Loving One Another

A couple of weeks ago, we had a time of solitude.  During that time, God directed my attention to the second epistle of John.  In this epistle, John reminds us that it is not a new commandment, to love one another but the original that was from the beginning.  He immediately brings up that this is in opposition to the deceivers who teach that Jesus did not come in the flesh.  What correlation do these two teachings have?  It deserves a closer look.

Let us gather the context first. In the first part of the book John’s excitement for the truth is almost overwhelming.  He uses the word five times in the first four verses.  This culminates in his statement of joy that some of the children of the elect lady were walking in truth.

With this premise of excitement about truth, He naturally flows into the commandment to love one another.  Defining love as walking according to the Father’s commandments, he states that loving one another has always been the commandment even from the beginning.

It came to mind that if this truly is the case I should be able to find it in the books of Moses.  Looking at Genesis we learn that in the beginning God created the earth as a place to put man to dwell in unity with one another.  A place where they could love one another, within the protection of God’s garden.  However, man refused to live in love.

Having rejected the ideal place that had been provided for them, they were without hope. God, however, in the book of Exodus through His servant Moses, demonstrated that would not give up on them.  He, in His mercy, gave them a law to show to everyone what love looks like in daily life.  As I was reading Exodus recently, I noticed everything that is in the law is about either loving God or loving others and what this looks like in practical terms.  Man, sadly, did not have the ability to live in this way of love.

God therefore had to become flesh and demonstrate that the life of love can only be lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now because He rose again, Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit to all who believe on Him.  If He did not come in the flesh and be tempted in every way as we are, He could not give us the power of the Holy Spirit to live this way.  Denying Jesus’ deity, therefore, is not just some random theological point. It is rejecting the means God has given us to live the way we are commanded i.e. through Christ and is thus intrinsically connected to loving one another.

Eternal Investments

Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. James 4:14

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

in·vest·ment- time, energy, or matter spent in the hope of future benefit.

The Lord has been challenging me in examining my heart for its true investment. These verses arouse a soberness that causes me to ask myself, what am I ultimately striving to treasure and invest in?

As we have heard say, “Life is precious”. Yes, without a shadow of a doubt, I believe it surely to be true. But what is it about life makes it to be so uniquely precious? Christ.

As a part of my curriculum this year, I have the great privilege to read the book Character of God’s Workman. Even though I am just a ways into it, this book has made me examine my own life in regards to God’s love for all humanity. There is a part in the book where Nee writes, “Many who would work for God have a serious deficiency, which is, that they are totally lacking in the love of humanity. They lack the proper respect towards men, and they lack as well knowledge of the value of man in God’s sight. Indeed, each and every life on earth has been uniquely designed and created by an absolute wonderful Creator. And in each life is a soul; a soul that needs to hear and know that Love Himself has come to give more than this life ever could provide-eternal life through Jesus Christ alone!

To invest in the lives and souls of others seems like the toughest, yet greatest possible investment on earth. To think about this investment forces me out of my comfort zone, yet it seems like the only possible and worthwhile investment when reflecting on the amazing redemptive plan that Christ has for all the world. Oh to simply invest in a precious soul! This is an eternal investment!  The benefits, being eternal ones, are of unimaginable value, as we anticipate to soon gather around the Lord’s Throne to worship Him forever and ever!

So, with life having that much of value, I pray the Lord would make me mindful of His love for all humanity. As we as God’s children,  have been huge beneficiaries of His amazing grace, may the Lord use us in the lives of others for whom He has also died and cherishes greatly.  As each life is compared to a mere vapor that disappears as quickly as it appears, I pray the Lord might continue to reveal the true purpose and meaning of life on earth. May our hearts be consumed with Christ Himself as our Treasure, and thus have an outflow of a love for mankind.

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GLORIFYING MY CREATOR

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It’s Saturday morning and I’m headed out the road with my friend to do some shopping. We get a weather advisory for a severe storm coming our direction. Heeding the warning, we go back to our houses and wait it out. I grab my Bible, journal and a fresh cup of French vanilla coffee. I make myself comfortable on the back porch and watch the sky. The clouds are getting darker and the thunder starts to roll. It’s incredible to watch! I ask the Lord to speak to my heart, to teach me from His word.

