In this blog, I want to highlight two translations of our training material that are in process, plus a couple other items of news. The two languages are the Arabic and Farsi. Through an invitation to provide training in countries of the Middle East and West Asia, we have set our goal to have both translations completed and printed in 2020.
A dear brother has completed translating God’s Plan for His Church into Arabic and has started working on God’s Plan for His Disciples. He is a man who goes to great lengths to make sure the translation is accurate. In a sense, he feels that doing this work is going to his own people with the gospel through his translation work.
Just this week, we have received the Farsi translation of God’s Plan for His Disciples. Farsi (also known as Persian) is not in the top ten languages of the world, but is spoken by 110 million people. This in itself gives a sense of the potential impact God’s Word can have through this teaching.
Though we have been restricted from our normal travel around the globe and have canceled several training events, we are very encouraged that indigenous “Timothys” have taken up the challenge to take what they have learned and train others. This is exactly what Paul wanted Timothy to do; “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Pray for them to be confident in the Holy Spirit to enable and empower them to carry on an effective work.
When was the last time you read Hebrews 11? If you haven’t read this Chapter in some time, I invite you to take you Bible with a note book or pad of paper and pen, and read through this amazing account. These are men and women of faith who faced challenges we know little about.
How could they keep going in the face of suffering, even death? As you read, fill in the blanks.
Through faith, Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice because ______________________
Through faith, Enoch walked with God because ________________________________
Through faith, Noah obeyed God because _____________________________________
Through faith, Abraham believed the promises of God ___________________________
Through faith, Moses considered mistreatment and reproach greater riches than worldly wealth because (11:27) _______________________________________________________
Through faith, many others endured because God provided something better for them.
After all the powerful motivation of this chapter, they still did not have what you and I have. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Your ability to endure does NOT depend on you! It depends on where you are looking! Is it Jesus?
Knowing that many of you follow this ministry, I wanted to give a short update. Though we have seen many changes in the last month, and training trips have been canceled, there are other things happening that cause excitement. One of the most important items is the printing of our Third Edition of God’s Plan for His Disciples. We have just received and approved the proof from the printer. Since their printing load is light, they expect to go ahead with production immediately.
Again, we are amazed. One of our “Timothys” in S. E. Asia told us this week that with the restriction in travel, they have turned to Facebook to continue their training. Another “Timothy” in Myanmar carried on the training when Randy had to suddenly leave and return home because of travel restrictions. A brother in Malawi, Africa found our website and is very excited about our training material. Though he wanted to go through our training, conditions have stopped us from making any arrangements, but this did not stop him from diving into translating GPHD into Chichewa.
These are positive examples that God is NEVER STOPPED in His work. He is only asking us to join Him in prayer and encouragement with those He is using. In Matthew 21:28-32, Jesus gives the parable of two sons whose father asked to go and work in the vineyard. One said he would go and didn’t. The other said “’I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went” (29). Even if we face doubts and challenges, let us do all we can to “GO” into the harvest for our Lord. You will never see the fruitful harvest until you get involved in some way.
They were young in the faith. Their church had only been planted in the early part of AD 51. By the end of that year, doubts had been also planted in their minds and rumors ran through the church that the Lord had come, leaving them behind. Paul could not see these young believers get derailed in their faith or discouraged. So, he wrote them a letter of assurance.
Paul starts by reminding them of how the gospel was received “in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). He reminded them of his own labor among them “like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (2:7). When Paul could not leave where he was and go to Thessalonica, he sent Timothy to get a first hand report (3:1-2), who brought back an encouraging report. He followed this report with words about the coming of the Lord (chapter 4) and what the “day of the Lord” would look like (chapter 5).
As a final plea, Paul says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (5:11).
This is what we must be doing. The trials of today require that we use whatever means we can and reach out to the body of Christ with words that encourage and build up.
I must admit, “contentment” is not an easy lesson to learn. It seems to take a lifetime of going through various situations that try us before we learn what Paul is talking about in Philippians 4:11.
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” That word “content” (autarkēs) is made up of two words in Greek, “auto” and “self-rule.” This combined idea is part of Paul’s description of the fruit the Spirit produces in us; “self-control.” In other words, it is the Spirit’s work in us that helps us learn to be content
Paul continues his exhortation in Philippians 4 and adds, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (4:12). This is not natural to any of us, but is gain through the indwelling Spirit as we allow Him to teach us.
The instructions to Timothy were; “godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6–8). We do not gain unless we are content.
