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Posts Tagged ‘Rockford Rescue Mission’

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying; 

Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save. (1)

Fanny Crosby wrote this hymn, Rescue The Perishing, following a personal experience at the New York City Bowery Mission.  Even though she was a famous Gospel songwriter, she went to the mission regularly to care for the men living there.

She was blind before she was 6 weeks old.  Her father died when she was 3.  She overcame tremendous difficulty, but never forgot that others lived in hardship.  She dedicated the last 25 years of her life to working in Gospel Rescue Missions.  When she died in 1915, she left money in her will to establish a home for homeless men.

Her music was about Jesus’ love for the poor and mercy for the sinner.  Her life reflected her faith in who Jesus was and how Jesus called us to live.

In contrast to her life …. many churches, pastors, and Christians …. seek to live a victorious life, which they believe can only be found in worldly success and excess.

Joel O’Steen’s book, Your Best Life Now, which unfortunately remains a best seller, preaches a prosperity gospel, which claims that God promises prosperity to Christians. The gospel he preaches is in sharp contrast to the one Fanny Crosby lived and Jesus taught.

Oswald Chambers wrote:

It is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. It is in the sphere of humiliation that our faithfulness is revealed.  God wants us at the drab commonplace pitch. (2)

While the Majesty of God is revealed in the marvels of creation, the Glory of God is revealed at the cross.

Where are you living out your faith?

Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to give up your life!” (3)

Jesus practiced what He preached.

He wishes the same for you and me.

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  1. Refrain of the hymn Rescue The Perishing, by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820–1915. Music by William Doane.
  2. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
  3. John 15:13
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We always know when Jesus is at work because 

He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring. (1)

Yesterday after teaching a class on Living in the Spirit, for the Men’s Recovery program at the Rockford Rescue Mission, I was feeling a bit of smug pride that I had taught so well.

As my students departed one of them came forward saying, “Here’s the way I see it!”  He erased a portion of my scribbled drawings, add a few lines and circles of his own.  By doing so, he illuminated the teaching of scripture in a better way.

Oswald Chambers speaks of the ministry of the unnoticed when he comments on Jesus’ teaching, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” (2)

In the past (and I am certain, into the future), I have prided myself on my ministry to the unnoticed.  In a quiet and humble way, I want others to notice when I am ministering to the unnoticed.

But this is not what Jesus was teaching.  He was teaching something much deeper, richer, more profound.

The poor in spirit are a blessing because they draw attention to God and not to themselves when they minister to others in simple commonplace ways.

Big things draw attention, but it is the little things which change the world.

The servant of Christ is never bigger than the person he serves!

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  1. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
  2. Matthew 5:3.

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Christ didn’t die just to pay the penalty for sin;

He died to transform us. (1)

Monday evening she told me with great enthusiasm about her conversion experience at worship on Sunday morning.  She had been living a wild life, drinking abundantly and sleeping around frequently.  

A friend invited her to church and she went.  During worship she was convicted by the Spirit and came forward, giving her life to Christ.  

She was still buzzing with excitement, joy, and peace as she conveyed her story to me on Monday evening.

Six weeks later on another Monday evening she told me the same story.  Since her first conversion she had fallen away.  But yesterday, she went to worship with her friend and the Spirit convicted her again.  She was grateful to be forgiven of her sins.

Six weeks later, then again, after another 42 days … She told me her good news!

Each time I rejoiced that she had repented, confessed, asked for forgiveness, and received it at the throne of God’s mercy.  

Once grace was received, she’d turn her back to God and returned to her tired and worn out ways of drinking hard and sleeping fast.  

The same friend, the same church, and the same Pastor heard her confession and proclaimed God’s grace to her, just as they should.

“But …”  it seemed that no one ever told her more about the other gift which Jesus held in His hands for her.

Thus she lived, chained in bondage to her addiction and hunger for love.  When the addiction and the hunger caused her too much pain, she’d rebound to Jesus as if He and she held onto a bungee cord.  She held on for dear life, He because he had bound Himself to her with His inseparable love.

