Oct. 23-26. Repacking after one night was easy and we headed to B’s for breakfast. Poor little M. did not want to say goodbye to G’Papa and walk to school, but we wiped the tears away and P drove her across the street instead of making her walk. Since my flight didn’t leave until 11:55 a.m., we lingered over breakfast and then P, T and B loaded me and my two bags into their car. What I did not realize was they were adding another hour so we could stop at a coffee shop near the airport and have some coffee or tea before I left. They secretly arranged for T-2 to also meet us there. Rosemary had asked if I could get some Vietnamese cinnamon which is supposedly some of the best in the world. I had failed, but T-2 was determined to find it, and find it she did! She located both hand ground and store bought. The aroma smelt so fresh and pungent. We had a delightful time together which made the next phase all the harder. Before leaving the restaurant, I asked each person to give me their most important prayer request. Each one had a very clear desire that God would lead them into a specific aspect of the Lord’s work that would accelerate the gospel and reach the unreached in Vietnam. It is rare to see such one-mindedness in the gospel. This was not rehearsed. It was on the spot! It was real!
Need I say that the airport drop was very difficult? P drove and could not linger at the curb, so he drove on, but T and B took me to security. Somehow B persuaded the guards that I needed an escort, so they allow him into the airport with me. I can’t put into words the loving, thoughtful care T provided while I was there. The tears for both of us told the story and the gratitude that went both ways. I turned to leave and could not look back until I was well past the security entrance where we waved to each other for one last time. B was so helpful at the ticket counter, making sure I would be cared for all the way to Yangon. We got within a few yards of the immigration line and B wanted one last picture of us together. He enlisted a willing stranger. The next moments were harder for him than for me because I had learned his heart, and was confident God is going to use him in a mighty way. By his own words, he felt he had gained two Paul’s in his life, and number two was now leaving. I had gained a Timothy! For those who have never been to Asian countries, please understand that it is uncommon and not part of this culture for a man to weep in public. But he held nothing back. I was thankful that security took me through the diplomat line so I would be out of sight as quickly as possible. Just as I went into the concourse, I turned to see B still peering through the glass to see me for one last time. I have said it before, but it is worth repeating, that the bonds we have in Christ far surpass earthly ties!
Paul says about Timothy that "I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare" (Philippians 2:19). Is this the degree of our love and commitment to God's work in others?
One of the key principles we see in the Book of Acts is that the life, fellowship and preaching; all forms of worship of the early church, was a strong reason why the church grew so rapidly (Acts 2:14-47; 6:7; 10:34-48; 13:48-49). Dr. Edmund Clowney has said, “When we worship God as we ought, that is when the nations will listen.”
Is our worship truly God-centered? If we mix in to our worship anything that exalts man, we will weaken out gospel voice to the nations; the unreached.
At the close of this Book of Moses (Leviticus), God raises the standard of valuation to that of the “shekel of the sanctuary” (27:3, 25). When Paul was dealing with the problems of immorality and pride that existed in Corinth, he did not use the Law to correct the problem, but he raises the standard of our value to the “shekel of the sanctuary”, or in his words; “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God…you are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Peter points to the same valuation; “knowing that you were ransomed…with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
On what basis we put value on ourselves and others will determine how we conduct ourselves in private and with others!
“Walking and living by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16-26) becomes a higher and higher priority the more I realize the “price or valuation” God has put on me – His Son! All of this leads toward one end; that we see ourselves as God’s church, “the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21-22). To see ourselves in Christ is to understand the value God has placed on us!
What problems would this resolve with you, your marriage, family or church?
This morning I read from Colossians 2:1-5 where Paul says that he had a "great struggle...for those in Laodicea" (v.1). This is very interesting considering what Jesus said to this church in Revelation 3. There was a clear and powerful purpose behind Paul's attitude. He wanted their "hearts...to be encouraged,...knit together in love." But that was only part of his purpose. He was struggling because he wanted them to "reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery." (v.2). Let's think about what this means for us. We can't possibly settle into a complacent attitude and at the same time achieve this purpose in us. Let this be FOOD FOR THOUGHT.
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