Perhaps the present trial is forcing us to learn this lesson in a new way. If we learn this, the Spirit will make it an “automatic” function of “self-rule” so that as circumstances change and our lives are required to adjust to new situations, we will be content with what the Lord gives us.
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” (Proverbs 12:25).
Sadly, we often think that if we worry about a problem, we will eventually find a solution. In reality, worry or anxiety actually adds to the weight of the problem and we make our situation even more difficult. Solomon was right; “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down.”
David, Solomon’s father, learned that it is better to “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). The word “cast” means to “throw, fling or hurl” your “burden” or “anxiety” away from yourself onto someone who is far more qualified to deal with it and carry its weight for you. He will also give you stability.
Jesus gave us this personal invitation; “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In verse 29, Jesus goes on to say; “learn from Me.” Naturally we do not cast our burdens on the Lord because we have an attitude that we are able to carry weighty matters on our own. Learning from the Lord means that I partner with Him in whatever circumstances He places us in or allows us to go through. When we do, Jesus guarantees “rest” and a “light” burden.
Will you accept His invitation?
As we hear of more cases of the Covid-19 here in many parts of the world, and how it is affecting family members and friends, our minds go to the Scriptures for comfort, wisdom and stability. Yesterday I pointed us to the only sure place of peace in these times – in the Lord.
I thought of J. Oswald Sanders and his book, Enjoying Intimacy with God. In the fifteenth chapter, Intimacy Prevents Discouragement, Sanders points to Paul’s attitude that flowed out of his close walk with the Lord.
If Paul can be so positive in circumstances that were far more difficult than ours, so can we. Sanders reminds us that “we lose heart when we lose the sense of wonder at the surpassing superiority of the ministry entrusted to us. “Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit” (3:5-6; page 130).
Be sure to strengthen your heart through getting close to the source of courage and comfort.
As in other times of uncertainty, people are asking questions about whether the events surrounding COVID-19 are a sign that we are at or near the end of time. These questions are not new. Jesus was asked similar questions, even by His disciples.
“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”” (Matthew 24:3). Jesus followed this question with a warning; “See that no one leads you astray” (24:4). The tool of the Deceiver (Satan) is to distract us from the real purpose of why we are left here.
Part of the deception is diverting our attention to persons who claim to be “Christ” in order to “lead many astray” (24:5). These are called “false teachers…who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them” (2 Peter 2:1). The attempt is to cause fear and distrust so we look for security outside the person of Jesus. Remember His words; “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”” (John 16:33).
Our greatest stability is in the person of Christ. In sending the Holy Spirit to be here in His absence, Jesus is drawing each of us into a closer walk with Him so we know this peace. Out of that place of peace, we can tell others where to find peace. I pray the Spirit will direct your heart into this inner circle with the Lord so He will send you out with the message of peace – “Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:35–36).
In these days, it is not hard to feel the frustration, fear, anxiety, loss of hope and pain many are experiencing and expressing. No one felt these conditions more than Jesus did. As He walked through His own creation, He healed, comforted, and supplied food for many. But these conditions needed something far better and more powerful than medicine and stopping disease.
These persons needed “the gospel of the kingdom.” It’s the Good News of the King that has provided a way into His kingdom through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension. While the material and physical things help our temporal needs for a time, they do not go beyond death. The gospel of Jesus Christ offers eternal life in a new heaven where righteousness reigns.
Have you offered that Gospel, that Good New to anyone today? This is true compassion of the highest order! When you do, you will be a real ambassador of the Good Shepherd (John 10:11; 2 Corinthians 5:20).
Have you ever been in a situation when you wanted HELP immediately? As some friends and relatives come in contact with persons who have COVID-19, there is a feeling of needing help for several reasons. We don’t know the outcome of that moment and we may not know where to turn for the right kind of medical care. We need to know the correct response in these moments.
There was a Levitical family in the Old Testament known as Korah. They rose up in rebellion against Moses causing God to instantly punish them with death. However, a few members of this family survived, and through the years learned very important lessons about God’s character.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah” (Psalm 46:1–3).
Jeremiah heard God say to him, ““Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away?” (23:23). These are comments from persons who really knew God as being very near, especially in times of trouble.
There is nothing greater I could do for you than to encourage you to know Him in this personal way. Both Jeremiah and the Sons of Korah knew God intimately. Actually, He is right there with you and wants to establish a strong relationship with you so that even if trouble comes into your life, you will know God as your “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Link To Our Old Blog: