“Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 NAS
I am so moved and motivated by these words of Paul to the Christ-followers in Corinth, as he assures them that God will guide, provide and be glorified in the Kingdom work He calls them (and us) to do. He supplies all that is needed; His Word, His Son, His Spirit, His wisdom, and He gives each of us the experience and education we need to do exactly what He designed us to do. Even more amazing is the multiplication factor; He did all of this to bless you AND so that you could meet the needs of other people. Loving neighbors cause others to give Jesus the thanks and glory; and when you do this, your blessings are not depleted but rather completed as you sow what God has supplied. Through us, Jesus produces thanks to the Father and increases the harvest.
In my last blog I gave you a first step resource, Pray4EveryHome.com and challenged you to start raising your “heart-rate” by prayer walking your neighborhood and pausing to chat with your neighbors along the way. These chats are a great way to learn how to pray for people and find out what their needs are. If your neighborhood is more than a street long, you may have already figured out that it would be helpful to have several people covering your neighborhood or even zip code in prayer. You can either recruit other Christian neighbors to pray up and down their street, or you can recruit people at your church to prayer walk their neighborhoods. Of course the best answer is to implement BOTH options. The Pray4EveryHome.com website can be used to adopt an entire area around a church and keep track of every neighbor being prayed over.
In addition to prayer, there is also the opportunity to provide care by meeting needs when illness, hardships or tragedy strikes. As you develop an adoption plan for your neighborhood or zip code, begin to develop a communication strategy. It may be as simple as a social media page or as well planned out as a prayer-care-share hub that plans and prepares for opportunities and tragedies. Opportunities may be a Fall Festival, concert, fair, Christmas caroling/party, or any event that draws a crowd together. Tragedies may touch one home or an entire community, and the relationships that you have built as loving Christian neighbors will open doors of trust in good times and bad. We have seen time and time again on the news, where church buildings become a command center for first responders, collection spots for donations, distribution hubs for care and resources or even shelters for both the rescued and the rescuer.
Love covers a multitude of wounds; in communities where people are living a prayer-care-share lifestyle there are stronger racial relations, lower crime, increased academic success, businesses flourish and the community attends and protects the church that has lovingly served and stood by them. Church buildings that once stood blocks apart are connected by hearts and homes impacted by members of multiple churches in the name and for the glory of Jesus. In his book, “Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God” Lynn Cory explains how the Kingdom work that God does in us and through us in our neighborhoods will help cultivate unity between churches within that community. Jesus is glorified when we ARE the Church; when His love flows out of the church building and floods the streets of our neighborhoods. We will discuss many ways to bring the Church together in future blogs. Remember, we are creating a model of love that can be carried out every day along the way; and expanding your mission field one step at a time. This step is to adopt your neighborhood/zip code and cultivate prayer on every street.
I challenge you to touch every “neighbor” in your zip code with the love of Jesus by the end of the year 2020.
Love is a verb…let’s get moving!
For more ideas, check out the Love2020.com interview with the authors of “Next Door As It Is In Heaven: Living out God’s Kingdom In Your Neighborhood.”