Seasonal Produce

Last week, we began looking at lessons from the fig tree in Mark 11. Hundreds of years later, we are still learning from this moment.

Though the tree looked promising, it did not produce any fruit. It did not fulfill the purpose for which it was created. This tree was then destroyed by Jesus Himself because it produced nothing. Even one fruit would have changed the fate of this tree.

When it comes to our lives, we must be producing something in order to be effective. It’s not enough to only look like a Christ-follower or to wear the title. We must live and love as Christ did.

Life is full of seasons. Each of us is living at our own pace in this journey of a Christian life. There are seasons of hardship. These moments can be incredibly painful and we may wish to hit a pause button on life in order to catch our breath. There are also seasons when we may not want to awaken from what must be a dream because life is going spectacularly well. Blessings are lining up for us and our jaws keep dropping lower and lower in amazement. We can’t forget the in between seasons. We may have developed a new appreciation for the mundane during the recovery from an upswing or downswing season.

Regardless of what’s currently happening at this very moment, life does not stop. We are not exempt from producing fruit because of what’s happening to us. The hardships and trials can fuel our resolve to dig deeper and hang on.

Dig deeper into God’s Word and cling to His promises. When we’re rooted in Christ, He will help us to weather the storms and keep on producing. Spend time in His presence, talking with God and listening to what He wants us to learn.

The enemy takes advantage of our trials and hardships to distract us from following Christ. As long as our focus shifts from Christ, we will stop producing fruit.

There is good news. Producing something, even if it seems small, is still a sign of production. It’s not about the amount of fruit that’s produced. It’s about whether or not we are producing something good that reflects the presence of Christ in our lives.

We’ll continue exploring the fig tree next week–stay tuned!

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

Recap of IMPACT Winnipeg Launch

The movement to impact Winnipeg kicked off Saturday, April 7. Henderson Highway Church was closed as rallied together with our sister churches at the RBC Convention Centre in downtown Winnipeg.

The morning began at 10 am, where we explored this idea of Impacting Winnipeg. Pastor Chris Holland, speaker, and director for It Is Written Canada, together with Pastor Elmer Manzanares, coordinator for IMPACT Winnipeg, shared the vision. This is not a project or a program, as there are no end dates in sight. Rather, this is an intentional movement to flood the city of Winnipeg with the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Attendees were given an opportunity to ask questions to a panel of Winnipeg pastors, Pastor Chris, Elder David Ripley, President of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference, and Pastor Lynn Ripley.

Our morning continued with inspiring music from the It Is Written Canada musicians. It is a soul-stirring experience to sing unitedly with 700+ others from our sister churches as we praise God through song! Pastor Chris spoke on the topic “Jesus, the Great Healer”. Through the experience of Nicodemus, Pastor Chris taught us that Jesus is the answer. He is where we can find wholeness and restoration. And if Jesus came to bring healing to all aspect of our lives, then we must have a work to do as well in follow up to what He began.

The morning session was live streamed via the Henderson Highway Church Facebook page. A children’s program also ran during the entire morning, for children ages 4 through 12. Located directly across from the main meeting room, the children were also encouraged to love and trust Jesus. There was a time for musical praise and worship, as well as crafts, a Bible story, a puppet show and more. They had over 80 children participate.

Our launch day events continued in the afternoon, where we met at Red River Valley Junior Academy for an interactive prayer and praise experience. The prayer time was intertwined with carefully selected music and scripture. In case you missed out, the music was amazing! While there were moments for the congregation to sing, there were also times for us to meditate on the music performed by the It Is Written Canada musicians. In addition to our musical prayers, there was spoken prayer, corporately and privately. The program was designed on the ACTS theme of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

The work to impact Winnipeg is not an easy task. Because we believe that this is work that God has called us to do, we wanted to spend time asking for His direction over us and over this call. We do not want to rush ahead of God and work without Him. In order to impact Winnipeg effectively, we need to respond to the call that God has placed on every one of us.

