Here is the truth about sin, and how God’s grace through saving faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ is given by God, to those who understand and obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…
Romans 5:12… Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (NKJV)
Most people believe sin began in the Garden of Eden, but it didn’t. Sin began when God’s top angel Lucifer, decided to flex his power, and wanted to become equal to God…Isaiah 14:12-14…
Sin, by its very nature, is born into every human being, since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, to the serpent’s (Satan’s) temptations. This natural sin nature is part of everyone’s natural make-up, from the time they are young children, until the time that they pass on from this life.
That 3 year old, who is told NOby their parents, goes right ahead and disobeys their parents at the first chance they get. This rebellion against their parents turns into rebellion against God, as a child grows older. God hates sin, because it is independent rebellion against God; and will devastate the lives of everyone that remains living in sin…in bondage to Satan and the ways of the world…1 John 2:15-16…
The sad truth about sin, is that it blinds the unbeliever…
2 Corinthians 4:4… whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. (NKJV) (More about “the light of the gospel” of our Lord Jesus Christ, later)
Satan is the father of sin (John 8:44), and a master of disguise. The Apostle Paul warns us about false prophets, and Satan himself, in...
2 Corinthians 11:12-14… For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder!For Satan himself transforms himself into anangel of light. (NKJV)
Thank goodness God sent His Son Jesus Christ, born to the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18)…who’s shed blood on the cross at Calvary, will cleanse the sins of those who are first drawn in by God…
John 6:44… No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (NKJV)
Upon understanding and obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the sins of the unbeliever will be replaced with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9…&…2 Corinthians 5:21)…as God’s free gift of grace, through saving faith alone in Jesus Christ, fills the heart, mind, and soul of the new redeemed child of God.
Ephesians 2:8-9… For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJV)
There is nothing an unbeliever can do on their own merit. No amount of good works done in the name of the Lord, can cleanse away sins. All of our own righteousness is absolutely worthless…Isaiah 64:6… Jesus warns those who falsely believe that their good works done in the name of the Lord (like going to church every week), will forgive sins…when Jesus warns those around Him (and us) about this, in.
Matthew 7:21-23… “Not everyonewho says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And thenI will declare to them, ‘Ineverknew you;departfrom Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (NKJV)
Having one’s lifetime of sins forgiven, is pure grace given to the unredeemed sinner by God. God’s grace is given by God to those who seek Jesus Christ to become their personal Lord and Savior, through a personal one on One relationship, that is established between the unredeemed sinner and Jesus Christ.
This is accomplished through saving faith alone in Jesus Christ, through obedience to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, when the sinner realizes they can in no way save themselves, and turns to the Lord to receive God’s grace… (More about obeying the Gospel of Christ later)
So why should you desire to become a redeemed child of God ?? Very simply, to be in-dwelt with the Holy Spirit by God, to be supernaturally empowered to defeat Satan’s temptations, and our own carnal fleshly desires constantly urging us to sin… 1 John 2:15-16…
The Holy Spirit living with-in the “born again” Christian, has been given to them by God to guide and direct EVERY facet of the redeemed child of God’s life… It is the Holy Spirit that helps the Christian grow and mature the fruit of the Spirit, which the Apostle Paul pens, in…
Galatians 5:22-23… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)
Look at this list of attributes the Holy Spirit will empower you with !!