She never stayed long enough by His side to hear the rest of the story about how He wanted to free her from her bondage to the flesh.  

Jesus wanted more for her! 

He wanted to transform her so she could break free from her past which so presently consumed her.  

Every time when she ran from His arms of grace she would hear Him say, “I have come that you might have life …”

She was always out of ear shot when He finished the sentence “… and have it abundantly!” (John 10:10)

I pray that she finally stayed long enough, to hear that Jesus had more for her than forgiveness of sins.

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(1) John MacArthur, Truth for Today : A Daily Touch of God’s Grace (Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman, 2001), 128.

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Easter Sermon Notes

Remember What He Said

Scripture: Luke 24:1-8 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, 54-58

To listen to this sermon, click here on April 9 and click on link for sermons

.

I. Don’t you remember what I said ….

A.  Words we have all heard

B.  Luke 24:5-6 – The 2 men/angels to the women at the tomb

Why do you look for the living among the dead?

He is not here!   He has risen!

Remember how He told you …

C.  The women had already forgotten

When reminded by the angel

=> 24:8 Then they remembered His words

D.  Regarding His death and rising

Matt 16:21, Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, and Luke 9:22

Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

E. Regarding His Resurrection

Matthew 22:31-32

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. I am not God of the dead, but of the living.

John 11:24

I am the resurrection and the life.

II. Paul writing to the Corinthian Church

A.  1 Corinthians 15

Reminds us of the reason for the season

What are we celebrating today

Everyday within the church

The resurrection of Jesus

B.  He reminds them to believe in 15:1

The good news that I proclaimed to you, 

which you in turn received, 

in which also you stand, 

And by which you are saved,

C.  ==> theological discourse on the resurrection …

3 sections in 1 Corinthians 15

1. 1-11 – The Truthfulness of the Gospel

2.  12-24 – The Resurrection of the Dead

3.  35-58 – The Resurrection of the Body

D.  Crescendo of chapter 15 is reached in verses 54-57

When he speaks of the victory of the cross

Listen to Paul’s summary about

what the resurrection of Jesus means for us:

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory?  

Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, 

and the power of sin is the law. 

But thanks be to God, 

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

E.  The resurrection of Jesus represents the two victories of the cross

Over two powers/realities which deeply affect our daily lives

1.  Over the power of sin to cause our spiritual death

2.  Over the power of physical death to end our life

III. The Resurrection gives us victory over Sin

A.  Sin has incredible power over us

In Romans Paul tells us about the realities of sin

Romans 3:23 – All sin and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 – The wages of sin is death

B.  While we like to argue about what sin does to us,

We all know deep within our souls

What sin does to us, to our relationships, to our lives

And to our relationship with God

C.  Sin destroys life,

it weighs down life,

it takes life away,

it kills life

D.  While we may bravo in our sin when committing it

We regret our sin when is shatters our life

E.  Examples of sin destroying life

1.  Zacchaeus – the tax collector

Cheated and greedy, loathed by the people

Found forgiveness and restoration in Jesus

2.  Former Illinois Governor – Rod Blagojevich

Now serving 14 years for corruption as governor

Affect on his 2 daughters

I will guarantee you sin is weighing him down

3.  The Woman caught in adultery

Leaders wanted to stone her to death

Have you ever been in room

When spouse reveals/confesses adultery to spouse and family

Looks could kill – pain, anger, grief

Weeping of regret for sin … Weighs down heavy

4.  Even unintended sins ==> deep regret

Elderly priest – Good Friday – ran over 5 parishioners,

killed one, imagine the weight on him

9 year old playing with gun kills his twin –

Imagine the weight on his shoulders

and father who left gun loaded and available

F.  Anyone who says sin is

without consequence without victims is deceived

G.  Every sinner prays for a do-over

All of us in this room have done something we regret

It hurts … It pains … It weighs us down

H.  The wages of sin is death

But because Jesus died for us

Took on the death of our sins

And because he rose from the dead

The death of our sins has been removed

==> why Paul proclaims

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory?  

Where, O death, is your sting?….

