Beginning June 24th, there will be an intense four-week training of students (mostly young) in Yangon. This type of training has been very successful because it immerses the students into the Scriptures and helps them make practical and immediate application of the timeless principles that can be used in any culture and under any conditions. They will begin with God’s Plan for His Disciples in the first week and then advance into God’s Plan for His Church in the second, third and fourth weeks.
Tim will be there through July 2nd and then he leaves for a conference in Oslo, Norway (see below). Terry will arrive July 5th to help finish the training. Please pray for these two servants; for their health and energy. This is the first time Terry has trained solo, so he would appreciate any who hold him up in prayer. Also, pray for the students to grasp the principles in the power of the Holy Spirit and make immediate application to their lives and ministry
One of the most exciting aspects of this ministry is watching God work in places we least expect. The places where we find extreme poverty, suffering and persecution is where we also find the greatest hunger for God’s Word. When persons in these circumstances discover for themselves what the Bible says about God’s purpose, plan, and power is for them through the Spirit, they realize the power that is theirs to follow the principles of Scripture.
Next week, Randy will be back in a special location in Nigeria for a follow-up training. Remember last time that over 260 showed up from many different backgrounds and denominations. While he worked with EMS (Evangelical Missions Society), as part of ECWA (Evangelical Church Winning All), God is bringing many who want to know God's Word. This location is the very headquarters of a radical group that has killed many Christians! Please pray for these dear brothers and sisters who live every day in the hotbed of oppression.
After leaving there, he will go to Kogon River, a very impoverished area that often is oppressed by a radical people group that are killing Christians, yet God is bringing many of them to Himself! There are many stories of how they watch and are amazed at the way the Christians die. As they kill them, they see brave, peace-filled people who even pray for them and show no signs of hatred. This has impacted many of them, but the persecution still prevails.
Remember the effect of Stephen’s death on Saul. His powerful testimony and “all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). Pray that these believers will have the same powerful witness and lead many to the Savior.
Randy reports from Nigeria: “We thank God for the work He continues to do here in Nigeria. I am in the third and final week of teaching at JETS (Jos ECWA Theological Seminary).
"The Evangelical Church Winning All, previously known as the Evangelical Church of West Africa, is one of the largest Christian denominations in Nigeria, with about ten million members. ECWA is a partner church of the international Christian mission organization, Serving In Mission (SIM), formerly Sudan Interior Mission. ECWA was founded in 1954 when the SIM-related churches (initially in Nigeria) came together to form an indigenous body." (Wikipedia)
My partnership with SIM missionaries, who are developing and releasing indigenous leaders into the difficult, yet the “white harvest” of West Africa and beyond. At JETS I have 12 very eager students who want to break out of the strangle hold of contemporary missions and ministry and return to the Word of God for His Plan for His Church.
These 12 are from several denominations, even though the seminary is part of ECWA, and two of these are opening new doors with the key leaders of their denominations in other parts of the country. Lord-willing, I will be back in September to introduce GPHD & GPHC to these new leaders while I do at least two other follow-up meetings and one graduation.
What excites me most about the doors God is opening here is two-fold: First, the people are not about money! They see it and experience it, like other places in Africa, but they do not see this ministry that way. For now, they are willing to sacrifice to get God's Word out in a self-sustaining way. Second, they have the potential to bring the gospel north to the 10/40 Window! For this I pray and give thanks. May He empower many to go to the Unreached and Least Reached. Please pray with me on this.”
Over the years I have taken an interest in suffering because of my own challenges through cerebral palsy. It has made me more aware and sympathetic to the suffering others go through. This also gave me a particular appreciation for God’s special gifting and ministry given to Joni Eareckson Tada. After a diving accident when she was 17, she became a quadriplegic, confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. God has turned this incident into a remarkable ministry of comfort and hope for those who go through suffering of any kind.
Joni shares four benefits of suffering that caused her to become more like Christ. (1)
1. Suffering was forcing me to make decisions about following God – I was choosing Him more often over my doubts and fears.
