We want to give you a mini slice of some of the reports shared by those who received certificates for completing the manual. You will see their vision in this report so you can specifically pray for them as they have returned home to implement what the Holy Spirit has given them. The statements below are a small sample:
· I will share Jesus and God’s plan by teaching them to live their life in Christ in their marriage and family.
· Find faithful men to pass on what I have learned and send them out.
· (Husband and wife team) We want to preach the pure gospel of grace to ethnic groups.
· I will teach them the plan and purpose of God.
· I will teach the roles in the church by using the Word of God for men, women, and children. (He planted a church last year and now plans to go to North VN to the Thai people by 2018).
· Equip key leaders and send them out.
· Need to renew our church. Need to arrange a three month course for the leaders and will use GPHC to teach them.
· With this strategy, I will return to the Bible to teach the key leaders.
· I know the Lord has given me a vision to connect with an ethnic group in Vietnam.
· When I establish a church, I will only rely on the Holy Spirit, not money or buildings.
· My church has not developed, so I will ask them to repent and return to the Bible.
· I have a desire to expand the gospel in the surrounding areas.
· I have a vision to reach other nations (Cambodia, Laos and Thailand).
· Teach them to pray and rely on the Holy Spirit.
· We will choose leaders based on qualifications in the Bible and teach them to rely on the Holy Spirit to expand God’s kingdom.
· I realize the importance of the Holy Spirit in my plan and the Lord has helped me to return to the Bible.
· A strong church must be a launching church with order.
The following was shared by our key “Timothy”
· In the next ten years, I want to expand the work by depending on the Holy Spirit.
· My plan is to expand the manual through all Vietnam.
· I want all here to pray so that it will reach as many as possible.
If those comments and commitments don’t stir your heart to praise and thanksgiving, then I have done a very poor job of communicating. In all the years Tim has done this ministry and I have worked with him almost eight of those years, we have never seen a group complete the manual and made such bold commitments. We felt the presence and power of the Holy Spirit working in them to advance God’s plan in Vietnam.
We pushed the students hard Wednesday and Thursday through chapter six. It was difficult at times because some lessons were challenging their traditional understanding, forcing them to think in biblical terms rather than what they have heard for years. We were very thankful that the two brothers who have worked together in bringing this group together also stepped in to stop open discussions that would have only become arguments.
The individual stories would take pages, but I trust you will sense what we see happening in this group. We have no doubt that God is bringing a new day of spiritual revival through them to Vietnam. As we kept pointing to the 68 unreached people groups just in Vietnam, there are a few who are catching the vision of reaching them. One vibrant brother shared his ten year plan. He has already planted four churches in Ho Chi Minh and will go on to plant at least two each year in different districts and then move out to areas where he will reach the unreached.
As Thursday ended and we arrived at Friday morning, we could feel the excitement and anticipation fill the room. They were given ten minutes each to outline their projects with the understanding that this was only the beginning of God unfolding their future.
There are always varying degrees of comprehension in any group, but Tim and I were truly amazed at the insights they have gained. The Holy Spirit is clearly at work! Some of these brothers and sisters grasped the intent of Paul’s letters and the roles in the family and church with clarity and understanding. As we progressed into the lessons on personal roles in the family, there was one sister whose husband is not a believer but has respected and served him faithfully. Another sister shared about honoring her parents even though divorce has split the family apart, yet she has a large heart for what God is showing her through GPHC. She told us privately that when she first started going through the manual, she did not understand the learning process, so she got another manual and started over again. It was humbling to see how much work she had done; page after page filled with answers and notes.
A pastor spoke of wanting to be a better parent to his children. Several others spoke of returning to Scripture to put into practice God’s principles they had learned in every area of life. Some who shared were visibly moved in spirit by what they were learning. There is one young man who is like a keg of dynamite. He is so excited with the material and sees with clarity the principles in each lesson. Even a few that might be resisting or struggling with the principles are showing signs that the Holy Spirit is softening their hearts and becoming willing to change. One pastor, after a resistant comment, said that he was going to spend more time in God’s Word, asking the Holy Spirit to give him understanding. We have no doubt that the changes taking place are just the beginning of what God is going to do.
July 20 - 25. We were picked up at the hotel at 8:45 a.m. and in ten minutes were at a business where a brother works and the owner is also a believer. This is an amazing story in itself. He asked the owner of the company if an empty room on the third floor could be used for the training this week. Because the has used his place in the past for events like this, he agreed and that same day they received two substantial business contracts; almost like an affirmation to the owner that he had made a good choice in letting us meet there. Gatherings like this are not permitted by the government without written approval (very hard to acquire). This meant that entering and exiting the building is done quickly so we do not draw attention to ourselves.
It will be very difficult to summarize these five days! The room was packed with about 35 students and just enough room for Tim, me and our translator to sit in the front at a small table with a white board behind us on the wall. Most had done the lesson pre-work (observing the Scriptures) and were ready for an intense week of finishing the group response, discussion and application. Tim and I introduced ourselves and what to expect during the week ahead. Someone was asked each morning to diagram and explain on the white board a review of the ‘Big Picture” that covers God’s plan for His church from chapter 1 to 6. Since they had covered Chapter 1 to4 with Tim during his previous visit, he introduced chapter five on Paul’s letters and why they were written in a specific order with the intent of laying a firm foundation in the gospel of grace in the first six letters. This large group was divided into five smaller groups that would facilitate discussion of the lessons and selecting a different leader for each lesson who would report the conclusion of their discussion. Then they began the process of working through each lesson in chapter five; discussing the key principles and comparing them with their life, marriage, family and church. The critical part of each lesson is making application – changes that would put the principles into practice.
