I continue to ponder my life and what lies ahead. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, brought through a butane explosion at three, carried by God during a horrific church and family split after a year and a half of marriage, and over the past three years, required to have three back surgeries and a colon re-sectioning and months of recovery. All this seems very small to 80 years of preparation for 40 more years of leading a complaining, rebellious people out of slavery across a wilderness to the land God promised them. Yes, I am referring to Moses.
How could he do this? There is a secret Moses had, and I will be so bold as to say, I believe I have the same secret. Every person that persevered in the face of obstacles, and even wanted to give up but didn’t, were persons who had this secret and it drove them to press on in spite of conditions and opposition. All the riches of this world or the status it could offer cannot begin to compare to this one thing that is so surpassingly great. It makes everything else seem as fine dust that is blown away. Any amount of suffering is worth endurance in order to have this one thing.
So you ask, “What is it?” I will first put it in the words of Hebrews about Moses: “he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:25). Every person who has rejected retirement in favor of a clear call by God is because they had such a close walk with God, it was as if they could see Him and hear Him calling them to keep going. In Paul’s words: “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
The question is not what career you should pursue but WHO do you see? If you see God in all His glory, He will lead you to pursue a path that makes Him known to the nations. The reward is eternal!
I HAVE ONLY ONE OPTION
After meeting this morning with my partner and best friend in ministry, the wheels in my small brain started turning. Both of us are not getting any younger and the reality of useful years serving the Lord as we are, is clearly limited. So what should be done with the time that is left to us? The tradition in most of the western world is to find someone else to take our place, resign and then spend the rest of our years “retired”, traveling to places we have never seen, throwing our money, energy and passion to the wind.
SORRY, I CAN’T DO THAT AND NEITHER CAN MY PARTNER! Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34). I am going to put my own twist to this statement by way of application and say, ‘where you have invested your treasure with your heart, there you will keep expending time and energy so you leave behind the most effective work of God that others can carry on in any culture, any time, with any resources and under any conditions’.
For the next several days, I want to pursue this subject and challenge you to examine your heart and ask where you are placing treasure that will last for eternity. Oh, by the way, there are only two options for any treasure: 1) natural decay, consumption, or 2) eternal investment that yields a thousand percent.
AGE IS NO LIMIT
As the crowds in Jerusalem were wondering what was taking place on the day of Pentecost, Peter reminded them that this outpouring of the Holy Spirit was exactly what the prophet Joel spoke of when he said, “in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh” (Acts 2:17). In various places of the world, God is still pouring out His Spirit in ways that we rarely see here in the western world.
God is moving in a fresh way in Liberia. Just in the last week, 175 people accepted Jesus as Savior and 10 were baptized because the gospel was preached in renewed clarity and the teaching of God’s plan for His church took on new meaning. Among the ten baptized was a 96 year old woman. God is finishing His work in those we least expect. We need to be faithful wherever God has placed us and He will work.
William Whiting Borden was the son of a wealthy family that made their fortune in silver mining in Colorado. After responding to the preaching of R. A. Torrey and giving his life to Christ, along with some formal schooling, he became a missionary to Muslims of northern China. After his death at the age of 25, his mother found written in his Bible the words, “No Reserves – No Retreat – No Regrets”.
This is a challenge to all of us! Would we forfeit wealth, education, social status and position in order to reach some people group with the gospel of eternal life in Christ? Such people may be your neighbor or they may be across a sea or mountain range. Will you carry the message to them, or will you finish life having retreated into your self-made comfort zone and die buried in regrets?
THE FRUIT WILL RIPEN
Various kinds of fruit do not ripen all at the same time. Some come in the early summer while others take most of the summer months and even into the fall before harvest can begin. So it is with God’s work. As Paul reminds us, we must be diligent with planting and watering, and “God gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6). It is our responsibility to “not grow weary” in sowing and watering, “for in due season we will reap if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). Some have labored for years and the fruit of their work did not ripen until they were home with the Lord.
This has been our challenge in Ecuador. Over the years there has been sowing, beginning with the translation of our first manual, God’s Plan for His Church. At that time, contact was made with key leaders, and it seemed promising that this work would spread through all of Latin America. The vision evaporated.
Just in recent months after a visit by Tim and Randy, God has revived the vision and the third revision of the manual has been translated and will soon be ready for printing. Interim copies have been made and training is moving forward with new fire and passion. This may seem to be a small camp fire in Ecuador, but we are praying with confidence that God will blow a fresh wind of His Spirit in this country that will expand over all of Central and South America.
Please pray with us that this will become a movement of the Spirit beginning in Ecuador.
