IS GOD SILENT IN TIMES OF TROUBLE?
Because we are seeing chaos around the world in our day, many are asking ‘where is God in all this, and why doesn’t He act to stop evil from gaining more of a foothold’? Before I answer that question, let me remind you of John’s words, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19). This distinction between “we”, those in Christ, and those in the world controlled by “the evil one” is vital if we are to think biblically about current events. We tend to expect different behavior from the world, particularly most world leaders, when in fact they have no personal relationship with God through Jesus, that gives a moral foundation from which to make decisions or act rightly.
Let me go back to the question in my title--I will borrow some wise words from F. W. Boreham that are worth thoughtful consideration. “Silence does not mean inactivity any more than noise means power. God is so wonderfully silent because He is so wonderfully active. A whisper from God is enough to tell me that He cares for me, for He whispers to me.” (A Packet of Surprises, page 126).
When Elijah’s life was being threatened by Ahab and Jezebel, he felt his life was in grave danger. But “the word of the Lord came to him and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” It was true that the enemies of God’s people were working havoc, much like what is happening today, and he felt that his life and ministry were about over. “And [the Lord] said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” (1 Kings 19:11–12). Judgment will come, but it must wait for God’s timing.
The key to knowing that God is working in triumphant victory in our day, in spite of progressive evil, is getting into the presence of the Lord. Stand, kneel or sit; it makes no difference, but get into His presence! He will not shout at you, but He will whisper in tones of grace and the understanding of the Spirit. If you “know that [you] are from God” through new birth and salvation in Christ, then you have the Holy Spirit who will speak in a whisper to your heart. He will give you “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, [and] will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7). This will free you from fear and help you focus on the work God’s has ordained you to do.
Upcoming Trip to Cambodia and Vietnam
“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!” (1 Chronicles 16:8).Before I give a list of prayer requests and events, here is an encouraging report from India resulting from Randy’s time in Punjabi. “Thank you very much for taking your precious time and coming here, teaching the word of God to our Pastors. We are getting good reports from the participants. One who attended the 4 days Seminar called me and said--This is the first time he attended such a blessed seminar and got new ideas in the Church Planting ministry. He wants to have a seminar in his area (Ferozepur that borders Pakistan). He is coming to collect few more Punjabi books. God willing I will be going there with one of my College Faculty to give a 2 days teaching on this book; "GOD'S PLAN FOR HIS CHURCH”.
This is what thrills our hearts; when we see others catch the vision of using God’s Word to expand His work among the nations.
As Tim and Randy both leave Sunday, November 29th for Cambodia and Vietnam, we come to you again with prayer requests:
Dec. 2nd to 5th - Introducing God’s Plan for His Church in the Khmer language to a new group and reconnecting with the brother who we have worked with for many years.
Dec. 7th to 12th – Follow-up training. Some will have finished all the lessons and they will complete their final projects and there will be a graduation ceremony in celebration of their hard work. Others will need further coaching to complete the lesson in preparation for their final projects.
It is all about Jesus! Every book of the Bible, every page contains something of the glorious person of Jesus. In these closing moments on earth, Jesus leaves His disciples with precious words and a powerful reminder of what was just ahead.
“Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,” (Luke 24:44–45).
Right on the threshold of the Holy Spirit being sent from the Father to the 120 disciples in Jerusalem, this was a critical link between the ministry of Christ and His earthly presence, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus reminds them again that what Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms spoke of Him was being fulfilled! He was strengthening their faith in the absolute authority of all the Scriptures. But there was something more. “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures!” It is one thing to have the Bible in our hands and read it, it is another to read it and be given divine revelation or understanding of what it says and how it applies today. Notice Jesus’ concluding words:
“Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:47–49).
There is so much more we could unpack just from these verses, but my earnest desire is that you will crave time in the presence of my Savior, Lord, and coming Bridegroom. He wants your fellowship more than your abilities, knowledge or possessions. He wants to empower you by His Spirit to be a witness, starting from where you are and send you where He will until the whole earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord (Isaiah 11:9).
Continuing our look at Luke 24, after Jesus has “vanished from their sight” (24:31) and these Emmaus dwellers returned to Jerusalem “the same hour…they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together” (24:33). Can you imagine the animated conversation as stories of post-resurrection events were told and how spiritual eyes were opened to the glory of Christ’s resurrection from death and the tomb? But what happens next gives them even greater surprise.
“As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:36–38).
There is no question in my mind that recent events in my own life have brought me into a closer, deeper experience of the presence of Jesus and the Spirit’s voice. This has brought real peace. I have even had to face some of my own doubts and moments when my heart was troubled. Jesus' question is not a critical one, but rather one that helps examine what is really going on inside. Where and in whom are our roots of faith? Are they merely based on emotional experience or on the Word of Truth? There is a connection between how deeply we root our faith in God’s Word and seeking the presence of the Lord. When these two things come together in our daily experience, doubts and fears dissolve, troubled hearts are brought into rest, and we become more expectant that He will reveal yet deeper and more wonderful truth to us.
