We Are God’s Ambassadors

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The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

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Prayer Burdens

In an amazing statement, Jesus said to His Father: “And the glory which You gave Me, I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as you have loved Me” (John. 17:22, 23).

God’s pattern for saving the world is His own! In the Old Testament, when God purposed in His heart to save Nineveh, He called Jonah to go and preach to them. When Jonah finally obeyed, after God severely disciplined him, all Nineveh repented (Jon. 3:5-10). Down through history when God wanted nations to hear of His love, He chose, called, and sent prophets.

It is no different in our day. God’s people still hold the key to reaching a lost world. So, the biblical pattern in praying for a lost world is to pray for God’s people, as Jesus did. How do we practically implement this? When God places a burden on our heart for a nation, we need to pray for:
• The missionaries in that nation, using Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17 as our guide
• The national believers and the churches in that nation
• Mission ministry groups
• Denominations
• For God’s people

The salvation of the nations rests with God’s people. Missionaries have shared the testimony that when they preached the gospel in some villages who had never heard before, these same villagers upon believing asked the missionaries: “How long have you known this good news? Why have you taken so long to come to us? Why did you not come before now? Our parents and others are in an eternity without God and without hope! If only you had come earlier!”

It has been mathematically calculated that if one person discipled another, and they in turn witnessed and discipled one each, and if this continued to multiply and each one hearing remained faithful to sharing with one other each week, it would take a short number of years for all 6.25 billion people in the world to hear the gospel and to be saved. We must pray for the world, by praying as Jesus did, for God’s own people.

–Adapted from Chapter 61 of Giving Ourselves to Prayer (The Bible and Global Prayer by Henry Blackaby).

Lord Jesus, each day, thousands of people you love die without hope…many without ever hearing Your lovely name! Give me, and the rest of Your people, a sense of urgency for finishing the task You gave us so long ago! I repent of my complacency and discomfort! Please fill me with renewed earnestness and determination to witness and to teach others how to live godly, holy lives.

Posted: 10 Oct 2011

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This same kind of prayer burden is becoming the model within our mission, Pioneer Bible Translators.  Not only do we pray for the people to whom we have been called by God to serve, but we are gathering to pray for each other.  Don’t get me wrong, we are not offering up naval-gazing prayers, you know, the ones that are only me-focused and look at life from a perspective of “What do I want, and when I pray in Jesus’ name, I will get that, right?”

No, I am talking about deep soul-searching and soul-wrenching prayer for all of us to be renewed spiritually within, so that the heart will be a fertile ground of exhibiting the genuine love of Christ for those who are perishing without the knowledge of God.  And especially, we pray for those people groups where they still as of today do not have any Scriptures yet published in their own mother-tongue language.

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It is not hard to see that PBT is a praying organization.  Most field Branches have a regular weekly prayer bulletin put together which is sent out to thousands of people who uphold our work in prayer.  There has been a drive to fill a 24/7 prayer schedule of the names of people who are solidly committed to offering up the “sacrifices of praise” and the prayers for the saints and the work of ministry of PBT.

This plan to have someone praying every hour throughout every week is not that many months old, and already there is about 47% of the prayer time slots that are filled.  Just imagine when the entire chart is filled.  We have seen some amazing things happen in PBT these past few years.  But once we have round-the-clock prayers, watch out, because God will do even more great and wonderful things.

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Even here in Dallas in the small circle of people I am with we are “breaking out in prayer”.  For the first time in a long time, we have a large number of people in the Dallas area who are interested in serving PBT over in Papua New Guinea.  And one of the first things we did (after going out for ice cream of course), was to form a prayer group that met each Tuesday at lunch hour so we could pray for each other and the work being done in PNG.

And then finally, let me mention an evening I spent with a family a few nights ago.  They invited me over for supper and to visit.  We had a great time eating and sharing with one another.  But it wasn’t long after we had finished the meal, and as we kept talking around the table, that we all felt that the appropriate way to close our evening together was to spend time praying together.

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Dear Readers:  I hope you too are catching the Spirit blowing and are hearing the call to prayer.  Do that, and you too will see God do great and marvelous things.

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Be A Witness For Jesus

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John 1:6 – 8

Testifying Concerning the Light (Jesus)

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The first five verses of this chapter of John take us on a tour of spiritual grandeur that is mind stretching, taking us all the way back to the very beginning of time itself.  Verse 6 and following helps to give the historical setting into which Jesus, the Eternal Word stepped out of eternity and entered into our world of space and time. But we don’t start this opening scene looking at the life of Jesus, but the one who would prepare the way for Jesus and His ministry.

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The College Press NIV commentary gives us a good picture of the ministry of the man who preceded Jesus, whom we have come to know from the Gospels as John the Baptist.  It says:

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. History within earthly time is now reached with John the Baptist. He was sent from God, his message was repentance, and his action was immersion in water, so that his audience could publicly certify their repentance.  1

Something that I find interesting in John’s Gospel it that although we learn a lot about him through the messages he proclaimed and the interaction he had with the Jewish leaders, we do not know much about the success of his preaching among the people.  We need to turn to other gospel writers to see that multitudes of people were constantly coming to John to publicly confess their sins and to be baptized.

