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Monday, April 3, 2017

Let's Go!! DAY 10 - PICK ME!!

Then I heard the Lord’s voice, saying, “Whom can I send?
Who will go for Us?” So I said, “Here I am. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8 (NCV)

Ever feel inadequate? Like you just don’t quite measure up to everyone else? You see others going out and advancing God’s kingdom, but you don’t think you’ve got what it takes for Him to use you. Mother Teresa? Billy Graham? Sure. You? Not so much.
Isaiah could certainly relate. When Uzziah, the king of Israel, died, his world was suddenly thrown into a tailspin. Isaiah had grown up around the king’s court, so the news of Uzziah’s death left him feeling lost, confused, uncertain and hopeless. But at this low point in Isaiah’s life, God appeared to him.
Isaiah writes, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted.” It’s an awe-inspiring scene—God sitting on His throne while heavenly creatures of fire fly all around Him crying out: “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory.”
Face to face with a holy God, Isaiah is overcome with a tremendous sense of his own inadequacy and unworthiness. He cries out: “Oh, no! I will be destroyed. I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure.”
Isaiah’s response is perfectly understandable. It’s all too easy to feel like we don’t measure up when we compare ourselves to those around us—how much more so when standing in front of God! It may be because of our sins, our mistakes or the circumstances of our past. However, the reality is, before God, we are all in the same boat. Before Him, all comparisons are meaningless.
But watch what happens to Isaiah next: God sends an angel to pick up a live burning coal that was so hot the Bible says the angel had to use tongs just to pick it up! The angel brings the coal over to Isaiah and places it on his lips, declaring: “Look, your guilt is taken away, because this hot coal has touched your lips. Your sin is taken away.” Immediately, while he’s still standing there processing all of this, Isaiah hears God ask a question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”
When you were a little kid in school, how did you react when the teacher looked around the classroom and said, “I have a special errand that needs to get done today, and I’m looking for someone I can trust to deliver the message for me”? Did you slink back into your seat and hope you weren’t noticed? Or did your hand shoot straight up in the air with barely contained excitement? “Pick me! Pick me!”
That’s exactly how Isaiah responds. When he hears the Lord asking: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”, he doesn’t look around to see if anyone else will volunteer first. He doesn’t say, “I’m not qualified.” He doesn’t even ask where he’s going. Without hesitation, he jumps up and cries: “Here I am! Send me!”
Why does Isaiah’s attitude change? What causes him to change from declaring, “I am impure!” to saying, “Here I am! Send me!”?
It’s simple. He is cleansed by the fire of God. In God’s eyes, he is declared clean. All of his doubts about himself and fears about the future vanish in light of God’s cleansing, redeeming work in his life.
After Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples found themselves in a situation similar to Isaiah’s. Before leaving, Jesus told them: “You will be My witnesses—in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.” But now, Jesus—their Master, the one who had spoken those words—was gone. Their future was uncertain. Timid, fearful and not knowing what to do, 120 men and women isolated themselves in the Upper Room and bolted the door shut.
Ten days later, however, everything changed. Those 120 men and women came out of the Upper Room filled with courage and boldly went out into the streets of Jerusalem proclaiming the message of Jesus to everyone they met.
Why? What changed?
It’s simple. The fire of God had fallen upon them, and they were filled with His Holy Spirit. All their fears, doubts, weaknesses and insecurities suddenly became meaningless in light of God’s all-sufficient power in their lives. And God used those 120 men and women to ignite a fire that continues to blaze today.
Don’t let your past and present mistakes or circumstances hold you back and keep you from answering God’s call. It’s not about you and your abilities, strengths or qualifications; it’s about Him. He has redeemed you. In His eyes, you are clean. And what God has called clean, no one—not even you—can call unclean.

