Sunday @ 10 AM

Emmaus Church of Jacksonville FL
     
 
Living On Mission

The Church is the family of God living on mission.

Before Jesus left the earth he gave his disciples a mission, which Matthew recorded in his gospel:

"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt. 28:18-20)

We believe that this is the mission of the Church. Over the next several weeks we will be exploring what it means to live on mission with Jesus. 

 

During this series we closed one of our services with a "reverse offering."  Rather than collecting a special offering, we gave a special offering back to the people who were gathered.  Everyone was challenged to take a $20 bill out of the offering basket and to pray throughout the week, asking God who they should bless with this gift.  This was an opportunity for all of us to join the mission of Jesus, letting the world know that they are loved and that God has not forgotten them.  

Some people wrote to share how they used their $20 and how God used this to bless them in the process...

 

LIVING ON MISSION STORIES:

"I just wanted to let you know what a blessing the reverse offering was to the person that God chose for me today. She cried and said “I just want you to know that I don't take anything for granted and just knowing that God thought of me means so much, because sometimes I just think he's forgotten but he hasn't”. 

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of helping someone today. It really was a special time for both of us."

 

"The $20 given to me on Sunday was multiplied by three. My husband and I added $40 to send to Survivors of Incest Anonymous (www.siawso.org). This support group is a 12-step program helping those who have survived incest. They are always struggling for funds. The $20 given by Journey pushed me to start sending them money on a regular basis rather than a very occasional basis. It has also put a light inside me to start a group in Jacksonville. There are none.
Thank you, Journey! "

 

"I am humbled on a regular basis working downtown on 8th street; however, because of the message on Sunday I did something about it this time and plan to do it more.

When I walked into work today I noticed a woman holding a TINY baby wrapped in hospital blankets and a man was with her. They were talking to the gentleman at the front desk asking for whatever it was they needed. I walked passed and headed upstairs however, had a broken heart about what I saw. I put my things down on my desk and immediately turned around and hurried back downstairs to find them. They were gone. I asked the gentleman at the front desk and he pointed me in the direction they went. After about 15 minutes, I found them sitting in the waiting room of radiology. I approached the woman and told her "I know it's not much, but I want you to know that you are loved, God loves you and you've been blessed with a beautiful baby girl". Her first response was "I don't need this. You don't have to do this". I told her "I'm not doing anything, God is doing this." She then began to cry and told me what a blessing it was. I gave her a hug, turned around, and walked away with a full heart."

Thank you for challenging me to be more open and giving. I know I personally needed that kick in the rear end and I hope this is only the beginning of it :)

 

"First I just want to say thank you to Journey Church and Pastor Vic for allowing us to share the love of God with someone by blessing them with $20.  I have prayed to God over the week please place someone in my path and let me know that this is the person. So today as I finished my weekly Dollar Tree trip I spotted a young lady and felt led to bless her. As I told her I would like to do something for her there was confusion and shock on her face. I handed her the money and told her Jesus loves you and he hasn't forgotten you. At this point the shock turned to tears and I hugged her. Now I don't know her story but I know that there is nothing like sharing the love of Jesus. For me this was extra special for just a few months ago we were on the receiving end of being blessed by others  in our time of need. So again thank you for allowing me to share the love of Jesus."

 

"This is what we are doing with my twenty from yesterday...we made 14 flower arrangements...and are dropping them anonymously on doorsteps of people in our hood...we printed a card that says...wishing you a beautiful day...so fun...the kids are my bell ringers and runners...thanks for reminding all of us yesterday to spread the love..."

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"During the reverse offering last Sunday, I prayed that God would lead me to bless someone and I prayed that He would make it really clear as to who it should be, as a lot of times I am oblivious to His promptings until the moment has passed.

Driving down San Jose Blvd coming home from church and lunch with friends, I saw a couple pushing a stroller with 2 small children down the sidewalk. The mom had a sign pinned to her backpack ‘Please Help’. Pandering, I immediately thought as we drove past. How could they use their children to play on sympathy of strangers?

Wait! I asked for a sign – how plain could it be? But, we were 6 lanes over and going in the wrong direction. I was ready to get home - I needed to go to the grocery store and I really wanted to change my clothes.

Over the next day I couldn’t get them out of my mind. And what I also couldn’t get out of my mind was the immediate judgment I passed on them and how I put my wants and desires in front of what could have been a blessing from God for both of us. I asked God to open my heart and my mind. I thought long and hard about my priorities and what had taken place in my thinking to pass judgment so quickly. I realized that it was fear – fear that growing up on the edge of poverty had left behind, fear that my needs wouldn’t be met, fear that my safe life I had worked hard for might be disturbed. I thanked Him for His insight and wished I could have a ‘do-over’, a mulligan.