But thanks be to God, 

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I.  At Easter … because of Jesus’ death resurrection

We celebrate the forgiveness of our sins

The removal of the wages of sin from us

J.  This news, this fact, causes many in the church

to move from lamenting

to singing and rejoicing

Examples:

1. African-american spirituals:

2. The American spiritual

3.  Those whose lives have been broken by sin

shame us in our ho-humness of Easter Hallelujahs

Friday at Rockford Rescue Mission

Weeping, wailing, dancing, shouting

Genuine joy … lives saved by God’s grace

K.  If it weren’t for Easter … The resurrection

We couldn’t sing these songs

IV.  Resurrection gives us victory over death at the end of this life

A.  As believers and by God’s grace

We share in Jesus’ resurrection

John 11:25-26

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

B.  I have spent much of my ministry with people as they deal with death

C.  Death not only ==> grief and sadness

it also ==> anxiety, worry, fear in all of us

What comes after death?

Is death the end?

Is this all there is to life?

D.  Jewish faith places emphasis on remembering

Because no belief in an after-life

Jesus teaching about resurrection, an after life

was something people had never heard

People do not simply live on in the memories of others

there is life after our physical, earthly death

E.  Easter – Jesus’ resurrection

Is more than Jesus telling us

It is Jesus proving for us that

There is more to life on earth

than death at the end of the day

F.  Paul said in Philippians 1:21

For me to die is gain, for me to live is lost

G.  Jesus’ resurrection becomes

The resurrection of our bodies after death

The gift of life eternal

The communion of the saints

H.  Life in and of itself is hard

For most people in most cultures

Negro spirituals sung while toiling in the fields as slaves

Joyously sing of resurrection and better heavenly world

Three most moving ones are:

The Gospel train’s comin’ 

Swing low, sweet chariot

Soon and very soon.

V.  These two victories of the cross

A.  The forgiveness of sins

The resurrection of the body

Are not victories everyone will celebrate

B.  Do not be fooled by sentimentality that says

the forgiveness of sins

the resurrection of the body

is for anyone

We love to say …

Pastor, you know 

the friendly neighbor, the nice lady down the street

their spouse, the caring coach, my good muslim neighbor

they’ll be heaven!  

Won’t they?

C.  We may wish it, but scripture teaches differently

Scripture teaches – Only for those who believe in JC

will share in the victories won by Jesus in His resurrection

D.  These victories are for those who believe

In Jesus as God’s Son, as Lord and Savior.

As the two angels at the tomb said to the two women:

Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee:

This is what Jesus said:

Mark 16:16

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned

John 3:16-18

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  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. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Jesus to Martha in John 11:25-26

Reveals the importance of belief

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. 

Do you believe this?” 

John wrote his gospel so we might believe and be saved

John 1:6-7  => belief

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.

John 20:30-31

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

VI.  The Easter Invitation

A.  Easter is a celebration

For believers and followers

B.  Not only is Easter a time for celebration

But it is a time for commitment

for recommitment

C.  Perhaps

You have taken the Lord for granted

Jesus died for me but I am going to do what I want

You have fallen away

Placed distance between you and Jesus

You know you have not been a faithful follower

D.  Now, today is the time

To commit yourself to the Lord

To accept Him as Savior and Lord

To recommit yourself to follow him

If you have not professed your faith in Jesus

as God’s Son, as your Lord and Savior …

If you have not repented and confessed your sins

asking for God’s forgiveness through Jesus …

Do so now, today

so that Jesus’ resurrection, His victories

Over the power of sin to cause your spiritual death

Over the power of physical death to end your life

will be yours

Do so now,

so that Jesus’ resurrection and forgiveness

will be your resurrection and forgiveness

Paul put it this way:

This is the good news that I proclaimed to you, 

which you in turn received, 

in which also you stand, 

And by which you are saved

That Christ died for our sins 

That Jesus was buried

That he was raised on the third day 

Just as He said,

in accordance with the Scriptures.

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The Bride of Christ isn’t a very good mother!” (1)

This is one of those accusations that gets my attention and causes my hair to stand up on my neck.  The charge is clear, “The Church does not take care of her own!”

