“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Welcome to the Lord’s Gym Ministries’ blog. Here you will find updates on the good things God is doing in Cincinnati and the Greater Tir-state area. You’ll also find words of encouragement and learn about how you can have a part in God’s grand plan for our community.
Thank you for reading our blog. Welcome to our advent series, “Who Jesus Came For.” Part two is about the Shepherds. Again, at the end of this blog post, there will be a challenge for you to share God’s love.
Scripture: Luke 2:8–20
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.” Luke 2:8-9
According to Randy Alcorn, author of “Shepherd Status,” at the time of Christ’s birth, “shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder… The same status as tax collectors and dung sweepers.”
Shepherding was once a noble occupation, however, during the time of the Patriarchs. The wealthy sons of Isaac and Jacob, for example, tended flocks, as revealed in Genesis 30:29; 37:10.
When the Israelites came to Egypt, they discovered a different way of life. Egyptians were agriculturalists, Alcorn explains. “As farmers, they despised shepherding because sheep and goats meant death to crops. Battles between farmers and shepherds are as old as they are fierce.”
Egyptians considered sheep worthless, their art and historical records portray shepherds negatively.
In the course of 400 years, living among the the Egyptians the Israelites’ attitude toward shepherding was prejudiced. “Shepherding became a menial vocation for the laboring class,” Acorn says. “These men could not fulfill judicial offices or be admitted in court as witnesses.” Some shepherds of course earned their poor reputations, while others fell victim to stereotyping. Self-righteousness religious leaders labeled shepherds as “sinners.”
Yet, these lowly souls were the first to hear the Good News: “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:10-12.
Suddenly, there came a multitude of the heavenly host praising God: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Ah what a sight that must have been. What a grand gesture, as well to these lowest of the low. During the Christmas story, God once again surprises us. He didn’t choose the supreme religious leaders or the elite class to be the first to know of the Savior’s birth. Instead, He announced the coming of His Son to the simple shepherds. Again, this was counter culture; a bold move. Makes you think.
Who are the “shepherds” of our time? Those in poverty? What about those with little social status but all the judgment – addicts, drug dealers, prisoners? Yeah, those people who are “sinners,” who we often don’t associate with.
Lord’s Gym Ministries has a mission to serve those lowly lost souls. Because, in fact, the “sinners” are why Jesus came, as He states Himself in Mark 2:17. We operate The Lord’s Gym at various times during the week at three locations, Covington, Queensgate and Price Hill. The gym is a weight-lifting, work out, and long-term discipleship program designed to teach at risk men principles to avoid destructive lifestyles while nurturing their relationship with God.
Your challenge: Come. Meet these men. Offer them hope by sharing Jesus with them. Visit us today at Get Involved or http://bit.ly/FOCASgiving. The results, you may find surprising. So many men have come through our doors broken and utterly lost. Yet, so many leave with Jesus – Who fixes their brokenness and offers them a safe forever home. These men are now spreading the Good News with others, just like the shepherds God sent His angel to.
“Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” Luke 2:17-18.
Thank you for reading our blog. In the coming weeks leading up to Christmas you will be reading our advent series, Who Jesus Came For. At the end of each blog post, we will present you with a challenge to share God’s love. The first in this four-part series is about Mary.
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’” Luke 1:26-28
Can you imagine what this must have been like? It was shocking to say the least. Mary was troubled by it herself; she wondered what this could mean.
The angel assured: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
What?! Not only was she going to be pregnant without “knowing a man,” but the Baby – God’s Son – would be the ruler of the world? For Mary this was surprising for she was just a young woman in a time where women were not considered to be of high importance.
To really put yourself in Mary’s sandles, take a moment to travel back to her time. According to www.bbc.co.uk, Jewish women in first century Palestine had “very limited legal and economic rights.”
- A woman’s earned wages would go to the man of the household.
- Women didn’t have the right to divorce, but the husband could. In fact, most inheritances that she received would go to her husbandand he’d keep the children.
- Women were betrothed to marry – the choice of husband was made by the family, not by the girls themselves.
In this society, women were the lowest in their household. Yet, God chose to bring the good news of Jesus’ coming first to a woman.
It was unexpected. It was counter culture. And it was done in great love and power. God certainly cared for the women in Mary’s time period.
Centuries later, in America – the land of the free – women are considered to be equal among their male counterparts. Still, there are struggles. Women are sometimes treated as if they’re at the bottom of the totem pole. Some deal with mistreatment by turning to drugs and living on the streets. Some even fall victim to human trafficking – their bodies sold for another’s profit.
They may seem to be the lowest of the low. But just as the Lord loved women in the times before Jesus’ birth, He loves these women even more dearly.
Today He reaches out to these women… through you… to show them love in practical ways and to offer them hope for a new life in Christ Jesus. Our STORM bus ministry operates Tuesdays and Fridays, to help and care for women living on the streets in Price Hill. Visit Get Involved for more information on volunteering.
Follow Gabriel’s lead this Christmas season, bless these women with the good news of Jesus. After all, they are indeed the one’s for whom Christ came.
Tis the season to be thankful.
“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24
Tis the season to be thankful.
Here are some tips on how to count and remember your many blessings.
1. Scatter reminders of encouragement around you throughout the day. Simply write your blessings on a post-it note and stick them on your bathroom mirror or around your car dashboard.
2. Keep a journal. You can be as detailed or brief as you like. Take a notebook and just write down your blessings. Work on this each day. Maybe set aside a few minutes in the morning or before bed. If you keep a daily planner or calendar, just write something from that day.
3. Share with your family and friends. When you break bread, take a few moments to tell those around you at least one blessing from that day or your life.
4. Pray. Be a blessing to God’s heart and let Him know how grateful you are for all He has done for you, is doing and will continue to do.
5. Take an old glass jar and small strips of paper. Write down your blessings form the day and put them in the jar. See how full the jar gets. At the end of the year, read all your notes.
6. If you have kids, grab a large sheet of poster or foam board and draw a tree. Cut out a set of 30 or 31 leaves out of colored construction paper (one for each month). Encourage your children to write a blessing each day and put it on the tree.
7. Remissness. Take some time every once in a while to reflect on your life. Remember all the good things you’ve experienced and look at how far you’ve come.