jassmineGod is Patient

II Peter 3:9

Central Theme: God is patient with everyone.

Introduction– I had purchased a new jasmine vine that that I brought to show. My other vine was killed in a hurricane.  It took me a long time to replace it because I was really sad that the other one  died.  It had grown so large that it was a shelter for my back yard. Do you think a man of God should be more concerned about a dead plant than he is a city like Vero Beach  or Melbourne, Florida?  (Insert your city.)

I. Have a member read II Peter 3:9

  1. Tell the story of Jonah.
  2. Show a dead plant.
  3. Jonah wanted God to kill all the people in the city on Ninavah. But he was so angry he wanted to die rather than live because his vine had died.   (Jonah 4)

II. God is patient with everyone.

  1. He does not want anyone to have an unhappy life or die without Him.
  2.           A. There was a time that I got angry with some people who were gossiping about me.  There were actually times I wanted them to die.
  3.           B. God helped me to love them because He loves them.
  4. This is how God will help me to be patient with people, especially people who are being hateful to me.

A. God helps me remember that God loves that person as much as he loves me.
B.  God  helps me find out good things about that person.
C. God  helps me think good thoughts about the person when he or she is not with me.  I find that we usually like people when we are with them.  But we will think bad thoughts when there are not with us.

a. Many times when they are not with us, we think about what the people did or said.  Then we get angry.

Conclusion–God is patient and he can help me to be patient with other people.

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Bible studyIn studying the life of Jesus, it is impossible to ignore miracles.  This quarter as we delve into the ministry of Jesus, the members of Special Gathering–a ministry within the intellectually disabled community– have asked lots of questions.  Their questions have led me to think again about miracles and how God uses them in the lives of the believer.

From my study of the Scripture, I found that miracles an interesting phenomena.  There are many misconceptions regarding miracles.  Here are a few of them.

Miracles are not magic.  Magic is not a miracle.  A miracle is when God breaks his own laws for a purpose.  Magic is an illusion or trick used to make it seem as though God’s laws have been broken.

Miracles happen instantaneously. 

A miracle is not healing.  Healings happen over a period of time.  Often people pray for healings, expecting a miracle and without understanding there is a difference.  If a healing happens instantly, then it is a miracle.  A healing may take a matter of minutes, hours or years.  Healing is a process.  Miracles are instantaneous activity from the hand of God.  This may seem like a matter of somatic.  However, it has caused a lot of people to doubt their healing because it did not happen instantly.

sunsetMost miracles involve inanimate objects. Even thought, miracles may happen within our bodies or outside our bodies.  On that rainy day when the car in front of me slammed on its brakes, I knew that there was no way our car could miss the stopping automobile.  I called out, “Jesus, help us” and slammed on my brakes.  Our car stopped instantaneously which is impossible.  My teenage son asked in wonder, “Mom, did you see what just happened?”  It was a miracle.

People don’t perform miracles.  God is the miracle-worker, not humans.  We may speak the word but the work is done by our Heavenly Father.

Miracles demonstrate God’s power and glory, not the faith of the individual. While the individual may have faith for a miracle, there is never a guarantee that God will perform a miracle.  The Lord has knowledge and understanding that is beyond our depth.  God may know that this supernatural act would harm the person and withhold the miracle.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list.  Yet, these are things which too often cause problems within the church regarding the miracle-working power of the Lord.

courage

Who are the helpers at church?

When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it (Gal 6:10)

In 2006, the entire nation was glued to our TV’s because two boys had been found in Missouri. Ben had been missing for four days and Shawn had been missing for 4 ½ years.  The two boys were kidnapped by a man and the police found them. Everyone is saying that a young teenager named Mitchell is the key to what happened because he was willing to help his friend in identifying a truck. We are all to be helpers for others. Have a member read, Galatians 6:10.

widowsI.  The Bible records the story of the first men who were chosen to be helpers in the church (Acts 6:1-7).

