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Message for the Nations

Message for the Nations

The very reason missionaries and others are needed to share the gospel of Christ is, in essence, the same reason God gave Israel a king, That reason is people’s rejection of God. That attitude is seen repeatedly throughout history as recorded in the Bible. There was the generation that preceded the Flood and then the generation at Babel. The rise of idolatry and various false religions give evidence of a wholesale rejection of God. Even after God had chosen a people for Him-self, we find they too rejected Him on numerous occasions.

The casual reader of the Bible will quickly encounter more incidents of God being spurned than he would want to keep track of. No more than a casual look at the world today is needed to see that the vast majority of mankind is lost and has no use for the living God. Sadly, attendance at many Christian churches and the number of closed churches reveal less than enthusiastic desire for worship and to know God’s Word. The major reason for this situation is of course, sin and all its disastrous effects on the human soul. One of the resultant effects is that people have either forgotten or are ignorant of what God has done. In their turning away from God, they have become intellectually oblivious to the wonder and love and grace and majesty of almighty God.

People conveniently overlook the fact that it is God who provides the seed, sends the rain, and causes the sun to shine. They need to be taught the truth about God and His deeds, as well as the truth about themselves. They need someone who cares for them even though they do not care for their own soul. People in general also are ignorant of what God wanted to do. His plan for the ages as laid out in the Bible will come to pass, and all mankind will play a part in it. The part they play will depend on their faith and their relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is where the missionary, the pastor, the Sunday school teacher, and every believer come in. There is a message to be told to the nations, beginning with the person next door, across the street, in the same office, or sitting at the next desk in school. The message, of course, is the good news of Jesus Christ: who He is and what He has done. The message needs to be conveyed about His intercession with the Father, His future return in glory, the need for repentance and faith, and all the other wonderful truths in the Bible.

Although God graciously exhibits great patience with those who have rejected Him, the need is urgent in terms of getting the message out to as many as possible. The home, the neighborhood, the world needs Samuel’s – those who are doing the will of God by boldly proclaiming to the people where they have gone wrong and what needs to be done – as never before. Samuel also displayed the kind of attitude today’s servant needs. That is the attitude of concern that causes the messenger to uphold people in prayer (I Sam. 12:23) even though they have rejected the Lord. May God call and raise up a vast army of willing servants for a great missionary advance in these last days. May there be many souls who once rejected the Lord who find salvation before the end.

Keep Thine Heart

Keep Thine Heart

The tragic sin of King David, as heartbreaking and disgusting as it may be to many readers, presents lessons God’s servants need to learn if they want to take the Great Commission seriously. These are some of those lessons.

Sin is not confined to the slums. While it is true that the gospel message often finds greater reception among the poor, those who live in kings’ palaces are not immune to temptation and sin. Some sinners are easy to spot because of their habits and manner. Others, however, because they seem outwardly moral, talk in a civil way, and do good deeds, are just as much in need of Christ as the criminals and the prostitutes. The affluent segments of society need to be targeted with the gospel and prayed for just as much as the typical mission field. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). In other words, our sin separates us from God, who is perfect holiness and God must therefore judge sinful man. Power, prestige, and position do not lessen the temptation to sin.

Sin is deceitful. Left unconfessed, it often leads the sinner to commit it again and even to do what is necessary to cover it up. Sin has a way of blinding people to the fact that it is wrong and can quickly become like a cancer on the soul. It can spread ever so subtly and lead us into all kinds of things that only compound the problem.

Sin displeases the Lord. For some inexplicable reason, sin has a way of convincing the sinner that everything is all right, that God approves of what he has done. Sin, however, is the breaking of God’s law. God is never pleased by sin, nor does He condone any sinful act. Sin committed by a king is no different in God’s eyes from that committed by a pauper.

Sin is a burden. One often does not recognize the increasing weight sin places on the heart and soul of the sinner. It can happen so gradually that the person never knows how burdensome sin is until confession is made.

Sin is forgivable. When confession is made to God, He forgives. The Lord stands ready to hear the sinner’s confession and remove the burden the sinner has carried. This is the wonderful news a sinful world needs to hear, and it is what world missions is all about.

Sin may be forgiven, but its temporal consequences may still have to be dealt with. When Christ died on the cross, He paid the eternal penalty for sin. At the moment of saving faith and confession, the sinner stands before the Lord redeemed from his former condition.

There may, however, be some unpleasant, even long-lasting, consequences of a life of sin. The person who abused his body with sinful habits may still have to suffer physical illnesses because of his sin. Sin’s result may affect the emotions or other areas of a person’s being as well.

These lessons are applicable to the missionary both personally and in terms of ministry. The missionary must never forget his own sinfulness and how alluring temptation is. The fact that he is now a missionary will in no way reduce the temptations he will face. He must be on constant watch over his own soul. The servant of the Lord must look to himself first and then be about his ministry. The gospel must be poured from clean vessels.

