We have been reminded in this ministry from many parts of the world that God is still working to accomplish His plan and purpose in spite of what happens in the world. If we allow events in the world to consume our attention, we will miss the most important things that God is doing.
We received a note from a beloved “Timothy” in Myanmar (Burma) which said, “I thank the Lord for giving us a chance to train many people for His kingdom, especially in Kalay, Zozang, Lashio, Rakhine, Myitkyina and Mandalay. I saw so many children who are very thirsty for the Word of God. I am so thankful to God for these children.
This reminds us of Jesus’ teaching the disciples; “He took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”” (Mark 9:36–37).
Jesus also used the term “Little Children” (John 13:33) as a special term of endearment to communicate His heart to the disciples. I see this attitude in our “Timothy” and his love for God’s work. He is not seeking to ‘domineer’ or ‘lord’ it over the flock (believers), but teach them through a close relationship that helps them mature through love and genuine care.
Is this our attitude?
Do we have zeal for the right things? Paul realized that his own people, Israelites, were very zealous; “they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2). They did not know “the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (3). How hopeless it is to pursue the most important thing in life for hundreds of years and in the end discover that you were pursuing it the wrong way.
I am afraid that we often do the same thing with much determination. If we place our hopes in man’s institutions, promises and governments, we quickly find out they are empty. The end of all such pursuits is disillusionment that leads to discouragement. “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25).
Let us have zeal for the right things. Paul has some strong words about this; “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Romans 12:11). Put in some other words, ‘don’t be lazy or hold back in being eagerly devoted with enthusiasm’ in the way we make the Lord our sole pursuit and purpose for serving.
You can be absolutely certain that this attitude of the heart will have a huge impact on those around you, those you serve and witness to. They will see in you a passion because your serving will have a “joy” in and for the Lord that cannot be taken away by circumstances.
We live among fakes and frauds. Hopefully, we are not one ourselves. As I write this blog, I wonder to what degree my own heart is insincere and how much I project an attitude of being true but underneath there is hypocrisy. Every time in history has been marked by leaders who we trusted and proved at some level to be untrustworthy.
When it comes to the Church, these conditions should never be. Paul makes this point clear for us. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:9–10). Can you imagine if this was our daily rule of behavior?
Was this optional for Paul? Read carefully the times that he lived in. “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything” (2 Corinthians 6:4–10).
No wonder this servant of God had such a powerful impact on the Church. So can ws follow the example he gave us.
In days of uncertainty, we must anchor our souls and minds on what really matters. In speaking and hearing from many, some are derailed by COVID concerns and what is happening with changing governments. These are not the primary concerns of faithful followers and disciples of Jesus.
What is far more important is giving our full attention to what God is doing and being part of it. I have listed some very helpful Scriptures below that I invite you to read and meditate on. Let them refocus your attention on what is eternal and cannot be altered by the events of this world.
· God’s plans will come to pass – Isaiah 14:24
· God’s purposes are eternal – Genesis 50:8-9; Isaiah 55:8-9
· God is offering opportunities to join Him in His work – John 4:32-35; 5:30; 6:38; 14:31
· God is victorious ALREADY over Satan’s schemes - 2 Corinthians 2:11; Matthew 25:23
· God is at work! Join Him while it is still day – John 9:4
As a closing note, taking careful consideration of Isaiah’s words; “The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and He will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.” (Isaiah 33:5–6).
WHAT A PROMISE!
Thursday night we had a wonderful Zoom prayer meeting on Acts 2:1-13 regarding the coming or giving of the Holy Spirit. We mainly discussed the previous section of (1:12-26) which demonstrates that the disciples were already being influenced by the Spirit coming ‘upon them.’ Peter “stood up among the brothers” (1:15) and quoted Psalm 69:25 and 109:8 to support replacing Judas so the number twelve would be complete.
We saw a wonderful link between Luke 24:27; “He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” and John 20:22; “Receive the Holy Spirit” and Acts 1:15-16. Peter was allowing the Spirit to come upon him with clear recall of the Scriptures to guide them in prayer and preparation for the Day of Pentecost; being filled with the Holy Spirit.
The work of the Spirit on earth, which began before creation, is now through persons that He fills and has sealed (Eph. 1:13). I can think of nothing greater than being fully available and under His control.