It is bad enough when the church does not take care of anyone in need, but to ignore her own is an abomination.

Too frequently the church, Christ’s bride, is guilty of withholding a helping hand.  

A story remains impressed upon my heart.

One day after class when I was teaching in a Men’s Recovery Program at a local mission a student asked if he could talk with me briefly after class.  I had been teaching for 6 weeks wondering if anyone was listening to my lectures about Jesus and being faithful.  

After everyone left, he closed the classroom door and told me about a burden on his heart. 

One of the other men in the program who had overcome his addiction and committed his life to Christ had a problem.  The roof of his house was leaking and winter was coming.  A contractor had agreed to provide free labor if someone else would provide shingles.  They needed $3200 to purchase the shingles.  He wanted to know if the church I served would help.

When I told him I would ask the church board if they would help with the expense, this middle aged gentleman began to cry. 

I quickly clarified that I would ask the board, but that did not mean they would agree to help.  He shook his head acknowledging what I said as tears continued to roll down his cheeks.

He then explained, ”Your willingness to ask has saved my faith in God!”  

He went on to explain that the previous two Sundays, after the men in the recovery program had sung and testified to their faith in Christ at the two largest and wealthiest churches in town, he had approached the Pastors of those churches for help.  Both Pastors told him, “We do not do things like that.  It’s too much money for us!” Without another word they both turned and walked away from him.

Their responses crushed his heart and weakened his young faith.

He was grateful I was willing to ask the church I serve to help.  “This was all I needed to know, that a minister cared enough to ask.  I know it’s a lot of money.  I am not expecting you to provide all we need, anything will help!”

I was thankful when the board of the church I serve said “YES!”  Two weeks later, immediately prior to the first snow, the roof of his friend’s house was replaced.

How would Jesus answer you, if you asked Him this question?

“Lord, when did I see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” (2)

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  1. Jim L. Wilson, Fresh Start Devotionals (Fresno, CA: Willow City Press, 2009).
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Matthew 25:44.

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I am still confident of this: 

I will see the goodness of the Lord 

in the land of the living.

Psalm 27:13

Each morning I compose a schedule for the day, putting things in order in their proper time and place.  Each evening I go to bed exasperated that my day did not go as planned.

I am an agenda-maker. I know it’s a control issue.

I am willing to give my whole life to God, except for my schedule.  I continually ask God to tell me what he has planned for my day before I get out of the shower.  I will make sure His plans get on my schedule.

God wants my schedule.  I refuse to give it to Him because I want to insure that all gets done decently and in order.  It keeps God’s surprises from tripping me up and driving me nuts because His ways are not my ways (see Isaiah 55:8)

Sarah Young reminds me:

“You worship a living Deity, not some idolatrous, man-made image. Your relationship with Him is meant to be vibrant and challenging, as He invades more and more areas of your life.  It is easy to make an idol of routine, finding security within the boundaries you build around your life.” (1)

Yes, I am guilty.  I want to set and establish the boundaries of my life.

Please do not misunderstand me, I will give God free reign in my life, as long as He stays in my boundaries.

God knows better.  In fact, many of my greatest joys have come into my life because God laughed at the arrogance of my desire to control Him.

If I had my way, I would not have met my wife, discovered the joy of hospice ministry, saved a man’s life, nor been blessed by serving at the Rockford Rescue Mission.

All of these gifts came after I fervently told God, “I do not plan to go there!”

Every morning God must laugh when He sees my schedule for Him for the day.

Richard Blackaby writes:

God is not interested in receiving secondhand glory from our activity. God receives glory from His activity through our lives. (2)

I prefer making and keeping my own plans.  God finds them to be stale, self-centered, and, if left alone, to be the death of me.  He wants me to enjoy the fresh, God-centered, life he has planned for me.

There once was an old woman who had planned her life around 7 husbands.  One day when once-again thirsty, she went to draw from the stagnant well of her schemes, when Jesus came to her.

Jesus made her a better offer:

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  (John 4:13-14)

When will I ever learn the water in His well will always be better than the water in mine.

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  1. Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling (p. 51). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  2. Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (p. 49). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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