Get the Word Out

Get the Word Out

The very reason missionaries and others are needed to share the gospel of Christ is, in essence, the same reason God gave Israel a king. That reason is people’s rejection of God. That attitude is seen repeatedly throughout history as recorded in the Bible. There was the generation that preceded the Flood and then the generation at Babel. The rise of idolatry and various false religions give evidence of a wholesale rejection of God. Even after God had chosen a people for Himself, we find they too rejected Him on numerous occasions.

The casual reader of the Bible will quickly encounter more incidents of God being spurned than he would want to keep track of. No more than a casual look at the world today is needed to see that a vast majority of mankind is lost and has no use for the living God. Sadly, attendance at many Christian churches and the number of closed churches reveal less than an enthusiastic desire for worship and to know God’s word. The reason for this situation is, of course, sin and all its disastrous effects on the human soul. One of the resultant effects is that people have either forgotten or are ignorant of what God has done. In their turning away from God, they have become intellectually oblivious to the wonder and love and grace and majesty of almighty God.

People conveniently overlook the fact that it is God who provides the seed, sends the rain, and causes the sun to shine. They need to be taught the truth about God and his deeds, as well as the truth about themselves. They need someone who cares for them even though they do not care for their own soul.

People in general also are ignorant of what God wanted to do. His plan for the ages as laid out in the Bible will come to pass, and all mankind will play a part in it. The part they play will depend on their faith and their relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is where the missionary, the pastor, the Sunday school teacher, and every believer come in. There is a message to be told to the nations, beginning with the person next door, across the street, in the same office, or sitting at the next desk in school. The message, of course, is the good news of Jesus Christ: who He is and what He has done. The message needs to be conveyed about His intercession with the Father, His future return in glory, the need for repentance and faith, and all the other wonderful truths In the Bible.

Although God graciously exhibits great patience with those who have rejected Him, the need is urgent in terms of getting the message out to as many as possible. The home, the neighborhood, the world needs Samuels – those who are doing the will of God by boldly proclaiming to the people where they have gone wrong and what needs to be done as never before.

Samuel also displayed the kind of attitude today’s servant needs. That is the attitude of concern that causes the messenger to uphold people in prayer even though they have rejected the Lord. May God call and raise up a vast army of willing servants for a great missionary advance in these last days.

Let Us Press On

Let Us Press On

There are some who scoff at calling Christ’s entry into Jerusalem just days before He was crucified “triumphant.” Certainly His enemies were plotting. Certainly the king like entry alarmed the religious leaders and, humanly speaking, seemed to seal His fate. God foresaw the crucifixion, however. It was all part of His plan of salvation; therefore, without any misgivings, Jesus entered the city triumphantly, for He knew that the prophecy regarding the Messiah had to be fulfilled (Zech. 9:9).

The world alternately scorns Christians and then expresses amazement at Christian behavior. We should not be surprised, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). We reign by serving (Mark 10:42-44). We are exalted by being humble (Matt. 23:12). We become wise by being fools for Christ’s sake (I Cor. 1:20-21). We are made free by becoming His servants (Rom. 6:10). We become stronger by becoming weak (II Cor. 12:10). We find victory by glorifying in our infirmities (vss. 7-9). We live by dying (John 12:24-25).

Let us press on to find our place and assignment in that wonderful kingdom! Let us thank God that He has graciously extended to us an opportunity to join the crowd of witnesses on earth and in heaven whose supreme joy it is to accompany the king. Is there a greater privilege? Sacrifice, lowly service, and death may amaze those who are watching. “What a waste!” they may exclaim as Judas did when he saw the precious ointment poured out on Jesus. The witness of that crowd in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday has been swelled by thousands in every century since. The cries of Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:10) have become a mighty chorus. Let us not delay an hour more! In spirit, let us join it!

The Self-Willed Servant

The Self-Willed Servant

A fairly common belief among some is that those in Christian service do not suffer the same temptations that others do. For some inexplicable reason, being in full-time service is thought to exempt one from the devil’s wiles. Some may even have gone into Christian ministry thinking that once they were in the pulpit or on the mission field, they would be able to withstand the temptings that currently plagued them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Samson’s life serves to illustrate the point that Satan does not take a holiday when God sends someone into His service. Of the lessons to be learned in a study of Samson’s life, here are a few. Temptations come to those who are called to serve. As any person in ministry will attest, temptations not only are still there but also seem to increase. Not only do they increase; there is also nowhere to escape from them. Missionaries on foreign fields concur that changing one’s location does not change the sinfulness of one’s heart. The temptations may be different in other places, but they do not cease. Another fact is that the enemy loves to see God’s children fall. He thus increases temptation in an effort to make God’s servant commit sin and thereby lose his effectiveness in ministry. God’s servants may well come under direct attack in the area of their weakness because Satan knows he can hinder the work of God when he can get God’s ministers to fall. Like Samson, too many of god’s chosen have given in and become weakened. The headlines in recent years revealing the sins of prominent Christians are only the tip of the iceberg. Sadly, the actual casualty count is far greater than it would seem.