My mind immediately went to Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” The skies are God’s creation. They glorify Him and reflect His majesty. You and I are also His creation – and far more amazing than a cloud or lightning bolt! Something I hear from a lot from folks who say they love Jesus is that their ultimate goal is to glorify their Creator, God. I’ve always felt that “glorifying God” is a wide and general statement. So how do I glorify God in my life? How do I reflect His glory daily? I started thinking about what I see in other believers that glorifies God and points me to Him. Here are a few simple ways I’ve seen God’s glory displayed through others: obedience, thankfulness and humility.

In a world where it is hard to differentiate between grace and tolerance, God’s word is true and perfect. Listen to what David says about God’s law: “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned. In keeping them there is great reward.” Words like radiance, sweetness, wisdom and joy – he explains God’s law as something wonderful, not staunch or overbearing! We will bring glory to our Creator by obeying His commands.

In an average day, I see far more unhappy people than joyful people in the world. It’s far more likely to hear someone complain or grumble than to hear a genuine “thank you” or “wow, I am so blessed.” Regardless of our circumstances, any hardship or trial, there is always something to be thankful for. (I’m not talking about a hypocritical cheese festival where you say we are happy when we’re not. I’m talking about genuinely being grateful for God and what He has done for us!) And most often, sharing gratitude will encourage someone else as well, resulting in more glory to God! Remember He says thankfulness is a fruit of His spirit living inside of us. Having a heart of gratitude will glorify our Creator!

No one is perfect. David’s life was chock-full of mistakes. The amazing thing is that God often shows His glory the brightest through people’s failures. The Bible says “People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives. ” Proverbs 16:2 David asked forgiveness for hidden sins and willful sins, as well as asked God to keep him from walking into sin. Then he says “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, o Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” He humbled himself to please the Lord above anyone else. Life is full of hurts, misunderstandings, and mistakes – and life is far too short to dwell in those. We will glorify God by consistently asking Him to search our hearts and motives, and to purify us.

Just like the heavens declare the glory of their Creator through beautiful sunsets, sunrises and even storms, so you and I can declare His glory in many ways. Obedience to Gods word, thankfulness regardless of circumstances, and constant humility are three simple ways I have personally seen Christ glorified through the lives of Christians here at Gospel for Asia. Being a student in School of Discipleship has also given me ample opportunities to put these things into practice in my own life.

Now, I need another cup of coffee. (And hey, I am truly grateful for coffee! 😊)

Worshipping the Creator

 

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Look around at creation. Think about it. Really try and think about it. Try to comprehend.You can’t. It’s impossible. I look at the sun, the bright blue sky. I feel the breeze, I hear it lightly rustling the leaves. I breath in and taste fresh, crisp, cool air. Where did all this come from? What is it made of? Why is it here? Why so complex? Why so beautiful? How can you not believe in someone who created it all. I don’t have enough faith to believe it was an accident. What utter, absurd, foolishness to explain reality, life and nature, without God. It is a vain and impossible endeavor. All things have their beginning and their end in Him. There is no other logical conclusion.

The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech,

and night to night reveals knowledge.

—Psalm 19:1-2

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made….

—Rom. 1:20

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

—Rom.11:33-36

Creation tells us much about God. All we have to do is look. I see creativity. Creativity so great that all the creativity mankind has ever mustered to bring us to where we are today is only an iota of a fraction of all the creativity God contains.

I see power and ability as such that the wielder should be feared and worshiped without hesitation. Such ability and power that SPOKE the galaxies, stars, space, sky, water, air, plants, people, cells, materials, dirt, spirits, time into existence. There was nothing then God declared there was and it was there. “What is man that you are mindful of him?”

I see wisdom. Our smartest minds admit that they don’t understand the cell, or DNA, or atoms and molecules. They admit that we have hardly begun to think about scratching the surface of what exists both microscopically and macroscopically. We are such a tiny, minuscule part in this  universe that extends forever in all directions around us, in so vast an expanse that we don’t even know how to think about it properly. God is wisdom. He has FULL knowledge and understanding of all that was, is and ever will be in existence.

