Today we remembered those who have given their lives so we could enjoy freedoms many do not have. As I was thinking this over during the day, I remembered a life that was sacrificed so common people could read the Bible in English. William Tyndale (1494 to 1536) came to mind.
It was the first Bible translated directly from the Hebrew and Greek texts. He loved the Scriptures and wanted its truth freely made available to anyone who wanted to read it. The first printing of a portion of the New Testament was made in 1525. By 1534, the New Testament was complete and some books of the Old Testament. Much of his translation work was used in the King James Bible.
What is also interesting about Tyndale is his biblical view on marriage. This conviction caused him to write Practyse of Prelates in which he openly opposed King Henry VIII’s planned annulment of his marriage. This and his unauthorized printing of Bibles led to his death by strangling and burning at the stake. Tyndale’s last cry was “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”
Many more have given their lives to keep God’s Word and truth in the hands of people who want to read it. David said about God’s Word, “more to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold” (Psalm 19:10). Let us thank the Lord for those who have preserved it for us - even through death.
Have you ever felt a deep sense of desperation about a situation and did not know where to turn for help - and finally got on your knees before God as the only one who could help?
There are very few times in my life that I have felt this way. I think of Abraham’s pleading with God over Lot, or Jacob wrestling with God over meeting Esau his brother, or Hannah’s prayer for a son? Her prayer was very different than most struggles because it was very personal. Before this event, Israel had been in steady decline after the death of Joshua. Israel became slaves to other nations again, but it was Samuel who turned Israel back to God and introduced King David.
For several years I have not been able to travel and participate in our training because of back, hip and now, knee surgeries. I hear of the wonderful revivals of God’s Word in places where our team goes and ask God over and over that this kind of revival would take place here in America.
Perhaps I have not reached a true point of desperation with God. I think of Paul’s attitude about his own people, the Jews. “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers” (Romans 9:2-3). Do I feel that deeply about the lack of revival here? NO! But I sense the Spirit working on me to have this kind of sorrow. Have you ever felt this way? If so, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are times when the Lord keeps pointing to an issue over and over, and if we try to ignore the point He is making, He will bring it to our attention some other way. That happened this week. Roland Allen’s book, Essential Missionary Principles, began a deep conviction in my heart about how often we substitute the role of the Holy Spirit with man-made schemes.
As the week progressed, I put Allen aside to give my conscience a ‘rest’ and process his words about the Spirit in a less convicting environment. I was waiting for someone to meet me today and picked up another book I have been reading by Jim Cymbala, Strong Through the Storm. To my shock, he was hitting the same topic from a different angle; how we have substituted the Spirit with entertainment, the relevant church, the corporate church, the latest faith-fad, the radical church, or just stagnant with orthodoxy.
If we boil this problem down to its basic elements, we work so hard making sure we have “ME” in the mix for success. When Paul describes his ministry of reconciliation (the gospel), he says, “as servants of God…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, 9–10). What mattered was reconciliation.
This attitude could only exist if the Spirit was given complete control! If the Church is going to fulfill her commission, she must abandon all desires to promote and exalt self. Humanly, we cannot do this. If we ask the Spirit to do this in us, He will and this will make way for HIS work.
After doing some necessary sorting, filing and throwing out of papers on my desk that had been there for over a month, I picked up a book that got buried under some papers. It was Roland Allen’s, Essential Missionary Principles, 1913, published by Fleming H. Revell Company.
Where I left off reading on page 29, Allen asserts that “all righteousness, all hope of righteousness, had its source and spring in the indwelling Spirit of Christ the righteous.” I think we tend to forget the role of the Spirit starting from new birth (John 3:1-8) continues on in us into eternity.
Even as to the “Great Commission” which we often refer to as a ‘command,’ Allen says that “Christ’s command is not arbitrary. It is the voice of the Spirit of Christ in Him and in us. “Go into all the world” is so manifestly the expression of the Spirit of the Incarnation that whoever had first spoke it would have instantly recognized it as the mouthpiece of the Spirit” (32-33).
I am learning in myself that we have limited the Spirit and what He wants to do in and through us more than we realize. The Early Church asked in united prayer “to speak Your word with all boldness…and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the Word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29-31). Should we not ask for the same thing? This is absolutely necessary!
I asked this question this evening in our Zoom Prayer meeting. There was one answer that stood out among all others: “a movement of the Holy Spirit”. We can do all the ‘right things’ that we have been told should be done, but if the Spirit is not working in us and in those we hope to reach, nothing substantial will happen that lasts and brings glory to God.
This question turned our attention to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. As an example, the church at Ephesus was given some of the highest revelations of truth of any of the churches, but Jesus charges them with “having abandoned the love they had at first” (2:4). What caused this drastic failure?