The answer to how to stop the epidemic of ministry failures due to sin is elusive and many-sided. There are perhaps many different reasons for such incidents, but a common thread through many of them has to do with the condition of one’s relationship with the Lord. To the degree the servant leans upon the Lord, the Lord imparts grace to withstand the onslaughts of the evil one. The one in close fellowship with the Lord will not allow himself to be placed in certain situations or to become physically, emotionally, or spiritually tired. The one who serves in all humility will not become spiritually arrogant and feel himself invulnerable to satanic attack.

A final thought stemming from what happened to Samson is this. Although some sins are not life and ministry destroying, some are. Not only have far too many of god’s servants fallen in sin; some also have fallen to the point of not being useful to the Lord as before. Perhaps this is due to loss of reputation or respect among those they serve, or maybe it is simply that the temporal effects of one’s sins prohibit further ministry opportunities. God’s mercy is both deep and wide, and His forgiveness comes to those who confess and repent; yet that glad truth may not change the fact that the soiled servant has lost his saltiness. He can no longer be used to cause people to thirst for the God who has living water for all who hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Called to Missions

Called to Missions

God chose a spectacular setting to call Moses to his mission of leading the Hebrew nation out of Egypt into the Promised Land. The burning bush that was not consumed symbolized God’s powerful presence. Instead of experiencing a great thrill at receiving the call, Moses looked for excuses to refuse it. We can understand some of the thinking. He was eighty years old, not an ideal time for a career change. The last forty years of tending the sheep did not seem the right preparation for such a major responsibility.

Moses suggested five problems. The first was “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh?” (Exod. 3:11). The Lord’s answer, “I will be with thee” (vs. 12), should have been enough. The next hurdle for Moses was that the people might ask God’s name. The Lord told Moses that he should say, “I AM hath sent me” (Exod 3:14). That name showed that God was eternal, steadfast, and faithful. He was the God who had guided Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses worried that people would not believe that the Lord had spoken to him (Exod. 4:1). The Lord assured him to do signs and wonders that would impress Pharaoh and the children of Israel. To prove this, He turned Moses’ staff into a serpent and then back into a staff. Next, God allowed Moses’ hand to become leprous; then He healed Him (vss. 4-7).

Moses continued his protest by insisting that he was not a good speaker. The Lord assured him that He had made his mouth and that He would open it all at the right times (Exod. 4:10-12).Finally, Moses said what he really felt. He did not want to go – he wanted the Lord to send someone else (Exod. 4:13).

The last words angered the Lord who insisted that Moses go. God said that Moses could take his brother, Aaron, along to do some of the talking (Exod. 4:14). Why did God not call someone else – someone younger, someone with experience in leading people, someone more articulate, someone with more positive attitude than Moses? That answer is in the mind of God. It is clear that God wanted Moses and that He would help him lead the children of Israel.

The call of Moses teaches us that God does not always choose talented people who can do everything well. He calls people with flaws. When God calls a man or woman, He enables that person to accomplish God’s mission. If someone else is needed to help, God will take care of that. Whether God calls us to go to Africa or to accept an assignment in a local church, His promise is the same as it was to Moses: “I will be with thee” (Exod. 3:12).

World Evangelism

World Evangelism

This weeks blog lends itself to the topic of world missions. There are five truths regarding world evangelization that are readily apparent. First, there is the fact that the enemy is a formidable one. The god of this world strongly resents and resists any incursion on his turf by the gospel and those who proclaim it. The gospel is a message of the One who has won the victory on the cross as evidenced by an empty tomb. The enemy will place his forces in the way and seek to intimidate those who are in God’s army. Let no one who goes into the fray go without the full armor of God. There have been too many people who have done so to their own hurt.

A second great truth is the fact that although the enemy is strong and threatening. God has sovereignly commanded His people go forth into the battle. The enemy must be engaged on the field, for that is the manner in which the loving and almighty God has determined to reach those presently enslaved by Satan. Let every soldier in God’s army remember that his Commanding Officer has already given the word to go. To do less is to disregard orders and be disobedient to the Lord. A third great missions truth is that some believers need more encouragement than others in the great battle for souls of men. By nature some are timid. They see the need and know what is expected of them; yet they still are hesitant to launch out into the work. This is where and encourager is needed – someone like a Deborah or a Barnabas who can see the potential in others and go along with them to lend moral support. This principle is exemplified by adherents of some of the large cults that send their missionaries out two by two. Although not every missionary needs another to actually go with him, every missionary does need encouragement. Pray for those who serve, and let them know you stand with them in prayer and in other ways as well. Send letters, E-mail, or birthday and anniversary cards. Do not limit your creativity when it comes to standing with missionaries.

