Saturday, January 31, 2009

2009 Women's Retreat Afternoon Session

Ladies, use the top right hand button of the embedded document to view it in full screen mode, or click the iPaper button to print your own copy of the notes. If you have any trouble operating, feel free to contact Pastor Nick.

To download a copy, go here:

2009 Women's Retreat Morning Session

Ladies, use the top right hand button of the embedded document to view it in full screen mode, or click the iPaper button to print your own copy of the notes. If you have any trouble operating, feel free to contact Pastor Nick.

To download a copy, go here:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Day 52: The place God has chosen for us

He shall choose our inheritance for us… (Psalm 47:4)

God has a vision for our future! His ancient worshippers knew that they were not a mere collection of individuals, but a people to whom He would give a common inheritance, specially selected and held aside for them.

In recent years we’ve felt the same sense of wonder and trust as they did as we’ve watched the Providence of God work on our behalf over and over. Whether it was preserving property for us, bringing us into important relationships, or miraculously supplying a need, the story of Harvest Time is a testament to God’s abundant faithfulness. Many times we’ve had the reassuring feeling that He is pulling us into something so wonderful that it could only have come from His hand.

At the Lord’s prompting we’ve worked and sacrificed, and He has been faithful to multiply the resources of time and finances we’ve entrusted to Him. Now we have the chance once more to prove – and demonstrate to the world – His faithfulness, and to partner with Him in what Nehemiah would have referred to as a “great work.” Let us arise and build!

Father, we thank You for the way You have led us over the past few years. Seeing the record of Your faithfulness strengthens our faith that You will lead us into the fullness of the inheritance You have for us – please continue to share with us Your vision for our future, and give us the grace to step into it with confidence and joy! As we sow, we rejoice at the opportunity to be Your instruments, Your partners, in bringing what will be nothing less than a new era of Christian witness and service to the region.

Let the hand of the Lord our God be upon us for good!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Day 51: Consecrated to the Lord

“Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glittering stones of different colors, and all kinds of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.

Moreover, because I have set my affection on the house of my God, I have given of my substance, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house – three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, with which to overlay the walls of the houses; the gold for things of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and for every kind of work to be made by the hands of craftsmen. And who is willing to consecrate his service this day to the LORD?”... Then the people rejoiced, because they offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they offered willingly to the LORD, and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. (Chr. 29:2-5, 9)

David had wisely marshaled the resources of the nation for the Temple project. But he knew that the hearts of the people would be unified by giving to the project together. And so, David deliberately provoked the leaders and all the people of Israel – provoked them to flow together in a spirit of “hilarious, cheerful giving.”

In verse 5, the Hebrew text tells us that David literally asked, “Who will fill his hand to the Lord?” In other words, he said, “I challenge you to do what I’ve done. Fill your hand to the Lord today!”

The nobles and the people responded with a great offering, and rejoiced over the fact that they had given willingly, not out of compulsion or pressure. They also knew that they had given “to the Lord,” and not to a project or to David.

Lord, let us give to You from pure and proper motives, so we will have joy in knowing that our giving is really to You!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Day 50: Above and beyond

And the rulers of the people dwelled at Jerusalem. The rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of every ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts to dwell in other cities. And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem. (Neh. 11:1-2)

Those who have a heart to partner with God sometimes have to go “above and beyond” to see the dreams he gives us become a reality. We might think that living in Jerusalem would be viewed as a great honor... but this wasn’t the case – the city was only one step removed from being a mess! In fact, they cast lots not to see who got to live there, but to see who had to live there!

So, while the leaders were certainly setting a good example by moving to Jerusalem, the people gave special praise and blessing to a certain corps of men who decided to uproot themselves from their normal comforts and voluntarily move to their dilapidated capital – a city over which God had spoken so much but which was still very much a “work in progress!”