We often project a very negative image of Peter because of all the ‘out-of-place things he said, but from John 21:15-19 on, Peter is a different man. Could that be said of us? We ended our time with fervent prayer that we would become more and more submitted to the Spirit. Will you?
EXALTING JESUS CHRIST ONLY!
PREPARE IN US FIRST A HIGHWAY FOR JESUS TO BE PROCLAIMED IN THE GOSPEL TO THE WORLD (MARK 16:15; LUKE 24:47)!
TEACHING/GIVING US UNDERSTANDING IN ALL THE THINGS THAT BELONG TO JESUS (JOHN 14:26)!
FILLING US WITH HIS POWER TO DO GOD’S WORK – GREATER WORKS (JOHN 14:12)!
YES! THESE ARE ALL POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!!
For too long He has been either ignored or attributed works that are not His. We must get back to a biblical, Scripture-taught understanding of the Holy Spirit and ask Him to take charge of our hearts and lives. This will bring revival through submission to His authority in us through the Word of God and humble dependence in prayer.
Be prepared for a radical work of the Spirit in you!
If you knew there is one thing you need to be extremely effective in ministry, would you ask for it?
Would you abandon tradition if this one thing brought the gospel to millions, would you receive it?
If this one thing produced total unity in the Church, would you submit to it?
How eager would you be to follow this one thing if it required you to be humble?
If the end of God’s work on earth depends on cooperating with this one thing, would you?
Come back to this blog tomorrow and find the answer.
Today was a good day for me. I began with extended prayer and then read Acts 1:5-11. My mind traveled back to the days when Jesus walked the earth He created which was not much different from today. There was political rivalry and a very hard time for all. Uncertainty marked every day.
There was one stable and constant in the midst of all the confusion. JESUS! He did not come to change or resolve unrest in or between nations. He came to turn the attention of individuals away from events in the world to Himself. Just before facing the most unjust trial and death, He left His disciples with words of strong comfort and encouragement.
“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).
That was not all He left them with. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
This peace and power was not just for becoming “witnesses,” but for living faithfully in a Godless world. His plan and purpose WILL NOT FAIL! Be sure you are walking close to Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The world is running to judgment. We are running for glory!
I was given a new book a few day ago written by Robert J. Morgan, On This Day in Christian History. Today’s account focused on the Puritans in the early 1600’s when they voiced their concerns to King James IV regarding the Anglican Church. While their grievances were not heard, they “began worshiping in small groups as they felt the Bible taught them.”
As Paul wrote the Philippians from a prison cell, he makes a very important statement; “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:12–14).
Look at all the good things that came out of Paul being in prison! Whether it is being forced to meet in small groups or seeing some come to Christ because of our circumstances, we need to be thankful for what God is doing even through the present pandemic. He is making us rethink how church is done, causing us to reexamine the Scriptures and follow the model of the Early Church.
We lose spiritual ground when we complain. We gain spiritual ground when we ask God what He is doing, and then join Him!
How should we connect with those who are being persecuted or in areas of the world where Christians are experiencing suffering and trying circumstances because of their faith in Christ? In the present situation, we are not able to go there and walk in their shoes and feel their pressure. We have been asking these soldiers of Jesus to give reports from the front lines.
Joel in Nigeria writes; “Greetings from Nigeria! Thank you for the email which is encouraging to hear from you knowing that people are praying for us over there. The prayer of God's people have been a major factor for the successes recorded this year. Thank God for the privilege to serve and for protection in all the trips we had this year for training and ministry. One great lesson I learned this year is to trust Him in any situation. At a point this year I thought it was over, the Lord proved to keep to His promises. Despite the difficulties, sicknesses and many other challenges the Lord has been with us.
As we begin the new year, pray that God will direct my steps towards His will for my life and family. I do not want to do anything on my own. Also pray that He will use me to impact the lives of many who are in need. Also pray for journey mercies as we travel for training and outreaches in the north east as the insecurity of our roads and communities are becoming so much worse. Pray for protection over our families and God’s providence.”
This should inspire each of us to pray diligently and often for those in Nigeria who carry the gospel of Jesus Christ across their nation and beyond. Physical harm and death may be in their path.
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