A fourth truth regarding world missions from this weeks blog is that God goes before His servants to prepare the way. God has not called anyone to go where He has not gone before. The call of God has both a method and a rationale. His ministers can boldly go forth in His name and for His sake. They can step out in full knowledge that they are following Him, going where God has already been.

A fifth and final point from the text that is applicable to missions is the fact, in the end, the enemy will be defeated. The man and woman of God who obediently follow the call may well face opposition and hard-ship along the way, but will in the end have the privilege of being on victory’s side.

There may be casualties. Success may seem elusive. Rest may be hard to find. In the end, however, the servant of the living God will be victorious. The enemy, who often seemed to have the upper hand, will lie defeated, never again to plague the saints of god. May we all be inspired to go forth and encourage others to do the same for the cause of Christ.

The Atoning Work of Christ

The Atoning Work of Christ

Many in our world have the sentiments of a man buried in a Roman cemetery who had ordered that these words be engraved on his tombstone: “I was not, I was, I am, I am not, I do not care.”

For people outside of Christ, life is meaningless. The good news that Christ rose from the dead changes that. All that we do or say in this life has eternal significance. The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes the way we think about life and death. Christ’s resurrection assures us that we have a hope beyond the grave. Now we think of death as the doorway to the fuller life. Since the resurrection changes the way we think about the next life, we can think about our present life in a new way too. When we study the sermons in the book of Acts, we see that the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection was at the heart of those messages. Christ’s triumph over death validated everything He had taught. Jesus claimed to be God. He claimed that He was the Truth and that no one could come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). The resurrection shows that He had the right to make such statements. If the apostles ever had doubts about their mission to proclaim Christ, they could always think back to those days following resurrection Sunday. They had seen the risen Christ. This was the message that everyone needed to hear.

The resurrection reversed the sentence of death caused by Adam’s sin. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22). Christ’s is Lord of the universe, “for he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (I Cor. 15:25). Jesus is the Truth. The life that He demonstrated is the life that Good intends for all of us. The ultimate victory of Christ began with the resurrection. The resurrection is linked to Christ’s atoning work. It indicated God’s acceptance of the sacrifice of His Son, “who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).

Paul has given us some glimpses of the resurrection body. “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body” (I Cor. 15:42-44). We shall maintain the identity we have in this life, but we shall have transformed and glorified bodies. We can only wonder at what God has prepared for His redeemed children.

In areas where missionaries take the gospel, many people not only have a fear of death but also are afraid of their recently deceased relatives and friends. Often they pour the blood of an animal over their graves. They seek ways to assuage their supposed anger. They are afraid to act in any way they think might offend the dead. Their homage to their deceased relatives approaches the worship that should be reserved for the Lord. To these people comes the good news of the gospel. Christ is risen. He is the Lord of the spirit world.

As Romans 14:9 says, “To this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” Our faith in a risen Christ dissolves our fears. We have a hope for this life and forever.

Called to Stand Firm

Called to Stand Firm

One of the keys to success on any battlefield is to know one’s enemy; his strategies and devices. As Christians, we can know a lot about our dreaded foe from the Scriptures, including the fact that we are no match for him. The Bible, however, also tells us that we are not left to fight this battle alone. Our great God stands alongside us, assuring us of the final victory.

Spiritual warfare requires much preparation and discipline. Every Christian should be prepared for battle. This is especially true for those entertaining thoughts of servicing on foreign fields, which are often enemy strong-holds. It is hard enough to share the gospel firsthand with those who have never heard it. Even more difficult, though, is advancing the gospel while at the same time facing a fierce and relentless enemy. While we know that the final victory is ours, it would be foolish to assume that our battles are already over and that the pew offers a safe haven. Quite the contrary! As long as we remain on this earth, we must be prepared to defend ourselves against the forces of evil.

Those who follow Jesus now face a task similar to the children of Israel after crossing the Jordan into the promised land. They entered into the land by faith. Then they faced the task of defeating the Canaanites. The Canaanites can be an imposing force. Many missionaries have faced a similar foe while working in the mission field. Battles such as this cannot be won through our efforts alone. God requires only that we remain steadfast in our service to Him. There are many battles on many fronts yet to be fought and many territories yet to be claimed for God. There are many souls who need to hear the truth. There is much to do. While frontline warfare may be for a selected few, it is vital that we all stand firm in the place God has called us. When we do, He will provide the soldiers with flaming swords.