Christmas newsletter

 

Matt preaching“…To preach good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to  proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Is. 61:1 

Dear Friends, 

 In this Advent season, watching and waiting for our Savior’s birth, but also for his return, we are reminded once again  of how many Old Testament Prophecies were fulfilled at Jesus’ birth. To be sure, there are still quite a few that will not be completely fulfilled until he returns. But remembering each Christmas all he has already done for us gives us hope that the best is yet to come.

 

“To us a child is born, to us a son is given,  and the government will be on his shoulders.               

And he will be called  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace  there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over David’s kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.         

The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6-7 

Isaiah 7:14: The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (“God is with us.”) 

 Isaiah 40:9-11; You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 42:1-7; “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

 Isaiah 49:5,6; And now the Lord says—  he who formed me in the womb to be his servant—
“It is too small a thing for you to  to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the men of Israel.   

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, so my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” 

 Isaiah 55:3-5: Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor
. 

Isaiah 61:1-3: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners,
      to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and to comfort all who mourn .    

These prophecies of the coming Messiah make us grateful that he has already come:  But  the prophecies also remind us that Jesus is coming back in Power and Glory. The Christ Child in the manger grew up to be “Despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows,  familiar with suffering.”(Isaiah 53:3)   

Isaiah 53:4-6:Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He humbled himself, and laid down his life for us. He came as our Suffering Servant, to atone for our sins. But when he returns, he will be our Conquering King:  Revelation 19:11_16:  I saw heaven standing open and  I saw a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. On his robe is written: king of kings and lord of lords.

Luke tells us how John the Baptist ” “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb when Mary, newly pregnant, walked in. Filled with the Spirit, John knew he was in the presence of the Lord. When we come to Jesus, he  give us the Spirit within us. We, too, know  Jesus is with us. He said, ” I will be with you always.” Please pray for the men in the jail that I work with to come to Jesus and receive the Spirit within them. And pray that  they too will “leap for joy” as the Spirit reveals to them that Jesus is always with them.

Luke 1:13-15:The angel said:”Zechariah, your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.  He will be a joy and delight to you He will be great in the sight of the Lord He will be filled with The Holy Spirit even before he is born.”

Luke 1:30-37:The angel said, ” Mary; you have found favor with God. You will  give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be called the Son of God. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign forever; his kingdom will never end.”                                                        

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”                                                             

The angel said, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”                                                                                                        

Luke 1:39-44: At that time, Mary hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,  where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!   As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

The  Bible studies and “Clergy Visits” (Individual Biblical Counseling) I do at the Rockingham County Jail   are my greatest  joy and blessing . The men who come to our Bible studies seem to be genuinely searching for something. Maybe, I tell them, what they are searching for  is Jesus. When we seek him, we find that he in turn, is seeking us. Jesus said he came” To seek and save the lost.”(Luke 19:10) I love to teach about salvation, about how to grow as a Christian, what Jesus offers in a covenant relationship with him, and how he can change them, transform them, heal them, and sanctify them. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”( 2 Corinthians 5:17) Almost all the men I see are Heroin addicts. They all want to get “clean and sober.” But Jesus offers so much more. They have tried to fill that empty place inside with drugs..But maybe that craving is really a “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Please pray for them to give their lives to Jesus, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and to leap for joy whenever they are in his presence.

In Christ,
Matt

***

I raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and me. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
C/O The Church at Prison, Inc.
Box 8318, Essex Junction, VT 05452

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com. All donations are tax deductible.

Kantrowitz Pinkham
Christmas greetings from my family to yours! (From left: My son, David, my daughter, Jessica, me, my wife, Chris, and David’s girlfriend, Tina)

Where to find bread

I made this video for the New Hampshire Bible Society about two years ago. Some of the details have changed: I now minister in only one county jail in New Hampshire, but I spend a good amount of time there, teaching Bible studies and visiting inmates one-on-one. I still give out a lot of Life Recovery Bibles and other Christian literature. What a blessing it is to get to know these men, to hear their stories, to relate to them as someone who cares and understands, and to share with them good news of the hope and healing they can find in Christ.

*****

matt-and-chrisI raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and I. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
C/O The Church at Prison, Inc.
Box 8318, Essex Junction, VT 05452

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com. All donations are tax deductible.

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Were not our hearts burning within us?

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“The Road to Emmaus” by Robert Zund

I love the gospel stories of the risen Christ. Jesus seems at peace and relaxed. His hard work on the cross is over. His love, his warmth, and even his gentle humor come shining through He enjoys himself as he shows himself to his followers: As if to say, “Look, guys! I’m alive again!”

 

John shows us Jesus turning Mary Magdalene’s weeping to joy with one word. He shows us Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit into his disciples. John shows us Jesus inviting Thomas to touch his wounds, stop doubting and believe. And then, by the lake, Jesus gives Peter a chance to make amends for denying Him three times. (John Chapters 20 and 21)

But Luke has other stories to tell. Jesus comes to the travelers on the road to Emmaus. Without revealing who he was, he innocently asks, “What are you guys talking about?” Their response would really be funny if the subject matter wasn’t so serious: “How could you not know about the things going on in Jerusalem?” And once again Jesus, clearly having fun with these guys, innocently asks “What things?” But Jesus wasn’t just playing dumb. He used this as an introduction to what must have been the greatest Bible study ever:

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:26-32)

In my ministry in the jail, this story in Luke 24 has really spoken to me. Whether I am teaching my Wednesday night Bible study in the jail, preaching at Sunday afternoon church services, or visiting men one-on-one in “clergy visits,” I am always showing them scriptures, trying to explain what they mean, and trying to show them how the scriptures apply to their lives.

Even in jail, there are men whose hearts will burn within them while Jesus talks with them and opens the scriptures to them. I believe that Jesus calls many men in jail to read the Scriptures and give their hearts to the God revealed in Scripture. What a blessing when I can talk to a man and see that excitement, that hunger and thirst for righteousness being filled. Jesus is still with us, and he is still opening the scriptures to us. In Matthew, we see the risen Christ give us The Great Commission:

” 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.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

As I try to make disciples and teach them to obey Jesus, He is there. When I lead Bible studies in the jail, and when I preach in the Church services, He is there for me as well. I experience his presence in my preparation time at home, helping me find the scripture verses that He wants me to preach on or teach, and giving me the words to explain them.

But the times I experience the presence of Jesus the most are in the one-on-one visits that are called “Clergy Visits” in the jail. At the close of a Bible study or Church service, I’ll ask if anyone wants a visit. Sometimes one or two will sign up, sometimes more. I usually have twelve or fifteen names on my list. I try to see everyone on the list at least once every two weeks.

Some I only get to see them individually once or twice. Others I end up visiting many times. They really need someone to talk to. I try to be a good listener. By showing them I care, I earn the right to speak. I share scripture with them, pray with them, build relationships with them, and the Lord does the rest.

***
matt-and-chrisI raise my own financial support for my ministry, and it is the primary income for my wife and I. If you are interested in contributing you can send checks to:

Rev. Matt Kantrowitz
Isaiah 61 Ministries
C/O The Church at Prison, Inc.
Box 8318, Essex Junction, VT 05452

You can email me for more information at mmkantrowitz@gmail.com. All donations are tax deductible.