Tomorrow we will take one more look at Luke 24. But before you shut down this web page, let me ask you; is your heart troubled? Do you have fears and doubts? You need the presence of Jesus. He is knocking at your door. Hurry, open the door and let Him in for moments of intimacy!
RETURN WITH THANKSGIVING
There was a key verse I did not include yesterday which is Luke’s commentary of this Emmaus event. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). That was another reason why these two urged Jesus to stay with them. There was something compelling about His thorough knowledge of the OT as it related to the current events that made His presence so irresistible. So Jesus accepted their invitation and “He went in to stay with them” (24:29). It was during the evening meal that “Jesus took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him. And He vanished from their sight” (24:30-31).
What if they had not invited this divine stranger into their home? Their eyes would not have been opened and their understanding would not have made the connection between the Old Testament Scriptures and the person of Jesus. Have you invited the Holy Spirit to teach you the things concerning Christ (see John 14:26).
Because of this tremendous revelation through the presence of Christ risen beyond the power of death, these two disconsolate disciples immediately “rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem” (24:33). Their whole attitude was changed by having been in His presence. We can imagine how thankful they were that they didn’t let the opportunity slip past them. God has given you and me opportunities to spend time in the presence of Jesus and receive His teaching “in all the Scriptures [about] the things concerning himself”. Are we thankful enough that we are willing to change the direction of our lives so we return to the path He has called us to walk? His plan is far better than ours!
WOULD YOU REALLY LET HIM LEAVE YOU?
Picking up the story line from yesterday, Cleopas, one of the two walking seven miles to Emmaus, said to Jesus, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And He (Jesus) said to them, “What things” (Luke 24:18-19)?
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from Jesus is that He often answers a question with a question. With events in our personal lives, our marriages and families, a disunity in the church, a nation in moral decline and a world on the edge of chaos, it is time that we let Scripture ask us questions from its truth. These two travelers could tell Jesus what was happening, but they couldn’t answer the question as to why the tomb was empty.
This conversation was lengthy. You can say a lot in seven miles! “So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He (Jesus) acted as if He were going farther” (24:28). Would they say to Him, “have good travel wherever you are going” and separate at their doorstep? But Jesus had asked them a question that caused these two to invite Jesus into their home. “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory” (24:26)? This was a ‘STOP AND REFLECT’ question. With a question like that, they couldn’t let this Fellow-Traveler go His way without digging deeper into the details of Jesus’ rebuke; “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (24:25)! What had the prophets said that brings light and understanding to these events? They couldn’t let this Traveler just pass on without hearing more insight He had about the Christ who had suffered crucifixion, was buried, and now three days later was risen, leaving an empty tomb.
I ask you; what has God said in His Word that will bring HIS light to your circumstances? Don’t let this day pass without opening your Bible (or get one if you do not have one), and let it speak directly to your heart. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18). Would you invite Him into your life for an intimate conversation? Jesus gives an insight to what happens to most in the church today; “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Believe it or not, Jesus wants your presence. Do you want His?
JESUS DREW NEAR AND WENT WITH THEM
For the next three days leading up to the Thanksgiving Holiday in America, I want to unpack some thoughts I have on Luke 24:1-35. The setting is just after Christ’s resurrection and His disciples had gone to the tomb where He had been buried, and they found to their amazement, “the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (24:2-3). Because most of us have read the gospel accounts, we are very quick to criticize these traumatized followers for so quickly forgetting what Jesus had told them many times about His impending death, burial, and resurrection. I will also quickly tell you that I have often forgotten very important words from Scripture that should have governed my thinking, but they didn’t.
In their wonderment, “two men stood by them…[and] said, “Why do you seek the living among the dead. He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you” (24:5-6)? How gracious of God to send messengers to point us back to things that have been said to us before. ‘Short-term memory loss’ is more prevalent than we think. But wait; there is something even more shocking about their response to this detailed reminder of what Jesus had told them. “These words seemed to them an idle tale (pure nonsense), and they did not believe them” (24:11). How could these disciples who had spent three and a half years with Jesus be so far off the mark when it came to the most important event of His time on earth? Before you answer that question, let me ask another question; How can the church who has had God’s Word for almost two millennia forget some of the most critical teachings that are intended to be lived out for the glory of God and expansion of the gospel to all people groups?
Back to Luke 24, we find Peter returning to his “home, marveling at what had happened” (24:12). Did he still not remember his own words of criticism to Jesus in Matthew 16 when Jesus foretold what would take place? The rebuke is stunning: “Get behind me, Satan” (16:23). Peter is not alone in despondent reaction to the empty tomb. “That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.” In their case, “they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened” (24:13-14). This is the point where things begin to change. “While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing HIM” (24:15-16). Often our own unbelief blinds us from what God is doing and we do not know His presence.
