A High Calling and Great Purpose

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God has angels, why does he not use them for His work instead of man?

In Pastor Damian Kyle’s message “The Fall of a Great Man” from the series “The Making of a Psalmist” he asks this question and also answers it.

Damian Kyle is focusing on the time in David’s life where he falls into sin with Bathsheba. Now there isn’t any way we as humans can be perfect. Sin will always find a way to express itself but Damian Kyle said that when we are occupied with doing the Lord’s work, we are less likely to fall into sin. That would be one of the reasons why we are chosen to do God’s work.

Even when we do fall into sin, He gives us the victory in trials. He picks us up and tells us to try again.  Being in God’s will, might be hard but being outside of His will, would be even harder. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10. We are God’s masterpiece, Christ has restored us to Himself and we are now holy and blameless in His sight. “Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without fault.” Colossians 1:22

This brought a new question into my mind; why wouldn’t God use us for His work? Without the perfection of Christ I am nothing. Because I am incapable of living a perfect life I need the application of the righteousness of Christ.

When Christ came to die, His joy was set before Him and that joy was me. In His eyes, we are nothing less than perfect. “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil – the commander of the world of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised from the dead.” Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5a

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Home is Where the Heart Is

I have been on vacation visiting Canada again. It’s where I grew up, and I was really looking forward to it. While I have been here I’ve realized that something is different. While it is still home, it’s not the same home that it once was.

The saying goes that home is where the heart is. I have come to understand that if my heart is where God wants me to be, anywhere else feels wrong or odd. I’m not saying that my vacation home is wrong. It’s right and even necessary. However, God called me to School of Discipleship in Texas, so it doesn’t feel entirely right for me to be anywhere except School of Discipleship in Texas.

This is something that I need to really take to heart and remember. When God places me somewhere, anywhere else will be unsatisfactory. If my heart is totally dedicated to God’s will (and I pray that it is becoming more so day by day), then my heart will be where He wants it. I will not be at home anywhere else.

~ School of Discipleship Student

 

Gospel for Asia

School of Discipleship USA

School of Discipleship Canada

 

The Joy of Following

One of the first things Jesus did in His public ministry was to call the four fishermen to follow Him.  Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus calling individuals to follow Him some of which heeded the call and others who did not.  However, they were all called to the same thing i.e. to follow Him.  Some were called to give up their vocations, others their wealth, but all were called to follow.

The primary call of God seems to be one of following.  Paul was called to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews, but both of these callings would be encompassed in following God.  What does it mean to follow Jesus?  As I mentioned previously, it requires us to give up something.  However, if we focus only on what we give up we miss the point and often become defined by what we don’t pursue rather than by the one we do pursue.  Some have pointed that when we choose to follow Christ we must take up our cross as He took up His.  This is true, but we must remember the goal isn’t to take up the cross.  Taking up the cross is merely the process on our way to the goal.  I have sometimes lost my focus on Christ because I was focusing on the cross and suffering that I was to take up.  It is not suffering in itself that we are to pursue but Christ who lies beyond the suffering.  In the same way Christ pursued the goal set before Him and accepted His cross.  In Hebrews 12, the author of Hebrews tells us the goal Christ had to enable him to bear His cross.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

It was for joy– the joy of reconciling the world to himself – that Christ despised the shame.  I recently had the privilege to study a portion of Colossians chapter two.  The one thing that continually stood out to me was the triumph that Christ had in the cross.  A believer from the early centuries of Christianity said of the passage that Paul had never spoken with a more lofty tone.  Through the cross and the same of it Christ received the joy that was set before Him and now He is seated beside the Father.

As Christ had a joy set before Him, so we also have a joy set before us.  Because of this joy, we can endure the cross that we take up despising its shame.  We will be united with Christ in Heaven and because of this fact anything that the world and the enemy hurls against us in this life will be worth it when we see Christ face to face.

following-joy-DSC_0179“It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,

Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;

One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,

So bravely run the race till we see Christ.”

Esther Kerr Rusthoi

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Is He Worth Getting up For!!??

