Words to Encourage - February 2014
Just yesterday I was looking at Jesus' words in Luke 4:
“And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place (see also Mk. 1:35). And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.” (Luke 4:42–44).
I see four principles in these verses that marked the Lord's life and was continued by the apostles.
Here is a current testimony of what is happening when believers use God’s Plan for His Church manual to get them back into the Scriptures as their sole guide for personal walk, the family and the church.
“I was urgently invited to Ghana to attend the International Missions Leaders Workshop in Kumasi Ghana. The Theme for the Workshop was “MOVING FORWARD”. The director for Baptist Foreign Missions Rev. Phil Knott shared with us the Mission’s Vision and goals that is to multiply disciples, leaders, Churches and ministries that are reproducible and sustainable.
The Workshop was held because many of churches were relying on foreign support and when that supports ceased, the church fell or pastors moved to other ministry that will support him. So we were called and encourage that our churches should be self-sustainable and focus on God and the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Brother, what we have been studying from the training manual is exactly what is going on with so many pastors and churches here in Africa. We have been encourage that our churches should be self-sustaining; not money to be it lifeblood, because when money stop ministry stops. Thanks for the material that open our eyes and understanding. I took along the Training manual (GOD’S PLAN FOR HIS CHURCH), with me and I seized the opportunity to meet with pastors and church leaders from Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mali, Togo and other African countries discussed with them the goodness and Biblical teaching of Planting and Church Renewal of the material. Having shared the introductory part of the manual many of them express their desire to be part of the study. While I was away the men studying with me in our church were busy in carrying on their studies and at times we shared our discussion on phone after our meeting.
I am going through the manual as well as a brother who has gone to Hungary with a copy of the manual. He will be back on the 26 of February, so that we can all do the completion of the material together.
It is our prayers that the Lord will give us strength and open our understanding as we study His Word to win souls for him.”
The Purpose of God in His Hands
In the last post, we looked at Jeremiah 18:1-10. Notice that God “reworked the clay into another vessel as it seemed good to the potter to do” (v.4).
· Why do we question the design God is working into our lives? It is our pride.
· Do we think we know better that God for our lives, marriages, family and church?
· Do we allow human ideas, methods, and programs dictate what we will “allow” God to do with us?
· We don’t like what He is doing to us.
But I am learning – God has a perfect plan and purpose, and His design that He is working into my life has one goal; that He can use me for His purpose – to bring Him eternal glory! His hands make a “vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master…, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
God has put His hands on my life that has caused pain and I almost lost sight of why. Thankfully, He has applied the water of the Holy Spirit to soften my “clay” so He can shape my life to bring Him glory. Ask God to enlighten “the eyes of your heart that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you” (Ephesians 1:18) to bring Him glory!
Choosing God's Best
Why are we so willing to accept something less, a lower standard, or a different method than what God has held up in His word? Why are we so quick to proclaim ourselves as the “cutting edge” in ministry, but unwilling to humbly acknowledge how far short we fall from God’s design as He gave it to us in Scripture? Every decision we make in life and ministry will either reflect and give glory to God or will detract in some way from it!
a. What brings about change and a desire to return to God’s plan? We must open our hearts to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and this will result in immediate REPENTANCE! How does this happen?
i. God’s Word becomes a mirror (James 1:22-25), reflecting a clear comparison between God’s plan and purpose for my life, marriage, family and church, with what the facts really are.
ii. God’s Word is like fire and a hammer (Jer. 23:28-29) that burns up what is useless to God and breaks what is hard, stubborn and resistant to the Spirit.
iii. God’s Word is like water (Eph. 5:25-27). The more I take it in the more it cleanses from the inside out.
iv. God’s Word is “perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7). There is always hope when I apply God’s perfect Word to myself and my situation.
b. If true repentance takes place, what can you and I expect? “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 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 3:19–20, ESV). If you have never experienced sweet fellowship with the Lord, this is the path where it begins.
Let the Word of God change us so we become better reflectors!
GOD'S BIG PICTURE
In the last few weeks the Spirit has opened my understanding as I have read the Word and pondered its eternal application to us. What started this was that a dear brother was explaining the difficulties they are going through regarding a building that is not finished where the church wants to meet. As I prayed for him, the Spirit directed my attention to God's BIG PICTURE that began in past eternity. If we are going to grasp the details of God's plan, we must also look at the BIG PICTURE - GOD'S PLAN AND PURPOSE FROM ETERNITY PAST!
Let's start with Eph. 3:8-10 and Col. 1:24-29. Paul wanted to "make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations...the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:25, 27). The greatness of this mystery is not understood because we have a building, but because the Holy Spirit, the "Helper" is "with you forever" (John. 14:16) and He, the Father and the Son "will come...and make our home with him" (14:23). Plus the Holy Spirit "will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (14:26). This does not need a building; just human hearts that receive God's grace.
Now, let's go back to Genesis 1:28-30; 3:8-9. God began *HIS*story with man by spending time in The Garden talking to man, in fellowship with man in a relationship that did not need a temple, a building or a special place. It only need God and man in relationship as God designed it - *PERFECT!*
Solomon realized that "heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you (God); how much less this house that I have built" (1 Kings 8:27). Paul reminds us of what happened at Pentecost, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you" (1 Cor. 3:16) "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (God) within you, whom you have from God" (1 Cor. 6:19).
John 4:19-28. The woman of John 4 realizes that Jesus is the answer to her problems and starts talking about worship. She points to a mountain where her fathers worshiped and that the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem (the temple). Jesus points to a different kind of worship and a different place of worship. The different kind of worship was a relationship with God as "Father" through the Spirit. The 'different place of worship' was the heart where our spirits are in agreement with His Spirit and where His truth is our only truth. This does not require a building or a place, but a living relationship in the power of the Spirit.
Revelation 21:3, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "*Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.*" The end of *HIS*story is the same as the beginning. God with man in *PERFECT* communion, in fellowship, man in worship without the need of any man-made things such as buildings, pews, pulpits, etc. The whole plan and purpose of redemption was to restore fallen man to relationship that needs nothing except the finished work of Jesus and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. In pointing to these Scriptures, I fully understand that there is nothing wrong with buildings in and of themselves, but there is a transcending importance in the relationship we have with God through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. What a great opportunity we have in any difficult time or circumstance to point the saints to something that is far, far greater than a physical building or place. Build in the saints a vision for what is eternal! Ephesians 2:19-22, "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom 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."
May the Holy Spirit give us this eternal 'BIG PICTURE' - God's thoughts, plans and purpose that do not change even in time!
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