What’s the end of impacting Winnipeg? The second coming of Jesus Christ. If everyone you meet in and around Winnipeg has been introduced to Jesus and have decided whether or not they choose to follow Him, then our work is done. But there are still a number of people who have no idea who Jesus is.

There will be upcoming training events in Winnipeg (such as TMI Equip on May 26) as well as other health programs. We’re encouraged to support the events hosted by our sister churches. There is no competition as we’re all working towards the same goal. Save the date from now for Discoveries in Revelation with Pastor Chris Holland, March 15-April 6, 2019.

Let’s keep this question before God: How will You use me in impacting Winnipeg?

Are We Productive?

The vibrant tree stood tall with its lush leaves. It was flourishing and full of life. Eager to satisfy their hunger, the group approached the tree anticipating its fresh fruit. They couldn’t wait to sink their teeth into some figs.

Though they got closer, it was still hard to spot fruit hanging from the tree limbs. Jesus scoured the branches, searching high and low for some sign of fruit. There wasn’t even one fig in sight!

The production process of a fig tree is a bit different than other trees. Many times, leaves appear first, followed by that tree’s fruit. However, for the fig tree, growing figs appear first, followed by the opening of its leaves.

Jesus selected the fig tree because, based on its appearance, it was supposed to have something to offer. The fullness of the leaves suggested that there was plenty of fruit to pick. Instead, there was nothing at all.

Disappointed and disturbed by this tree, Jesus said: “May no one ever eat your fruit again!”

As followers of Christ, we share some similarities with fig trees. Christianity goes much deeper than it appears on the surface.

Some of us have mastered the appearance of a Christian. We can speak with great eloquence and know the fitting scriptures to apply at the appropriate moments. We know how to walk and carry ourselves, particularly when we’re feeling blessed and highly favored. We have perfected well-timed smiles and can flit about here and there looking busy while serving the Lord.

Yet, looking like a Christian does not mean that you are living as a Christian. Being a Christian means that we’re intentional about producing fruit. Fueled by our relationship with Christ and His transformational power in our lives, we will want others to have this experience as well.

The love of Christ is meant to be shared with those around us. If when people interact with us, and they leave without being fed, nurtured or encouraged in some way, then we have not produced any fruit.

The day that Jesus and His disciples came across the fig tree, they were in need. They were hungry and needed to be fed. Because they tree did not produce any fruit, the group left this encounter in the same condition that they first arrived in.

We’ll continue exploring this fig tree lesson next week–stay tuned!

 

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director,
Henderson Highway Church

God Works Through Awkwardness

Elijah, a prophet of The Most High God, had his awkward moments. Let’s check out a few of his highlights.

Elijah boldly strolled in to see the king unannounced and uninvited. Just as quickly as he walked in and delivered his short message, he walked right out. Then there’s that day on top of Mount Carmel. After mocking and taunting the prophets of Asherah and Baal, Elijah prayed a simple prayer and fire came down from heaven immediately. Shortly afterward, he outran the king’s chariot back into town. There’s also the time he asked a woman gathering sticks for water and bread without even saying hello.

One of his most awkward exchanges came when God told Elijah to anoint Elisha as his replacement. In obedience, Elijah went to find Elisha. They did not have a somber and reverent ceremony to mark Elisha’s new call. Instead, Elijah walked up, threw his cloak around Elisha and walked away. It was Elisha who chased after him to find out what exactly was to happen next.

Yet, for as quirky and awkward as Elijah was, he was still called by God. God used Elijah time and time again for great things. Though the Bible doesn’t say much about the relationship between Elijah & Elisha, we can see that God’s work was done well. Not only did Elisha stick around but he asked for a double portion of the spirit that Elijah had. Elisha saw the hand of God, even through the awkwardness.

If you compare Elijah’s behavior to some of the other Bible prophets, he does not rank high for grace and eloquence. However, there was enough good in Him that God knew He’d be able to use Elijah. Furthermore, Elijah was willing to do whatever God told Him. He was obedient.