Well, God has a sense of humor! The next day, I had a doctor’s appointment on San Jose Blvd late in the afternoon. As I was driving home, there they were – mom, dad and 2 young children, walking down the sidewalk just a mile or so from where I first saw them, same sign on the mom’s backpack. ‘Please help’ I laughed out loud and this time I pulled into a parking lot and waited for them to walk by. I chatted with the young mother for a bit, asked her if they had a place to live and if the kids were in school. She explained her situation and I handed her the $20 from Journey along with $20 I had in my wallet. I told her she had been on my mind and in my heart and that God wanted to bless her that day. As I drove away, I knew who had been truly blessed.

And, as a side note, since I was on San Jose during the afternoon, I stopped to return a purchase I had made back in November, not sure if the store would take it back or not. I left the store with $24.01 in my pocket – coincidence? I think not.

Thanks, Journey, for allowing me to have this experience."

 

"I felt led to give my gift to a server that I often see at Panera. He always has a smile on his face and does his job with joy everyday. I wanted it to be more than just a tip, so I was praying that I would somehow get a chance to talk to him. Believe it or not, when I went to refill my coffee, there he was, eating some oatmeal on his break.

Even though I knew God was providing an open door to talk to him, it felt awkward. I prayed, got past my fear, sat down and simply said “how are you doing today?” I went on to tell him that I was given this gift to give to someone to let them know that God loves them. I also told him how much I appreciated the way he did his job with such joy everyday.

He was very thankful and began to open up to me. He told me that sometimes life is hard and there are times he feels like giving up. He said that he was divorced and has to pay child support and there are times when money is really tight, but as a Christian he has learned to trust God. I asked him how long he has worked for Panera and to my surprise he said “15 years.” We talked for a few more minutes and I encouraged him to keep looking to Jesus. He was very thankful.

Although I’m sure the gift was a blessing to him, I was equally blessed in the process. My interaction with Kenny reminded me of how incredibly blessed I am. In my mind I began to do the math to try to figure out what he must make working at Panera and how he could even afford to live after paying child support. It also made me appreciate his joyful attitude all the more. The fact that this man comes to work every day with a smile on his face and works hard, was evidence to me of the Lord’s work in his life.

I was reminded of Paul’s words, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11-13)

I told the story to our kids during dinner and it sparked a lot of questions and some great conversation for us as a family. What a blessing!"

 

"What a blessing, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, to give the $20 to a dear sister at Journey Church. She had lost her job and was struggling financially. How awesome it was to see the expression on her face and her gratitude. The joy I felt in reaching out to her; it was a special time. I'm encouraged to do this on a regular basis to spread the love of Jesus Christ."

 

"I shared about the reverse offering with a friend of mine today while we were at a birthday party. I just got this message from her.

So I left the bday party today still mulling over the $20 reverse offering that you told me about. I am driving my carpool kids home and I see a man clearly down on his luck. And I get this overwhelming feeling in my spirit, "This is the man I would have spent my $20 on". Since I never carry cash, I drove on by and threw up a quick little prayer for the man. Then it hit me....the Lord said, "You have $20 dollars." Oh my goodness, so my son had randomly paid me $20 that morning for something I had ordered for him on Amazon and I had put it in my back pocket. So then I'm thinking, "Do I turn around with all these kids in the car and potentially endanger them?" I decided not to and took them all home.

After everyone gets out of the car, I tell my kids (still in the car) about God "speaking" to me and they were like "Let's go find him, mom!" So there we go... Back toward the bridge looking for this man, the kids praying the whole time for us to find him. Well... no luck. But then, wait for it.....I felt like I heard, "Go by the river". So we drove to the river in San Marco and you guessed it, there he was. I got out (left the car running w/ my kids inside it...not my smartest move), listened to the man's story, prayed for him, gave him them money... Very sweet moment.

The kids were AMAZED with God!! So, that's a long-winded way to say, THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY!!!"

 

"It was a little overwhelming for me to think, "how will I know who this blessing was meant for" this past week. But, our Abba has a way of clearing the mud away from our eyes at just the right moment.

Chris and I were driving downtown this evening and I immediately knew who it was for. We pulled over and I walked over to an elderly man in a wheelchair. As I got closer, I realized he was missing both legs, and one of his eyes was badly infected. I told him that I had something I wanted to give him, and that God had not forgotten about him. Man, I wish I could have bottled up his gratitude and praise - "you know, miss! Im gonna get me a phone so I can call my friends!" He just wanted to keep saying "thank you"! He told me his name and asked me to lift him up in prayer tonight. And I absolutely will.

Thank you for being a catalyst for hope and humanity in our city, Journey Church. The love of Jesus is spreading like wildfire!"

"I was in church last week and this idea came up of a reverse offering. I couldn't believe it. I'd never really heard of it being done before. But here it was, the offering basket was being passed around, with the purpose to take $ and give it, and I almost could not believe it. However, I knew this was an opportunity to be a literal blessing in someone's life. Instantly, I knew who to give it to as well. Isn't that amazing? I didn't know how I was going to be able to pass the blessing on, but God made a way. Typically I don't see this individual during the week, but, you guessed it... I did this week! I was humbled to be the hands of Jesus and give this gift. Thank you, Journey, for this opportunity!!"