  1. The church would come together, bring their food and eat their meals together. The Jewish men were helping their older family members who were women to have food.
  2. The non-Jewish women did not have a family member to help them so they were not getting food.
  3. They complained and the Apostles decided they could not wait on the table; but they would choose men who could help these women get the food they needed.

II.  This was a severe need.  The Greek women were not being fed.  We all have concerns and problems.  God gave them men who would help the women who were not being given food to eat.

III.  What we must  understand is that God wants us to win every battle and to have the victory every time and in every way.

  1. God gives victory to his children because he loves us.
  2. Last week we had a funeral for my brother-in-law.  It was sad but wonderful because we were able to spend time together and be with the family that does not know Jesus as their Savior and we saw the young people ministering to each other.
  3. Have you ever been involved with a problem and seen God turn that problem around for your good.
  4. I have a person in my life that has tried to hurt me and my family. This person has only made us stronger people.

IV.  I had a person one time who wanted to really hurt me and for a while it seemed to work and then in my hurt, I found SpG and God gave me all you folks to love me and for me to love.

Conclusion: God doesn’t fight fair when it comes to his children. There will be people who will try to hurt you; but they cannot because God is on your side and he always gives us victory

jesus movementRecently, I’ve heard a great deal about the things the Holy Spirit was doing in the 1960′s and 1970′s.  It is interesting to me because those were days through which we lived.  There were times that it seemed that the Lord was tangible enough to reach out and touch.  Even though I was very young–bearly out of my teenage years–I had been a Christian long enough to realize that this kind of mysterious, glorious revelation would not last forever.

It is part of the curse that we live under.  We leak.  There are some things that we need to understand when we are faced with our leaky humanity.  Here are a few that I’ve learned over the years

leaking bucket

  1. Though we leak, God has not moved away from us.
  2. Neither has He removed His love and compassion.
  3. Miracles don’t grow faith.
  4. Day-to-day living grows faith.
  5. Living out the Word of God when you feel nothing makes our faith strong and resilient.
  6. Leaking isn’t a sin.
  7. Leaking is simply a reality and part of our Adamic nature.
  8. Leaking doesn’t mean that we love God less than we did when there was almost a tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.
  9. Abundant faith and abundant faithfulness are different.
  10. Adundant faith is a gift from God.
  11. Abundant faithfulness is our gift to God.

A wonderful Christian Mentor–my mother–often quietly mused, “Will the Lord find a faithful people when He returns?”  It seems like a simple question; but she repeated it so often that I came to understand that Mother was expressing the plaintive cry of God’s heart.  Ministering within the mentally challenged community for many years has helped me to see the fruit of a faithful people.  Most of my members will never write a book, sonnet or poem.  About half of them cannot read.  Some cannot talk.  But they are faithful.  I’ve had several members who did not miss a week in 20 years.

Mighty deeds and amazing miracles are wonderful.  They attract crowds and bring great joy into our lives.  But I’ve become more and more convinced that God is looking for a faithful people who will love Him no matter what the circumstances, delights, hardship, joy or trials.

Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/simplelife/2014/02/when-we-leak.html#ixzz2tvJZA8JO

insecureOne of the most important things a person can provide for any person and especially for a man or woman who is developmentally disabled is a safe harbor–a place where they can securely share their thoughts, feelings and emotions.  Because of their intellectual development, many people within the mentally challenged community are also stunted in expressing their deep emotions.

There are only a few vehicles wherein this population would be expected or allowed to share their genuine thoughts.  All of us are heavily invested in teaching this population Scriptural principles.  Nonetheless, unless the precepts become practical applications in their lives, they will never learn them effectively.

Therefore, it is vital to give our members the space wherein they are allowed to share their thoughts.  How we do this is not easy.  Though the answers regarding a “how to” may seem simplistic.