Love, Joy, and Peace, are the most important of these 9 fruit of the Spirit…
How would you like to have a supernatural love that surpasses your mortal knowledge (Ephesians 3:19)… A love empowered by the Holy Spirit that will enable you to love even someone screaming in your face, as Jesus tells us to do, in…Matthew 5:43-44…
And how about having a supernatural joy that enables you to go through life’s most difficult trial, and still be able to find joy… The Apostle James tells us about this joy, in…James 1:2-4…
And wouldn’t you like to have a supernatural peace that will allow you to look upon your own death…knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you will be face to face with Jesus in heaven, the instant you breath your last breath here on earth !! (2 Corinthians 5:8)
This supernatural peace surpasses our mortal understanding, as the Apostle Paul pens, in…
Philippians 4:6-7…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7and the peace of God,whichsurpassesallunderstanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.(NKJV)
All of these God given blessings will be given to you by God, if you understand and obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… How is this done ?? You must pray to God, with what some call “the sinners prayer”, that should go something like this…
“Father I am sorry for my lifetime of sins… I believe with ALL my heart, that Your Son Jesus suffered and died on the cross, shedding His blood to cleanse away all of my sins… I believe that Jesus was buried, and rose again in 3 days… I repent and turn from my sins with godly sorrow and a repentant heart…seeking Jesus Christ to come into my heart to direct my life… Father, hear my plea to receive Your grace… Grant me eternal life with You… Fill me with the Holy Spirit…and I thank You and praise You in Jesus’ most precious name…Amen”
I can only tell you from my own personal experience…that I made this prayer seeking salvation several times, before God graced me with salvation. It’s not the prayer that saves us; it is a changed heart that is regenerated by God Himself… God knows our heart, and He will only grant saving grace to those who seek Jesus with ALL of their heart, mind soul, and strength…
God finally graced me with salvation when I prayed with true godly sorrow and a repentant heart…and I absolutely knew beyond any doubt, that I was just then a redeemed child of God…(Romans 8-16) It is God’s decision, and God’s perfect timing, to grace someone with eternal life with Him in heaven.
Failure to obey the Gospel of Christ before you die will result in eternal separation from God, and you will forever forfeit your place in heaven…
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9…in flaming fire takingvengeance on those who do not know God, and on thosewho do not obeythe gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 These shall be punished witheverlastingdestruction from the presence of the Lordand from the glory of His power, (NKJV)
All Christians who are Walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), should absolutely, positively know for sure, that they are indeed a redeemed child of God. The Apostle Paul tells us this, in…
Romans 8:15-16… For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that wearechildren of God,(NKJV)
There should be no doubts for the Spirit filled Christian about where they will be headed upon their death. No wondering if they are good enough to get into heaven. Because none of us are good enough…
Romans 3:23… forallhave sinned andfall shortof the glory of God, (NKJV)
The power of the Holy Spirit can and will conquer sin, by those who without question, have placed their lives in the hands of the Lord. The Apostle James says this best, when he penned this, in…
James 4:7-8… Thereforesubmitto God. Resist the devil and he willfleefrom you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.(NKJV)
My friends, these blessings of spiritual fruit are totally indescribable, and have to be experienced to be believed !!
For those who have been graced with salvation…we must do our best to remain walking in the Spirit… We see this penned by the Apostle Paul, in…
Galatians 5:16… I say then:Walk in the Spirit, and you shallnotfulfill the lust of the flesh. (NKJV)
We as Christians can only remain filled with the Holy Spirit (as the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:18-20), if we live in obedience to God’s will and God’s ways… Any unconfessed sin will leave us in a state of broken (or at least hindered) fellowship with God…
To become righteous again in God’s eyes (from a practical standpoint, because we are always positionally righteous before God), we must confess our sins before the Lord…repent of them…and turn from them… We see this very clearly, as penned by the Apostle John, in…
1John1:9… Ifweconfessoursins,Heisfaithfulandjustto forgiveus oursins and tocleanseus fromallunrighteousness. (NKJV)
Living for the Lord, with the Holy Spirit in total charge of your life, is a blessing that I pray everyone will come to experience…
Heavenly Father, Your Word is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…Hebrews 4:12-13… I pray Lord, that You would draw to Yourself those that don’t yet know You as their personal Lord and Savior…John 6:44… And that the truth from Your Word through obedience to the Gospel of Your Son Jesus Christ, would set them free from Satan’s chains of bondage to sin and shame…John 8:32… I pray for this fullness of Christ in all of our lives, in Jesus’ most precious name and for His sake…Amen…
Blessings in Christ, bruce r. mills
(Message me here, or send me an e-mail @ firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions)
P.S. For those who still believe they can earn their own way into heaven, listen to John Piper’s audio on… “Can My Good Works Outweigh My Bad?