We are not told what led up to this point, but that is not the main issue at the moment. We could spend years trying to analyze the cause of failure, but the greatest need for recovery from failure and the only way for that to happen is through “repenting!” (2:5). If this did not take place, Christ would come and “remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
It is only a movement of the Spirit in our hearts that brings about repentance! He is the Divine Initiator of true repentance in us. Without the Spirit it will be human generated repentance.
As I read the next portion of 2 Corinthians this morning, I couldn’t help thinking of all the gimmicks some use to get donations to roll into their accounts. Paul was completely against any and all schemes that in any degree misrepresent the gospel.
“But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).
How do we know what is a “disgraceful, underhanded way…or cunning or tampering with God’s word”? What is the motive? That might be answered only by the person doing the ministry. But there are other signs that should raise red flags and cause us to ask questions. Is the result of the ministry promoting the gospel and God’s glory, or does money and pride bubble to the surface?
These are hard questions to ask, but they may need to be asked in different ways depending on the ministry and persons involved. Many ministries began well and seemed to have good objectives until a moral or financial crisis uncovers the real motives. Let us be very careful that accountability keeps us and every ministry Christ and gospel centered
As a child of God, I must be like a mirror, reflecting God's glory and likeness. How is this possible? Paul gives a clear picture of how this takes place in 2 Corinthians 3:18. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
This reflection should come from the inside (the heart, the inner person), transformation accomplished through the Spirit’s work in us. As I yield or submit to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, I am changed or transformed. This mirror reflection in me is produced as I give myself to looking intently at the glory of the Lord, like a mirror, He is then reflected in me to the world.
What is this likeness or reflection? By looking at, or observing Christ, I see what He looks like. A good place to start is the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7. When we read the attitude or mind of Christ in these chapters, I see how I fall very short, especially in today's world. Do I exhibit servant leadership, humility, poor in spirit, blessing my persecutors, meekness, pure in heart, turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, loving my enemies, giving my coat, not looking on a woman with lust, overcoming evil with good, etc.
Paul saw each of these qualities as the work of the Holy Spirit, transforming me into a better and better reflection of Christ. Will you look more intently into this mirror with me? We will be changed into His likeness!
It is not a new struggle in my heart because I have felt this way many times. Recent events in Burkina Faso and Nigeria have raised the issue again with greater intensity than ever before. I will state the issue in the form of a question; why are Christians in persecuted places where there is evident poverty, hungrier for God’s Word more than those of us in Western countries?
It is simplistic to say that our wealth and modern distractions are the cause. I believe the root of this issue goes far deeper than our cultures.
Part of the answer lies in our love for God. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). This was not taken seriously by Israel, and it is light considered by us. One of Joshua’s parting instructions to Israel was, “Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:11).
After saving Israel out of slavery, protecting and providing for them forty years in the wilderness, God’s Word was still not taken seriously. Joshua was given specific instructions; “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).
Love for God and love for His Word make the difference. Culture and wealth would have no impact on the degree of our love if we understood the authority behind God’s Word. Other issues we will be discuss next time but think about this question and see what answers you come up with.
“My days have been filled with lots of travel on very poor roads. I visited a village that was burned by those who persecute our brothers and sisters. Pray for these who have lost everything but hold onto their faith and love for Jesus.
I am praying for you and ask that you pray that the graduation in Malumfashi, Nigeria will encourage and equip these incredible servants of God. After 8 1/2 hours of travel yesterday, we now set out on another 5-7 hours, depending on the roads, to Malumfashi which is not far from the border of Niger.
There is so much happening here in Nigeria. By God's grace I will back in October, after ministry trips to Burkina Faso and Niger in September. Then, Lord-willing, I will be back in Jalingo in December to introduce GPHD & GPHC to Bible college students right as they graduate. The president of the school told me that there is nothing he would rather have than this biblical model of ministry given to them as they set out from school. Amazing the way God expands His work for His glory!” (Randy)
One of the greatest causes for worship is realizing the transformation that has taken place in us. Paul describes this change very simply; “you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…but God…made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:1, 4-5). This chapter ends with Jew and Gentile “being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (22). In other words, recognizing our transformation in Christ naturally leads to unified worship.
This made me think of the ten lepers who were cleansed in Luke 17:11-19. They were all cleansed but only one recognized WHO made the difference in his life. Without hesitation, he returned to the source of his healing and “fell on his face at Jesus feet, giving Him thanks” (16), clearly an act of worship.
As I thought over this, I wondered how many of us fit into the nine who never get to the point of real worship because of distractions or failing to realize the source of our spiritual healing. If our salvation was because we were allured by ‘goodies” and not the real truth about our spiritual condition (dead in sin), we will also miss the cause for worship for the NEW LIFE IN CHRIST.
Knowing the source of transformation makes both the Person who made the change possible and the relationship worthy of all my praise.
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