rejoice instead that their names were written in heaven.

What if we could do this kind of ministry? What could happen if we set out, 2 by 2, to look for at least one family in each of 36 subdivisions who would welcome a message of peace? What would happen if we sat down with them to eat with them, pray for God’s peace to rest on them, for God to bring healing to their lives, for God to break the chains that Satan has on them? It is interesting that immediately after the account of the 72 and their ministry we find the story of the Good Samaritan, a man who, while going along the road, meets someone in need and stops to help. What if we ask God to show us communities, subdivisions and families in need that we should “adopt?” What if we drove through the subdivision, or better yet, walked, and asked God to show us the family He wants us to meet and serve?

I guess it starts with each of us. Am I willing to “adopt” my community, my subdivision, to look for those who need the Lord’s peace (after all, we all need God’s peace, don’t we?)?

Then, as a church, perhaps we need to pray that God will send out workers: 12 people who will agree to be trained to start with 6 subdivisions. Ultimately these 12 will pray and look for 6 people they can train to send as pairs to 3 more subdivisions. Are you willing to be one of the Lord’s workers? Let me know if you want to impact your community!

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The Quest – Day 40!!! – FB Podcast Episode 100!!!

This is the devotional for Saturday, November 4, 2006 which is the 40th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery! Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 40 of Frank Moore’s excellent book, The Power To Be Free. Thank you for sharing these 40 Days of Discovery with us! If you have found this journey to be helpful, please let us know!

 

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Today’s podcast marks the 100th episode of the FaithBuilders’ podcast! Thanks for helping our podcast site at buildyourfaith.net close in on 10,000 hits!

 

Day 40 – A Lifestyle of Service

 

Life in the Spirit of Christ is a life of service.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

Your attention on this 40-day quest has focused primarily on a personal spiritual journey and your involvement in the community of faith. We’ve talked about the need to consecrate everything to God and receive the gift of His sanctification. However, the quest cannot be complete until we focus attention away from ourselves and onto others and their needs. Serving others is as vital to spiritual growth as praying or reading your Bible.

In the chapter of our Scripture focus for today, Paul teaches a key principle of service and ministry. Even in the midst of very difficult circumstances, we can experience the blessing and grace of God to the point that we wouldn’t want life to be any other way. Now to be sure, God is not the primary giver of the difficulties; Satan gets that credit. However, God finds ways to bless Paul and us in spite of Satan’s best efforts to defeat us.

Paul also teaches us one of the key mysteries of service and ministry here: God’s power sometimes works best in our lives at the point of our greatest weakness. We may prefer not to have the weakness, but somehow God’s light may shine brightest through it. So why does Paul endure the weaknesses and hardships in serving others? For the sake of Christ!

I’ve waited 40 days to say this. Are you ready? The life you long for is not about you! It’s about Christ and His example. The aim and focus is on others and the ways you can serve them in His name. It’s not about finding yourself; it’s about losing yourself. It’s not about becoming strong; it’s about coming to terms with your own weakness and finding your strength in Him. It’s not about what you become; it’s about what He becomes through you.

Life in the Spirit of Christ is a reflected life. You are like the moon. The moon is not a source of light. It only reflects the sun’s light. In like manner, as you spend quality time with the Spirit of Christ, you reflect His life through yours. Over time, Christ is formed in you (Colossians 1:27).

So does your quest for discovering life in the Spirit of Christ end today? No, quite the contrary! It’s only the beginning!

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by living a life of service.

The Quest – Day 38

This is the devotional for Thursday, November 2, 2006 which is the 38th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 38 of Frank Moore’s life-changing book, The Power To Be Free. 

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

 

Day 38 – Growing in the Spirit of Christ

 

The Spirit of Christ wants to grow a Christlike character in you.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”   (Colossians 1:9 NIV) 

Character growth doesn’t happen while you sleep or watch television.  God expects you to roll up your sleeves and do your part to exercise, grow and mature.  You and I cannot build a foundation on feeling and emotion.  Growth in wisdom, understanding and good works lead to growth in our knowledge of God as well as growth in Christlike character.

On Days 34 and 35 we reviewed the characteristics of Jesus’ life that offer goals for us to develop Christlike character.  We can’t develop these qualities on our own.  God works in our hearts to create these qualities in us.  God accomplishes decisive, character-building work in us only after we consecrate ourselves totally to Him.  After we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, He fills us with the Spirit of Christ.  We then enter a clear path to a lifetime of growth and development in Christlike character.  So take a moment to review the strategies for growth we mentioned on Day 3

In Ephesians 4 Paul shows us that God’s plan is to enrich our lives personally as well as to enrich the community of faith.  We grow as we minister to one another and the community of faith grows as well.  Christ works like glue holding believers together to form His Body on earth.  The purpose of this plan is to bring us to a common belief, a common Savior, and a common model for our spiritual maturity.  God doesn’t want you to be a spiritual baby, an infant who will never grow out of the “baby stage.”

Right standing with God does not exempt us from the need for further spiritual growth.  We must balance our thinking between satisfaction in what Christ accomplished for us on the Cross and a hunger to press on to a deeper walk with God. 

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 1:27, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

For more information on both the FaithBuilders podcast and the Faith Church podcast visit www.buildyourfaith.net.  For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.  

