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 10

This is the devotional for Thursday, October 5, 2006 which is the 10th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 10 of Frank Moore’s great book, The Power To Be Free.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, Week 1 of the Quest, we’d love you have you participate via our Faith Nazarene Church podcast.

Visit http://www.buildyourfaith.net to read the previous days’ devotionals or to subscribe to the “FaithBuilders” podcast.

Day 10 – A Guide for Jesus

The Spirit actively participated in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me.” (Luke 4:18 NIV)

Author Frank Moore says that he is a household handyman who loves a new challenge. His son Brent worked at his side most of the 13 years they spent working on their “fixer-upper.” The projects gave them good times together and some great memories.

Brent is now married and owns his own home. His father & mother are quite impressed by the home improvements that he and his wife Nikki have made. Now if only his father could get his borrowed tools back!

This reminds us that the Spirit did not work in and with Christ for Christ’s ministry alone. He demonstrated through Christ what He wants to accomplish in your life as a follower of Christ. It might be that just as Brent picked up handyman skills from watching his father Frank work, you can pick up spiritual insights into the way the Spirit works by watching how He worked with Jesus. Let these examples illustrate:

  1. The Spirit placed the fetus of Jesus in Mary’s body (Luke 1:35).
  2. The Spirit spoke through John the Baptist in preparing the way for Jesus.
  3. The Spirit blessed Jesus through Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-40)
  4. The Spirit descended as a dove upon Jesus at His baptism (Luke 3:21-22)
  5. The Spirit prepared Jesus for His temptation ordeal (Luke 4:1)
  6. The Spirit empowered Jesus for His daily ministry (Luke 4:14)
  7. The Spirit instructed Jesus in His teaching ministry (Luke 4:18-21)
  8. The Spirit performed miracles with Jesus (Matthew 12:28 )
  9. The Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 1:3-4)
  10. The Spirit validated Jesus’ life and ministry by filling believers to continue His work on earth.

How many of these examples prompt your thinking about ways the Spirit wants to work in your life as well? While some of the above examples may not be repeated in your life, the Spirit stands ready:

  • to help you in time of temptation
  • to empower you for your daily ministry
  • to instruct you as you teach others about Christ
  • to work in your life in unexplainable ways

In the end the Spirit will raise you from the dead, as He did Jesus, and you will live with Him in heaven forever!

The memory verse for this week is John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcasts. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by asking the Spirit to work in you as freely as He did in Jesus!

The Quest – Day 9

This is the devotional for Wednesday, October 4, 2006 which is the 9th day of The Quest, our 40 Days of Discovery. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 9 of Frank Moore’s great book, The Power To Be Free.

If you were unable to attend Sunday’s service, Week 1 of the Quest, we’d love you have you participate via our Faith Nazarene Church podcast.

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 9 – A Guide from Days Gone By

The Spirit has been guiding our world and people since the beginning of time.

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Genesis 1:2 NIV)

Without realizing it, many believers think of the Spirit as a relief pitcher. They think that during the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, the Spirit warmed up and readied himself. As soon as Jesus returned to heaven, the Spirit ran onto the field to assume His presence and ministry in the Church and the world. In other words, He served as a reliever to Jesus’ ministry and became a starter at Pentecost. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity. Anytime you read in the Bible about God working in His world, you can rest assured that Father, Son and Spirit are all somehow involved.

True, we tend to imagine the Father at work in the Old Testament, the Son at work during the Incarnation, and the Spirit at work in the church age. Nevertheless, we must never assume that only one member of the Trinity acts at any given time.

The Spirit has been actively involved in our world since its beginning. His presence permeated the entire Old Testament. These few examples illustrate this:

  1. He worked with other members of the Trinity in creating the world and everything in it. Genesis 1:2 tells us that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
  2. He inspired the writers of Scripture to record the message of God for us. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:21, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
  3. He gave people special skills and abilities to accomplish His will. Exodus 31:3-5 tells us that the Spirit of God filled Bezalel with skill, ability and knowledge of a variety of craftsmanships for the building of the Tabernacle, the worship center for the Hebrew people during their trip from Egypt to the Promised Land.
  4. He guided the leaders of Israel in the Old Testament. Numbers 11:25 says, “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with [Moses], and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders.”
  5. He spoke through the prophets about a new arrangement that would allow Him to live within human hearts. Isaiah 44:3 says, “I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring.”