There is something about the quietness and stillness of a morning when no one else is up and not a sound is heard besides nature itself. It is in those times that the Lord seems to speak to my heart most often. While sitting by the lake recently listening to the sounds of nature, doing my devotions, Psalm 63 got my attention and I had to stop and meditate on what God was saying. It was in the first verse already that my heart was humbled. For it says.DSC_0417-2-worth-getting

“O God, You are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1 NKJV

The God of the universe is my God. He created the beauty of nature and He created me too. I really enjoy sunrises and sunsets. While camping with my fellow students and GFA staff recently, I was able to experience both for a few days. Having my devotion early in the morning when all was still and quiet brought peace to my heart. I have not experienced that in a long time. There was something that stood out to me in the second phrase, “early will I seek you.” Something inside me wanted to get up and see the sunrise and when I read that chapter I knew it was God placing the desire in my heart to meet with Him. By getting up early to spend time with the Lord, it allowed my heart to eagerly seek Him at the same time. I’ve noticed other times when I’ve found rest and peace in my heart it was God meeting me in His word, like when I’m by a lake with a sunrise or sunset. It is like God draws me to Himself through whatever I am reading by His Holy Spirit. That morning when I was enjoying being in His presence by the lake, He again brought peace to my heart. My heart was truly thirsting for more of Him and He alone has the water to satisfy our thirsty souls.

Having my quiet times with the Lord and reading the word is bringing me closer to God and deepening my relationship with Him. My heart has been able to see and experience so many rich benefits from getting up early and spending the first part of my day with the Lord and in His word. Having been at Gospel For Asia’s School of Discipleship now for almost six months I have come to really enjoy my quiet times with the Lord. Spending time with the Lord first thing in the morning is so worth missing sleep for. My body will always be able to make up for the sleep it has lost; but my soul and spirit cannot make up for the times I could have spent in reading and praying.

My desire is to say with the Psalmist. “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3 KJV. I know it will take time to grow in getting up early and spending time with the Lord; but the Lord wants to grant us our hearts desire. And this is one desire that I know He will grant because there are not too many people that love getting up early for any reason. This desire comes from God.

Psalm 37:4 KJV Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Victory Through Worship

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During this year of School of Discipleship there have been battles and emotions that I have not been able to defeat and conquer on my own. It is as if I have become a clear target for the enemies’ arrows of doubt, fear, and anxiety. The Lord has never been short of showing Himself faithful, but I could never figure out why His acts of faithfulness have always become shadowed when I face a trial. Why am I so quick to forget all that He has brought me through, and fall right into the doubt and fear that has already been conquered at the cross of Christ?  Why am I so quick to open the door of my heart to discouragement and defeat? I know that through Jesus’ death on the cross I can now experience freedom, hope and victory but the distance between my head and heart seems to be a mile long.

During my solitude time over the SD camping weekend, I asked the Lord to speak to my heart and reveal to me what I needed to change or apply in my life. He brought me to Gideon in the book of Judges. Gideon was the weakest man from the weakest tribe, but God had a plan to use him to bring liberating victory to the Israelites. I would not call Gideon a mighty warrior, but rather a lowly man filled with the same fear and doubt that I struggle with every day.  He did not feel worthy of the impossible task and so he asked the Lord for signs of confirmation.  It was after the third sign that he developed the faith and courage to follow in God’s will to fight against the Midianites.

When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.”

When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”

(Judges 7: 13-15)

So what was it that turned Gideon into a mighty man of faith? What finally gave Him the courage to fight against a great host with only 300 men on His side?  It was the act of worship in response to the interpretation of the dream that changed the gaze of His eyes. He no longer feared His enemies but now feared the God who had been faithful to the rebellious nation of Israel.  My answer lies in the story of Gideon. God has been so faithful to me during this year of School of Discipleship, and as I look back I should interpret every answer to prayer as an outpouring of His love, guidance and protection over my life. It should bring me to complete awe and worship of the One whose strength is made perfect in my weakness.  As I look up towards the heavens, He will give me the wisdom and strength to dodge the flaming arrows of the enemy in order to accomplish all that the He has in store for my life.

