Archive for July, 2013

Romania day # 9 (Judges 13, Acts 17)

July 30, 2013

“And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”  Acts 17:5

This week we have been walking through the book of I Thessalonians during our morning devotions.  Each morning a different team member has shared.  For me, being prejudice, the devotion that has stood out the most was given by my daughter from chapter 2:17-3:6.  In the devotion Beth shared about Paul’s amazing God-given love for the people of Thessalonica.

Here in Acts 17 we see just how tough it was for Paul while there.  Brothers and sisters it is not always easy to show love to those who cause an uproar in our lives.  This became so real to us just yesterday as we ministered to young children from a Gypsie village.  When the children got off the bus it was clear that something was wrong with one of the children.  After disturbing the entire Bible class, a translator came and said, “the boy is drunk.”  Yes, a 12 or 13-year-old boy is drunk.  After much turmoil we had to place him in a vehicle and drive him home.  As we approached the village, I was reminded of this fact, “The world of darkness is darker than most of us imagine.”

Paul was in a dark place, but the gospel did it’s work.  It has been the same here as last evening youth responded to the gospel.  Last evening Mark Hale, one of our deacons had the opportunity to lead his first person to Jesus.  Mark said to me, “Pastor, I guess I am a seed-sower!!!”  Praise be to God for shining His light in a dark place.  Praise be to God that the darkness cannot overcome the light.

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Romania day # 8, 2013 (Acts 16; Judges 12)

July 29, 2013

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and though shall be saved,” Acts 16:31

Imagine being one of those who were blessed to travel with Paul during one of his missionary trips.  Thankfully we do not have to imagine because Dr. Luke was there and God inspired him to write the account of each journey.  Here in Acts 16 we read how the gospel first penetrated Europe over 2000 years ago.

This morning I felt strangely at peace as sat down before my Bible.  Even though I am (As well as the team) physically exhausted, I feel spiritually refreshed.   The last 8 days have been filled with non-stop activity.  The gospel has been in our minds and has been coming forth from our lips.

Our team has ministered to hundreds of Romanian children and dozens of teenagers who have either translated before or are translating this year for our team.  I have watched as our team has labored in love to people whom they have never met before.  On Friday night Pastor John and I had the honor of preaching to about 60 teenagers who were then taught the love of God by the interaction of our team.

The team has encouraged and equipped our missionaries on the field.  The team has given renewed hope to the many churches in the area.  Both John and I have travelled over a 1,000 Romanian miles speaking in many different churches.  We both are so thankful for the men on our team who have traveled with us and given their testimonies.  Yesterday John spoke in two different churches and I had the opportunity to speak in three different churches.

One in particular stands out.  I was sitting on the platform with Jonathan Rideout.  He was singing and I was preparing to preach.  I was so tired until I noticed the crowd who had come. They had spent all day in the fields and they were hungry because they came straight from the field.  But to look at them, the only hunger you saw was for the Word to be taught.  They focused on every word that came from my lips.  This must have been the way it was as Paul and Silas shared the gospel with the Philippian Jailor and his family in Acts 16.  Throughout the message the people openly wept and they openly praised God.

Oh that when we return home that we would see this kind of power in the gospel.

Today, we spend a tough day ministering to a gypsy village and then an evening service with the teenagers of another village.  May the gospel go forth in great power and glory.

 

Saturday In Romania (July 27, 2013)

July 27, 2013

This is a day that we will never forget because this is the day that the Lord has made.  We rejoice in this day because it is His day in which He will accomplish His glory.

So far on our journey we have accomplished the following:

1.  Conducted a 3 days VBS with 2 villages

2.  Conducted services in 4 different churches

3.  Conducted a youth meeting with about 60 village teenagers

4.  Spent time encouraging and equipping translators and missionaries

 

Still to come:

All days Pastors conference today

Two VBS villages still to do VBS in (Gypsie groups)

4 churches till to preach in

Future strategy sessions with the pastors of the community

1 more evening of youth meeting with the Kids.

Thanks for your prayers.  We have seen people come to Christ and we have seen the churches be strengthened.  Still no one sick after 5 days (Praise be to God)

 

Thrusting Aside the Gospel (Acts 13)

July 26, 2013

“And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you.  Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.”  Acts 13:46

“Who would ever want to thrust aside the gospel?”  This is a question that is asked by followers of Christ. We who have had our spiritual eyes opened to the gospel understand the great value of the gospel.  Here in Romania we share the gospel with the conviction, “This gospel is the power of salvation unto all who believe.”

I am amazed at the change that comes in those who believe.  I think of the little Gypsie mother who surrendered her life to Jesus.  Now she has hope where she had no hope.  Before, when she thought of her children, she thought of not being able to give them anything that would change their lives.  But now, she has the confident expectation of the power of the gospel to change her children’s lives.  Praise be unto God.

