Church Roots

1 Peter 1:19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”  We are bought by the blood of Christ and the blood of the saints are the seed of the Church. If you would have asked me a few months ago what my church roots are or anything about church history I’d have only been able to tell you a very little bit. The Lord directed me to come for a second year of the GFA Discipleship Program and in this year I’ve been learning about Church History, which is proving to be very beneficial.

I’m in awe of what the death of Christ has done for me in making me a part of the Bride of Christ. The Apostle’s passion to see the nations reached with the love of Christ compelled them to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the extent that it cost them their lives. Those that came after them paid a heavy price of martyrdom, passing on the tradition and the Apostles Creed onto the next generations. Saints like Polycarp, Ignatius Tertullian and a host of others that would not back down on what they were taught and believed; they gave their lives for Christ in unimaginable ways. If it had not been for them we would not hold a Bible in our hands, have the structure and order in our worship services that we do today.

As I’ve been learning about the lives of the saints the verse in Psalm 116 starts to make more sense. When reading it before I wondered why the death of saints would be precious in the eyes of the Lord. Psalms 116:15 says. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Couple this verse with a quote from Tertullian an early church father. “The blood of the saints is the seed of the church.” This gives a glimpse of why the death of Christians might be precious to the Lord.  I don’t fully understand the verse or the meaning behind it but I’m grateful for what others have gone through to give us the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In studying books like “Tried by Fire,” “Early Church History Made Easy” and a few others on early Church History I see that the Church has gone through very dark times. I was reminded in our last lectures that in the middle of all the darkness God is still working and keeping the Church alive, the Bride of Christ and preparing her for Jesus. Just like a seed when it is planted in the dirt, we don’t see what is happening but we trust that the seed dies, germinates and then brings forth life; so God kept His Church and will keep it until Jesus returns. We are one body with many different members and together we are the Church of Jesus Christ bought with His precious blood.

As I’m learning about what the Universal Church is and how it is one body which is being prepared for Christ return, I get excited because I am part of the whole Church. I, as a blood bought child of God, am part of the universal church. It is not about this Christian life being just Jesus and me; it’s much more than that. Every born again believer is part of the Body regardless of what church they go to. This realization makes me grateful to live in a community of like minded believers. We may be different and come from diverse backgrounds, but we are one in Christ.

 

Living by the Power

Living-Power-TD10-01166School of Discipleship Vision/Goal 8: Understand that the Christian life and ministry cannot be lived apart from God’s help.

When arriving at Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship program in January 2014,  I was blessed to learn what the vision for the program would be. After just over a year and a half of having the privilege of being discipled and trained in the ways of God, I feel as though it is this core value that has become an increasing reality in my life.

When first pondering upon this truth- the Christian life made possible only by Christ- it seemed rather like a gimme. However, only now has the Lord been teaching me in a greater measure of the significance and necessity of His Spirit being preeminent in my life.

In a recent message we heard by Major Ian Thomas, he states, “ Christ is the only One capable of living the Christian life”. Oh the thought! When I ponder upon this, I must humbly conclude that this is the only thing that makes sense.  I find myself coming repeatedly to quick failure when attempting to live the Christian life in the flesh. One author put it well when he declared, “There is nothing more nauseating than the flesh trying to be holy”.

Although the Lord has had to remind me of my neediness for His Spirit, I am blessed and relieved by the liberating thought that I simply will never have what it takes to live for Christ, but He sure does! I am challenged to remember this beautiful promise!  My flesh must die, and then I will be able to live. It is in the moments of feeling strong that I invite a dangerous conception of following Christ in my own so called strength. Through self-denial, I must stay needy and completely dependent upon Christ alone.

Praise God for His Spirit that does indwell us, as we can be sure that His power and enabling that has kept us until now will continue to sustain us until the end.

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. 2 Corinthians 13:4

—School of Discipleship student

Hold On to Christ!

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Praise God! We are already in the last third of the School of Discipleship year, which seems absolutely absurd! Truly, God continues to amaze me!!

We had the privilege of hearing our leader, Bro. KP, teach about depending on God. A few words he said caught me a bit in my tracks. He said, (in my summarization) “We must remember that God cannot fill His Spirit and blessings into hands that are already full.”

So often, I desire that God would fill me with His Spirit. I want to be full of Him. But I then question myself, Is God able to fill me with Himself, if I am already full of other things? Do I even possess the room? In absolutely everything that God gives, which far exceeds anything earthly, why do I still find it excruciating, to empty my hands of everything earthly, in order to hold on to Him?
Some of a quote that puts this well is in the journal of Jim Elliot. The quote reads,

“Father, let me be weak that I might lose my clutch of everything temporal. My life, my reputation, my possessions, Lord, let me loose the tension of the grasping hand. Rather, open my hand to receive the nail of Calvary, as Christ’s was opened, that I, releasing all, might be released, unleashed from all that binds me now. So let me release my grasp.”

Oh, that I would learn the blessedness of depending on Him, surrendering to Him, clinging to Him, and seeking Him! Only then, can I really be a true disciple of His, and discover His true worth!!

—School of Discipleship student

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.

 

The Lord is Full of Grace

Recently the Lord has been showing me that He is allowing me to do some things in my own strength, and do it well (ex. time management, punctuality); but the things which I can never do in my own strength, because they deal with my heart or my inner life (ex. changing my attitude, getting rid of pride), I don’t have much success at all. Praise God for showing this to me! I desire to grow in this area, relying completely on Him and doing everything in His strength alone!

The other day we had a time of solitude and the Lord brought to my mind the thought “If I did not receive anything for serving the Lord, would I still serve Him?” That really struck me when He brought this to my mind! Lord, forgive me my pride and selfishness! I strongly desire to come to a place of 100% complete dependence upon my Lord and Saviour.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I am learning these things! But once again, the head knowledge helps me absolutely zilch if I do nothing to incorporate these truths into my life! Praise God for His grace in loving me and making me complete in Christ, even though I have nothing to bring Him!

Lessons on Super Heroes and Dust

“You do not have to be Superwoman.” That was the lesson of the day.

I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to this week and was kind of discouraged last night. That’s when the Lord started the super hero lesson.

First it was through a message Pastor Chuck Smith gave from the book of Job. “Hey, you’re not Superman, you’re not Wonder Woman; you’re dust,” he said. “You’re not the super saint that you’d like to be–and sometimes think that you are. You’re dust! And God remembers that.” I was encouraged to remember that the Lord understands my weaknesses.

Then, on a completely different track, I was reading First Things First by Stephen Covey. He explained that the goal is not to cram as many activities in our schedule as possible. “We’re not trying to be Superman or Superwoman,” he wrote. Lord, I think you’re trying to make a point.

But He wasn’t done. This morning, Brother K.P. Yohannnan gave a message on the importance of thankfulness. Can you guess what he said in the middle? Yep. We don’t have to be Superman.

So, it’s settled. I am not Superwoman. But what does that mean?

God knows my limitations and failures and He loves me anyway. In Psalm 103, David says it this way: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” This removes a lot of pressure.

God is so good and His grace does not depend on our output. “We are not on a perfomance contract with God,” one Gospel for Asia leader often reminds the staff. I am thankful to have a Father who loves growing, struggling, less-than-super people.

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