Have you considered how the Scriptures, the Bible, God’s written word is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ? Read again the familiar words from John’s Gospel and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding as you read them.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).
All truth has been given to us by revelation (2 Timothy 3:16) and is also fully embodied in Jesus as the Word and truth (John 14:6) for every culture and any time in history. It is available to all who seek it and receive it, because Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32). There is nothing in the universe that is able to set any person free except the truth in the person of Christ.
Are you free? Free from the bondage of sin, legalism, man-made tradition or anything else that does not measure up to Christ. Christ and His truth will set you free!! I mean, really FREE!!
After the REPORT FROM THE HARVEST FIELD we posted yesterday, it is appropriate to look at the role the Word of God played in the Early Church. Just in the first four chapters of the Book of Acts, the Old Testament is quoted eleven times by Peter. Through his powerful preaching, “there were added that day about three thousand souls” (2:41). As we go further into Luke’s record, we see comments he made about the “Word of God” that tell us much about what the disciples were experiencing as the Holy Spirit was moving through them.
Acts 6:7 – “The Word of God continued to increase…”
Acts 12:24 – “The Word of God increased and multiplied”
Acts 13:49 – “The Word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region”
Acts 19:20 – “The Word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily”
Since it is the characteristic of God’s Word, it inherently affects whole regions so that thousands are added to the Lord and baptized into the church. It crosses national and cultural barriers, language and ethic divides. It cannot be stopped by any powers of government or opposition. Why would we want to substitute this divine tool for any man-made method and program?
Based on our own eye-witness experience, we are seeing a surge of the Holy Spirit in parts of the world where hearts are hungry for God’s Word WITHOUT man’s methods. Where this hunger is present, the gospel is spreading like never before, and churches are being planted. WHY? It is because SCRIPTURE alone is followed! Will you be one of those who REPENTS AND RETURNS?
“When I see how God is using our teaching (planting and watering through God’s Plan for His Church training manual), in the way of Christ and the Apostles, I feel like I want to get a loud speaker and tell the church, PLEASE LET'S RETURN TO THE SCRIPTURES! It really works! Today's church and mission gets further and further away from the Scripture alone and continues to do the "same-old-same-old" expecting different results. I will concede to another model other than the biblical model if you can find one that can reach the same size area and diverse people that the early church reached from Jerusalem to Rome in 25 years. I will also concede to another missionary strategy if it can reach from Antioch throughout Asia Minor in 11 years, and I will even let them use phones, planes, motorbikes, e-mail, etc. If this is not possible, then let us return to the biblical model! Return to an indigenous and self-sustaining model that depends on the Holy Spirit, increases the Headship and Lordship of Christ and builds on the sufficiency and authority of God's Word alone!
“How do we communicate this philosophy”, I asked the Lord this morning. He seemed to indicate that we continue to plant and water with the assurance that He knows what we are doing and He knows what works, and this time-tested biblical philosophy can only be revealed by the Holy Spirit to those open for such teaching, otherwise it remains hidden. Regardless, I believe with all my heart and soul that we are on the right track, so let us press on. I do believe we have got to be careful and selective in who we teach and when, in order to be as effective as possible. This cannot just be a course to add onto some existing western program. Rather it requires a complete and total paradigm shift accomplished ONLY by the Holy Spirit through the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word.” Tim
For the last two days we have looked at the character of God’s Word through the eyes of “the man after God’s own heart”, David. Now we go back over these verses (Psalm 19:7-11) and see what happens when they are applied to our lives. Take time to read over these slowly and as the Holy Spirit to make each one happen in you.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever
The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned
In keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:7–11).
Do not miss the impact these will have on you through personal application; to purify your mind and heart, to strengthen your faith, to protect you from unseen dangers, and to give you rewards NOW in your walk with the Lord.
The more I spend time in God’s Word, the more my love for it grows. It is an unsearched ocean, a bottomless well, a source of truth, instruction, correction and inspiration that feeds my soul and guides my mind, transforms my life and gives vision for all of life. With that in mind, I continue to draw our attention to the character of Scripture.
While these terms used by David have overtones of legal meaning, that is intentional. If we are going to allow Scripture to exercise AUTHORITY over our lives, we must understand where that authority comes from and why it exists. It is in the person and character of God Himself. HIS WORD REFLECTS HIMSELF!
In the next blog we’ll go back over these verses and see the glorious work that God’s Word does in us. How do you react when the application of Scripture becomes very personal to you? Do you ‘change the subject’, avoid thinking seriously about convictions that are coming upon you? Or do you ask God to align your life and practice with His Word?
As a follow-up to yesterday’s blog, we will explore in the days ahead the character or quality of God’s Word, the Bible, and what it does when received into the mind, heart and soul. If we are going to treasure this message from the only true God, we must also know why it should be treasured. Paul emphatically states that all of it is “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:17), and Peter says “that no prophecy of Scripture…was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).
David realized that “the law of the Lord is perfect (meaning: without defect, blameless, holy and pure); the testimony of the Lord is sure (meaning: trustworthy and reliable)” (Psalm 19:7). This totally agrees with what Paul and Peter said about Scripture. Shouldn’t these statements alone be enough to cause us to treasure God’s Word more than we do?