God is asking today, “Whom shall I send? Who will go?” Will you answer and say, “Here I am! Send me!”?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A CHURCH THAT NEVER SLEEPS - DAY 10

Matthew 16:16-19 "Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in Heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven."
As the son of a pastor, Matthew Barnett grew up in and around church. When he was 16 years old, Matthew was sitting on the hood of his car and God gave him a vision of one day going to inner-city Los Angeles and starting a church that would be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year—a church that never sleeps. That sparked a burning desire in Matthew to bring a message of hope to the hopeless by serving both the physical and spiritual needs of those who lived in the inner city, but he figured it probably wouldn’t happen until he was at least 40 years old. Little did he know just how quickly God would move.
Just four years later, his father came to him and asked if he’d be interested in going to L.A. for a year to pastor a small church in the inner city. His dad had tried asking 10 other pastors, but they had all turned down the opportunity. It wasn’t an ideal situation—the church only had 18 people and was meeting in a tiny building far off the beaten path—but Matthew eagerly accepted the position.
Having grown up in Phoenix, Matthew’s first encounter with inner-city L.A. was a total culture shock. The first thing he noticed was that he was the only white kid in the neighborhood. But as he began to really look around, the people immediately captured his heart. He saw kids who didn’t have anything or anyone—no fathers, no mentors, no hope. They spent all their time on the streets because there was nowhere else for them to go. God spoke to him in that moment and told him, “If you reach the people that nobody wants, then I’ll send you the people that everybody wants.
With all the gangs, violence and brokenness surrounding them, Matthew and his dad decided the first thing they needed to do before the church could grow was to get busy helping the people rebuild their lives. They began reaching out to the community by providing food and clothing. They also bought 16 old houses in the neighborhood and turned them into recovery homes. Within one year, they were reaching almost 500 people each week. Their little church building couldn’t accommodate that many people, so they needed to find a larger facility right away.
One day as Matthew was driving down the freeway, he saw the old Queen of Angels Hospital. It had been vacant for over six years and was now for sale. The entire campus covered 360,000 square feet with a total of nine buildings and over 1,000 rooms. Located on 8.8 acres directly in the heart of L.A., the property was prime real estate. The Franciscan Sisters who used to run the hospital had already received numerous offers from people interested in purchasing it including Paramount Studios who wanted to use it as a location to shoot movies. Matthew and his dad sat down with the Franciscan Sisters and told them, “Look, we don’t have a whole lot of money, but we have a dream. And that dream is to have a 24-hour church that will be a place of refuge and rehabilitation for runaways, prostitutes, street kids, homeless people and drug addicts. When the sisters heard this, they got really excited and said, “Now that’s the kind of legacy we want to leave behind! Why don’t you go ahead and make us an offer?” So Matthew offered them 3.9 million dollars, and they accepted his offer even though they had another offer on the table for 16 million dollars.
They only had 18 months to raise the 3.9 million dollars. Although they didn’t have any money in the bank, they believed in their hearts that God had opened the door to purchase the hospital and He would be faithful to provide the finances. Sure enough, donations began pouring in from churches and individuals located all across the United States, and soon the Dream Center opened its doors.
In the first four years of the Dream Center’s existence, prostitution and gang violence in inner-city L.A. dropped 73%, the homicide rate dropped 28% and rape dropped 53%. Today, the Dream Center reaches more than 35,000 people each week through 40 weekly services and 273 ministries and outreaches. There are about 600 people actually living on the campus who have been rescued off the streets from prostitution and homelessness, and half of those are currently going through drug and alcohol rehab. What began as a God-given dream in a young 16-year-old boy’s heart has grown into a truly miraculous reality. The Dream Center is a church that’s reaching thousands of hurting people and offering them hope … 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It’s a church that never sleeps.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus asked His disciples one of the most pivotal questions in history: “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered Him saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” Not too long after Jesus made that declaration, the church was born on the Day of Pentecost.
The church is not a building. We are the church. We are called to be the living and dynamic Body of Christ to a world lost and dying in darkness. We are Christ’s hands and feet in the world. He lives in us and acts through us. Jesus’ work on earth didn’t end when He ascended into heaven. It continues today in the lives of those who believe in Him, those whom He has entrusted and empowered. And the best way to demonstrate His presence in a broken world is through our deeds rather than our words. Jesus said that the world would know us by our love for one another. The only hope for us to win people to Him is by going outside the four walls of our church buildings, living out His love and being a church that shines light in the night—a church that never sleeps.

