We have all known celebrities, great authors, athletes who won the gold, and those we consider heroes. In every generation, people have looked up to those who are more educated, achieved a higher social status, or become wealthier. But, are they the ones Jesus thought were important?
“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven”” (Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16).
What about the religious leaders? Were they not important? At one point in Jesus’ ministry when they said that Jairus’ daughter had died, Jesus said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping” (Luke 8:52) and put out all those who laughed at Him (Mark 5:40). “Taking her by the hand He said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise” (5:41).
How grateful I am for those who work with children to bring them the message of salvation! Jesus thanked His Father that He had “hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Matthew 11:25).
As we rewrite God’s Plan for His Disciples into a children’s book, I am thinking of all those “little children” God is going to bring into the kingdom. How thankful we are for those who are helping us develop this new resource. As it nears completion, we will share the final product with you. Children are important!
“I have not stopped doing the work of the Lord. Your part of this has motivated me to keep working to establish churches. I am also working with 12 new disciples who have received God's Plan for His Disciples (GPHD). They were Seventh-Day Adventists, but now know the greatness of Grace. These twelve brothers have the vision to plant a new church.
On the 29th and 30th of this month, I will be in a community 700 km (435 miles) from Managua, where one of the disciples in a house church went to work discipling people who are becoming disciples.
We don't have any more books (GPHD) and we need more. We are making copies of it to do our work. Pray for us that there will be resources so no obstacle will stop us from moving forward. Pastors who have received the teaching are very grateful to God, and it is bringing revival to their churches. People have come back to the Word of God, and that brings a real revival.”
Please pray with us that we can get a supply of books to them as quickly as possible.
Read these sobering words; “and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30), not Christ.
Verses like this are rarely spoken of from church pulpits, and much less spoken by leaders as warnings. Paul had spent three years in Ephesus, discipling, encouraging and warning the elders so that when he left them, they would be strong in their faith and men true to the Word of God.
As he is leaving them, Paul says, “Pay close attention to yourselves” (20:28). Self-examination like this is hard to do, especially when you work closely with other leaders and may be influenced by their thinking. Paul’s concern comes from a deep love for Christ, His truth and His Church.
The same deep concern was written to Corinth; “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
The question for us is whether we have as deep a concern for Christ’s bride as Paul did? My point in this blog is not to make a list of all the “twisted things” that are being said (and done), but to raise the concern and make us examine what we preach and teach, making sure it will stand the scrutiny of God’s Word. Culture and popularity are not the standard.
Two mornings ago, I read Luke 1:1-4 for my quiet time with the Lord. It made me think of Paul’s word to Timothy; “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). That statement was important because some were not faithful in the way they taught Scripture.
I believe Luke had the same concern. “It seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3–4). For Luke, this was not a time for uncertainty, and neither is it today.
This introductory statement tells us much about what had been going on during and before 63AD. It had been 33 years since the Spirit had been given and the Church was formed. The events surrounding the coming of Jesus right through to His death, resurrection and ascension were still fresh in the minds of the disciples and that could not be lost.
Luke tells us that they were “eye witnesses” and he is particularly “having followed all things closely for some time,” wanting to be sure they were properly recorded for those in his day and for our benefit. Others had taught these things, but as a doctor, Luke paid attention to details that he felt were important which others had overlooked.
God has always put in place the right person(s) at the right time and place so we would have no doubt about the accuracy of the Scriptures. Let us be concerned about how we speak of them to others, and remember, the Holy Spirit is the author (2 Peter 2:20-21).
There are moments in this ministry that make me shout with joy and praise for the answers God gives to difficult situations. For weeks I have been struggling to complete the Arabic book, God’s Plan for His Church. There were formatting issues with the numbers that I couldn’t resolve until today. Our son Antony, who is a computer specialist in his company, figured out how to resolve the problem. Within minutes of showing me the process, the Hindi numbers were populated in the book and it is ready for final editing and publication.
How thankful we are that this tool will be ready to use in the Middle East and other Arabic speaking communities around the world. If you know of Arabic speaking believers who could benefit from either God’s Plan for His Disciples or God’s Plan for His Church, please let us know and we will get a digital or hard copy send out as soon as it is ready. Please send an email to:
“What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:18).
Yesterday, we looked at Peter’s exhortation to saints who were suffering because of being exiled from their homeland. He is laying a foundation in their souls so they will look beyond their suffering to what God’s grace had done in them.