I am overwhelmed. I can do nothing but worship. There is no other thinkable or imaginable action. My one and only response should be complete, immediate and unrestrained worship. Look at creation, it will knock you flat on your face before the Creator.

A Choice to Make

Some walk through life in darkness,

Blinded to the truth

Laid so clearly before them.

Their hands are tied,

Their feet in stocks,

Their voices silenced at a glance.

They stumble nearly every step

And find it hard to rise again.

The pain is great,

Their minds are crushed.

Like snakes crawling on the ground

They do not stand

And like a fish,

The ocean is all they ever know.

 

Others walk through life in light and gladness.

They are ever gazing

Into a beauty only they can see.

Their faith is planted on the truth.

Though they fall,

They rise again.

Their hands are free,

Their feet are dancing,

Their voices shout out songs of praise.

Freedom is their name

And love is their guide.

They are like an eagle

Gazing from a lofty mountain,

Like a bright light that cannot be dimmed.

 

Each of us have a choice to make before us, it is the choice of submission or rebellion. Those in darkness have chosen the way of rebellion, though they may not have realized it their hearts have been hardened by choosing their own way and now life has fallen from their grasp. But those who live in the light have found the greatest treasure of a heart in submission and brokenness. These are the people that touch godliness and truly experience the wonders and powers of the risen Christ in them.

 

Recently at School of Discipleship, us students went through a book by K.P. Yohannan, “Touching Godliness”. This book opened my eyes to see how God has created this world to work in submission. He created us dependent on one another and on Him. The authorities He has placed over us are for our own protection and growth. Just like the wild horse is useless to its master, while the broken and submissive horse is of great use to its rider; God can only use the people submitted and broken of their own wills.

For His Name’s Sake

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We had the amazing privilege to have a pastor from a local church come and share with us just a little while ago. His first question that he asked us was “what do you love most?” Next he asked us “what do you think God loves most?” Right away my thought was “His people.” Well, to my surprise I learned that there is one thing that God loves more than me and you and that’s Himself. Then we were also asked “what are your thoughts when you think of God loving Himself most?” In our eyes it seems selfish. God is the greatest and He loves what is the greatest first. The only reason we think it to be selfish is because of our own selfishness and is not about us. But if God didn’t love Himself most, it would be idolatry.

Psalm 23:3 He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

1 John 2:12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.

Romans 1:5 Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see Your good works and give glory to Your Father who is in heaven.

Notice how these verses point to His name and His glory, and these are only a few of them. The Bible is filled with verses like these. Gods purpose for us and all His creation is for His glory and for His name to be lifted high. Let’s do all things for the glory of God and His Son Jesus Christ.

 

Sap and Surrender

 

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As my class and I read through How to Pray by R.A. Torrey I ask myself, how do I know if I am abiding in Christ and staying connected to the vine? If I am in Christ and the connected to the sap (the Holy Spirit), I will bear fruit accordingly.

Therefore, to abide in Christ means that I need to be surrendered to God. By surrendered I mean as the Lord shows me areas in my life that I need to give up, that I do. It will be a continuous process of surrendering to the Lord for the rest of my life.

Yes, this is going to take a lot of time. I wish I hadn’t prayed for patience all those years ago. The Lord is finally answering my prayers. If that is the way that it needs to be, then the Lord will give me grace and strength to persevere.

Now the real question is, how will I practically apply or act upon what the Lord showed me?

With the Lord’s help, I will surrender those things in my life that the Lord shows me and to seek to abide in Christ. I may have to surrender on a continual basis, maybe even moment by moment.  Lord, I am going to need your help even more than before. I know You are faithful though, so I’ll make it. No problem.

Faithful Forever

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Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt so stressed out you didn’t know how you were going to make it through?