There are times when we hinder ourselves because we don’t think we fit the part. We’re quick to list the reasons why we cannot do this, that and the other. We’re quick to forget that nothing is impossible for God—including using us for His work. God specializes in using misfits!

Some of us are more gracious than others. Some could give masterclasses in eloquence to the rest of us. There are introverts and extroverts among us who thrive exactly as we are. Regardless of what we may deem our strengths and weaknesses to be, God looks deeper than that. He looks for the hearts that He can use for His purpose and for His glory. God works through the awkwardness in undeniable ways.

If we’re willing and have a desire to follow Him, to be obedient to His call, God will use us for His amazing purposes!

 

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Written by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communications Director
Henderson Highway Church

Mobile ABC Christian Store

The mobile ABC Christian Store is stopping in Winnipeg for its spring run!

Stop by to purchase games, Bibles, Christian videos, music, reading materials, vegetarian & vegan food products and more!

The truck will be parked in the parking lot of church on the following dates:

TIP: Contact the store pre-order your favorite items. Email or phone 800 661 8131.

Check out their flyer below:

Who Is Pleased?

“When you’re trying to please people, you lose your creativity.” ~ Pastor Sethres Dixon

Tasks can mutate into challenges when we get distracted. When we have something to do, our focus should be on accomplishing the task at hand. The Bible even tells us “Whatever you do, do well.” We’re to strive for a standard of excellence in all of our work.

Sometimes, we shift our focus. While we may have begun with our eyes and minds on the end goal, we slowly drift off course and become pre-occupied with the idea that people should be pleased with our performance. No longer are we spending our energies to do well. We’ve divided our efforts into finishing the task and pleasing others.

We will not have worthwhile accomplishments when our motivation is to please others.

When we’re focused on pleasing others, we stifle ourselves. Our brainstormings and thought processes are restricted because we have applied filters to them. If an idea, even a God-given one, seems too outlandish it is not used. Instead of working on the task at hand, we’re working to cram ourselves and our tasks into the boxes and limitations that others impose. The work then becomes a drudgery. What was once enjoyable is now detestable.

May I suggest that the only audience to please is an audience of One? If we work to please God, our overall outcome will be enhanced.

God is the most innovative Being we know. The Bible describes the countless, ingenious ways of God. He plants ideas in us. We will dig deeper into our creativity knowing that with God, all things truly are possible. We’ll approach our work with excitement because this is an opportunity to do something great for God.

Will everyone be pleased? No. There are things that God uses His willing people to do that the unwilling may not be prepared for. Those who aren’t ready to move where God is leading will be uncomfortable with our enthusiasm. The enemy will also set up key people to distract us.

Let’s keep our eyes fixed on God as we work.

 

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Submitted by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe

Confident Persistence

Every time we read a Bible story, there is something new that can impact us. Luke 7:36-50, a story about a dinner party, is no exception.

One of the characters in this passage is an unnamed woman, who was popularly unpopular. Well-known for all the wrong reasons, the court of public opinion didn’t have much to say in kindness to this woman. Regardless, she found herself at a Pharisee’s dinner party one evening, after hearing that Jesus was to be a guest.

She didn’t go for the meal or looking to cause a stir. She had one intention that evening.

To thank Jesus, personally.

As Jesus was eating and mingling with the other guests, she knelt behind him, at his feet. Though tears pour out through her eyes, the emotion came from deep within her soul. She didn’t just sprinkle Jesus’ feet; they were wet enough to require wiping.

Continuing her personal act of gratitude, the woman used her hair to wipe his feet. Then she poured expensive perfume all over them.

The snickering and whispering may have started when she was noticed, but Jesus spoke up. Though addressing Simon’s thoughts, Jesus used this moment to affirm this woman. He reassured her that her act of love and gratitude had not gone unnoticed by Him.

She was able to persist in what she was doing because she was forgiven by Jesus.