Peter says; “if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.” In other words, we can trust God’s impartial judgment of our persecutors, but it is more important to consider our own conduct. Our “Father…judges impartially according to each one’s deeds” also “disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10), even in tough situations. God as Father is so interested in sharing His power in our lives through holiness that He will discipline us to achieve this all-important goal.
How do you “conduct yourselves with fear”? By “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” A great motivation for good conduct is remembering the cost that God paid in order to bring us back to Himself, “that we may share His holiness”. This “fear” is one of respect and reverence for what God has done in saving us. Let this principle purify your life and draw you closer to Him.
We come to one of the most precious portions of Scripture that becomes a powerful reason and motivator for understanding our salvation in a much deeper way (1 Pet. 1:13- 21). In the same way that Paul says in Phil. 2:12, “work out your own salvation” or ‘put into practice the salvation you have in Christ,’ so Peter says, “prepare your minds for action” or “gird up the loins of your mind,” “be sober- minded.” That means we are to be in control of what we think. Don’t put your mind in idle and let it drift with the culture. How do we make that happen in a world like ours?
“Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” This goes back to what Peter said in verse 3, “He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” To a people who were scattered by persecution, suffering and discouragement, he reminds them to be intentional about their hope-- “a living hope” and that the power of God is in it – power to raise the dead!
Next, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Notice how this links with verse 13, ““prepare your minds for action” or “work out your own salvation.” Holiness comes from allowing our “living hope” and the power of God through Christ risen to “transform” us through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us (Ro. 12:1-2). It does NOT come from trying to reform ourselves, but through occupation with the Person and glory of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18). That is the Spirit at work in us.
As we scan the conditions in our world today, the tendency is to think times have never been this bad. I understand these feelings. Though I have gone through many upheavals in my lifetime, it seems that the conditions caused by COVID-19 have brought change to our whole way of living.
Looking back over the history of the Church, there were times and events that made some wonder if the Church was on the verge of extinction. Shortly after the Church was born, persecution resulted in believers being scattered from Jerusalem to Samaria (Acts 8). I doubt God wanted them to get too comfortable with their growth and success. As Jesus indicated just before He ascended, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem…and to the end of the earth [anywhere]”” (Acts 1:8.)
Power through the Holy Spirit was not dependent of good conditions for them to be witnesses. Paul faced riots, endured beatings, ship wrecks, and many other sufferings (2 Corinthians 11). What drove these suffering, scattered saints was understanding the greatness of their calling.
Peter wrote thirty years after Acts 8, to saints who had been driven from their homeland and he reminds them of the “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). Paul wanted to know more of Christ and “the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:10).
The Church needs this outlook! I challenge you to evaluate your perspective on current conditions. If you have the vision that Peter and Paul had, you will keep pursuing God’s plan and purpose no matter what happens.
There are times when no news comes from places where we have trained using God’s Plan for His Disciples (GPHD) and God’s Plan for His Church (GPHC). After contacting these places, we learn that God has been working all along through faithful persons who are determined to train others with God’s Word. Here is a short report from Ecuador.
“I started in July with the GPHC with 25 students, via zoom, but now there are 16. My desire is to multiply by finding faithful men who will be able to teach others. I am happy with this. Please don’t stop praying for this.”
This is SO ENCOURAGING! It seems that the greatest fruit appears from those who are the quietest about what they are doing. It makes me think of my grape vine. Weeks went by during the summer and I only looked occasionally to see if any bunches of grapes were developing. As harvest approaches, I see very little fruit until I lift up the leaves, and then I discover there is a bumper crop! FAT juicy grapes!! Thank the Lord that He is producing disciples who are:
There were times when Jesus went to the temple or synagogue to be among those who gathered there. On some occasions, He healed the sick or He “drove out all who sold and bought in the temple” (Matthew 21:12).
Other times, Jesus went there to teach the people who had come to learn and worship. “And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). Here we have an interesting contrast between the scribes and Jesus.
Why was it that Jesus “taught them as one who had authority?” Jesus spoke from a source that had the real authority behind what he said. Jesus clarifies this in John 7; “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood” (John 7:17–18).
The scribes were seeking their own glory which canceled out any authority in their teaching. The same principle applies to us. If we are not seeking the glory of God in every ministry, in some way we are seeking our own glory. People will know there is no authority in what we say.
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