Lord, give us hearts to partner with You even when it may mean going beyond what others might see as a sacrifice!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Day 49: A heart to work

So we built the wall, and the whole wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a heart to work. (Neh. 4:6)

Here Nehemiah tells us how the wall started going up and the sections were joined in record time. The reason for this stunning success is spelled out for us in plain language: the people had a heart to work.

Even in the business world people know that when you love what you’re doing it somehow doesn’t feel like work! The very real hardships and fatigue of the wallbuilders seemed like a small thing to them. They must have enjoyed the fact that they weren’t just talking and speculating about the project anymore – they had rolled up their sleeves and so were actually seeing it take shape before their eyes! This made their toil seem light. In fact, the more they saw it coming together, the more encouragement they must have taken. Nehemiah records for us the important step of their hitting the halfway point. And once they saw the sections of the wall join together, in their minds they must have felt there was no stopping them – they would certainly finish.

God, give us hearts to work – hearts that are enthusiastic about what You are doing and can see beyond plans and structures to the powerful results that will come from what we will build for Your glory.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Day 48: A people with willing hearts

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people (for he was above all the people) and when he opened it, all the people stood up. (Neh. 8:5)

These were a people made ready for the Lord, for He had changed their hearts. They had once been fearful, but now they were unafraid, having seen firsthand the power released when they served God in unity. Together they had prayed, worked, held swords, and stood guard over their improbable project.

A single gesture proved they had new hearts – when the Word was opened, they stood in unison, as one man. They were attentive to God, hanging on to His every word. Their hearts were willing to do whatever He might require of them.

God, fashion us into a people who have a heart to catch every drop of what You want to say to us. You have been shaping us for such a time as this! We are ready to do whatever you ask, just let us hear Your Word.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Day 47: A place in Your house

How lovely are Your tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD – my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Yes, the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house, they will still be praising You. Selah…. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:1-4, 10)

There was something about the House of the Lord that inspired a sense of longing in the heart of the Psalmist. We don’t know the circumstances that gave rise to this particular psalm. Was it pure loneliness? Had he been traveling? Did he miss the fellowship of the people of God?

We don’t know, but no doubt he longed for what he knew he could find there: the presence of God in worship; the swell of many voices lifting their praise to heaven; the Word read, preached and taught; fellowship with the saints; and, constant reminders of the forgiveness of his sins. He felt like one of the birds he had seen nesting in the corners or on the tops of the columns – that there was safety and security there, that it was a “home for the soul.”

Father, we love Your house so much. Help us to create by Your help a place that can be a home for men’s souls: a place where Your Word and Your Spirit come forth to restore their hearts and summon them to do noble things for Your Kingdom!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Day 46: I’m beginning to think this could really happen!

Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me, and also the king's words that he had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for this good work. (Neh. 2:18)

How did their hands become strong for such a massive undertaking? They caught a vision for what was possible with God! There were sure signs that this was the time, signs that God had begin to move. Hearing of how God had moved on Nehemiah’s behalf and hearing how eager the king was to help – this gave them fresh courage.

Perhaps many had harbored a desire in their hearts to start working, but now there was an obvious shift in the wind, the sensing of what we would call a kairos moment that made them say, “Let’s get up and get busy!”

Father, we feel the stirring of Your wind blowing at our backs and we know this is the time You have appointed for us to rise up! Let nothing stay half-empty or half-finished!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Day 45: Pitch in!

Also we made commands for ourselves, to charge ourselves yearly with one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God… (Neh. 10:32)

This is thought to be the origin of the famous “Temple Tax” mentioned in the Gospels. As taxes go, this was a small one, comprising about 1/6 of an ounce of silver. The point of the temple tax was to emphasize that everyone was responsible to support the work of God, even if they were the poorest of the poor. This was an important concept: that everyone could and ought to do something. This ensured that everyone learned the blessings of giving, and also ensured that the house of God was properly cared for.

Lord, we may not all be able to give equally, but we can make an equal sacrifice. Increase our faith that as we sow to Your kingdom, You will multiply our seed!