Stay tuned for much more on this subject. We will get to the things Scripture will do in us, but first we must have a firm grasp on its nature.
It’s one thing to lose your keys, wallet or a multitude of other items, but when God’s people lose their interest and devotion to God’s Word, then you have a problem of enormous consequences.
After the time of Samuel, David and Solomon, there was a marked decline in the nation of Israel. The nation split into the northern kingdom (Israel) and southern kingdom (Judah). All the kings can be divided between those who “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 3:2; 13:2; 18:24, 28 just for a few) and the most notable, those who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father” (2 Kings 22:2).
While there were prophets sent to warn against departing from the Law of God, nothing can be more tragic than “the Book of the Law [lost] in the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:8). It was lost in the very place where it should been treasured the most. We are not told what Hilkiah the high priest was doing in the house of the Lord at the time, but he “found the Book of the Law” there. This is when change happens in Israel! He began a revival by having Shaphan the secretary read the Book of the Law to the young king, Josiah. Josiah takes the lead in repentance (“tore his clothes” – v.11) and requested humble prayer before God (v.13).
I may step on some toes, but I am convinced that the value of God’s Word, the Bible, is not treasured among believers and churches as it should be. I am not talking about revering it as a sacred object, carrying it to church, having six copies in your house, or even being able to quote many verses in it. I mean that its living truth is not treasured by applying it to our lives, marriages, families, work, recreation and church fellowship. We have deceived ourselves by practicing an “appearance of godliness, but deny its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). The true test of whether we have made Scripture our treasure lies in its power to transform lives and spread of itself because of what it has done in us (Acts 6:7)! FOR THIS WE MUST PRAY UNCEASINGLY!
As we get news from brothers in Sudan whom we work with, we feel compelled to ask you to pray for this country torn apart by conflict. So many are displaced as fighting spreads; hiding in the bush where food, water and medical care are scarce. Roads and borders are closed which adds to the plight of these people.
PLEASE PRAY! One brother wrote saying, “Pray for people that God will protect and provide for their needs. If the road and borders will be open to South Sudanese to cross (into Uganda) beside the Ugandan citizens, I believe all South Sudanese will flee the country.” This condition also affects our training pastors in Juba, the capital.
Knowing these stark conditions, our minds and hearts especially pray for Christians as we are bound in one body with them. Paul was confident that the Corinthian saints would share in his sufferings and have the same unshakeable hope and comfort that he had (2 Corinthians 1:6-7). With this in mind, I ask that you consider a short note of encouragement or comfort (two or three sentences at the most) that we can pass on to these suffering believers. Send your note to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your prayers and steadfast interest in God’s work, even under these circumstances.
As God moves in different parts of the world through this ministry, we feel it is important to keep you, our readers, informed of the progress and immense blessing we are experiencing. I will briefly mention some of the most recent highlights and solicit your prayers for each.
China – Someone has stepped forward to translate our training manual (God’s Plan for His Church) into Mandarin. They have just finished Chapter Five. This person has gone through many trials, but is committed to serving the Lord with the capacity and resources they have. We have prayed for several years that God would provide such a person because of the potential in China. We are hearing reports of Acts movements taking place and believe our material will help sustain that movement unlike so many that start and then stop because of “Western Ways”.
Korea – Through one of the training sessions in Vietnam, Tim was introduced to a brother from Korea who has translated GPHC into Korean with the desire that it impact Korean missionaries and pastors. This is a perfect example of how God surprises us with His working without our knowing.
Vietnam – “Things are moving so fast here in Vietnam because we have joined our Lord in His work. I am becoming more and more aware of the contrast between working where He is at work and trying to work where He is not at work. There is a strong possibility that God is raising up a “Timothy” who will represent NFI in the region. Please pray for wisdom and direction.” Tim
There is much more that we will share in the near future. As never before, let us “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37).
This morning I spent time alone with the Lord in 1 Samuel 3. This chapter draws a stark contrast between Eli, a religious leader who is very out of touch with God, and the young man Samuel who hears God speak to him.
My fear is that there are more “Eli’s” leading our churches than we realize. These are persons who have the position and title, but lack a vital, active relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. In Paul’s last letter to Timothy, he warns of those who “have the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:5). Such a warning must be heeded and such persons must be confronted as John did with Diotrephes (3 John 9-10).
I am calling for Samuel’s to step forward. What God wanted in Israel is the same that He wants in the church today. He is looking for those who listen far more than they speak; those who learned that God’s voice is real through the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. His message will not pander to our comforts or placate our natural flesh or condescend to what is popular. Part of God’s message will be His judgment on those who misrepresented Him in the church (Revelation 3:17).
The promise from God for those who eagerly listen for God to speak in our day of religious noise is that “the Lord [will] appear again…and reveal Himself” (1 Samuel 3:21). If you become a “Samuel”, you will grow and the Lord will be with you! A listening walk with God means that your words and ministry will bear much fruit and never be in vain (John 15:8; 1 Corinthians 15:58).
A passion of this ministry is developing Timothy’s and Samuel’s. Will you respond?
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