These examples only hint at the numerous ways in which the Spirit of God participated with us in our world. Let me challenge you to read through the Old Testament again with an eye for the Spirit’s involvement in its events and messages. You’ll be amazed as you see Him working quietly in the shadows.

The memory verse for this week is John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders podcasts. For more information about our church, visit our website at www.jaxnaz.org.

Build your faith today by remembering the Spirit’s work in our world.

Helping Hands

Welcome to Faith Builders. This is Pastor Bill Crane. (Here is the link to the podcast file.)

Before moving to Jacksonville, I lived in a community near Charleston, South Carolina. It seems that many of the Pastors in the area had been overwhelmed by a large number of folks coming to them to ask for food. The area ministerial association began to pray about how to help. As a result a food pantry was started to assist people in crisis situations. The churches all collected donations of food which were given to the food pantry. Volunteers from the churches manned the food pantry. A schedule was established for food distribution. Contact was made with food banks in the greater Charleston area. They began to receive donations of food from grocery chains, restaurants, and area charities. The community rallied behind the organization and offered their help also. Then when anyone approached a church with a need for food, they were referred to the food pantry, which was named, “Helping Hands.”

This reminds me of something Jesus did. In the Bible, in the Gospel of John, chapter 6, Jesus is confronted with what appears to be an overwhelming need. There was a crowd of people who had followed Him, who were hungry, but had no food. Just the men in the crowd numbered 5000, so if their wives and children were present, the total number could have easily been over 15,000!

Well, Jesus simply asked Philip, one of his disciples, to feed the crowd. Philip was overwhelmed! He remarked that it would take more than eight months’ wages just to buy an appetizer for everyone! Andrew checked to see if he could find any food, but all he found was the lunch bag of a small boy. There was no way, humanly speaking, to feed the crowd with that pitifully small meal.

But Jesus wasn’t intimidated. He gave thanks for the meal and began passing out the pieces He broke off. God performed a miracle and provided enough food for the whole crowd, so much in fact that there were leftovers…twelve baskets full of leftovers!

Do you see overwhelming needs around you? I certainly do! Aren’t you glad that Jesus isn’t intimidated by them? I certainly am! Let’s decide today to offer Christ the little we have so that He can bless it, give it away, and minister to thousands!

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast! For more information about our church, visit us online at jaxnaz.org. Thank you for visiting BuildYourFaith.net! Have a great day and let God use what you have to bless others!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 40

This is the devotional for Thursday, June 8, 2006 which is the 40th day of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 40 of Rick Warren’s best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

If you have found this 40 Days of Purpose podcast helpful, we’d love to hear from you, so take a moment and leave your comments. It would be a great encouragement to us.

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 40 – Living With Purpose

Living on purpose is the only way to really live!

“For David … served the purpose of God in his own generation.” Acts 13:36 (NASB)

In the Upper Room, as Jesus was concluding his last day of ministry with his disciples before his crucifixion, he washed their feet as an example and said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:17 (NIV) Once you know what God wants you to do, the blessing comes in actually doing it.

You may wonder, “What about God’s will for my job or marriage or where I’m supposed to live or go to school?” Honestly, these are secondary issues in your life, and there may be multiple possibilities that would all be in God’s will for you. What matters most is that you fulfill God’s eternal purposes regardless of where you live or work or whom you marry. Those decisions should support your purposes. Focus on God’s purposes for your life, not your plans, since that’s what will last forever.

It’s easy to drift away from what matters most and slowly get off course. To prevent this, you should develop a purpose statement for your life and then review it regularly.

Imagine what it is going to be like one day, with all of us standing before the throne of God presenting our lives in deep gratitude and praise to Christ. Together we will say, “Worthy, Oh Master! Yes, our God! Take the glory! the honor! the power! You created it all; It was created because you wanted it!” Revelation 4:11 (Msg)

We will praise him for his plan and live for his purposes forever!