THE CELEBRATION CONTINUES
Christmas has just passed but the celebration continues. What Jesus began nearly 2,000 years ago is still impacting the world and millions are coming to know Him as Savior and Lord. We are seeing the effect of this through the training of God’s Plan for His Church. Whether it is six of the countries in Africa, isolated spots in parts of India, major cities in Myanmar (Burma), the mountain villages of Thailand, or the capital of Cambodia, God is at work in hearts to move them back to the Scriptures and learn for the first time how the Early Church grew. Most have never studied Paul’s method of church planting and establishing churches. As the Holy Spirit gives them fresh insight through Acts and Paul’s letters, they become fired up with renewed energy to tell others what they see and move out into unreached villages to proclaim the gospel.
More details will be given in the days to come, but we want you to rejoice with us at the 43rd God's Plan for His Church training in Vietnam! Like others, this self-supporting, self-sustaining and self-propagating movement is solely for God’s Glory in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the meantime, render praise and thanksgiving for what God is doing. If you are praying with us, God is hearing and answering in ways past our imagination. If you are praying and supporting, your joy is double knowing that a way is being made for new translations and printings in many languages. All that is happening is a proof that God is pushing us toward the soon return of our Savior, our Head and our Bridegroom.
HIS COMING DEMANDS OUR LOVE
There is a very strange dialog between Jesus and the Jews of His day. In John 8 they claimed Abraham is their father, and so he was by natural generations. The problem that Jesus points out is that they were not doing the works that Abraham did, thus denying their claim. After further cross-examination and rebuttal, they state “We have one Father – even God” (8:41). They fell right into their own trap.”
“Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me” (8:42).
Jesus Christ has come from the Father and His presence is undeniable through the Holy Spirit’s witness. The question is whether our love for Him is clearly evident in the way we live, speak and proclaim Him to others. Remember what Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word…whoever does not love Me does not keep my words” (14:23-24).
What difference has Christmas 2016 made in your love for Jesus? Your obedience to His word will advertise where your love really is.
WHICH PRESENT ARE YOU HOLDING?
By the time you read this blog you will be holding a present in your hands. Wrapping paper, beautiful bows, boxes and card envelops will be stuffed into garbage bags ready to be discarded. Some gifts will immediately be used while others will sit on a shelf or corner of the room waiting for their moment to be treasured.
Put yourself for a moment in the sandals of a man who is not a priest or associated with any sect of the Jews. From the context, he appears to be an older man that held secretly in his heart that before he died, he would see the Messiah, God’s Anointed One. He did not know when this momentous event would take place, but he lived in total faith and undaunted expectancy that he would see “the Lord’s Christ”. He was marked by a sensitive heart to the Holy Spirit. This led him to “come in the Spirit into the temple…when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
““Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel”” (Luke 2:27–32).
Can you imagine living most of your life waiting, hoping, and expecting to see one person, and when they arrive, you are so content that your life is finished. I want my life to be this single focus on making Jesus everything to me so that others can hold this precious gift, not just an idea, but a person in their hearts so their lives are lived solely for Him! WHAT ARE YOU HOLDING?
THE THIEF AND THE GIVER
King Herod was a thief. Because of his false apprehensions, “he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under” (Matthew 2:16). We just came home a few hours ago from visiting a dear couple with their first child just born two weeks ago. I can’t imagine that precious life being ripped from their arms and put to death by a wicked king. But that is what Herod did.
By contrast, notice how Jesus juxtaposed that account of Herod with one of His purpose statements; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The word “abundantly” mean ‘with special advantage, exceptional life’. Think of the vast contrast between death that has no hope, no eternal value and no reason to celebrate in comparison to the life Jesus offers free, and is eternal. It is filled with the prospect of a relationship that is greater than any earthly relationship and filled with endless pleasure.
The best part of all this abundant life is that God offers it without cost. Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28). There is someone you will meet in the next day or two that needs to hear this message. Will you give this gift that can change their life forever?
SALVATION - NOT CONDEMNATION
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned” (John 3:17–18a).
What difference would it make if you and I could grasp, just once, God’s heart for this world (3:16)? How would God’s compassion for the lost, change our priorities (Matthew 9:36)? Would our attitudes of condemnation of all the evils men and women commit become pity for their lost souls (Mark 1:4)? Please understand what I am saying. I am not at all suggesting that we should not condemn evil, but it is the persons committing the evil that need salvation (Luke 23:34).
God could have been totally justified in sending Jesus as Judge to bring the whole human race before the divine bench for summary judgment and immediately execute the sentence. NO! God sent His Son into the world in order that those in it might be saved through Him! At the right time, the sentence will be executed (Acts 17:31).
Until that day comes, this is the message we have been given. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20). That is not a message of condemnation, but appeal to the condemned to believe, receive salvation, and be forgiven and reconciled to God.
Which message do you carry with you and give to others as you “GO”?
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