There is a confidence that we can have when we accept the forgiveness that Jesus offers and believe that our slates are wiped clean. The forgiveness that Christ offers is thorough. He forgives and promptly erases it from our record.

The forgiveness that Christ offers us in 2018 is just as thorough as it was for that woman. When we ask for forgiveness, He forgives and promptly erases it from our record.

Sadly, the people around us don’t choose to forget as easily as Christ does. There are also consequences that will be unavoidable at times. We may continue to hear snickering and whispering anytime we enter a room. These realities are temptations from the enemy to stop us from believing God’s truth about us.

This is another great reason why we need to give prayer and the study of God’s Word priority in our lives. We need His truth to become well-rooted in our hearts and minds. God will help us to discern His loving voice through the distractive cacophony and cling to His truth.

The Bells and Pomegranates

“So when all these things being to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” Luke 21:28, NLT

As we conclude our series on the High Priest’s garment, there is one aspect left. The fringe.

Yes, God’s attention to detail also includes the edges of clothing. He is that comprehensive and thorough in all that He does.

The fringe is a combination of tiny bells and pomegranates. Though it sounds like ear-pleasing décor, even this detail serves a purpose.

The Most Holy Place was to be accessed only one day each year. The High Priest was the only one permitted to enter this room. Because of the solemnity of this space, the High Priest required special preparations, including being cleared from sin before meeting with God.

The bells on the fringe of the garment would tinkle lightly as the High Priest moved about doing his duties. Attentive listeners stood outside, making sure that they kept hearing these bells. The tinkling meant that the High Priest was still alive while in the glory of God. His personal sinful condition and the sins he carried on behalf of the people did not overtake him while in God’s presence.

The bells on the garment of the High Priest gave the people an audible sign that he was alive and interceding for them in the Most Holy Place. As Christ intercedes for us in the Most Holy Place, even though we cannot hear the bells on His garment, we should pay attention to signs that He is about to finish His work as High Priest and come back as a Judge and King.

As we’ve studied the High Priest’s garment, we’ve been reminded that God has a plan.

We are not alive without an intended purpose from our Creator. There is significantly more to life than we see each day. Jesus is coming back to take us to our home in Heaven.

Because of sin, God sent Jesus, our High Priest, to earth to die in our place. Jesus was that unblemished and innocent young lamb that was sacrificed to atone for our sins. When Jesus died, the veil tore in the curtain, from top to bottom, allowing the Most Holy Place to be accessible to everyone at any time.

We are able to pray–talk to God–directly. We can be direct in seeking His forgiveness. We can be direct in bringing our needs to Him. Likewise, God can be direct with us as tells us His plans for our lives.

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT

 

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This article is part of the Ten Days of Prayer 2018 series. Visit that page to find all the other articles in this series.

An Unlikely Source of Hope

The worst day of my life was the best day of my life.

It was the day I learned that hope can come from the most unlikely source.

It was a travel day. Though notorious for its hazards, I’d always been fine when traveling on this path. Until this particular day.

One moment I was walking upright. The next, I was face-planted into the ground, choking on dust. I was viciously beaten and kicked. My clothes were stripped off and everything I had with me was stolen.

I don’t know how long I lay there, floating in and out of consciousness. I discovered that one could shiver underneath the blazing sun rays.

At some point, I heard footsteps. I cracked an eye open to see a minister’s robes. Finally, my help had come!

Except he did nothing.

He didn’t even check to see if I was breathing. In my haze, I was confused. Why would the minister not help me? He’s not blind; he can see that I’m unable to help myself. It sounded like he actually ran away from me. He did not represent the same God that He taught about in church.

Later, I heard more footsteps. I caught a glimpse of a church worker’s clothing. Surely he came to help me.

But instead, he did not a thing. This must be the new standard in churches. Do nothing when people are in need.

Well, I give up! I’m about to die under this hot sun. If was a lost cause with my own church people then I must not be worth saving. No one wants me.

God, if You’re still there, please take me now, I pleaded.

