Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You Helped Us Write Our Own Story!!

Our guest speaker last Sunday was Kingsley Armstrong from Ireland. His Irish brogue and sense of humor was such a novelty and joy to listen to. However, it was the content in his message that particularly held my attention. He spoke about “writing our own story” instead of allowing others to write our story for us.

His thoughts about the Apostle Peter catching a boatload of fish after catching nothing during the night left us with some powerful implications. In Luke 5 the disciples were washing their nets by the Lake of Gennesaret. After fishing all night and catching nothing, the empty nets revealed only the story of their failure. It was a story of discouragement and defeat.

Jesus came by the disciples and saw their dejection. He asked Peter to launch his boat out and to let his nets down once again to prepare for a catch of fish. Peter told Jesus his story, “Master, he said, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

I like what the scripture says about Peter in verse 9: “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken.”

I think you would agree that it is quite astonishing for all of us to see what God does to bless so powerfully the missionaries and this congregation during our world missions conference.

It is through your efforts and obedience to God’s word that the world is touched by your prayers and giving. We have written our own story of what God can do through this congregation from a small community in northwestern Wisconsin.

Our story is a faith story that starts with a belief that we can make a difference in this world through obedience to God. It is a story that is told in regions of the world even unknown to us by pastors and missionaries who have attended conferences here and witnessed the love, compassion, and generosity from this congregation. Our story has been adopted by other pastors and churches in this nation which multiplies our efforts to bless the nations with the gospel of Christ’s love, compassion, and forgiveness.

I am so proud and grateful of everyone in this church family for being part of a story of faith that is now known in many places around the world!! Blessings!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Am Not Ashamed!

In Romans 1:16 Paul writes: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Gentiles)

The whole epistle of Romans is the story of God’s plan of redemption in Christ. It is a detailed description of Christ’s work and its implication for all Christians, as well as the Gospel’s application to our everyday life.

The book describes the many blessings we have through Christ: reconciliation to God (5:11); righteousness and eternal life (5:18-21); identification with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection (6:3-5); freedom from condemnation (8:1); eternal inheritance (8:17); suffering with Him (8:17); being glorified with Him (8:17); being made like Him (8:29).

Paul declared that he made it “his aim to preach the Gospel” (15:20) and stated that “in many signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit of God - I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ.” (15:19)

LANDMARK TRUTH: Signs and Wonders!

Jesus sent His church out to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons. Freely you received, so freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) Jesus ‘ church was not created for self-indulging, but for conquerors that would follow Jesus’ footsteps.

Jesus’ ministry was measured by the fruit it produced, that would be trained for His ministry. “You did not choose me, I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain.” (John 15:16)

So every born-again Christian that wants to follow Jesus might want to start to get ready, because Jesus is moving His church to the position of victory! “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance is in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)

It is not the time for the church to be focused on ourselves. Our focus must be on the unsaved. The lost are still looking for what Christ has to offer, but not just by-laws, creeds, statements of faith without actions, Bible lessons on what they do wrong, or condemnation for all their mistakes.

The church must not block the view of those who are looking for a real Jesus! We must “not be ashamed” to love them to Christ and offer them healing, forgiveness, and deliverance. Setting the captive free is still the heart and the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Supremacy of God in Missions Through Prayer!

While reading John Pipers book entitled Let The Nations Be Glad, I was moved by his chapter entitled “The Supremacy of God in Missions Through Prayer.”

Piper described life as a war. That’s not all it is. But it is always that. Our weakness in prayer is owing largely to our neglect of this truth. Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. God has given us prayer as a wartime walkie-talkie so that we can call headquarters for everything we need as the kingdom of Christ advances in the world. Prayer gives us the significances of front-line forces, and gives God the glory of the limitless provider. The one who gives the power gets the glory!

The Apostle Paul often used warfare language in his writings. In 1 Timothy 6:12 he tells Timothy “Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life to which you were called.”

Life is war because the maintenance of our faith and the laying hold on eternal life is a constant fight. Paul encouraged Timothy to see his whole ministry as war: “This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, that in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare.” (1 Timothy 1:18)  “No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits.” (2 Timothy 2:4) In other words, missions and ministry are war!

Most people show by their priorities and their casual approach to spiritual things that they believe we are in peacetime, not wartime. In wartime we are on alert. We are armed. We are vigilant. We have an enemy worse than any human foe. Satan and spiritual darkness are the great enemy.

Prayer is for wielding the word!

If we do not feel the force of Satan’s conflict to destroy every soul in a hell of everlasting torment then we will not even know what prayer is. In Ephesians 6:17, 18 Paul makes the connection between the life of war and the work of prayer. (vs. 17) “Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (vs. 18) “Pray at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication….” Two things mentioned here are “taking the sword and praying!” This is how we are to wield the word—by prayer!

Prayer is the communication with headquarters by which the weapons of warfare are deployed to the will of God. That’s the connection between the weapons and prayer in Ephesians 6. Prayer is for war!

This year’s Missions Conference engages us in warfare unprecedented in a world full of confusion and death. We must have an awakening to the power of God NOW! Pray!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

God's Family Works Best When Its Members Work Together!

Acts 4:32, 33: “All the believers were of one mind and heart, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. And the Apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great favor was upon them all.”

None of the Christians in the early church felt what they owned was really their own, and so they were able to give and share, which eliminated poverty among them. It is difficult from our cultural mindsets to imagine having to share our possessions and property so that other believers could benefit from God’s gifts and blessings that we have received.

The early church in Acts recognized the other believers as brothers and sisters in the family of God. It is tempting—especially if we have material wealth—to cut ourselves off from one another with concern only for our own interests and enjoyment. But as part of God’s family, it is our responsibility to help one another in every way possible.

To have unity in the body of Christ that will bring God’s power and grace into our lives, we must live in the attitude that everything we have comes from God, and that we are only sharing what is already His.  Acts 4:24 says, “Then all the believers were united as they lifted their voices in prayer.”

We all know how impossible it is for everyone of us to agree on everything or to share the same opinions on everything. That’s why there are so many different religions and denominations and why it is hard for all Christians to get along joyfully with one another. But what happened at the time of the early church with these believers took place because they were united together by the Spirit of God. They came together in spiritual unity. The believers were loyal, committed, and loved God and His Word. The church never could have survived without spiritual unity.

The early church was able to share possessions and property as a result of the unity brought by the Holy Spirit in and through the believers lives. The early Jewish believers in Jesus created great friction with Jews who didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Believing Jews were forced to meet in private homes for communion, prayer, and teaching about Christ. Many were excommunicated from their synagogues and from their families.

But the church grew daily because zealous worship and brotherly love is contagious! The spiritual unity and generosity of the early believers would be vital principles for the church to follow today. This way of living is not the way of communism because (1) sharing their possessions was voluntary; (2) it did not involve all property but only as much as was needed; (3) it was not a membership requirement to become a part of the church. Spiritual unity must be birthed in us by the Holy Spirit which gives us the motivation to love each other just as Christ loves us. Love then will readily serve one another.