At the same time, I am amazed at how many people are now thrusting aside the gospel.  10 years ago things were so different on my first visit.  Crowds filled churches and town halls to hear the gospel.  10 years later the numbers are at times half.  It seems that Romania is following suit as with every other European country.

Please pray for our Pastor’s conference this weekend as we speak on the theme, “Christianity in the 21st century.”  Brothers and sisters, I still believe in the power of the gospel.

May God send a measure of revival to where you live!  May God lead you and your church to take the gospel to those places (2 billion) were the gospel has not been heard even once.

Prayer and Pride (Acts 12)

July 25, 2013

“So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”  Acts 12:5

“And the people were shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a man!”  Acts 12:22

As you read this, our team is engaged in the battle of the gospel on a foreign field.  This is our fourth day.  It is on this day that we will need much prayer because we are weak in our own strength.  So please pray for us as we seek to see God’s will accomplished in our lives.

I hope you take the time to read the text for today’s More For Christ.  Just a reminder, “Acts tells us the highlighted story of how the New Testament Church put into practice the teaching of the head of the church who is Jesus!!!”

Here in Acts 12 we find two men dominating the landscape of the chapter.  One man, is a servant of Jesus.  Much prayer is being made for him.  He is in prison awaiting execution (12:1-5).  The second man, is the man who put the first man in jail.  His name is Herod.  He is the governor over the region of Palestine.  Much praise is given to this man because he controls the food chain in Palestine.

The first man receives a glorious miracle.  The second man receives a gory judgment.

The first man:  Peter responds to the miracle by giving glory to God.

The second man: Herod responds to prise by taking glory to himself.

The first man lived to do great things in the kingdom.  The second man died having done nothing of value in the kingdom of God.

I don’t know about you, but I want to live my life as the first man.  I want to live with a hunger to make God’s name famous in this world.  This hunger demands much from our lives.  Allow me to list a few for you:

1.  We must seek to severe ourselves from a selfish lifestyle.

2.  We must seek to understand the importance to making God famous.

3.  We must be willing to be discipled by the Lord on the journey.

4.  We must be willing to receive correction from God’s people and God’s word.

5.  We must be willing to end each day exhausted because we give all in that day.

These are just a few of the many things that identify one who has a hunger for Jesus.  Please pray that these five things happen with our mission team today.

An Unlikely Choice (Judges 6; Acts 10)

July 23, 2013

“To him all the prophets the bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name,”  Acts 10:43

“Please, Lord, how can I save Israel?  Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”  Judges 6:15

This morning, as you awake, I find myself in a foreign field of service.  I cannot but identify with Gideon. “How could God possibly use someone like me?”  All the need that surrounds us in each of our particular environments is overwhelming. I find myself crying out to God, “What can I really do?”

Certainly this had to be the cry of Gideon and maybe your cry today?  Hear the response of God, “But I will be with you…”  Brothers and sisters, this is the x factor before us.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is both our life (John 15:1-5) and our love (John 15:9-17).  As our love we seek to make him known to every man by the way we live and by the truth we speak. As our life we know Him to be the power that causes dead men to come to life.  The gospel is for every man.

Every man who has the gospel is a man who is living a life that is able to overcome all the darts of the enemy!!!  

Please pray for our team as we fight the good fight of faith with the understanding that God is with us.   

 

The Hunter Is Now The Hunted (Judges 5; Acts 9)

July 22, 2013

“When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul.  They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him,” Acts 9:24

The book of Acts reads as a wonderful narrative of the early days of the church.  Here before us is the glorious story of the power of the gospel in the life of one who was a hunter!

Maybe you ask, “What is wrong with being a hunter?”  The Robinson family (Duck Dynasty) engage in hunting.  This is not the type of hunting I am referring to.  In Acts 9 we see Saul hunting for the members of the church!!!  He was sent with official Jewish backing to extradite Christians back to Jerusalem.  I believe Paul would have been a top terrorist today.

However, things changed in Acts 9.  Here is a suggested outline as you study:

1.  We see a man who was bent on destroying the gospel in Vs: 1-3

2.  We see a man who is broken by the truth of the gospel, Vs: 4-7

3.  We see a man who is born again by the power of the gospel, Vs: 8-31

At this point the hunter becomes the hunted as the Jewish leadership seek to destroy Paul.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, you and I are listed as those who are hunted by a common enemy.  The enemy is concerned with destroying the gospel.

God makes Paul’s purpose clear:  “he was a chosen vessel that was to take the gospel to the Gentiles.” This declaration by God would be adamantly opposed by Satan.  So too does he oppose you and I.