Perhaps you are facing a situation where grief, loss, disappointment, or trauma has overcome your mind and heart, and it is difficult to allow the words of Jesus – God’s Words, bring hope and comfort to you. Jesus has drawn near! The problem is that you do not see Him because you have let other things cloud your vision and deafen your ears. Before Thanksgiving Day comes, I ask you to stop what you are doing and carefully consider the perfect answer of God’s Word and the presence of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Resurrection victory is HERE!
PAUL’S RUBBISH-HEAP – IS IT YOURS?
“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). The contrast Paul makes is astounding. All his past, his ethnic status, his education and knowledge, and anything else you could list about his life, apart from gaining Christ was rubbish!The more I ponder this statement and the gigantic worth that Paul placed on his personal knowledge and relationship with Christ compared to everything else, the more I understand why God used him as He did. My question is; why am I not more like this? Why aren’t there more who follow his example (1 Corinthians 11:1)? Paul followed Jesus’s example who gave up everything that was rightfully His in order to attain the glory of resurrection power and victory for us.
How are you looking at your life’s accomplishments and pursuits in comparison to an intimate walk with Christ and knowledge of Him? If we truly take this approach to all of life and ‘bury our rubbish’ today, it will become the fertilizer for tomorrow’s fruitfulness to the Father’s glory!
FROM RUBBISH AND ASHES TO WORSHIP
There are only a few today who have the same heart-break as Nehemiah did when he heard the report, “The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire (Nehemiah 1:3). There are so many evidences today that the church has been weakened by constant battle against the tide of moral decay and loss of being spiritually anchored. The fires of political and cultural struggles are leaving the gates of truth in the church in a state of ruin. The effectiveness of the church’s influence is at an all-time low; not because we do not have a majority voice in the halls of government, or because we have not elected the right persons into office, but because we have lost our moral power by living out the Word of God in the power of the Spirit.
Where are the Nehemiah’s who mourn over the condition of the church (Matthew 5:4)? Nehemiah “sat down and wept and mourned for days, and…continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). Jesus wept over Jerusalem, the city at the center of a people He called out of Egypt to represent Him among the nations (Luke 19:41-44). They had ceased living for their God-given purpose.
Where are the Nehemiah’s who look beyond the rubbish and ashes that have piled up over the years; those who will turn a deaf ear to the mocking of the Sanballat’s; those who will use discernment to stop the subtle seduction of the Tobiah’s? Where are the Nehemiah’s who care more about God’s purpose and plan for His people, His church, than programs and organizational structures that divert our attention away from the real calling of the church. F. W. Boreham said, “The charred ashes of yesterday’s bush nourish the roots of tomorrow’s orchard” (A Packet of Surprises, page 71). If you are interested in seeing God transform the ruins and ashes on yesterday, look with me at men who zeroed in on fulfilling God’s plan.
Nehemiah began with repentance, gathered those who were not afraid to get their hands dirty by removing the rubbish, worked with tools of construction and the armor of God, so that even the enemy was amazed at the results – two choirs purified and ready to worship in the unity of the Spirit. If this strikes a chord in your heart; if you want to rebuild on a biblical foundation and see God’s plan for the ages fulfilled, we want to hear from you! We are looking for Timothy’s who are willing to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12), please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE BLESSING OF WAITING TOGETHER
It is one of those portions of Old Testament Scripture that is rarely used because of its counterpart in 1 Corinthians 15:54, “Death is swallowed up in victory”. But the context of this truth in Isaiah 25 adds the blessing of God’s people waiting together for His ultimate and complete salvation. Isaiah says, “He [God] will swallow up [destroy or suffer ruin] death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces” (25:8). In the next verse, Isaiah gives a marvelous response to this promise; “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (25:9). It was as if Isaiah was including the whole nation of Israel in his statement of hope, even though they had fallen back into disobedience and idolatry.
We desperately need leaders today who lead the church by standing on truth and principle and the promises of God. There is an essential element for this kind of leadership to be effective. Jesus made it very clear just before His ascension into heaven that His disciples were “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:4-5). What was the purpose of waiting? The disciples asked Jesus a question in verse 6 showing that they were more concerned about the prophetic timetable than waiting for the Holy Spirit. Jesus had to adjust their thinking to center around the coming and receiving of the Holy Spirit so they “will be my witnesses…to the end of the earth” (1:8). The next ten days were spent waiting in prayer! This must be the motive and purpose behind all we (the church) does in order to usher in the return of Christ (Matthew 24:14).
YES, the Holy Spirit has come and dwells within us! There is a purpose to His ‘making His home in us’. He wants us to experience the blessing of HIS LEADING on a daily basis so that our witness for Christ in this dark world becomes more and more effective (see Acts 16:6-10; Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16-26). I urge you to gather your church and wait on God in prayer before making any decisions and specifically ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Be prepared for Him to change your thinking and direction of your ministry.
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