Advent 3 – Weekend Special

Special Feature from Jonathan and Kari Masson
Snow Hill’s Adopted Missionaries living in Lyon, France

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

Be the one

When we moved into our apartment in France, one of the first things we did was pray to dedicate our little space of 485 square feet to God. We wanted to be expressions of Christ’s love to those living around us. That goal took on new intensity when we came home one day and found out that the woman living beneath us had committed suicide, successful on her third attempt. Brokenhearted, captive and prisoner suddenly seemed a lot closer to home than we’d realized.

The France portrayed in films often doesn’t show the stress and unhappiness of its people. An average 3.5% of the population take anti-depressants. The suicide rate is among the highest in the western world with around 11,000 suicides annually. Among 15- to 25-year olds, there are 200,000 attempted suicides each year. When you consider France’s population is around 64 million people, these numbers take on even more weight.

But France doesn’t corner the market on depression and suffering. Odds are you know someone who is hurting, held captive by sin or living in darkness. If no one comes to mind, ask God to show you the person He wants you to reach out to. It may be someone who is hard to love or respect, but if God is leading you to do something, He will be faithful to provide the compassion, wisdom and grace needed. Be the one who helps bind their heart by listening. Be the one who tells them about freedom from sin

Advent 2, Weekend Special

Special Feature from Jonathan and Kari Masson
Snow Hill’s Adopted Missionaries living in Lyon, France

Isaiah 40:3-8
A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

A voice says, "Cry out." And I said, "What shall I cry?"

"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."

Ready with a lasting message

The woman sitting next to me on the bus pulled out a book with an ornate cover and letters I couldn’t decipher. She gently turned the pages, her eyes beginning in the upper right-hand corner of the page. A man who saw me watching her asked if I’d ever read the Qu’ran, the Muslim holy book. When I answered that I had read parts of it, they were both surprised – particularly so once they found out I was American and a follower of Jesus.

Having read and studied parts of the Qu’ran, and also its history, I know that the woman who sat next to me would not find anything lasting in it. Muslims believe God revealed the Qu’ran to a man named Muhammad who lived in the sixth century. For Muslims, God cannot be known and there is no assurance that they will be with Him in heaven.

Sitting next to this woman, my heart was crying out. I wanted to talk with her and ask about her beliefs, her faith, her commitment to Islam. I wanted her to know that what man creates is only temporary and will wither and fade. I wanted her to know something real that lasts forever – God’s word and the gift of His perfect Son that covers our sins and allows us to have a relationship with him.

But I didn’t say those things. Out of fear and timidity, I kept my mouth closed. I pray that I would never again allow fear to stop me if God is leading. And I pray for that woman on the bus, that the next time God calls someone to speak to her and share His love that they would be bold, courageous and ready.

Are we ready? 

Jesus invites people into his life and his way. He takes what is and points to the new way of the Kingdom of God.  Come see what this journey is all about!

One way to think about the mission of Jesus - He calls into question the way things are and points to the way things may be in the Kingdom of God. 

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