Do not allow this to discourage you.  We have victory in Jesus. Reading the rest of the book of Acts brings assurance of God’s power in every circumstance we face in this journey.

I encourage and plead with you to pray for myself and our missionary team as we leave for Romania today.  Pray for the gospel’s strength during our 10 day stay.  And also pray for your faith in trusting the power of the gospel in your journey today!!!

The Difference In One Generation (Judges 1; Acts 5)

July 18, 2013

“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”  Acts 5:41

“And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.”  Judges 2:10

The book of Judges tells the tragic story of a generation that failed to obey God.  Judges chapter one tells the story of the continued conquest of the generation of Joshua.  This generation continued God’s work to the end of their lives.  But it would seem that the new generation was turning totally in the opposite direction.  So, what is the deal?

The deal was disobedience.  The fact is the new generation chose to abandon the Lord and go after other Gods (Judges 2:12).  This new generation even bowed down to foreign Gods.  This was their downfall.  Brothers and sisters, this has been the down fall of many generations.

Question, “What is happening with our generations today?”  We see the same rebellion taking place even now.  Certainly there are areas where people cry out, “This is wrong.”  For example, “There has been a great cry from the Christian community against same-sex marriage.”  Certainly I agree with this.  But there is much more sexual sin in which the Christian community is silent.  David Platt recently said, “In many ways the Christian community has grown silent in its stand for sexual purity.  We have grown silent as we are watching explicit sexual acts at Movies, TV, and Online.  We are covering up our sin as we stand against a sin that we don’t like.”

Brothers and sisters we must learn from those who have failed. Our God is concerned with complete obedience!!!  Chapter 2 of the book of Judges is clear (2:1-5), if the people obey I will bless.  If they disobey I will judge.

May we have the same heart as did the early church in Acts 5.  They were willing to stand up for the Faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  They suffered but found success as the Name went forth.

Today, may it be our resolve to passionately and consistently live for Jesus in this generation.

 

No Other Name (Joshua 24; Acts 4)

July 17, 2013

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we may be saved.”  Acts 4:12

Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your father served in the region beyond the River, or the god of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

Through the years I have developed a pattern of choice when it comes to the products that I use in my home.  For example, Whirlpool is the brand of choice for appliances in our home.  The reason, “We have had great success with their products.”  Until a recent purchase of a washing machine.  It is still to be determined if I will stick with this name.

When we turn the pages of the Bible to the book of Acts we find ourselves reading about the history of the first 30 years of the church.  Here we see the church in her formative days.  We find her developing a strategy for such things as missions, fellowship, teaching, worship, and care in the church.  The book of Acts is where we build all of the practical out working’s of the church.  And where we also find how we are to theologically stand as followers of Christ.

We find an illustration of this in Acts 4 as the Apostles are arrested and told to never again teach in the name of Jesus.  The response of the Apostles should be the same response we have today as we are told to be quite about our faith.  There is no other name we can share.  Jesus is the hope of the world.

The first church knew the cost of such a stand.  They were willing to suffer for the cause of Christ.  They were willing to pool all of their resources in order to get this name to the world.  Their prayer in 4:23-30 is a model prayer for the church even today.

Brothers and sisters may we say with Joshua, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

Certainly it is yet to be seen if we stick with the Whirlpool name.  But it is certain we will stick with the name Jesus.  I pray you do the same?

Getting More Than You Asked For (Joshua 23, Acts 3)

July 16, 2013

“For it is the Lord your God who has fought for you,”  Joshua 23:3

But what I have I give to you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”  Acts 3:4

In a few short weeks my youngest will be 12 years old.  He is getting older and I am getting younger 🙂

Last year, John received more than he asked for on his birthday.  He had only asked for one item and we gave him the item. However there was one surprise we were getting him.  It was something that amazed him when he opened the present.  I can still see the shock and excitement in his facial expression as he opened the present.

I think it must have been that way with the lame man in Acts 3.  It was just like any other day.  Kind people had brought him to the gate called Beautiful (It was where the best handouts were given).  As he sat down he did not know what was about to happen to him.  Suddenly he found strength entering his legs and before he realized it, he was on his feet.  In this moment he knew where his gift had come from.  He began to praise the Lord jumping and leaping.

Question , “When did you and I last leap to our feet and praise the Lord?”  Maybe your response is, “If something like that happens to me I will praise the Lord.”  Friend, something greater than this miracle has happened to you.  Jesus has delivered you from the wrath of God and the power of sin.  Every day we should be praising the Lord.

Joshua reminded Israel of this same truth.  God had fought for her all the way through the wilderness and now into the Promised Land.  Brothers and sisters, our God will do the same for us.  This day I challenge you to look to our Great God and expect Great things from our God.