There’s a quiet revolution going on within the body of Christ; one that’s recovering ancient Christological truths that are setting us free from the powerless, humanistic, and deistic philosophies that have dominated Western theology since the Enlightenment. We’re recovering the truth that following Christ is not transactional but relational, as this video interview brings out so well.
I’ve talked a lot about this transactional-relational distinction here so I won’t belabor the subject, but we’re discovering a very real and unbreakable union in Christ in God. We’re rejecting the dualistic illusion of distance and separation from God and discovering that we have a Good Father who has brought us to Himself in Christ. We don’t we see ourselves as “dirty sinners” anymore; we’re the redeemed sons and daughters of His love. And, as Jesus is, so are we in this world(1 John 4:17). We’re learning how to walk in the reality of Christ’s own life. We’re discovering not just what God did for us on the Cross, or even what He did as us, but what He did to us.
We’re starting to see that we’re the conduit between heaven and earth because we’ve been placed in Christ, and this truth is saving us from a powerless Christianity that’s totally foreign to the testimony of the Bible we profess to believe.
But a critical part of this relation-based recovery is due to our return to the ancient truths of the Trinity. This central doctrine is no longer relegated to the sidelines, or dismissed as inexplicable, but is at the very core of our understanding of God and our identity as sons and daughters in Him, and how we are to live out our faith in this world. It’s how we understand self-giving love.
On that note, I’m posting a lengthy interview by John Crowder with one of my favorite theologians, Dr. C. Baxter Kruger. It is longer than most videos I post but they share so many important things that those of us who’ve been swimming in our Western fishbowl need to understand. I also share this knowing the risk that, to the modern dualistic and deistic mind, some of this may be misunderstood. Parts of it may even sound like universalism (it’s not, which only shows how far removed we are from the ancient faith).
It’s well worth watching (and understanding). Enjoy!
Yesterday I had a lunch meeting with a brother and close friend. We were talking about a mission we are both passionate about: Disaster Response! We live a considerable distance apart, so I chose for us to meet in Russellville, about half way between us. I also chose to ride because…well you need to be a biker to understand.
There are few earthly things that compare to riding in the open air on a bike–the smell of fresh cut grass, the coolness of passing through a hollow (or hollar if you are from the South), in season smell of honeysuckles. But yesterday…well, it was 98 degrees plus and there was the occasional smell of road kill baking in the hot sun…and then the smell of commercial chicken houses. I could have (notice I said “could have”) complained–but I made a choice. I made this choice before I fired her up. I made the choice to enjoy the ride.
And do you know what? I had a blast! Sure, there were some unpleasant aromas wafting about. So what? I wasn’t seeing God’s beautiful creation from the inside of an air-conditioned car. Nope! I was in the middle of God’s beautiful creation–and the wind in my face reminded me that the wind of the Holy Spirit was all around me–and I was getting to breath it all in.
But…you knew there was going to be a “but”…I’m reflecting now on our current culture. One of the way too often seen characteristics of this culture is the ability to WHINE! I can think of a number of people I know who would have experienced that ride yesterday with much disdain. The wafting aroma of road kill and chicken houses…the heat…well at the end of the ride that would have been their closing remarks…and they would have been in misery.
Look, misery is a choice that YOU can make! But…so is Joy! In Luke 7, verses 31 through 35 Jesus described the culture around Him at that moment…and it is an on target description of today’s culture. He said they were like this bunch of kids trying to play. One side wanted to play
“wedding” but the others didn’t join in. They wanted to play “funeral”…so they whined and bickered AT each other.
