This morning I read from Colossians 2:1-5 where Paul says that he had a "great struggle...for those in Laodicea" (v.1). This is very interesting considering what Jesus said to this church in Revelation 3. There was a clear and powerful purpose behind Paul's attitude. He wanted their "hearts...to be encouraged,...knit together in love." But that was only part of his purpose. He was struggling because he wanted them to "reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery." (v.2). Let's think about what this means for us. We can't possibly settle into a complacent attitude and at the same time achieve this purpose in us. Let this be FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
Dear Servants of our Lord,
Last month I wrote to you with a desire that we understand what it means to be a "true servant". We noted that one of the key characteristics of a servant is that he is with the Master "where His is" (John 5:19-20). I wanted this time to look at one of the changes that takes place as we are walking, working, living in close relationship with the Lord.
It is the continual process of reducing. There is this subtle idea that keeps suggesting that once we have a Bible college or seminary degree, a title before or after our name, a congregation to pastor, or any other distinction that makes us feel "we have arrived", there is no longer any need for radical changes. A couple examples will prove this idea very false.
John the Baptist spent very little time physically with Jesus, but he knew there was one essential to being an effective servant of Jesus; "He (Jesus)must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). I am very challenged with the thought that I must be continually getting smaller. Everything around me, including those I respect in the body of Christ, tend to feed my pride rather than help my humility. If we are not very serious about this issue, we will hinder the very work that God wants to do in and through us and that we have set our hearts and live to accomplish.
Paul knew this truth. Even though he had ask the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh, he also knew that the Lord did not remove it to keep Paul "from becoming conceited" (2 Cor. 12:1-10). But there was another reason. The Lord's sufficient grace for Paul's weakness would make way for God's power to be revealed. In many respects I think we have become comfortable with a powerless life and ministry. In fact, I feel for myself that I have become too comfortable without the Spirit's power. I really don't know what His power looks like if it was released. I cannot live that way any more!
Will you join me in asking the Holy Spirit to teach us how to become small, weak in ourselves, and ready for the power of God the Holy Spirit. We must learn to be comfortable with being nothing so that Christ can be everything! This is the path to fruitful ministry.
The following comes from a brother in Myanmar and he relates how the Church Planting Manual (CPM) is having an impact on God's work there: “Thank you for the encouraging words and the supporting prayer for us. Yes, it gives us great joy to know that we are fellow workers in God's field. The CPM book is a great help for the ministers, evangelists and especially for the church planters. They come and take hold of the CPM book regularly at my office.”
We want to assure you that God is working. In fact, we sense that He is doing more in us than what He is doing through us. If that were not true, we would have good reason for great concern. These frail, human vessels can only be used by God as they are molded in the character of Christ and led by the Holy Spirit. This is our first prayer request - that we become more and more like Christ and tuned to the voice and leading of His Spirit.
We thank the Lord for giving Tim Bunn a profitable CPM Launch in Nepal and Orissa, India during the early part of June. Even though the Church Planting Manual did not get printed in the Oriya language prior to the workshop, the attendees spoke/read English or Hindi so that the conference went forward. The conference in Nepal may have opened a door of opportunity in the refugee camps of Tibet and a return to Bhutan. Each of these conferences cause us to call out to the Lord that the Spirit would work in establishing biblical principles in those who attend. If He does not work, the conferences are just another event on the calendar. Please pray for God's work to follow quickly, and that hunger for God's Word will increase, spreading as it did in the Book of Acts. We are very grateful for His mercy to Tim as he developed appendicitis shortly after his return and had to have emergency surgery. He has recovered well and thankful that this did not happen while he was away.
The next event the Lord has placed on our calendar is Ecuador. I (Sherman) will be there from August 19th to the 26th. Since this is my first trip to Ecuador, the main purpose is to build our relationship with a dear brother there and seek the Lord 's guidance regarding other contacts that may open opportunities throughout Central and South America. Please pray for divine guidance. We don't take lightly our responsibility to sense what God is doing and join Him in His work, not promote our own agenda!
We cannot tell you how valuable your prayers are. In addition to the above, we ask for your fervent prayers on a couple of immediate needs in various areas below.
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