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 4:5 (NIV), “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

Thank you for visiting the FaithBuilders Blog at buildyourfaith.net. This blog is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Subscribe to the FaithBuilders Podcast by clicking on the “Subscribe with iTunes” link in the right-hand column, or copy and paste the Podcast Feed link into your podcast reception program. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church.

Build your faith today and every day by living for God’s purposes!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 39

This is the devotional for Wednesday, June 7, 2006 which is the 39th day of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 39 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 39 – Balancing Your life

Blessed are the balanced; they shall outlast everyone!

“Don’t let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.” 2 Peter 3:17 (CEV)

One of the events in the summer Olympics is the pentathlon. It is composed of five events. The pentathlete’s goal is to succeed in all five areas, not just one or two. Your life is a pentathlon of five purposes, which you must keep in balance. These purposes were practiced by the first Christians in Acts 2, explained by Paul in Ephesians 4, and modeled by Jesus in John 17, but they are summarized in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus.

These two statements sum up God’s five purposes for your life:

1. “Love God with all your heart”: You were planned for God’s pleasure, so your purpose is to love God through worship.

2. “Love your neighbor as yourself”: You were shaped for serving, so your purpose is to show love for others through ministry.

3. “Go and make disciples”: You were made for a mission, so your purpose is to share God’s message through evangelism.

4. “baptize them into …”: You were formed for God’s family, so your purpose is to identify with his church through fellowship.

5. “teach them to do all things …”: You were created to become like Christ, so your purpose is to grow to maturity through discipleship.

A great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will make you a great Christian.

The memory verse for this week is Colossians 4:5 (NIV), “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church.

Build your faith today by choosing to become a world-class Christian!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 34

This is the devotional for Friday, June 2, 2006 which is the 34th day of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 34 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 34 – Thinking Like a Servant

Service starts in your mind!

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV)

Real servants serve God with a mindset of five attitudes:

1 – Servants think more about others than about themselves.

2 – Servants think like stewards, not owners.

3 – Servants think about their work, not what others are doing.

4 – Servants base their identity in Christ.

5 – And servants think of ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation.

Henri Nouwen said, “In order to be of service to others, we have to die to them; that is, we have to give up measuring our meaning and value with the yardstick of others … thus we become free to be compassionate.”

When you base your worth and identity on your relationship to Christ, you are freed from the expectations of others, and that allows you to really serve them best.

Imagine what could happen if just 10 percent of all Christians in the world got serious about their role as real servants. Imagine all the good that could be done. Are you willing to be one of those people?

The memory verse for this week is 1 Peter 4:10 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.”

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church.

Build your faith today by thinking like a servant!

40 Days of Purpose – Day 30

This is the devotional for Monday, May 29, 2006 which is Day 30 of our 40 Days of Purpose. Our devotional today offers a summary of the material in Chapter 30 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 30 – Shaped for Serving God

You were shaped to serve God!

“Your hands shaped me and made me.” Job 10:8 (NIV)

Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry. Not only did God shape you before your birth, he planned every day of your life to support his shaping process. God uses all of it to mold you for your ministry to others and shape you for your service to him. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

God’s custom combination of capabilities is called your SHAPE:

Spiritual Gifts
Heart
Abilities
Personality
Experience

Spiritual gifts are special God-empowered abilities for serving him that are given only to believers. Have you taken time to discover your gifts? An unopened gift is worthless.

Another word for heart is passion. People rarely excel at tasks they don’t enjoy doing or feel passionate about. God wants you to use your natural interests to serve him and others. Figure out what you love to do – what God gave you a heart to do – and then do it for his glory.

The memory verse for this week is “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” 1 Peter 4:10

Thank you for listening to FaithBuilders Podcast at buildyourfaith.net. This podcast is a ministry of Faith Church of the Nazarene in Jacksonville, NC. Visit our website at jaxnaz.org for more information about our church. Build your faith today by serving God from your heart!