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.

 

God at Work in History

One of the things I have been learning through my study of Church History this year is that God is always at work in the lives of His people. Even during the times of darkness and chaos when it looked as if God wasn’t even in the picture, He was at work behind the scenes using each circumstance for the good of His people and to bring glory to His name.

All throughout history the Church has been faced with hardships from within and without, but the Middle Ages was an especially dark time for God’s people. We recently read about some of the struggles they faced during that time including: wars from invading barbarians, the destruction and violence of the crusades,  leadership corrupted by greed, the  division of the church between East and West,  and the devastation of plagues and sickness.

Yet in the midst of all of this there is evidence that God had not abandoned His people. Even during this dark time we can see that God was at work bringing forth His purpose through it all. He raised up missionaries, like Boniface and Lioba who dedicated their lives to  reaching Germany with the Gospel, Reformers, such as the monks, who called people to a life of holiness and a deeper love for God, and the Mendicants, mobile preachers who travelled from town to town preaching the Gospel to all who would listen. During this time the Gospel was taken to many unreached peoples such as the English, Irish, French, and Moravians (modern-day Czech Republic). God was working through the lives of His faithful followers who were willing to give their lives in order to be obedient to God’s calling upon them.

In one of the lectures we watched the speaker made a comment that really stood out to me. He said “God is like a field teeming with life below the surface.” On top it may look like nothing is happening at all, but underground, within the soil, the seeds are very much alive and change is taking place. Soon the seed will sprout and push its way out of the soil.  Then what has been taking place below the surface will become visible to all as we see the evidence of a new life.

Many situations in my own life are much like that field. On the surface I don’t see anything happening and assume that what I can or cannot see in the natural must be all that is taking place. I am so quick to focus only on what is right in front of me and grow discouraged because it appears that God is not at work. In the midst of difficult circumstances I don’t see any way that God can be using it to bring about  His purpose. I am unaware of what is taking place just below the surface and that out of the trials and struggles God is creating something new and beautiful.

God has been reminding me that just as He was at work behind the scenes in some of the darkest times of history so He is at work in the difficult moments of my life. I can trust that in the same way He raised up His faithful followers to bring about His purpose during a dark time in the Church, so He will use each circumstance in my life to ultimately show His faithfulness and unfailing love to the world around me.

My desire is to choose each day not to focus on the apparently lifeless soil above ground but to remember that underground, where I cannot see, change is taking place. What I can see in the natural is only momentary in light of all that God has in store for eternity.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

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

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?

We have all heard the saying, “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? The answer is 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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Losing Faith and Hope

Losing Faith and Hope

As Christians and students of the faith we are about the business of gaining insight into God’s character.  It always amazes me how much more we can learn about His character as we move further along in our journeys.

Ever since God made me aware of my call to missions, I have been one track minded seeking out opportunities to go overseas and  joining different missions organizations.  I remember abiding in His strength only and being sold out to Him. I look back on that season with longing often as at that time I was completely sold out to Him.

For past few years I have been task oriented when it comes to my walk with the Lord and obeying His commands. If He tells me to do this or that, I will go do those things but in my own strength. What I didn’t realize is that I stopped abiding in his strength. After a while I became spiritually lazy and would be in self-indulgent. Of course, I would do whatever God told me to, which at the time I thought consisted of the notion of going to another country and dying for him. I began to rely on my walk in the past and therefore became lazy. Since I read the Bible and had learned so many lessons from it, I had the notion I didn’t need to read the Bible anymore. Even though I had no desire to read my Bible I would have gone and died for him.

Recently, my School of Discipleship class went through a book called Calvary Road. When I was reading through it I caught myself thinking that I knew these things, but then God convicted me the next several days saying, “There are so many things you think you know! You lost faith in the blood of the lamb, you lost hope in eternity.” I didn’t realize that I slowly but surely let the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches cloud my judgment. I had become a hearer of the word deceiving myself.

I was reading in the Word and read through Romans 3:25 “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” The Spirit led me to carefully analyze and consider these things. What is faith? Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction in the things not seen. What is conviction? Conviction is belief. Somewhere along the way I stopped believing. I was running on fumes. But the Lord is faithful and assured me that He is with me always. I am thankful that my logic and judgment does not dictate the truth, such as whether or not there is a God and His Son is Jesus. He has helped me realize that I need to become a Christian who lives by faith and not by experience,  feelings or emotions. He has shown me that reading his word refines my faith in Him. I love His faithfulness.

“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

ONLY BELIEVE

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John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that who so ever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

We have all heard this verse many times and memorized it. But do we really believe and understand its truth? So often I think I must do something to earn God’s gifts and promises, and yet the Bible says only believe.

Here at Gospel for Asia School of Discipleship I’ve been learning that God uses others to speak into our lives if we will let them. This weekend something cool happened. Three times I heard a similar message, each time by a different person. I couldn’t help but think perhaps God is really trying to teach me something here! They were all talking about believing God and accepting the gift He is offering us. It is so crazy to think all I have to do is accept and I will be saved. But even accepting the gift of Jesus destroys ones pride. I want to do something for God, to show my worth, but He says “you can’t earn this, you can only believe”. I wonder how much I’ve missed out on in the promises of God simply because I didn’t believe. So it is that belief runs our lives; the choices we make, the way we spend our time and the desires we have are all based on our beliefs. It is very important what we believe, and I pray God will give me the grace to believe the promises He has written in scripture. Oh, what a freeing thing it is to believe our Saviour died for us while we were yet in our sin and He wants so much to have a relationship with us. Praise the LORD. God is definitely working at Gospel for Asia, and the best part is watching the staff follow Christ and walk in their example. They know who they are in Christ by believing His word and that is why they can follow Him. It is easy to follow someone that you believe the words they say.

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