Gateway Church "Let's Go" Devotional PDF

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Let's Go! Day 9

God’s People

Day: 

9

“Then the good people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty 
and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our house? 
When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison 
and care for you?’ 
Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did 
for me.’” Matthew 25:37–40 (NCV)
Ron Hall grew up in Haltom City, just outside of Fort Worth, Texas. After serving a brief two-year stint in the army, marrying his college sweetheart Deborah and earning his MBA, Ron went on to become a wealthy international art dealer who traveled the world buying and selling million dollar Picassos and Van Goghs. Ron and Deborah were living the American Dream. One day Deborah spied an article in the newspaper about homelessness and it mentioned the Union Gospel Mission, a place in Fort Worth that ministers to homeless men, women and children. As Deborah read about the mission, she immediately knew God was calling her to get involved.
Deborah, dragging her husband, Ron, along with her, set out to volunteer at the mission by serving dinner to the homeless for about three to four hours every Tuesday night. Driving home after their first visit to the mission, Deborah told Ron that although society tended to look at those who were homeless as victims of their own foolishness and laziness, she felt like there was so much more to them below the surface just waiting to be discovered. That night, she dreamt about the mission, and in her dream she saw the face of a wise man from the mission who would change the city. The dream reminded her of a verse she had once read in Ecclesiastes 9:15 that said: “Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom.” When she told Ron about the dream, he didn’t question it; Deborah was one of the godliest people he knew. She was constantly spending time with the Lord in prayer and seeking His will for her life.
For the next two weeks, Deborah and her husband volunteered on Tuesday nights at the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth. With a perpetual smile on her face, everyone could tell that she truly enjoyed serving at the mission. When she looked at the faces of the people she was serving, Deborah didn’t see their homelessness; she only saw Jesus. She made an effort to get to know each person, calling them by their first name, and always insisted on referring to everyone who came to the mission as “God’s people.”
On their third Tuesday serving at the mission, a huge, 60-something-year-old black man dressed in rags came storming in yelling and threatening to kill whoever had stolen his shoes. Deborah leaned over to Ron and whispered, “That’s him! That’s the man I saw in my dream … the one who changes the city.” Ron looked at her in disbelief as she went on to say, “And I really think God’s telling me that you need reach out to him.”
After asking around, the Halls discovered the man’s name was Denver and that he came to the mission every Tuesday. Each time Deborah served him, she would look him in the eye and say, “Denver, God has a calling on your life.” When Denver warned her not to mess with him because he was a mean man, Deborah replied, “You are not a mean man, and I don’t ever want to hear you say that!” Wanting to be left alone, Denver started to avoid her. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t seem to get Deborah to stop talking to him.
After a few months of volunteering, Deborah began wanting to do more than just feed the homeless. She wanted to see lives changed and broken hearts healed. Racking her brain to figure out how she could bring some joy into these people’s lives, she decided to have a Beauty Shop Night where she and some other volunteers could pamper the homeless women with manicures, pedicures, facials and makeovers. That led to movie nights and then birthday nights. All the while, Denver was watching the Halls’ actions. And over time, he came to the conclusion that they were a genuinely nice couple who was serious about helping people.
At Deborah’s urging, Ron invited Denver out for breakfast, and to his surprise, Denver accepted. As the two men ate breakfast, Denver came out and bluntly asked Ron, “What do you want from me?” Ron was taken aback for a second, but then deciding to be equally forthright, he answered: “I just want to be your friend.” Denver was silent for a moment, but then he finally said, “Let me think about it.”
It wasn’t immediate, but eventually a true, lasting friendship began to blossom between Ron, Deborah and Denver. They started to hang out and spend time together. The Halls even helped Denver get his driver’s license. Moving in both mysterious and miraculous ways, God used the friendship between Denver and the Halls to draw each of them closer to Him and to work in and through their lives to reach countless others. Because of their story and a series of God-ordained circumstances, over five hundred thousand dollars were raised for a new mission facility called “New Beginnings,” and Deborah’s dream of how God would use a man from the mission to change the city was fulfilled.
The Bible is clear that whenever we go beyond the scope of our selfish nature and reach out to those in need, Jesus considers our actions as if we are doing it for Him. Deborah Hall truly grasped this concept, and although he was a little reluctant at first, her husband Ron did too. They stepped out of their comfort zones to go reach out to individuals the world had given up on—the hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick and lonely … those whom Jesus referred to as “the least of these.” They allowed their hearts to be broken by the needs around them, and they chose to view each person they encountered as a child of God.
Will you ask God to help you see those around you with His eyes?