Someone called me about my post two days ago on “Robbing God” saying how much it applied to their circumstances at this moment. There are so many Scriptures like Malachi 3:8 which uncover deeper things in our lives that we may never speak of to anyone else.
It is my desire this verse will do the same for you. “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that you have given Me because you loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Is this just when we get to heaven? No! We have the Spirit who reveals the things of Christ to us now (John 16:15).
As I pondered some very difficult decisions in my path, I asked the Lord to give me some view of Himself that would be far greater than the consequences of my decisions. The Spirit reminded me of the Lord’s prayer for me in John 17 (see verse 20). In these verses, Jesus is providing ‘wings of eagles’ to rise above the circumstances so we get our minds off the immediate situation and see some glimpse of His glory.
A look at Jesus’ glory puts in perspective present trials. John Owen says, “This glory is revealed in Scripture and is proposed as the principle object of our faith, love, delight, and admiration.” (The Glory of Christ,Jason Roth, 2019, page 9). What are you living for?
In just a few days two of our team will be heading to Pakistan as a follow-up visit. They need your prayers in a special way for this visit.
“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21-22).
PAKISTAN - September: “Please pray for V. & A., the couple we love and work closely with in northern part of the country. Around 35 leaders and pastors intend to join us north of Islamabad for a graduation of GPHD (God’s Plan for His Disciples) and then an introduction of GPHC (God’s Plan for His Church). Each of these are from the border of Afghanistan. Recently laws were passed causing persecution of Christians to increase and be harsher.
Pakistan ranks 7th on the Open Doors World Watch List 2023 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. Over 99% of 835 people groups are unreached with the gospel. Let us pray for these courageous men and women of faith that they might be messengers of God’s love and yet be covered with His protection.”
There have been times when I have questioned the Lord about events He has allowed us to go through. Between sleepless nights and seasons of constant prayer, when I open my heart to Him and ask over and over for clarity and Scriptures that either confirm decisions or provide correction, I wonder why God has chosen us to wade through these times.
Humanly, nothing makes sense. Paul describes this paradox in his first letter to Corinth. “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:27–29).
That last phrase has adjusted my thinking many times. Whenever I make a decision that seems to be a correct one, I sense the Holy Spirit rebuking my pride and bringing me back to this Scripture and others, to realign my heart with His. God is going to make sure that He receives maximum glory through my circumstances and that require my complete humility.
If I seek anything else, then I am robbing God of what belongs to Him (Malachi 3:8). Human pride robs God.
Here is a wonderful report we have just received from our “Timothy” in Nepal.
“On the 26th of August, our discipleship program began promptly at 8 o'clock. By 9 a.m. the class was in full swing. We had already introduced the program when we delivered the books a month ago, so we proceeded directly to the lessons. Our approach was interactive, encouraging participants to engage in discussions, asking and answering questions.
Every attendee was equipped with a book (God’s Plan for His Disciples – Nepali - GPHD) and a Bible. During the teaching, I encouraged them to open the Scripture references and fill in the blanks. The excitement in the room was obvious, and though some participants faced challenges, we provided helpful hints to guide them. The discussions that emerged between teaching segments were truly remarkable. Despite their familiarity with the Bible, many had not fully grasped the significance of God's Word and its central role in our lives.
The diversity among our participants, spanning generations and genders, was heartening. Their enthusiasm for learning was evident as they actively engaged in the training. We set a challenge for them to memorize several Bible verses in the lessons. During our discussion on the Holy Spirit, they discovered that the Holy Spirit serves as our Helper, and is the same Spirit who was active during creation and in recording of the Word of God. This brought them joy and enlightenment.
The day was immensely rewarding, filled with valuable discussions and engaged learning.
Thank you all for your prayerful support!”
As I get older and spend more time in God’s Word, there are certain aspects of the Christian faith that take my mind captive by the truth. One feature of God’s truth is glory. For many, the mention of glory immediately infers heaven and what we are going to enjoy throughout the endless ages of eternity. Paul often refers to this glorious future for the church.
Even though that expectancy holds unspeakable riches for every blood bought believer, I am considering a different “glory” in this blog that impacts you and me right now. I will give you two references and then make a brief comment after.
“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). In this reference, Satan has done everything he can to keep persons from seeing this glory. He will NOT succeed!
“As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they aremessengers of the churches, the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 8:23). In this verse, those who carried the gospel and preached it to the Gentiles were “the glory of Christ.” In the same way, if you are carrying the gospel anywhere in this world, you are “the glory of Christ”!
