After posting the blog yesterday, I was thinking again of what heaven will be like. From the inception of the Church, believers who understood the heart of God and the command of Christ, risking everything for the sake of spreading the gospel. The progress during the Early Church was stunning. Perhaps again, the Church is waking up to its unfinished task; reaching the unreached.
As John was finishing his work in confinement on an island, Jesus give him a look into that day yet to come. “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9).
I can’t imagine seeing this and then realizing that it has not happened yet, and the work yet to be done. As our team travels to the four corners of the earth training and preparing believers to carry the gospel to “the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8), we keep before us and them the final goal.
If we lose sight of the finish line, we will slow down or even stop running the race. Many complain that they can’t physically “GO” as others have, and are going. That is okay. There is something you can do. Can you pray? Then pray. Can you disciple someone else to “GO”? Then be busy with being an effective disciple-maker. Can you help someone “GO” in your place? Then help them. There is something each of us can do, only if we have seen the final gathering of “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” WHAT A SIGHT!
“The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24).
As I write this blog, some of the Church has already gathered in the eastern part of the world to worship. How we sing hymns and songs, read the Scriptures and preach the Word of God is all part of worship. Jesus was telling the woman at the well that “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” In the next sentence, He makes this statement even more emphatic; they “must worship in spirit and truth.”
What makes true worship? Is it the building or how comfortable the chairs are that puts you in the attitude of true worship? Is it the music style or whether the preacher speaks well or not? There are so many factors that people say gives them a sense of worship, but none of these really have anything to do with whether we worship in spirit and truth.
Consider your heart and your life. There is a clue right in these two verses that points to the answer to what is true worship. “True worshipers will worship the Father.” This statement assumes a relationship with God that is not distant, but very near. It can only be known through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). The answer to true worship is never in things, but in a relationship.
How will you worship today?
There are so many times in my life when I feel extreme weakness and lack of ability to do what God has given me to do for Him. I remember deep desires that came early in my life. There were men around me who had given themselves to serve the Lord, and I wanted to be like them. It seemed impossible for me ever to measure up, but they kept encouraging me.
Having been born with a disability, my goals always seemed out of reach. Through my teen years and into my twenties and thirties, my spirit of complaining was a great hindrance. A few of these godly men reminded me that God had designed me perfectly for His purpose and would accomplish through me what He wanted, only if I accepted His design.
That became a turning point in my life. God had to remind great men like Abraham and Moses; “I have made you…” (Genesis 17:5; Exodus 7:1). This was true of the prophet Jeremiah (6:27) and Ezekiel (3:17; 12:6). Each one was made and designed by God for a unique purpose in their day to the people they were placed among.
As I turned the attention away from my uniqueness to the plan and purpose of God, I gave more of my energy and capacity to His plan and purpose. I often fail in this, but the grace of God keeps bringing me back to John 15:16; “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (John 15:16).
Are you living for God’s purpose? Not your agenda!
Tim was invited by our contact in China to meet those they know in Taiwan. This is already turning into a wonderful encounter with local pastors and believers. Here is a brief account of his first day:
“My first evening in Taipei was one of the most exciting times I have ever experienced. They had an extended family gather to meet me; about 40 around a large table. It was like a king had come; King Jesus' and His servant. In my quiet time this morning, I was reading about Abraham's slave or servant being sent to get Rebekah for Isaac (Genesis 24). His focus and desire was always on his master's God.
Our host couple are involved in the Gideons work, handing out Bibles and witnessing to everything that moves. I met with their pastor who knew more about our material than I did since he had been given the electronic copy of God’s Plan for His Disciples before I came. He is a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate, but realizes the old traditional way of church and missions is not getting the task done.
At our feast, they put me beside their 95-year old grandfather and great grandfather. They are all so committed to the Lord! It is a truly awesome time. They have many Christians and pastors they want me to meet during my stay. If we were in mainland China, we would already be in jail, but we are not, even with China right next door. They are all the more energized to witness about Jesus Christ everywhere as well as being appreciative of their freedom. Please pray that many here will be equipped, mobilized and challenged to take the Gospel to those who have never heard, here in Taiwan, China and the world!” Tim
We are truly amazed at what God is doing with this small ministry. He has clearly inspired Tim with ideas and insights into the biblical principles that will establish disciples on a strong foundation in the Word of God. This is what Paul did in Acts 14:21-22.
Since launching the first edition of God’s Plan for His Disciples (GPHD) last year, both feedback and interest has poured in from all over the world. With testing the book locally, and the introduction of GPHD in Vietnam, China, Myanmar Laos, Nigeria, Ecuador and the United States, we have taken suggestions, ideas and things we have learned and revised the book into the second edition. It is now ready for translation and printing in at least eight languages.
Because America is such a ‘melting pot’ of so many cultures and languages, we are finding there is also a demand for these translations right here. A missionary/church planter near the Atlanta area has asked if we have translated this book into Amharic, Congolese, Swahili, Bhutanese, Nepali, and Somalian. These represent only a few of the languages spoken in this area.