2. Suffering was also doing a cleanup on my character – I was able to stick to promises, quit whining, not be sloppy with relationships, and be more patient. My thoughts were more pure – I couldn’t reach for the common temptations that used to entice me (having no hands to help).
3. Suffering was making me more sensitive to others – before my accident, I didn’t care much about people in wheelchairs, but now it is a different story.
4. I realized that being paralyzed was making heaven come alive – not avoiding, but in a way that made me want to live better here on earth because greater things were coming in the next life with Jesus.
Psalm 68:19 is a great comfort to me and I trust it will be to you also; “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up (bears our burdens).” In the circumstances you face, do you experience the presence of the Lord and find rest in Him? Read Matthew 11:28-30.
(1) Making Sense of Suffering, 2012, page 2.
I will be very honest with you; this question has often rattled my mind and heart, not so much because of what I have gone through, but because of what I see others experiencing. Those who believe the Bible to be true, realize that suffering is a result of sin that began with Adam and Eve.
As a Christian, some go through suffering that seems unfair or extreme. I am sure Paul may have felt that way when you read 2 Corinthians 11:23-29. Yet, when we read chapter 4:16-18, he gives us a perspective that is very enlightening.
“So, we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18).
Notice how Paul places more emphasis on what God is doing to renew the “inner” person and what is “unseen” and “eternal.” God often uses suffering to change our focus from the “light momentary affliction” to the “glory” of what is eternal. Perhaps you, or someone close to you is going through a difficult experience. As you set your spiritual eyes on what God is preparing you for, you can also help others in their trial.
There is only one time in the entire Bible where anyone admits to unbelief. In Mark 9, the crowd was arguing because a father had brought his son with an unclean spirit to the disciples to cast it out, and they could not. The father then brought his son to Jesus.
After describing to Jesus what had taken place, the father pleads with Jesus to cast out the evil spirit. Let’s look at the father’s request; “And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”” (9:22). The problem was not whether Jesus could deal with the unclean spirit, the problem was with the faith of the father. So, Jesus replies to the father with, “‘If You can!’ All things are possible for one who believes.”
This is where God calls each of us to be honest with Him about our faith and how real it is. This father takes inventory of his faith and realizes there was a serious deficiency in his heart. “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”” (9:24).
Are you willing to examine your faith and ask the Lord to help those areas where you lack faith? In this case, Jesus immediately takes action to answer the request. There may be changes God wants to make in your life or circumstances, but He is waiting for you to admit where you need help.
Is it hard to trust what we cannot see? In Hebrews 11, we are given a definition of trust, but the word used is “faith.” “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). Let’s take these two phrases and look more closely at their meaning.
First, the definition of the word “faith” is “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance, or to have faith in” something. Usually we find the word in Scripture used in relation to something that cannot be seen.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for” points to “that which provides the basis for trust and reliance or confidence.” For example, though we may have ‘heard the message of the gospel,’ God has also provided abundant proof of it through the Scriptures that are one unified testimony over many hundreds of years that they are true and reliable.
Faith is also “the conviction of things not seen.” That means there is enough “evidence as to the truth or reality of something.” This evidence removes doubt, even though we do not see the real thing that our faith has told us about. From historical proof to the power of God in the Christian, there is ample evidence to the person of Jesus and His finished work on the cross.
When it comes to the things of God, do you rely more on what you see, or do you allow the Holy Spirit to give you assurance that builds your convictions. His work is with the inner man so the outer man lives by the assurance and convictions of the inner man. What is He doing IN YOU?
Yesterday we looked at how fathers can better reflect our Heavenly Father. How can the truth that Jesus spoke in John 14:1-11 work out in us? The next verses help us unpack this question. “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me, or else believe on account of the works themselves” (14:10–11). Think about His many works!
As an older preacher used to say, ‘let’s get down to where the rubber meets the road.’
