In my time with the Lord this morning, I was reading 1 Kings 22:1-14. This a very present day prophetic word (as is all Scripture). Ahab gets in his mind an idea that he is going to recapture Ramoth-Gilead, a city of refuge (Deut. 4:43) just east of the Jordan River, that Syria claimed to be theirs. To accomplish this military feat, he turns to Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, who agrees initially to assist in the operation. Before they launch into this pursuit, Jehoshaphat suggests that they “inquire first for the word of the Lord” (22:5). This is what kings under God’s control are to do. Ahab complied and “gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men” (22:6). But Jehoshaphat was concerned there maybe “another prophet of the Lord whom we may inquire” (22:7). He is making a distinction that Ahab, as an evil king, could not make. There are prophets and there are “prophets of the Lord”.
There is such a prophet. Micaiah is summoned by a messenger and told, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them and speak favorably” (22:13). Micaiah is not so fast to agree with such a demand. There is a higher priority which he makes very clear. “But Micaiah said, “As the Lord lives, what the Lord says to me, that I will speak”” (22:14).
There is an unprecedented need today for Micaiah’s. So many follow the popular voice of religious leaders, but rarely listen to what God says through His Word. In a few places, God is raising up those who are returning to the Word of the Lord, the Scriptures, as their sole authority for life and ministry. It is through them the Spirit is igniting a fire of revival that is renewing the church and accomplishing what only the Spirit can do. The question that comes out of this observation is whether we want to follow the crowd or follow the Lord? Which is your preference?
“For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16–18).
I am struck by Paul’s attitude. With so many persons I have met in various avenues of ministry, money was a major motivation. Paul makes it very clear that it was not so with him. In fact, he would not even boast in the fact that he was preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He had received a divine call to preach the gospel and that meant he was under charge by God. What about reward and compensation for such a commitment? It came from the shear joy of seeing others receive eternal life without charge and the church built as a temple of God in the Spirit.
This again raises a question about our motives in ministry. Personally, I could not be happier than right now as I give time and personal resources to see the gospel spread through “true Timothy’s” to the unreached people groups of the world. That is my reward. I want to fulfill my responsibility as a “stewardship” to God and without any obligation to man.
“When He (Jesus) went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34).
Even though there were many “inconveniences”, the people in China were made accessible to Hudson Taylor “in city after city, town after town, and villages. It was this that drew Taylor, as it had his Master long ago. The same “MUST” was in his heart. “We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). “He (Jesus) said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose”” (Luke 4:43). It was the “MUST” that propelled Hudson Taylor to go deeper into China and endure hardship. “Nothing held him back, neither winter cold nor summer heat, nor even the peril of war conditions.”
Have you felt the “MUST” of the gospel?
Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Moody Publishers, 2009, page 61.
During the missionary days of Hudson Taylor in China, they exercised great patience in not running “before the Spirit of God in the matter of…full-time helpers in the work.” New indigenous Chinese believers were pursuing their vocations and at the same time evangelizing their own people. If China Inland Mission (CIM) were to employ these Christians, even with a modest salary, they “realized it would prove a hindrance in the long run rather than a help. To pay young converts, however sincere, for making known the gospel and to pay them with money from foreign sources would inevitably weaken their influence, if not their own Christian character.
How was China to be evangelized, but by the Chinese Church? And how were the converts ever to know the joy of unpaid, voluntary service out of love to the Lord Jesus Christ, unless the missionaries could be patient and wait for their spiritual development.”
Taylor himself learned the skills of medicine so that he could offer medical help, charge for medications, yet evangelize the natives at the same time. This example was not only modeled by Hudson, but became a requirement for those entering the CIM work. This method was very successful and spread to every corner of their work in China. It was self-sustaining in many ways.
Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Moody Publishers, 2009, pages 95-96.
The following quote is so inspiring!
“The great things of God are beyond our control. Therein lies vast hope. Spontaneous expansion could fill the continents with the knowledge of Christ: our control cannot reach that far. We constantly complain about our limitations when there are open doors we have not entered; doors closed to us as foreign missionaries; fields white to the harvest which we cannot reap. Spontaneous expansion could enter open doors, force closed ones, and reap those white fields. Our control cannot. It can only appeal pitifully for more men to maintain control.”
Remember what Paul quoted from Isaiah 64:4, “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”--” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Knowing God through intimacy with Him reveals to us more and more that He is capable of doing what we cannot. So if He promised that every nation (ethnos) will hear the gospel and be represented in heaven, then it will be so. Let’s walk with Him through the doors He opens!
Roland Allen, Edited by Sherman Driver
Greetings to you from Eldoret, Kenya. We have now completed three out of five days of follow-up training. “H” from Zambia is with me, and is proving a great teacher and facilitator of God's Word. What a joy to share this ministry with our Brother.