Another pastor who is working with many Spanish speaking churches says that the need and desire for GPHD is huge and urgently needed. This is in addition to a request for 1500 copies in Spanish for Cuba, Mexico, Costa Rico, Honduras and many other Central and South American countries. While much of the world is in turmoil, there is a far more important concern; establishing disciples so they can stand strong in the faith and help others do the same. This is how the gospel normally spreads from one people group to another.
We ask you to stand with us in prayer that every place where God wants this tool to go will receive it quickly.
Any military general or leader will tell you that gaining victory depends on how thoroughly you understand what the battle requires. All the enemies of God and His work have never, and will never be able to grasp what they are up against.
One of our team pointed to Acts 5:38-39 the other day. The Jewish leaders, including the high priest, opposed preaching the gospel by the apostles and went as far as throwing them into prison, even wanting to kill them. “A Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, stood up” and addressed those gathered. He pointed to other movements that had come and gone, thinking that the apostle might be just like them and their presence would soon disappear. Then Gamaliel adds; “if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So, they took his advice” (Acts 5:39). This was very good advice!
How often do we shrink back from proclaiming the gospel or standing for biblical truth because we are intimidated by those who do not want to hear the gospel message or His truth? God’s purpose and plan stands forever. Opposing God will end in judgment. Let us stand for what is eternal!
Often there are very unpleasant but necessary subjects we must address in the Church. As we saw yesterday, sheep who know their shepherds voice will not follow strangers (John 10:5). That very statement raises the concern that there are “strangers” or “false brothers secretly brought in – who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery” (Galatians 2:4).
Jude has more to say about such persons. “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).
Paul makes it clear that these “fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). In all three references, the issue is that these persons have a disregard for the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in the gospel and those He came to redeem for Himself.
What is the solution to this intrusion into the Church and the failure to value divine property – His sheep? We can tell the marks of a “thief.” They are a person who “is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep…he flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep” (John 10:12-13). Money is the motive and not the spiritual welfare of the sheep.
The answer to this problem; first leaders get alone with the Shepherd and learn His voice. Then they must teach every other believer to know the Shepherd’s voice so well that every other voice will be rejected. The Spirit teaches us the Shepherd’s voice through the Word of God in the secret of His presence.
There are some things in life we never forget. Places and people, events from childhood, and places we have lived. In addition to these is the memory of voices. I remember my father and mother’s voice even though they have been gone for some time. When I answer the phone, my wife’s voice is distinct from all the voices I hear every day.
How well do you know the voice of Jesus? In John’s Gospel chapter 10, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd and the Door through which the sheep enter into His fold. “The sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3). If you have ever watched shepherds working their flocks in the same area together, you know that each shepherd has his own call for gathering and leading his sheep. Jesus confirms this in verse 5; “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
I wish that was always true in the Church today. Why do some follow the voice of ‘strange teachers’ who only work for numbers, money and position and “care nothing for the sheep” (10:13). That is a subject for another blog, but I am very concerned that we become more and more familiar with the voice of our Shepherd and reject the voice of strangers.
There is only one way His voice becomes permanently part of your life. SPEND TIME WITH HIM! There is no quick way of getting to know His voice. It just requires being alone in His presence and listening daily. It is a personal relationship that becomes closer the more time you spend together.
Not everything is worth remembering. We used to keep scrap books and photo albums to help us remember events and people who have been special to us. Now we use our iPhones, iPads and many other electronic devices to have as instant recall.
The question I pose in this blog is whether we remember the words of those who have invested in our spiritual growth, maturity and effectiveness in ministry. Knowing that Paul would probably never see the Ephesian elders again, he warns them about the “fierce wolves” that would come into the church and “not spare the flock” (Acts 20:29). Then he says, “Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (20:31).
What does it mean that Paul “admonish every one with tears?” It was instruction combined with necessary warning out of deep concern about what would happen to this church after he left. Earlier, Paul told them that he had served them “with all humility and with tears and with trials” (20:19). Years later, this church was addressed by Jesus, and He told them, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4–5).
Paul’s warning was completely in order. Often we try to forget stern words because their rebuke got to the heart of our problem and we didn’t like the rebuke. It’s time to go back and remember, repent and do what we should have done at the beginning.
There are two verse about the Holy Spirit that should make us very careful about our words, actions and attitudes.
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).
“Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).
There are several points about these two verses that we need to be reminded of. First, the Holy Spirit is a person of the Godhead. He has divine feelings and is conscious of what is taking place in us and through us. This is not only true of the Spirit who dwells in us, but “it grieved [God] to his heart” when He “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5-6). Divine persons are unified in their reaction to sin.
How much more when God the Spirit dwells or lives within the believer in Jesus Christ. To “grieve” the Spirit is to cause Him sadness, sorrow and be distressed over our condition. To “quench” the Spirit is to resist to the point of stopping His work in us. These are serious matters considering He is a divine person who only seeks the glory of God to be achieve through our lives.
BE CAREFUL how you respond to His yearning to work in you.
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