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
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.”
Their 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
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
Growing up I spent a lot of time reading about wars our country fought in history books and stories of soldiers who gave their all for their country. The sacrifice that they showed for their country was a great influence on me, but I am afraid the concept of fighting for something no matter what it costs others also influenced me too greatly. I saw the glory of being a hero, while ignoring how much it has the potential of hurting others.
Throughout Scripture we have many instances of the Christian life illustrated in a military manner. Such as: weapons of our warfare II Corinthians 10:4; Armour of God Ephesians 6:11-18; fighting the good fight of faith I Timothy 6:12, there are many other examples as well. However while I emphasized in my mind this side of Christianity I ignored other Scriptures such as “Matthew 9:13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”, or Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”.
As a result of ignoring these verses as well as others, I have run roughshod over many people, far too many. The result was that I hurt many people in my life that the Lord had placed there for me to minister to. Because of this militaristic mindset, I began fighting for what I saw as the truth no matter who it hurt. The result of this was that I began alienating myself from many of my fellow believers. In a conversation with someone about three years ago, he pointed out to me that I was not showing love in a particular situation, but rather I was being harsh on several individuals. He was right, but I refused to receive what he was saying. In fact I took it as a badge of honour that someone was criticizing me for doing what was “right”.
Recently God has been opening my eyes and showing me what it looks like to love. For a long time, God has been teaching me how he loves me, but now he is instructing me in how to love others. One of the major ways is by serving others as Galatians 5:13 instructs us. Another is showing compassion on those who have not come to the same maturity as I believe I have in a certain area. I have also come to realise that I cannot have my own personal interpretation of Scripture. Many times I take how I understand Scripture as the standard and I get frustrated and judgemental if others do not see it the same way. The Christian life does indeed have military parallels of fighting to the end. However, in pursuing this end we must remember to have compassion, mercy and love for others.
—School of Discipleship student
School of Discipleship CA