After some time, I heard sounds. Great! I’m about to be trampled to death by a wild animal. Wait—there’s also a man. A third person has come to look at me before turning away.

This man is hovering, rather than leaving.  I don’t recognize his clothes. His scent is distinct though.

Uh oh! It’s a Samaritan. This is the worst day ever!He probably came to finish me off. What a humiliating way to die. I have no energy to resist even him.

Another set of smells. It’s—owwwwww!!!! I winced. Is this what death feels like? Hang on a minute–this Samaritan guy is cleaning me up. He is actually helping me. Doesn’t he know that our people don’t ever mix?

He’s mumbling something. If my head didn’t hurt so badly, I’d think he was praying for me.

Wherever I am, it’s much cooler now. It’s dark and I’m in a bed. I laid eyes on my rescuer.

It IS a Samaritan. Oh boy! What are people going to think when they hear just who helped me.

How can I twist this story? I can’t exactly lie about the minister or the church official. But could I lose my job, my friends, because this other guy helped me out?

He did help me out, didn’t he? No one else stopped, but this man. He didn’t even torture me first. Instead, he tended to my wounds and brought me to safety.

He saved my life. Wow! I didn’t know that these people were the compassionate type. Those are not the stories I grew up hearing about Samaritans.

I wouldn’t have learned the truth had I not been lying on that roadside.

When I was flat on my back feeling completely hopeless, the hope of rescue came in an unexpected manner.

Wow, God! I guess You really are there. Thank You for sending help. You care about all kinds of people, even Samaritans. I learned something new about You, God.

Turns out that this was the best day of my life.

(adapted from Luke 10:30-37)

The Censer

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. Hebrews 7:25, NLT

There is great pomp and circumstance when it comes to meeting royalty and high-ranking dignitaries. They don’t just meet all people when requested. We can’t easily call them or send a text message hoping to arrange a tea date for any random afternoon.

If we’re to cross paths, it’s because we were invited. Not even a personalized invite, mind you because these people have no clue who most of us are. Perhaps we’re associated with an organization or cause of interest, so a meeting with us would benefit their cause. Usually, it’s nothing personal.

Included with these invitations are a detailed list of rules and guidelines for the upcoming meeting. As an added bonus, for their safety, they may conduct a background check. They will investigate us months in advance, in some cases, to ensure that we are not a threat or that there is nothing risky about having us in their presence.

With all of this, I’ve never heard anyone decline these prestigious invitations. We’d willingly go through hoops and red tape for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To see someone from afar, not even to sit and chat. The guest of honor may leave there without even learning our names from our lips.

As a complete opposite, there is God. He is the highest-ranking Being that exists. If there’s anyone who deserves and has earned the right all kinds of prestige at approaching Him, it’s the Almighty God.

The censer and the incense are a symbol of Christ’s intercession for us.

Though our sin has caused a vast chasm between us and Him, God has gone through hoops and blood-red tape to bridge the gap.

Through prayer, God is always approachable. We can chat with Him while sitting, standing, walking, dozing off, and much more. He knows us all by name. God desires an intimate relationship with each of us because He loves us intensely. He has given us a personal invitation to come to Him that has no expiry date.

God requires no background checks first before we pray. Our prayers will not get stuck in a holding queue, to see if we’re deemed worthy of His ever-attentive ear. God knows all about our pasts. In fact, He freely offers to forgive us if we simply ask. Once God forgives, the offense is gone, stricken from the record.

With God’s excellent character coupled with the fact that He loves us, why do we hesitate to come to Him?

We don’t have to worry about impressing God. We’re able to talk to God through Jesus, our intercessor. Jesus has covered us with His righteousness when He died on our behalf.

The enemy uses falsehoods and phony feelings to make us believe otherwise. There is power in knowing God’s truth. We can get better acquainted by spending time with God through daily prayer and reading His Word.

God enjoys us and being with us. May we also be excited to be with Him.

 

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This article is part of the Ten Days of Prayer 2018 series. Visit that page to find all the other articles in this series.