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

A Missing Treasure

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Is there a place where

one can encounter the

presence of God more

than in another place?

 

This question surfaced in my mind after what I experienced a couple weekends ago.  We went camping… and it was amazing. The lake was right near our campsite, the birds sang loudly in the early mornings (not so pleasant for sleeping), the sunrise and the stars were so beautiful. It was so peaceful to go down to meet with God by the lake, in the calm or sometimes the wind, which caused the waves to crash against the shore. I could have sat there for hours just to soak in the beauty of God’s creation and most of all His presence. What the LORD showed me during that weekend was incredible! It was like my mind and spirit were so ready to hear from a loving Father, everything was so clear. Each night I couldn’t wait to get up and go to the lake to meet with God, it was worth rising early, getting a bit dirty and cold to experience Him.

Only one thing was wrong: the camping trip came to an end. That meant tiredness from late nights and early mornings and being thrown back into a weekly routine again. But the worse thing was my excitement to meet with the LORD was gone, it was just another thing to do like it had been before. My mind was no longer clear and I couldn’t focus as easily as I had been able to at the camp. I longed for that experience again, but it wouldn’t come back.

Can I not learn? Do I not change? Why is it that some places cause me to experience God in a greater way?

Then the LORD showed me so gently the missing treasure: Expectation.

Expectation: “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” (oxforddictionaries.com)

I get up each morning to meet the LORD in the same place; nothing changes, it’s dark, I’m tired, I pray and read. But there is something I can change and that is my expectation. I realised that on the camping trip I had high expectations which came partly from being in a new place and in creation, God met and exceeded those expectations. But when I walked into the house again, those expectations left, everything was normal, just as I expected it to be.

I may not have choices as to where I can go to meet with God, but I do have a choice as to what I will expect from those times with Him. I want to enter each time of prayer or reading with great expectation as to what the LORD will do and say with the Psalmist,  “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalm 62:5 KJV [italics added].

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

Glorious Redemption!!

Glorious Redemption!!picture of cross glorious redemption

The Son of God is hanging on a cross, suffering unimaginably but not just from physical pain but from the weight of the sin of the whole world, my sin included! He has the choice to call ten thousand legions of Angels to His rescue but He stays, He submits to the will of His Father to redeem mankind from their sin. He knows He is their only hope, and so He willingly gives up His life on the cross. All creation trembles and the sky grows dark, it acknowledges what has taken place.

It was here at the cross when Jesus died that redemption was made possible for us. Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God’s grace.” (NKJV)

I have known the truth of this for almost my whole life, having grown up in a Christian home, but only recently has it actually changed my life. I have been a Christian for a couple of years now; I gave my life to Christ at a revival meeting one night when I was 18. The joy of being forgiven of my sins was amazing! I was on fire for God; unfortunately it didn’t last very long… I didn’t know what I had done wrong and I started doubting my salvation. I had many doubts and had no victory in my Christian life, I felt confused and alone. I lived this way for many years and eventually I began searching Scripture and started believing the promises of God about how He has called us and will complete the work He has started in our lives. I didn’t have complete victory over this until recently.

We had a speaker come and teach our class a couple of weeks ago and his topic was not about redemption but while teaching he mentioned briefly what redemption means and how it impacted his life and I was just struck by this truth and it has stayed with me ever since. He said that when we come to the cross in repentance and salvation we exchange our lives for the Righteousness of Christ, so that when God looks at us He does not see us in our sinful flesh but He sees Christ’s Righteousness in us. Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (ESV)

This verse was not foreign to me, I just never really fully grasped it’s meaning but it makes so much sense now and it has really encouraged me and helped me be victorious in my life! Through Redemption Christ lives in me, by understanding this truth I now can fully surrender my life to Christ and trust Him to work in me and make me more like Him; I don’t have to try and overcome my sins and failures on my own.

1 Corinthians 1:30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.” (NLT)

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

What is Revival?

