As the coming of Jesus gets closer, we see God using faithful disciples to finish the task He spoke of in Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20. In the Old Testament, God is referred to as the "Lord of Hosts," meaning, “a military congregation.” Today, we would say that God is over a countless number of faithful disciples who will carry out His command to "GO" to all the nations with the gospel.
These are wonderful days to be living in! You will not read about it in any publication or hear any news media report on this, but there is a quiet movement of God spread to the ends of the earth. Many are turning to the Word of God and discovering principles that must govern every believer and therefore the whole Church. In quiet obedience, they are telling other believers.
You will not see this in huge stadiums or mass outdoor events. It will not be televised or recorded for the public to see, but from one house to another, from one village to another, God is moving His Word from one person to the next. It is not controlled by any organization and cannot be stopped by any government. Propaganda and advertisement are not making it happen. It is just the Spirit of God working in the hearts of His people.
This is what Luke wrote about: “But the word of God increased and multiplied” (Acts 12:24). “So, the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily” (19:20).
Do you want to be part of what God is doing? I urge you not to miss the great movement in human history – GOD RESTORING HIS CHURCH THROUGH HIS WORD! If you want to know more, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The list of cultural trends we read yesterday might make us doubt we can find any models worth following today. So often we hear news reports of persons, even in the Church, that are moral failures. Is there anyone we can look up to? Can we trust anyone to lead us in the right direction spiritually?
Paul was determined to be a model to a church that was experiencing failure on many fronts. He said to the Corinthians; “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 – see also 4:16). Even in presenting himself as one to follow, he wanted these believers to always compare his life and conduct with what was in Christ.
To the Ephesians Paul said, “be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us” (5:1-2). This could only be done as believers saw attributes of God modeled in someone who walked among them.
This principle is also seen in Paul’s letter to the Philippians; “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (3:17). Notice his instructions about who they should watch. It was those who were following the model of a true disciple of Jesus like Paul and Timothy. This was also true with the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 3:7).
We must not lose sight of this important principle. Every generation needs persons in leadership in the Church who are not afraid to walk biblically, especially when our manner of life is counter to the present-day culture. I URGE YOU who are reading this blog to set an example for others, as Paul said to Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12). The need for this today is greater than any of us can imagine.
There are some subjects that I would rather not address, and I am sure Paul preferred not to speak about either, but the culture requires we do. These five verses in Second Timothy are packed with attitudes and practices that marked Paul’s day, and not surprising, mark our day.
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 3:1–5).
Among all these deplorable conditions that affect the human heart, being ungrateful lies at the root of so many in this list. When we are thankful for what God has given us, we stop thinking that we are at the center of everything and begin considering for the needs and comforts of others. True satisfaction comes from concern for the comfort of others and wanting to bless them rather than being a “lover of self.”
Take time over this weekend to thank several people for what they mean to you or for the things they have done along your road in life. You will be amazed how this lifts their spirits and produces joy in your hearts. Include you children and grandchildren so they see your attitude toward others.
“With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.” (Psalm 54:6).
It was a special time! We gathered around the table for a meal and between the main course and several pies, we would have each of the family and guests share something they were thankful for in the past year. As each person shared, we would reflect on memories, wonderful events, and even times that brought tears.
I challenge you to gather where you are tomorrow or this weekend and ask each person to share something they are thankful for. In fact, make this a habit to regularly talk about moments in your lives that reflect the goodness of the Lord. Cultivate the spirit of gratitude in each other because we live in a world of complainers. But those who know the Lord realize how good He has been to us; all undeserved.
Asaph begins Psalm 75 with these words; “We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks, for Your name is near. We recount Your wondrous deeds” (75:1). The benefit of sitting around a table or just getting together and talking about these special events is so we don’t forget them and pass their memory on to our children and others. The more we do this the more we will develop a thankful heart in ourselves and in others. This was the instruction to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Oral story telling not only helps the memory, but it helps strengthen relationships. Let this be the highlight of this weekend.
In most cases, we know the source of gifts we receive. Usually we thank the giver as soon as we receive a gift, but in unusual situations when we do not know where the gift came from, we are puzzled and do not know who to thank.
In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem and passes through a village. Ten lepers beg Him to heal their hopeless condition, to which Jesus instructs them to “Go and show yourselves to the priest. And as they went, they were cleansed” (17:14). Since they had not even reached the priest before they were cleansed, it would have been easy to see the source of their healing.
When we receive gifts or blessings, are there times that we do not make the effort to thank the person who gave them to us? Why did only one leper return to Jesus with gratitude in His heart? One of the factors that enters into this is that he was a Samaritan and knew he did not deserve the favor of a Jew. Could it be the other nine felt they deserved cleansing because they were Jews? After all, Jesus had healed many others in Israel; why not them?