Jesus used the Word of God throughout His ministry in response to many situations, but perhaps the most powerful illustration is when He responded to the devil in the wilderness during his temptation. These two verses require our meditation for current application.
· “But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’”” (Matthew 4:4).
· “And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’”” (Luke 4:4).
The power of this simple statement needs to grip our minds and hearts. God has carefully and accurately given to us His Word in written form so that it is preserved for us in this day. As Jesus used it to refute the outright deceptive and subtle lies of Satan, so God intends that we use it to refute false teaching and lies today. They are multiplying very rapidly. Whether it is the degrading of human life from conception to death or twisting the sacred plan of God for marriage, we must be equipped with what God has written; first to strengthen ourselves with truth, and second, to confront with confidence what is false with God’s eternal Word. This is only gained through spending time prayerfully with Jesus in His Word!
Most of the Scriptures in this series are taken from Lesson 48 of God’s Plan for His Church. Let me get you thinking about two references before I make any comment.
· “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:3).
· “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
David is the author of both Psalms and reveals important characteristics of his devotion to the Lord. Notice the ‘two-way’ communication between him and the Lord. David would speak to God and he would also “watch” for a response from the Lord. This attitude is combined with worship (“prepare a sacrifice”). There is no perception in this Psalm that David is doing this out of duty or obligation, but only his delight in the relationship he has with God. Psalm 16:11 confirms this by David saying, “in your presence there is fullness of joy”!
Is your quiet time with the Lord a joy?
If the value of God’s Word is growing in our hearts, there should be no problem spending time with the Lord in His Word listening to what He wants to say to us through it. “The most important thing we can do is something we all can do – spend time with Christ in the Word and in prayer, which is a joyful privilege.” Let God’s Word reinforce the importance of this activity that will bring the greatest joy and the richest enlightenment.
· Joshua 1:8 - “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).
Notice that there are three elements to God’s instructions to Joshua:
1. The word “meditate” means to “keep thinking about [so we will] continue to do”. This is a daily practice. (See James 1:22).
2. Obedience is a thoughtful, “careful” reflection that brings understanding given us by the Holy Spirit (See John 14:26).
3. God’s promise to Joshua that he would be “prosperous” and “successful” if he ‘did according to all that is written’. This “success” is not measured by us or by the world, but by God. In the eyes of the world, those listed in Hebrews 11 were a total failure, but in the eyes of God they were heroes of faith.
We will look at other Scriptures in the days ahead along with a report from the mission field. Let me just add one more verse that should bring insight and motivation to this subject. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16). Joy and delight do not come to our hearts until we have first taken the Word into our minds and hearts.
We cannot leave out the writer of Hebrews or Peter in this great subject. They are right alongside Paul in emphasizing characteristics of God’s Word that are necessary in forming our obedience and dependence on Scripture. At the same time, we may shy away from this subject because of the convicting nature God’s Word imposes on our hearts and lives. But, let me point out that the more we are convicted and transformed by the Word, the more we become useful in propagating it!
· Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
· 1 Peter 1:22-25 – “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth…the living and abiding Word of God [that] remains forever.”
· 2 Peter 1:3-4 - “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
· 2 Peter 1:20-21 – “knowing this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
In the 2 Peter 1:3-4, we see the absolute sufficiency of Scripture. There is nothing it does not address! The heart that cries out to God for understanding of His truth should not doubt for a moment that he/she will receive it. Follow Solomon’s advice as to wisdom (which God’s Word is) that we must “seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures” (Proverbs 2:4).
May God use this blog to greatly increase your hunger and appreciation of God’s Word.
Paul was very clear about the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word. In the same way that Paul faced false teachers who elevated their teaching above Scripture and the voice of the Holy Spirit, we must rely on the authority of Scripture to stand in the pure gospel. Paul expressed his concern by saying, “I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). As you consider the following verses, ask yourself how God’s Word is being used in this way to strengthen and protect His truth in you with purity.
· Ephesians 6:17 – “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
· 2 Thessalonians 2:13 - “Sanctification [is] by the Spirit and belief in the truth [the Word].”
· 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
That last reference requires careful and prayerful thought for application. The very nature of God’s Word is sufficient to make one “complete and equipped” for everything God has called us to do. Those who say ‘you must…’ and add some extra-biblical requirement in order to serve the Lord do not know the power and sufficiency of His Word or the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to “teach [us] all things” (John 14:26).
What joy fills the heart when this truth is fully accepted!
On Thursday, just before lunch, I prepared them for Project M where the students will take from all the key principles they learned during the three weeks, and condense them down to specific applications and actions they will take in their life, marriage, family and ministry. With fervent prayer, I committed them to the Spirit’s help in forming this critical step.
Friday morning you could feel the excitement in the room. They were ready to share what God had revealed to them. It was thrilling to see them making some critical changes in practice and thinking. With some, this comes with tearful repentance and a deeper realization that they cannot accomplish this without the Holy Spirit. After they all shared their project, we handed out certificates to all except one who had not finished the lessons. It is my custom to end a time like this with a word of encouragement. I spoke about Paul as our example (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; 2 Tim. 3:10) and his exhortation that we become models of Christ that others can follow. Committing them to the Lord and putting them in His hand for the Spirit to work in them God’s will for His glory is the best way we can leave them.
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