 

"So I got my $20.00 bill. I prayed over it and asked God to show me the right person to bless with the money. 2 weeks go by and nothing. I had to take our little dog Missy to the vet. It was a nasty rainy day and as I was walking to the door a lady came out. She was eating a cupcake. I don't even remember how we started to talk. Maybe she said wow that's an ugly dog. Lol. She didn't. Anyway she said she was homeless and they had given her a cupcake inside and wished they had $ to give her. I knew immediately she was the one. I reached in my purse and told her the story about our church and handed her the money and said how much God loved her and He hadn't forgotten her. She was so surprised and grateful and hugged me. She asked what church I attended.

While we were talking she told me how people treated her and how they made her feel. She dropped the F-bomb a few times while describing these people.

It was very satisfying to see how God led me to the right one. Thank you Journey church."

 

"Regarding the reverse offering, in all of my days of going to “church” I have never seen anything like that or even heard about it being done. I was very much humbled at that event and was honored to be present in the midst of a miracle. When I accepted the responsibility of the $20.00 I felt a duty was placed upon me. I prayed for God’s wisdom as to how I should fulfill my duty. I was determined to complete this wonderful task before next Sunday.

Monday to Wednesday I searched as to who I could give this $20.00 to, but I listened to God's voice and to his direction. On Thursday I had to go to the VA hospital for evaluation and Marilyn said "how about that guy or that other guy over there?" Still God did not move me. I became worried that this task was more difficult then I thought. As I left the VA, I drove past Trinity Mission and saw two men standing outside.  I am sure that either one could have used the $20.00, but because of the traffic I was unable to get over to them. I made the next left to go back around and I saw a multitude of people who appeared in need and then I saw this young man sitting on a sleeping bag and at that moment God moved my heart towards him. I asked him to come over and he got up and came to the car and I handed him the $20.00, he thanked me and I felt compelled to thank him and to tell him that God loves him.

I was blessed by this more then the young man.  That twenty would be gone shortly but the power of giving was overwhelming and a blessing to me. I thank God and you vic for that humble feeling that I felt. Awesome!!"

 

"I haven't physically been at journey for months due to some medical issues. My Journey family has been a source of support for myself and my family during this time and I'm beyond grateful for this community of believers. Still, I have found myself discouraged many times and spiritually shaken.

I have enjoyed reading the stories folks have shared about the reverse offering over the last few weeks. I'm currently a few states away with my son receiving medical treatment. It's been very difficult to have my family separated and even more challenging emotionally not knowing how many more months of this we will endure. I'm scared and I'm frustrated a lot of the time. God has not felt near, even though I want to believe He must be.

Today I received a package from several of my journey sisters. The timing was perfect as things have been especially dark and dismal over the last 24 hours. I opened a letter inside the box and it was from a sister telling me that God directed her to pass along the monetary blessing from the reverse offering to me. I appreciate SO MUCH the opportunity to eat something besides hospital food, but the greater blessing is that God hasn't forgotten me. It was really starting to feel like he had. Thank you."

 

"I wasn't going to write and send anything in because I didn't think my story was that great, but then I decided to because even though where I gave wasn't earth-shattering, what God did in me through the process was pretty awesome.
I took the $20 and started asking God who to give it to. I have a few friends in need and asked if I should give it to them, but didn't feel confirmation. I ended up going to the downtown library with the kids and prayed about the homeless guys in the park by there, but again didn't feel confirmation. I saw another homeless guy inside the library as I was leaving and thought maybe him, but then ended up just leaving. Honestly, he might have been "the one" and I missed it.
We went to see an African children's choir a few days later and they are doing wonderful things for "the least of these." So I gave it in the offering there. Again, maybe not the most dramatic.

What was really interesting, though, is I realized (as I'm sure you hope all of us will through this) that the rest of the money in my wallet is God's just as much as that $20! And I should ALWAYS be looking and praying and asking God if I should bless someone financially. Or like you said today, maybe it isn't financially – maybe it is with help, or love, time, attention, sympathy.

So thank you for awakening me to the opportunities to bless others in the name of Christ as I Live On Mission!"

 

"After being selfish and feeling sorry for myself that my husband was called into work once again to cover and on Valentine's night when Journey had kindly offered to watch our child while we had a very rare date night....we had to cancel! Instead I took my mother and daughter Isla to Cracker Barrel for dinner. Our server Emily was very soft spoken and attentive, she was working several busy tables and was running around taking care of everyone on Valentine's Night. And I thought who was taking care of her and showing her appreciation...I am sure she would rather be elsewhere on this night.

As a small offering of love and appreciation to Emily I put the $20 discretely into her hand and told her thank you for serving us. As we left she stopped me with tears in her eyes she told me that I had no idea how much that meant to her and her family. As I walked my mum and daughter back to the car i excused myself I went back into Cracker Barrel and found Emily and told her that it was God who sent this small token of love and appreciation to her and I put another $10 in her hand, smiled and left. It truly is better to give than receive."

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