Living in misery…or…living in joy…it is your choice. It is the choice you make BEFORE anything happens. Before the ride began, I chose joy and it was a joyful thing in me; even with the unpleasant aromas and searing heat. Because of my choice to be joyful, my heart looked for, leaned into, ALL the many reasons I have to be joyful. The unpleasantness of a few things were not able to dispel the joy! Why? Simply because I chose JOY!
Some who read this may think, “Look, it’s not all that simple!” My response comes from something I learned and am continuing to learn from writer and speaker Andy Andrews. It’s not all that complicated, either! I have a choice–to be miserable or to be joyful; it’s a choice to make BEFORE my day begins…and it’s the choice I make throughout the day. (For more on Andy Andrews, visit his website www.andyandrews.com)
You have a choice–at the beginning of each time–in every situation and circumstance–Misery…or…Joy! What’s your choice?
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning,”John 15:26, 27
As great as being saved is, it is not the final objective of God in the lives of believers. God has a plan and objective for each of us as individuals; He also has universal or common objectives for all believers as a body. God desires that none remain lost and that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). While God, as the sovereign of the universe, could certainly just directly cause all to come to Him, He has not chosen that method. The method He has chosen is that all will have the ability to choose Him or reject Him, based on their response to the proclamation of the gospel message.
Here, we see one of the most important ministries of the Holy Spirit under the new covenant. John was inspired by that same Holy Spirit to share this with us, that God sent Himself as the Holy Spirit to testify of the Son and point the way to salvation for the entire world.
How does the Spirit testify of the Son to the whole world? He does that through us, the saved. First, we are indwelt by Him at the moment of our conversion. Second, we are given His strength, power, and enlightenment to perform this task. He gave the disciples their marching orders in the last part of our devotional verse, and that instruction was for us also; is there any better way to show the reality of Jesus in our lives than to tell others about Him?
JUST A THOUGHT: Someday when we get to Heaven, it would be nice to meet many who are there because we said something?
2 Timothy 3:16-17… All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NKJV)
All of us need to be involved in something besides going to work, and sitting home until its time for bed. I can remember the excitement I had as a child of maybe 5 or 6…looking looking forward to my favorite TV show…“It’s Howdy Doody Time”, with Buffalo Bill.
Well, in just the past few months (over 4 years now) of going to our men’s Bible study at my church…I have been hooked on the excitement and the blessings I have been receiving, by spending time fellowshipping with believers from my church; as well as other men that come from all over, to gather together to study God’s Word.
I was speaking to a good friend of mine the other day, who had just gone to the brand new women’s Bible study that our church has just started last week. (Over 4 years now) She was telling me how fantastic it was; and how excited she was about looking forward to this weeks Bible study with the other women from our church. I have the same thoughts about looking forward with excitement to the weekly men’s Bible study I have been attending, to see what nuggets of wisdom God will reveal to me personally by digging into His Word.
My thoughts today, suggest that you find out if your church has an organized Bible study that you can attend. If they don’t…you could suggest that they start one. There is always the option to meet at someone’s house, for a Bible study or small groups meeting. Or check around at your local churches, to find a Bible study open to all people, that will fit into your busy schedule.
Spending time with fellow believers, to dissect what may only be a few verses from the Bible…with other dedicated Christians that have the common goal and appetite to digest “the meat” of God’s Word (Hebrews 5:12-14), will provide not only blessings from above…it will help you grow and mature in spiritual wisdom, as you grow closer to the Lord…James 4:7-8a…
I am reminded of scripture appropriate to today’s writing…
Hebrews 11:6… But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (NKJV)
If you’re looking for a new church…may I suggest a Bible believing and teaching church that is Christ centered, and who preaches the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ on a regular basis. Finding the “Right Church” [See 1.], with “The Right Church Doctrine” [See 2.]…can be one of the most important and fulfilling things a Christian can do. (after salvation, of course) I wrote about both of these, along with “Getting Plugged in” [See 3.], with-in your church, some time ago.