The feeling of gratitude in the heart springs from realizing we are not worthy of God’s favor, or for that matter, the kindness of anyone. Because feelings of unworthiness are the work of grace, there is a certain mystery attached to being thankful. Ephesians 2 points to grace being the foundation of everything we have. I trust you will stop what seems important in the next few days and take time to write down things God has done for you and let them trigger a flood of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord!
There are times when it is very important for us to pause and think about those who God put in our lives and ministry; those who prayed for us and supported us over the long-run. Paul did this in several of his letters. Notice how personal he makes these references.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3–5).
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:15–16).
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Romans 1:8).
The things that stirred Paul’s heart were the genuine faith of believers and how that proved their interest in how the gospel spread. We at New Foundations International feel the same way about so many who daily pray for us, follow every event through our newsletters, and support us in many other ways. What will it be like when the Lord reveals in that Day what He has done through you; things that we do not know yet? It will be a glorious celebration!
For now, we say from our hearts, THANK YOU!!
Scripture gives us some very interesting and important distinctions that we need to pay careful attention to. In this blog I am going to point you to two of them in Paul’s letter to the Romans.
“Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:25).
Here Paul is making a clear difference between what we do with our natural tendencies (flesh) and what we do with our mind that can be governed by “the law of God.” This is more than the Ten Commandments, but refers to the revelation of God’s truth in His Word. When the mind uses that truth, we will serve God’s purpose for us. Sin will be served if we allow the flesh to control.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
In order for us to serve God in any capacity, our minds must be constantly acted on by the Spirit of God so they are “renewed” through Him by truth. That can only take place in us if we are spending time in the Word and asking the Holy Spirit to teach us through the Word (John 14:25). Let’s make sure God is being served as we properly transform our thinking through Scripture.
Paul makes a very unusual statement in 2 Timothy 2 that challenges the way we read Scripture and process what we hear people preach and say. “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” (2 Timothy 2:7).
Part of my background was much like many in the Church. We were told to accept what the “leaders” said without question. We were never encouraged to ““Think over” what was being taught and see if it lined up with the Word of God. Here, Paul is encouraging Timothy to think for himself about what Paul had taught him. As Timothy made this a habit, “the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” Let’s look at another example of this instruction.
“My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;” (Proverbs 2:1–6).
These two principles go together. The idea of “thinking, seeking, receiving, calling out for insight, and searching for treasure” in God’s Word is not independent of the “Lord giving” us what we need for understanding. They must go together! This is also where we experience the joy of the Spirit teaching us all things (John 14:26). I desire that this blog will invigorate your study of Scripture and prepare you for greater and more effective work for the Lord.
We saw yesterday that Paul commanded Timothy to be “strengthened” because his job was to pass on what Paul taught him to “faithful men” (2 Timothy 2:1-7). It would require hard work like a soldier, athlete and farmer. What is the means or way we are going to be strengthened?
It is by “grace that is in Christ Jesus.” What is this grace? Going back to chapter one, we see in verses 8-9 that we are to “share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus.” This is the same truth Paul presented in Galatians 1:15 and Ephesians 2:4-9.
To make sure that Timothy understood this grace cannot come through works of any kind, he says in 2 Timothy 1:9-10, “He called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.” Not only did God call us to Himself by grace, but He is going to “strengthen” us by that same grace IN CHRIST!
This grace is the limitless supply of God’s goodness toward us who deserved nothing. It was the perfection of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that provided a basis for God to give us this supply. The proof of this is in the fact that Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God and sent us the Holy Spirit as a witness and guarantee that He will give us this grace. All we need to do is receive it. How?
Paul goes on to say, “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (1:14). We have the deposit of grace in the Spirit who dwells in us. Now be strengthened by it. Let it work in you because that was God’s plan before creation.
I want us to go back to the context of yesterday’s blog where I described the five generations that Paul had in mind which would pass through His son Timothy to others. Our focus in this blog will be on 2 Timothy 2:1; “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Why is this command so important? To be entrusted as faithful men (2:2) with God’s truth, we need grace to strengthen us. The responsibilities of faithful men require energy and commitment you would find in a soldier, athlete or farmer (verses 3-6). This is referring mainly to soul strength because the work of the Lord is done by supernatural power that comes from the Lord Jesus.
After months of hard work and heavy opposition, Nehemiah encouraged the people by saying, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (8:10). It came to them because of their faithfulness to the Lord and continuing to work, knowing that He was supplying everything they needed in the face of difficulty.
Some of you who read this are weary and tired in the Lord’s work. STOP! Take this moment to be alone with the Lord and let Him strengthen you by HIS grace. It is the undeserved supply of what we need to persevere with the goal before us – HIS GLORY! When you take this time to renew your mind by His grace, you will be able to return to the responsibilities of ministry with the joy of the Lord in your heart. Your focus is no longer on yourself, but on the Lord and what He wants.
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