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

When Conviction Comes Knocking

I heard a knock that I didn’t like the sound of. The entity knocking was persistent and very pointed on certain matters. However, you can’t ignore a knock like that forever, and when you answer, be prepared for change.

I’m talking about conviction; particularly the conviction that pricks the conscience.

Earlier this year I came to the awareness that I was not willing to follow God. If that sounds really bad, it is. I followed God to School of Discipleship, but He was asking me about next year. I became aware that there were choices laid before me that didn’t fit with my idea of what I would do next year. God asked me, “what if I asked you to take that path”. My answer was that I wasn’t willing.

That answer didn’t take very long to scare me. Being in the place where you would tell God no is a very bad place indeed. When I realized where my heart was at, I asked for prayer from the guys I live with. This attitude was wrong and needed to be put to a stop, fast.

My housemates prayed for me. That same week we were having an emphasis on solitude; spending an extra amount of time with the Lord in prayer, the Word, and meditation. As I was alone with God that day He worked in my heart. I told Him, “If that’s the path you want me to take, I am willing. I don’t say that I like it, but I’m willing to follow You on that path.” His response was immediate and decisive. He told me, “Good, do it.”

The story doesn’t end there. As time has passed I am looking forward to my next year; I’m even a bit excited about it! If you knew me, you’d know that I don’t really get excited, certainly not easily.

God changed my heart when I asked Him to, during that time of conviction and repentance. It is testimony of His care, love, and power that He can change my heart like that and be changing it still.

 

School of Discipleship US

Gospel for Asia

Reminding Me of My Call

The cross on the stage.

Recently God has been reminding me of His call on my life here at Gospel for Asia. I know that God has called me here, but in recent weeks it has gotten tough.

It all started during Lent (the 40 days heading up to Easter). The whole focus of Lent is on Jesus’s death on the cross. I started having this thought, “If Jesus could give up everything to die for a sinner like me, then why couldn’t I dedicate my life to Jesus and reaching the 2 billion people who have never heard of Jesus.” As much as I tried to shrug it off, I simply couldn’t.

These are people who Jesus loves they are going to Hell, 80,000 of them every day without having heard of Jesus before. Why shouldn’t our hearts break for the people of Asia (especially in Nepal where the earthquake happened)?

Yet while this was going on, I was reminded of some of some of the difficulties serving here at Gospel for Asia. This is when God started asking me another question. He started asking me, “Are you willing to suffer hardships for my sake and for the sake of the call I have given you?” I was a little hesitant to answer that question.

With this question, you can go to two extremes. The first one is to blurt out something like Peter did and then be rebuked by the Lord at the end. The second extreme is to run away just like Jonah only to be turned back. The Lord knew my heart though. He knows I would be able to (with His strength) to continue in His calling and not run away.

Jesus never promised our life would be easy if we followed Him and shared the Gospel. On the contrary, He promised hardships and suffering to all who followed Him and His calling. Though this certainly didn’t attract followers, it sifted out His true followers from those who wanted to get something out of Him.

At the same time though, Jesus promised our lives would be fulfilling. Not only are we spreading God’s kingdom throughout the world, but the Lord promised heaven for those who believe in Him and do what He wants them to do. I choose to follow the Lord, what about you?

 

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.

There’s Got to Be More

I was hungry for Jesus. This was all I knew during my high school and community college days. I was not attracted to degrees or good jobs. I knew they were good and can absolutely be used for God’s glory, but there’s just got to be something more.

When peers or teachers would ask what I want to be or do, what degree I will pursue, I’ve always given a decent reply and tell them what they want to hear; more so, I would reply with what I thought was practical, normal, and good. But deep down in me, I wanted Jesus. There was nothing else that rung louder in my heart than knowing Jesus and serving him.

My sister and I would always talk before bed of a life that meant something. We desired for our futures to be more than being employed to pay for the bills. We knew that whatever is “more” had to do with more of Jesus—whatever profession we take on.

Every time I thought about the future, my future, I knew I wanted to do “great things.” I just did not know what “great things” entailed.

Deep within my soul, I trusted that God was working to fulfill his plans. Oh I was so clueless though! Every school felt too expensive, too far. My dreams of playing music were vague, seemed unrealistic and unpractical.

I read a book called “Revolution in World Missions” in high school. On the very last page was a brochure advertising Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship. It included a question very much familiar to the words of Jesus. It read: “Can you die to yourself for a year?” That’s how the Lord introduced me to where I currently am now.

Despite my love for Jesus, I did not want to attend an exclusive Christian college or work at a church or be a pastor. So, I set aside School of Discipleship in the back of my head, thinking that the program was only for those who want to be “in ministry,” which I always thought meant within the walls of a church.

A couple of years later, during college, little did I know that coming to Gospel for Asia would be the plan God had for me.

I was in my room crying to the Father for his will to be done in my life, for Him to take over every aspect of it. I said, “Lord, I don’t really know what I’m praying or asking for. All I know is I want you.”

Sure enough the Lord answered and led me to apply to School of Discipleship.

So now, I’m here! The Lord has provided the funds and support I needed and still is. I still don’t know what I want to be or do. I still feel clueless most of the time. But being here gives me time to seek more of the Father’s heart. Learning about the world around me and its need for Jesus, learning how to pray, digging deeper into God’s holy word, and living with people who live for nothing else but Jesus and His glory, is definitely shedding some light into how I can take God-glorifying steps for the future and more importantly for the now. A lot of my perspectives have changed and are changing. But what better place to be in at such a young age than in Jesus’ hands, listening to Jesus’ advice, and hearing Jesus’ thoughts?
[James 4:13-17]

 

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