Heavenly Father, I pray these humble words will be used by You, to stimulate the spiritual minds of Your children. I pray Lord…that others will seek to find a Bible study near them…to be blessed as much as I have been blessed by You, for gathering with my fellow brethren in the serious study of Your Word. I pray that this extra Bible study experience would become part of all of Your children’s lives, to help in spiritual growth and a commitment to You…in Jesus’ most precious name and for His sake…Amen…
Blessings in Christ, bruce
Here are links to my past writing for those that are interested…
The psalmist felt his need of divine guidance. He had just been discovering the foolishness of his own heart, and to prevent himself from being constantly led astray by it, he resolved that God’s counsel should be his guide. A sense of our own folly is a great step toward being wise, when it leads us to rely on the wisdom of the Lord. The blind man leans on his friend’s arm and reaches his home in safety, and likewise we should give ourselves up implicitly to divine guidance, without doubting, assured that even though we cannot see, it is always safe to trust the All-seeing God. “You will” is a blessed expression of confidence. He was sure that the Lord would not neglect the necessary task.
Here is a word for you, believer; rest in it. Be sure that God will be your counselor and friend; He will guide you; He will direct all your ways. In His written Word you have this assurance fulfilled in part, for Holy Scripture is His “counsel” to you. We are happy to have God’s Word as our constant guide! What is the sailor without his compass? And what is the Christian without the Bible? This is the unerring chart, the map in which every shoal is described, and all the channels from the quicksands of destruction to the harbor of salvation mapped and marked by one who knows the way.
O God we bless You, that we may trust You to guide us now, and even to the end! After this guidance through life, the psalmist anticipates a divine reception-“and afterward . . . receive me to glory.”What a thought for you, believer! God Himself will receive you in glory-you! Though you are wandering, erring, straying, still He will bring you safe at last to glory! This is your portion; live on it today, and if perplexities should surround you, go in the strength of this text straight to the throne.
Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright (c) 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission. Today’s Bible Reading material is taken from McCheyne Bible reading plan and used by Truth For Life with permission. Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright (c) 2001, Good News Publishers.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
Children learn what they live. Here are the final three of six essentials that parents need to give their children:
A Christian model. If we want our children to love and obey God, the best way to encourage that behavior is to display it ourselves. For children take their cues from their parents. If their parents fight, they’ll fight. If their parents are rude, they’ll be rude. If their parents gossip, they’ll gossip. And if their parents are sarcastic, they’ll be sarcastic. But if the parents are polite, the children will be polite. If the parents submit to one another out of love, the children will be submissive. And if the parents speak well of other people, the children will speak well of others. Which is why the apostle Paul said to the Corinthian Church, “I urge you to imitate me”1 Corinthians 4:16. Yes, so much depends on what your children observe in you. Your demeanor and behavior impacts your children for better or worse. As we often say, “Like father, like son.” Invariably then, if our children lack something, it probably isn’t Scriptural knowledge but Scriptural examples of godly men and women. So instead of telling our children to do as we say we need to call on them to do as we do. For character and conduct are contagious – children will catch what we’ve got.
Mutual respect. “Our job as parents isn’t to force our children into a mold of our own making . . . We need to find out who they are and then respect them for being who God created them to be” John Maxwell. This is the essence of Proverbs 22:6, “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”So try and see the world through your child’s eyes. Recognize how God has designed and equipped your child in a unique and special way. And value your child’s opinions and special abilities. Then lead your child in the direction that he or she should go, based on whom God has made them to be.
Prayer. According to the Barna Report, only 3% of Christian families have family devotions together. Prayer is sadly not a priority on the family agenda. What a tragedy! In not praying with our children, we’re essentially teaching them that we don’t need to depend on God. This omission results in our children being self-reliant rather than God-reliant. It’s therefore not surprising as to why so many children slip away from the faith of their parents. So if prayer isn’t a priority in your home choose to turn matters around. For without fail, if children live with prayer they’ll grow up to be men and women of faith.