Build your faith today by pressing on toward maturity.

40 Days of Purpose – Day 21

This is the devotional for Saturday, May 20, 2006 which is Day 21 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 21 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 21 – Protecting Your Church

It is your job to protect the unity of your church!

Unity is the soul of fellowship. Destroy it, and you rip the heart out of Christ’s Body. It is the essence, the core, of how God intends for us to experience life together in his church.

In his final moments before being arrested, Jesus prayed passionately for our unity. It was our unity that was uppermost in his mind during those agonizing hours. That shows how significant this subject is. Nothing on earth is more valuable to God than his church. He paid the highest price for it, and he wants it protected, especially from the devastating damage that is caused by division, conflict, and disharmony.

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)

How are we to do this? The Bible gives us practical advice:

– Focus on what we have in common, not our differences.

– Be realistic in your expectations. Choose to encourage rather than criticize.

– Refuse to listen to gossip.

– Practice God’s method for conflict resolution.

– And most importantly, support your pastor and leaders.

What are you doing personally to make your church family more warm and loving? There are many people in your community who are looking for love and a place to belong. The truth is, everyone needs and wants to be loved, and when people find a church where members genuinely love and care for each other, you would have to lock the doors to keep them away.

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC sponsors this broadcast. We encourage you to unite with a body of believers in your area. To find a Church of the Nazarene near you look for the “Find a Church” link at http://www.nazarene.org. Build your faith today in unity with other believers.

Memory Verse for the week: “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5 (NIV)

40 Days of Purpose – Day 19

This is the devotional for Thursday, May 18, 2006 which is Day 19 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 19 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 19 – Cultivating Community

Community requires commitment!

“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.” James 3:18 (Msg)

Cultivating community takes honesty. Real fellowship depends on frankness. In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other.

Cultivating community takes humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.

Cultivating community takes courtesy. The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: We’re family.

Cultivating community takes confidentiality. Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality will people open up and share their deepest hurts, needs, and mistakes. Confidentiality does not mean keeping silent while your brother or sister sins. It means that what is shared in your group needs to stay in your group, and the group needs to deal with it, not gossip to others about it.

Cultivating community takes frequency. You must have frequent, regular contact with your group in order to build genuine fellowship. Relationships take time.

When you look at the list of characteristics, it is obvious why genuine fellowship is so rare. But the benefits of sharing life together far outweigh the costs, and it prepares us for heaven.

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. Will you choose to cultivate community with other Christians? If you don’t have a church home, let me encourage you to find a Church of the Nazarene near you. Then build your faith today by building community with other believers.

Memory Verse for the week: “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5

40 Days of Purpose – Day 18

Welcome to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This is Pastor Bill Crane.

This is the devotional for Wednesday, May 17, 2006 which is Day 18 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 18 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 18 – Experiencing Life Together

Life is meant to be shared!

“Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. Colossians 3:15 (CEV)

God intends for us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship. “Fellowship” now usually refers to casual conversation, socializing, food, and fun. The question, “Where do you fellowship?” means “Where do you attend church?” “Stay after for fellowship” usually means “Wait for refreshments.”

Real fellowship is so much more than just showing up at services. It is experiencing life together. It includes unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, sympathetic comforting, and all the other “one another” commands found in the New Testament.

The Body of Christ, like your own body, is really a collection of many small cells. The life of the Body of Christ, like your body, is contained in the cells. For this reason, every Christian needs to be involved in a small group within their church, whether is it a home fellowship group, a Sunday school class, or a Bible study.

The Bible says, “If we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other.” 1 John 1:7 (NCV)

The world thinks intimacy occurs in the dark, but God says it happens in the light. Darkness is used to hide our hurts, faults, fears, failures, and flaws. But in the light, we bring them all out into the open and admit who we really are. You were created for community.

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. It is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. For more information about Faith Church visit us at jaxnaz.org. Build your faith today by sharing life with other believers. If you don’t have a church home, we welcome you to join us!

Memory Verse for the week: “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5

40 Days of Purpose – Day 17

Welcome to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This is Pastor Bill Crane.

This is the devotional for Tuesday, May 16, 2006 which is Day 17 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 17 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

Click here to listen to the podcast version of this devotional. Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 17 – A Place to Belong

You are called to belong, not just believe!

“You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” Ephesians 2:19b (LB)

We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship, and formed for a family, and none of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves. The Bible says we are put together, joined together, built together, members together; heirs together, fitted together, and held together and will be caught up together. You’re not on your own anymore.

While your relationship to Christ is personal, God never intends it to be private. In God’s family you are connected to every other believer, and we will belong to each other for eternity. The Bible says, “In Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5 (NIV)

The Christian life is more than just commitment to Christ; it includes a commitment to other Christians. The Christians in Macedonia understood this. Paul said, “First, they gave themselves to the Lord; and then, by God’s will, they gave themselves to us as well.” 2 Corinthians 8:5 (TEV)

You become a Christian by committing yourself to Christ, but you become a church member by committing yourself to a specific group of believers. The first decision brings salvation; the second brings fellowship.

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. It is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. For more information about Faith Church visit us at jaxnaz.org. Build your faith today by joining God’s church.

Memory Verse for the week: “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5