Or maybe you have just been super worried about some big thing in your life that looks impossible to overcome or get around. I know I have had to deal with these things before. Worrying doesn’t help anything! Worrying always seems to make the situation look darker and more impossible! Worry takes our focus off of Jesus and puts it on our own life; worry makes us try to figure everything out ourselves when what we should really be doing is seeking the Lord more! I think that is exactly why the Bible tells us so many times not to worry.

God gives us trials and tribulations to draw us to Him and make us stronger in our faith–not to show us how awesome we are at figuring things out. We are to trust Him in hard times to take care of us, whether everything works out like it is supposed to or everything falls apart. This is not an easy thing! I know for me, I always think I know how God should do everything and exactly how everything should go. How arrogant of me! God is faithful; His ways are so much higher than my ways! How could I presume that my plans and my preferences are better than His?

One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Psalm 146. This passage has been a real help to me in the hard times, especially verses 1-6. I encourage you to read this passage next time you start feeling stressed or are tempted to worry. It will be a great help to you!

1Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. 2I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. 3Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. 4When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. 5Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.

6He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. 7He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, 8the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. 9The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.

 

Student Testimonials

Here are a couple of testimonials of students who went through the School of Discipleship program:

taylor

“I have been serving the Lord at GFA for almost two years, and Lord willing I will continue to serve here for many more. I have been extremely blessed by being here. Every day I am surrounded by people who truly love the Lord and want to serve Him with their lives, and who truly have a heart for those who do not know Jesus as Savior. The leaders at GFA are gracious, loving and humble, and they represent the Lord well. I know I can trust them and that they truly care about every person serving here. I learn so much through their examples all the time. The Lord has used my time serving here to grow me and to make me more like Him, and I am so blessed that this is where He has placed me to serve Him.”

-Taylor

 

josiah

“I have been with Gospel for Asia for three years now, and I have been blessed in so many ways! Through my time at Gospel for Asia, I have been challenged to use my gifts for the glory of God and to grow in Him daily.

Gospel for Asia has also given me the ability to be part of a movement that is reaching millions of people with the Good News of Jesus. This alone has blessed me so much! Lives are being changed, fellowships are being established, and every day people are hearing about Jesus for the first time!

“I thank God for the opportunity He has given me, through what I do at Gospel for Asia, to serve Him in what small capacity I have and carry His message to millions of people who have never heard of His amazing love. I am undeserving of the privilege.”

-Josiah

To find more testimonies from former students go to:

http://www.gfa.org/schoolofdiscipleship/student-testimonials/

Reminding Me of My Call

The cross on the stage.

Recently God has been reminding me of His call on my life here at Gospel for Asia. I know that God has called me here, but in recent weeks it has gotten tough.

It all started during Lent (the 40 days heading up to Easter). The whole focus of Lent is on Jesus’s death on the cross. I started having this thought, “If Jesus could give up everything to die for a sinner like me, then why couldn’t I dedicate my life to Jesus and reaching the 2 billion people who have never heard of Jesus.” As much as I tried to shrug it off, I simply couldn’t.

These are people who Jesus loves they are going to Hell, 80,000 of them every day without having heard of Jesus before. Why shouldn’t our hearts break for the people of Asia (especially in Nepal where the earthquake happened)?

Yet while this was going on, I was reminded of some of some of the difficulties serving here at Gospel for Asia. This is when God started asking me another question. He started asking me, “Are you willing to suffer hardships for my sake and for the sake of the call I have given you?” I was a little hesitant to answer that question.

With this question, you can go to two extremes. The first one is to blurt out something like Peter did and then be rebuked by the Lord at the end. The second extreme is to run away just like Jonah only to be turned back. The Lord knew my heart though. He knows I would be able to (with His strength) to continue in His calling and not run away.

Jesus never promised our life would be easy if we followed Him and shared the Gospel. On the contrary, He promised hardships and suffering to all who followed Him and His calling. Though this certainly didn’t attract followers, it sifted out His true followers from those who wanted to get something out of Him.

At the same time though, Jesus promised our lives would be fulfilling. Not only are we spreading God’s kingdom throughout the world, but the Lord promised heaven for those who believe in Him and do what He wants them to do. I choose to follow the Lord, what about you?

 

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