I had always thought of revival as the Church growing…which it is. However, I viewed it as the Church growing because there were more stones being added to the temple of God (more people being saved). The Calvary Road by Roy Hession flipped my view around. Revival doesn’t have to do with people outside the Church. If you break down the word ‘revival’ it means to infuse life back into something that has lived before. People outside the Church have never been alive spiritually, and as such they cannot be given life again. Revival is inside the church. It is the growth of individuals inside the Church, those who are already a part of the temple of God; and this won’t just make the temple taller or more expansive, but will actually multiply the size. A square that doubles in size occupies four times as much space as it did before. A cube will occupy eight times as much space. As the temple grows it will become more fit for the dwelling of God.

Revival is also not a communal thing in and of itself. It is a personal thing in that the members of the body of Christ each saying in his heart that he will be more like Christ and surrender his will. He will break before God daily and be filled with the Holy Spirit. With this being the definition of revival, it is impossible for there to be a revival outside the Church!  The Holy Spirit only indwells people who are surrendered to Christ.

What does revival mean to me? It used to mean that I would look for more people coming forward at an altar call. I thought that it would mean more people coming to the church on Sundays, larger Sunday schools and more Wednesday night Bible studies. That isn’t what I see it as now. Now I see revival being me, as an individual, going into my room and pouring out my life in surrender and brokenness before Christ.

 

School of Discipleship USA

Gospel for Asia

Overwhelmed by God

 

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“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” -Psalm 61:2

These past few weeks God has been teaching me how totally dependent I am on Him for my every need. Back in the beginning of the year I had prayed that God would bring me to the place where He was my only source of strength and that I would not rely on my own ability to live for Him. God answered that prayer by allowing me to become overwhelmed with all that was before me so that I would find my strength in Him.

I really don’t like being in situations where I am overwhelmed by all that is before me. That feeling of not knowing how you will complete a task and being totally inadequate for the job certainly wasn’t what I was asking God for!

God showed me that this is exactly the place I need to be at in order to experience His Holy Spirit at work in my life. If I am still holding onto my own wisdom, strength, and ability then I won’t be looking to God to do the work in my life. He just becomes a backup plan, someone I can go to if my own plans don’t work out.

God desires that I have nothing else to rely on but Him. Living in the power of the Holy Spirit means that I must surrender all of my human abilities to the Lord. Instead of relying on my own strength, which runs out pretty quickly, I need to allow the Lord to take over. No longer will I be overwhelmed by my own inabilities, but I become overwhelmed by the power and ability of God.

Phil. 2:13 says “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” God is the One who does the work in me. I don’t have to struggle on my own or rely on my own abilities. Everything I need is found in Him alone, but only when I stop trusting in myself will I experience the fullness of His Holy Spirit at work in me.

Each time I am in a situation that is beyond what I can handle in my own strength I am reminded where my strength and ability lie. It is not in anything that I can do but only through the Holy Spirit at work in me. Even though I still don’t like being in overwhelming situations, God is teaching me that peace and rest come when my focus is on Him.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Selah” -Psalm 62:5-8

—School of Discipleship student

School of Discipleship CA

He Loves like a Waterfall

Throughout today I’ve had this song playing in the back of my head. “Your love is like a waterfall, raining down on me.” It’s a line from Waterfall by Chris Tomlin.

This past Sunday I was in a fairly serious automobile accident with some of the other students. I walked away from the event with an amazing sense of God’s love. Yeah, there’s the whiplash and we’re sore; I came out of the experience easiest off as far as I know, but the knowledge that He loves me is in the forefront of my mind following the wreck.

The day after the crash as we were singing in prayer meeting it struck me – I could have died in that car crash. Fatalities from automobile accidents are more common than I think we’d like to acknowledge. After that struck me I thought, “I’m alive, God protected me.” The next instant I was disappointed; “I could have been with Jesus”. This all ran through my head like an express train in a split second. Then I realized that God has a time for me to die, and it wasn’t this past Sunday.

That thought was the first time that I really realized what death means to me. It gave me a much deeper love for God and a more earnest desire to see Him one day…. one day soon.

 

~ School of Discipleship student

 

School of Discipleship US

Gospel for Asia

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