  1. wrting on a boardYou must asked targeted and pointed questions.
  2. You must allow the members to share without interruption.
  3. You must allow the members time to answer.  When a question is asked, the leader of the group will often wait a few seconds and then answer the question themselves.  Waiting is hard but it reaps great dividends.
  4. You must be sure that the answer to your questions are not to complicated or a vehicle to showcase how smart the examiner is. In other words, don’t ask trick questions.
  5. You must give the members many successes with their answers.  If a person gives a totally off-the-rail answer, rephrase either your question or his/her answer until you find the answer with which he or she agrees.
  6. When asking an opinion question, be sure that every answer is given validity.  No opinion is incorrect.  An opinion is owned by the responder–not the asker.
  7. Give the answers extra validity by writing the answers down on a board of some type.
  8. It is most important that the answering party knows without a doubt that the questioner loves him or her.  It takes time and a great deal of patience to truly show that you love your members.

It takes extremely secure people to be able to express their opinions, thoughts and emotions.  We must understand that most people within the disability community are not secure.  Many of them know the full range of their deficiencies better than anyone else.  They must be given a safe harbor to insure that they are able to receive the healing that the Holy Spirit wants to give through your ministry.

tonyMy friend, Tony Piantine of Camp Daniel in Wisconsin, wrote on his Facebook wall, “It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.”  That is a quote from Edward DeBono.  Not sure who Ed DeBono is but he must be important.

(You see, Piantine writes lofty things on his Facebook wall.  He doesn’t know that Facebook is for more important stuff, such as, “I just finished a whole bag of potato chips.  I don’t even feel fat yet.  Searching the cabinet for another bag.”  Or,  “I haven’t brushed my teeth in four days.  Hope you read this because no one has come close to me in 48 hours.”)

In her later years, my mother–who was important in my life–often instructed me, “It’s amazing.  When I was actively doing ministry, there was always someone angry with me.  Now that I’m doing nothing, everyone loves me.” Then she would say with a whimzical smile.  ”If you are busy doing work for the Lord, you are bound to do something that someone doesn’t like.  If you do nothing, no one has a complaint.”

Working with Special Gathering, I’ve also found Mother’s advice to be true.  We are a ministry within the mentally challenged community.  Our mission is evangelism and discipleship.  That is what we do and that is all we do.

dont do itInteresting, there are people who don’t like us because of what we do.  These are usually wonderful people who deeply believe in a more  inclusive ministry for this sub-culture.  We applaud the work they are doing.  However, we also strongly believe that a specialized, community-based ministry is better able to reach the population with the dynamic, life-changing gospel.

There are equally adament folks who don’t like us because of what we do not do.  Often, these are people who believe that we should be more aggressive in our approach.  There are several areas, including funding and social work, that seem to get caught in their cross-hairs.  Several years ago, I sat in a meeting with a pychiatrist, well-known in our area.  I was surprised at how angry he became with our stand against taking federal funding.  “You are just lazy,” he concluded.  “There is money out there.  You simply need to access it for your ministry.”  After I questioned him about compromise, he said, “Of course, you’ll have to do a bit of compromising but the extra funding is worth it.  And you can find ways to work around the restrictions.”

We left the meeting without his agreeing with our principle.  In addition, he hadn’t convinced me that working around restrictions and additional funding was worth the compromise.  However, that is okay.  He had found ways with which he was enthusiastic in helping a children’s home obtain federal and state funding.  He only wanted us to tap into this supply of cash.  He was genuinely concerned and he sincerely felt we were wrong.

Other people believe that we are too aggressive in our advocacy for the population.  Our exec, Richard Stimson, loves to tell about a time that he argued before a day program staff in the same week.  He was representing two different people.  They wanted to different things in regard to the same issue.  Stimson first argued for the issue.  Later in the week, he argued again the same issue.

One of the staff members came out of the meeting and confronted Stimson.  “How can you argue for and against the same issue?”

Stimson smiled, “Because each consumer wanted something different.  I try to obtain what they need and want, not what I need or want.”

Without compromising our basic principles, we will argue for or against an issue, depending on what the people we represent desire.  This doesn’t always make the professional community happy with us.

We aren’t saying that our critics are right or wrong.  We are just different.   We value our supporting churches and the way we must depend on them for our existance.  And we desire to keep their contributions valuable to us.

What are some of the things that make people angry with you?  Would changing these methods go against your principles.  Or would they enhance your ministry?

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