God is intent on spreading His glory through us, “jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). What a wonder! What a privilege!
From that title, some may think I am referring to the Book of Revelation, but in this instance I am not. One of the first times this word appears in the New Testament (NT) is in Matthew 16:17 when Simon Peter answers Jesus’ question, “who do you say that I am?” (16:15). Peter answers correctly and says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (16:16-17).
That word “revealed” means to “disclose or make fully known.” While this word is used 38 times in the NT, there is one place that deserves our special attention. The reference in Matthew 16 had to do with divine revelation of Jesus’ person.
This word in Galatians 1 has a different application. “But when He who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles” (Galatians 1:15–16). Though the word is the same in both places, the revelation to Paul was for a far larger purpose than just knowledge. God was going to impact the Gentile world with the gospel of Jesus Christ through Paul.
Because God has placed the Holy Spirit in every believer, we have through Him the divine revelation of Christ and the gospel of grace. With that revelation, God has placed an instinct in us to share that glorious message with others. Are we suppressing that message or are we freely giving it to those who have never heard the gospel?
We may think that the best conditions for doing God’s work are when we are free from distractions, pressure, troubles, and anything else that makes work environments difficult. Ponder with me both the effectiveness and the conditions of Paul’s ministry.
“I am speaking as a fool—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:21, 23–28).
This was a rare moment for Paul, but he was defending his work for the Lord against those who were “false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (11:13). Was Paul out-of-line to point out the conditions he worked under? Not at all! The fruit of his labors were a manifestation of his effectiveness (see Romans 15:19).
Those who seek comfortable conditions for doing the Lord’s work may be missing the best fruit. It is important that we labor where the Lord sends us, not where we want to be.
What God says He will do and it will be done! After meditating more on Matthew 16:18 and my blogs for the last two days, I want to come back to emphasize a couple points that are very important for anyone who has faith in the Lord Jesus.
As conditions in the world plummet out of control and opposition to Christian influence and presence increases, I see fear and doubt rising in many hearts, especially in the western world. Why? When we take our eyes off the Lord and His glory, we lose perspective on everything else in life. The writer of Hebrews has some helpful words for us to consider.
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith” (12:2).
Though the world changes and increases in evil, Jesus, His person, power, promises, and work NEVER CHANGE! Hebrews reminds us again of this: “But You are the same, and Your years will have no end”(1:12, quoting from Psalm 102:27).
Finally, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (13:8). Your stability and mine is only realized as we anchor our minds and hearts on Christ.
Yesterday we looked at the first promise that Jesus gave in Matthew 16:18, “I will build My Church.” Now we take a look at the second part of this promise which is equally important.
“The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” We must accept the fact that Satan, and therefore the world, hates the Church because it is (and should be) a living representation of Christ. Jesus warned in John 15:18-21 that the world would hate those who represent Him because they hated Him first.
The analogy in the word “gates” means that Satan will use everything he has in his toolbox to work against God’s purpose for the Church and what it represents. He will use every evil device, every lie, every deception he can to destroy that representation, witness, and worship of the Church.
With this amazing promise from the Lord Jesus, what does this practically mean for you and me? How does this promise impact the way we function as the Church and represent Christ through the Church? One of the best examples in the Early Church was their response to opposition and persecution in Acts 4. When Peter and John were threatened “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (4:17), the Church responded with prayer, “grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness” (4:29).
Believing this promise means that we will act in boldness to be Christ’s witnesses in the power of the Holy Spirit. That was the Early Church.
These promises are very critical for everyone who is part of the Church (a member according to 1 Corinthians 12:12-13) to understand. If these promises were accepted and the Church conducted itself according to them, the way we operate as the Church would be very different from what we see in most churches today. These promises are taken from Matthew 16:18.
FIRST PROMISE: “I will build My Church.” If this promise was taken seriously, we would be very careful to examine the New Testament Scriptures to make sure we are working, building, ministering, and conducting ourselves in accord with the pattern Jesus left for us. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 that our work, materials, and methods are going to be tested. There will rewards or losses! If we do not build on Christ, the ONLY foundation, there will be severe consequences if the materials, programs, teaching, and methods, are not done in accord with His biblical model, there will be some very surprised pastors, teachers, and individuals.
John had some strong words to say about our activities. “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). That is serious language that needs to be applied to every aspect of Church life and ministry.
SECOND PROMISE: (come back tomorrow and we will explore this promise).
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