He (Jesus)will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:41–46(ESV)
Almost the moment I unpacked my boxes and set up my office in my first urban congregation in Detroit the verse above tormented me. It felt like Jesus was walking up and down the streets of my Detroit neighborhood and reporting what He saw that often I wanted to ignore.
I was called to pastor this church not the community, right? Jesus sees the hurt, the pain, the broken lives, I was safe and secure in my office. I could spend hours crafting that awesome sermon and worship experience for Sunday. But this verse kept haunting me. Adding clarity to this verse. Jesus is informing His followers that your actions are evidence of a life of devotion to him.
Matthew is not preaching works righteousness here. It is a mistake to read the text that people who do good things will punch their ticket to heaven. Quite the opposite, he is telling us that good works of service are evidence of true discipleship and authentic faith. This is the kicker, those who are saved by faith are judged by their works. Our works show how much they will deny ourselves and take up our cross in the service of God and others. This is our starting point today.
What is one of the main challenges of urban ministry? Poverty!
Factors impacting the Urban Poor.
Poverty is a central issue plaguing most cities. For the church to witness in urban areas, it must address the poverty issues in your neighborhood. The difficulty rests in the reality that poverty is complex. Poverty’s issues are various and interrelated. Many experts list sixteen areas of life that must be covered in depth.
Those sixteen areas are:
drug and alcohol addiction,
underemployment and unemployment rates higher than the national average,
financial planning and management,
immigration issues legal and undocumented,
recreation opportunities for children,
healthy stable relationships,
a safe sanctuary to escape crime,
and reliable transportation.
The Solution is Complicated
The problem is widespread, but we can develop a strategy to solve it. To truly make an impact in the life of each individual you must assess each situation to determine what help they need in those sixteen crucial areas of life.
As churches, we can usually meet spiritual needs, but as you can see with all the other factors working against us, how effective is our witness? It may seem like we are just putting our finger in a dam to plug a hole while the dam is leaking is a thousand other places. Drug and other addictions are prevalent in the urban context. People experience the devastating effects of crime on a regular basis in their daily lives. And try as you might to overcome the streets the unemployment rate in the inner city is above the national average.
In part due, poor education systems that fail to provide students with marketable skills and adequate jobs preparation. All of this creates a failed system that lacks sufficient employment opportunities to break the cycle of dependence on government assistance to rescue the next generation. The failed system creates the never-ending cycle where residents cannot produce adequate financial resources to improve their impoverished communities.
That leads to a sort of black market system of bartering in the inner city culture. EBT cards and other resources are used as currency and exchanged for cash, shoes, and other items. That is the system we are forced to operate in to share Christ with a broken and failing system.
How do we fix this?
If the church takes the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 to heart we must address the issues facing our cities face in a holistic way. Community Development is the key.
This development processes by which local partners are identified and mobilized to transform the community into what God intends it to be a place where we clothed the naked, feed the hungry, welcome the immigrant stranger, care for the sick, and visit the prisoner.
According to Bob Lupton, our focus should not be on charity, which he calls betterment, but, on development. “Betterment does for others; development enables others to do for themselves.”
How this plays out in our witness to those in need is that urban churches and ministries are concerned and aware of what is happening in the community. Then the churches take the next step and develop ways with other partners in the community to create solutions to the problems in their community.
I will leave you with these as idea starters. More on this next week. Please share your thought and stay tuned as we go deeper.
Key Elements of Community Development:
Christian Community Development, according to John Perkins, consists of ministries to the poor that:
Begin with felt needs of the people in the community.
Respond to those needs in a holistic way
Are based on clear biblical principles
Develop and utilize leaders from within the community
Encourage relocation – living among the poor
Demand reconciliation – people to God and people to people
Empower the poor through redistribution – all community members
Sharing their skills, talents, education, and resources to help each other
The Gospel Motivation
When our faith moves us action it manifests itself in what Matthew describes in the first half of the opening verse.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 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, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 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 25:34–40 (ESV)
This example is the faith that proves to be a strong witness to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.