Mt. Elgon in central Kenya has been the site of much fighting and bloodshed, but these men are committed leaders, wanting to teach God's Plan for His Church and bring revival in the churches there. They and the others have received God's Word joyfully and are laying out their plans for beginning a church planting movement. –Randy
The following is a testimony from a missionary in Indonesia and apparently who was visiting Ecuador:
“I heard about your ministry from a fellow former missionary/pastor. Just about two months before we came, “P” was introduced to a very down to earth study called "God's Plan for His Church". It had already been translated into Spanish, so “P” began to study it. He soon got others to join him and it is beginning to "snowball!" Since we came home, he has continued to introduce other church leaders and pastors to these lessons and they are seeing this process/plan is the biblical way to plant and do church! While we were there, he was puzzling over a certain question. It's fortunate that he knows English well enough so that he saw it was a poor Spanish translation! He brought it to Tim's attention and Tim in turn has asked Pablo to double-check the Spanish translation to be sure it says it right.”
After witnessing what God is doing through this manual, this missionary from West Kalimantan, Indonesia wants to translate it into the Bahasa language. We marvel and praise the Lord for what He is doing without us even being involved. Our God works all things to glorify Himself!
Renewal and Revival is breaking out in Liberia and the Ivory Coast, and now it is moving to the unreached villages and towns! Praise our Lord! Please rejoice with us in all our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ are doing for our Father's glory! Truly this is the work of the Holy Spirit! Here is a testimony of what is taking place:
“Praise the Lord! We appreciate your prayers and support and for sending Brother Randy to us; to train us to train pastors and church planters in "God's Plan for His Church". This accomplishment we have waited for our long time plan. As you are aware, the "Great Commission" cannot be accomplished if men are not trained and people are not going out to win souls. We have been praying for the Lord to open doors for training pastors and church planters in ministry as seen in 2 Timothy 2:2. The Lord answered our prayers and we just finished one week training for all 45 leaders from different regions in Liberia and the Ivory Coast (March 14-20, 2017).
We were trained in "God's Plan for His Church" using biblical principles that transcend cultures and time for church planting and church renewal. We thank God for Randy and all of you for accepting our invitation to come to Toe Town, Southeastern Liberia, to conduct the training.
Our ministry is focusing on mainly towns and villages without churches in Southeastern part of Liberia. Since I came from Kenya last October from the training in God's Plan for His Church, we have been training our pastors and church planters using the same material. We are now planting churches and fellowships in unreached towns and villages, in accordance with Paul’s plan and vision in Romans 15:20; "Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation." This is our desire for the ministry in our place. Pray for the ministry in Liberia! Our plans are to carry out an accelerated church planting movement for the multiplication of indigenous disciples and planting churches.
Though we face some difficult situations, we believe the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is always with us and we believe that GOD’S WORK DONE GOD'S WAY WILL NEVER LACKING GOD'S SUPPLY.”
As we watch further expansion of God’s work in Ecuador, I am reminded of Paul words, “I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).
We received a call from Ecuador telling us they had met with the CM&A leader in charge of church planting and evangelism for all of Ecuador. They want to change their philosophy of ministry back to a Pauline and Acts model. They were so excited!! We are too!!
News like this is confirmation from the Lord that His principles work in any culture. As we see this happening in other parts of the world, we are more than ever committed to carry the torch of His light to every people group through the indigenous church. They are far more effective than we could ever be in their culture. This is an “effective work”!
“Brothers, let me share with you something that is really challenging people. I have taken the small cloth, pocket size map of Paul's travels with me for meaningful conversation. As I show them the map, I asked, “How long did it take the gospel to travel from Jerusalem to Rome, 2500 KM (1553 miles) as the crow flies? This happened in 25 years and as Acts 17:6 says, “These men…have been turning the world upside down” for Christ. (I did this yesterday at lunch with several pastors.)
Then I asked them, “Do you know of any church anywhere, other than maybe China, that is making that kind of progress?” Of course, they do not. Knowing that most in Asia are looking to the West for ideas, new programs, money and methods, etc., I asked, “Then why are you looking to the West?” If this is true now, let me ask you again, “Do you know of ANY church or movement anywhere that is making the kind of progress today that the Early Church made?” Of course the answer is “No”!
Then, realizing that is true, “Why not let us go back to the Scriptures to learn about the Early Church?” Then I do the same with Paul's travels and training methods over 10 years. “Why don't we go back to the Scriptures and learn about how Jesus and Paul developed leaders or disciples? Why do we continue doing the same old same old training in Bible Colleges, Seminaries etc.?” This is food for thought. When the western thinking is present, persons find themselves in a corner and must either accept or reject the biblical model.”
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