Wonderfully Made

A while ago I burned my finger while washing a hot frying pan. I’ve come very close several times in the past, but this time around I did actually burn my finger. After the initial “That’s hot!” and the resulting “Wow! My finger smarts!” I started looking at the blister that was rising on my finger.

First there was the interesting factor that the tip of my finger was half again it’s normal size. That was fun, especially for typing. But more seriously was the realization that the blister was there for a reason. It was a shield; protecting the smarting and sensitive skin underneath while my body healed. It was a sterile environment where my body could focus entirely on building a new patch of skin and not have to station extra security details in order to prevent germs and dirt from getting into my body. Granted that it was a burn and not a gaping wound; that would have been a completely different situation.

As I was thinking over these things, and having fun with peoples reactions to my oversized finger (Please pop it!, What is that on your finger?, That’s gross!) it also gave me a new sense of how much genius (the word doesn’t go nearly far enough) that God put into creating my body.

Then I moved on to some other injuries. Broken bones knit together, cuts heal over, food poisoning washes itself out of your digestive system, pretty much anything that doesn’t kill you will heal after a fashion. Doctors or surgeons may be required to make sure that your bones are straight after a broken leg, or to stitch a nastier than usual cut. But God has built our body to fix itself in a marvelous manner.

Psa 139:14 NKJV – 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well.

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.

 

21st Century Lens

It has been a few months now since I’ve returned to the Discipleship Program for my second year and what a year it’s been already!

We are currently studying the history of the church. I know, I was thinking the same thing… Why study church history? I asked our GFA director this question and he mentioned that it is important to know the history of the church because it’s my testimony, and as a believer it’s my history. Though I accepted the answer, I still didn’t quite understand until we actually started going through our classes. I am also reading “Destined for the Throne” by Paul Billheimer; it has also really helped me to understand why church history is so important. Jesus is coming back for the church, His bride, that’s all believers of the past, present and future generations. What the early church believed and did impacts what I believe and do today, the early church also looked back to what the Israelites believed and had them as a role model.

As I am reading through the Old Testament (my goal is to finish reading through the Bible by the end of the year)  with this new thought of the church having existed since the beginning  of time it has helped me to understand the Holiness of God and His great mercy and amazing love towards us. All throughout history God has been building up His church and preparing it to reign with Him in Heaven.

As I read Deuteronomy, there are so many verses where God only asks the Israelites to obey Him and He promises that when they do He will bless them. The word “obedience” is not a pleasant thought, it makes me feel like I’m going to be bound and never able to do what I want. Deuteronomy 11:22 (NLT Version) says; “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in His ways and holding tightly to Him.” Reading this verse helped me put the word obedience into a whole new perspective! Now when I obey the Lord I know that He knows how much I love Him. My obedience is proof of my love and yet I find myself more often than not disobeying just as the Israelites seemed to do.

Reading about the Israelites journey and how God had to deal with their sin makes me so grateful for His great mercy! If he would still deal with us and our sin the way He did with the Israelites’ sin I would have been condemned to death a long time ago!! What a merciful and compassionate God we serve, who so willingly forgives us when we ask and who with patience continues to lead us to our everlasting Home!!

Written by a Discipleship Program Student

Joy is the Victory

rejoice

Oh what fun the past few months have been. I’m so glad that though there are spiritual struggles and battles, we have so much to celebrate. Filling a bedroom with balloons for a welcome home surprise, decorating office desks with streamers for birthday and anniversaries are some ways to celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness in the lives of GFA family! God is so good and He gives us so much to rejoice over.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say rejoice! Philippians 4:4

I struggle to remember to rejoice, often, though I know that I’m saved and that the Holy Spirit dwells within me but I forget so easily that the battle is the Lord’s and He’s already won! I get caught up in areas where I fail that I forget to rejoice in the areas where I have experienced victory.

Being at GFA Canada where we celebrate continually is a blessing. Whether it is a birthday, anniversary or a Friday, there’s always something we are thanking the Lord for, through cake, decorations, or songs. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel were given feast days in which they were to remember the Lord’s mercy and deliverance. I think God knew we needed to have these days in order to rejoice, so we wouldn’t dwell on the negative and continue striving in our own strength.

Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Written by a Discipleship Program Student

Loving All

I recently attended a denominational church conference with a staff member.   The theme for the conference was praying for an open door for the gospel.  This is based out of Colossians chapter four verses two to four.  The leader of this denomination in his keynote address said, “There is a manifest desperation in the prayer that I’ve observed which is of God and is exactly the place that he would love to work. In a sense God has backed us into a corner and we have no other option but to pray for revival.”

loving-all-prayer-gospelforasia-rt11-07807Their denomination has had some struggles, which was the reason he mentioned being backed into a corner.  What about us, are we waiting for struggles to drive us to prayer, or are we actively seeking the Lord now?  Am I, are we praying for an open door for the gospel?  I think far too often my prayers are focused on the little picture of what is happening in my life so that I fail to pray for what our Saviour is doing on a larger scale.

I realised again recently that my outlook on life is so much restricted to myself.  This was highlighted in one of the books I was assigned to read this year.  It was written by a godly man of the last century – Watchman Nee.  In this particular book he pointed out that our love cannot be limited only to other believers.  He states that God loved and died for the whole world, so we are not true imitators of God if we only love the brethren.  This statement really hit me, as I have been one that would heatedly argue that our love is for other believers almost exclusively.  Sure I would say that the entire world is to be loved, but that was mainly defined as a lack of hate, rather than an active serving.  I would’ve said that we need to care and serve believers, but don’t really need to make the effort for others.  We share with them the gospel and once they received it then we show love.

The Lord Jesus Christ, however, did not act in this way.  He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.  He came to serve all men and women regardless of whether they would receive his love.  When I refuse to love those who do not love me, I am, in the words of Jesus, no better than a tax-collector (Matthew 5:46). The attitude and love we are to have is summed up in this prayer that came out of the reformation:

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on
the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within
the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit
that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those
who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for
the honour of your Name. Amen.

Written by a Discipleship Program Student

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