1. As Jesus had a close relationship with His Father and was “one” with Him, so we as fathers must have a close association with Jesus so we know God through knowing Jesus. This is essential for being the father we want to be and that God designed us to be.
2. In knowing the Father because we know Jesus, the character of the Father becomes formed in our lives because of our walk with Jesus. The Father was in Jesus and Jesus was in the Father. To see one was to see the other. We have a similar phrase on a human level when we say, ‘he is just like his father.’ If we want our children to turn out to be godly men and women, we must model that character.
3. As Jesus did not speak or act on His own authority,the authority we use with our children must be more than human authority if they are going to see God as a Father reflected in the way we handle them. Authority in our lives must be exercised in a biblical manner. Anger, abuse and absenteeism in any form cannot be part of fathering.
4. God the Father’s love must come to us through our close walk with Jesus to be seen in the way we love our children. That is the best way they will learn God’s love.
5. The words we speak must no longer be driven by impatience and frustration, but by words of grace, love, truthfulness under the control of the Holy Spirit sent from God. While we are taught in Proverbs 22:6 to “train up a child in the way he should go,” they need to see what you say practiced by you and me.
6. Our actions will begin reflecting the Father to our children and others, so they will come to know the Father. You and I will one day pass away. What foot prints are we leaving behind?
“May the footprints that we leave, lead them to believe, and the lives we live inspire them to obey. O may all who come behind us find us faithful!” (Steve Green – Find Us Faithful)
In many places around the world, tomorrow, Sunday, June 16th is called “Father’s Day.” The day is used to honor and celebrate those who are fathers. I want us to think about the best way to learn how to be a father.
What is the standard for fatherhood? Obviously, we must start with God. One of the disciples asked Jesus to show them the Father. During those three and a half years of being discipled by Jesus, He mentioned God as a Father, especially in the prayer they asked Jesus to teach them.
Thomas and Philip may not have had good fathers; we are not told, but Jesus made the statement, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him”” (John 14:6–7), they were puzzled!
Philip took the opportunity to ask Jesus to see the real thing; “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? (14:9-10).
This deserves thinking about Jesus statements and response.
· The only way to come to God is through Jesus.
· The only way to know God as Father and see Him is through knowing Jesus.
· Close association with Jesus and getting to know Him well, means we get to also know the Father.
· How can this be? There is a perfect oneness between Jesus in the Father. Jesus is the full and perfect representation (reflection) of God. “I and the Father are one” (10:30)
Paul states; “For in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:19). Fullness means “full measure, completeness, or totality of the contents.” The statement that God’s fullness “was pleased to dwell” means that it was God’s “pleasure” to be fully in Jesus. The Father was “living” there in Jesus as His settled and established place to live. There was no part of Jesus’ life where God the Father was not perfectly represented.
The best place to learn fatherhood is by looking at Jesus who showed us the Father. Be careful where you look for a model of fatherhood. There is only one person who is the perfect example.
One of the subjects that is difficult for many to understand and accept is the sovereign choosing of God. If you struggle with this truth, you are not the first, and you are not alone. Paul had to help the believers in Rome with the same issue. Let me point out a few Scriptures to consider.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, understanding their struggle. Chapter 1:18 through 3:20 develops the conditions of man’s heart as foolish, impure, evil, self-seeking, unrighteous and with no fear of God. For God to extend mercy to anyone in the whole world is an act of undeserved favor, kindness and love. In addition to realizing our condition in sin without mercy, knowing that God is absolutely holy, pure and righteous means that our sin cannot continue with judgment.
Since we “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” to be made righteous is “by His grace as a gift” (3:23-24). Since this is a “gift,” there is “no injustice with God…for He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (9:14-15). Salvation then depends on God and not human will or exertion (9:15-18). God's calling and His righteousness is based on faith for both Jews and Gentiles (see chapter 10).
If you are struggling with this concept of God’s sovereignty, I urge you to read the first eleven chapters of Romans and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and open your understanding. We will look at this principle again at another time.
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