In anyone’s books today, that would be considered a very great success.  You would think that John would have been proud of his accomplishments.  Not so with John the Baptist.  He knew the very heart and mind of God and he knew that the purpose of his ministry was to bear witness to God’s Son.  The primary purpose of this life was to be there at that specific time to be able to give testimony concerning one man, Jesus.

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Again looking at the NIV Commentary, we can see better who John the Baptist was:

John’s real purpose was not (1) to save the world (he never died or rose for anyone), nor (2) to seek recognition as the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy (he acknowledged that he was not the Messiah), nor (3) to found the Kingdom and/or the church (he was not even a part of or in the kingdom/church [Matt. 11:11]). John’s purpose was (4) to testify or to bear witness to the Light, who was Jesus.  2

Now in a way, all of us are witnesses in life.  We witness things happening around us and what others are doing.  Some of us are called by our judicial systems to testify as an eyewitness concerning what we may have seen happened.  That is a rare thing to be called into court to be a witness.  But as for John, the entire meaning and purpose of his life was to be a witness leading others towards the Light, leading them to Jesus.

That sound awfully radical, doesn’t it.  And yet, remember what Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Just like John, there is meant to be a primary purpose that permeates our daily lives (regardless of what else we may be doing in life) and that is to lead people to God and to Jesus by what we say and do.

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One more thing to notice concerning “being a witness for Jesus” is that there is a goal to be kept in mind.  Specifically, just like John, the goal of us speaking the truths concerning Jesus is so that people will “believe the message that we speak.”

I know that it is hard for most of us Christians today to even speak up at all about our faith in Jesus.  To not only state the facts about Christ, but to try to even persuade people to believe these truths is a huge step that many of us feel uncomfortable to do.

But let us remember what is given to us in verse 8 above.  Again just like John, we are not the Light.  Jesus is the Light.  And light is something that draws the attention of people.  When the sun comes out from behind a large cloud, faces turn towards it.  Many insects will swarm around a light bulb or a candle.  When we are in the dark and feel lost, if a flashlight turns on, we immediately breathe a sigh of relief and head to that light.

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I found an interesting little story that says:

Dr. Alexander of Princeton once described a little glow-worm which took a step so small that it could hardly be measured, but as it moved across the fields at midnight there was just enough light in its glow to light up a step ahead, and so as it moved forward it moved always in the light.  3

I feel like all of mankind can be compared to this little glow-worm.  We don’t often know where we are going in life.  But if we can let Jesus, the True Light, shine in our darkness, no matter how deep that darkness is around us, we will find our direction and purpose in life, just like John the Baptist did.

Bryant, B. H., & Krause, M. S. (1998). John. The College Press NIV commentary (John 1:6-7). Joplin, Mo.: College Press Pub. Co.

Ibid.

Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.


Christ In Us: The Hope of Glory

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The following devotion comes from my email subscription to

Connection! Devotions for Every Day Life“.

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The Hope of Glory

“Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

We believe that Jesus is present when we gather as the Church. But we don’t act that way. That is not the way things happen on Sunday. You know why I know your church needs revival? The reason I know your church needs revival is when church services ended last Sunday, you went home. What would happen if Jesus was there? Let’s just suppose Jesus was there. Would you be looking at your watch? Would you be eager to leave?

One of the characteristics of the great revivals was extended times of worship. They never wanted to end the service. Now obviously people had to leave, they had to take care of physical things, they had jobs that they had to go to, but as soon as they were done they were back, because that was where God was. They wanted to be in on the action. They wanted to be where God was. They wanted to experience His presence.

I want to suggest to you that revival is not strange or mystical. It is simply the Church waking up to the presence of Christ in her midst. It is almost as though God reaches out and slaps us and we wake up and we realize God is there. That is what revival is. It is God shaking us. It is God waking us up. And we recognize that Jesus really is here.

Father, I long to experience Your Presence, to be where You are, and to fully know You. Deepen my desire to be still before You and to listen to Your voice so that You might speak Your truth to my heart. Wake me up to the knowledge of Jesus living in me!

–Taken from the article Praying for Revival by Dave Butts. Read more…

Prayer Points

Praise God for the mystery of the Trinity—a model of love, unity, and oneness. Give thanks that God is able to bring a spirit of oneness among you and other believers, “so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:5-6). Confess any comments, thoughts, or actions that may have led to division, rather than unity, between you and another Christian. Ask God to make you humble enough to see your own fault in strained relationships and to seek forgiveness and peace.

Ask God to put his special protection around the staff and leaders of your church, so that Satan will not be able to bring division through misunderstanding, pride, or self-interest (Phil. 2:1-3).

–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend (Click on the blue title for more information about this resource).

Posted 17 Sept 2011

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This is a powerful devotional thought, and it challenges all of us I’m sure.  We live our lives at such a rapid pace, running from event to event and trying to juggle all the myriad of responsibilities and decisions that we must face each day.  And yet where is God in all of this?  It’s true that Jesus wanted us to really experience life, but is this the life He was talking about?

Perhaps we need some direct, external challenge to our faith, maybe even some persecution in our life for us to wake up and value our faith and to be more vigilant in prayer.  We have heard over the last 60 years how the faithful Christians in China have been persecuted and killed.  And yet at the same time, we hear reports of the phenomenal growth of the Church in China, perhaps the greatest evangelistic explosion of all time.

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How about another example of how persecution produced fervent prayer-mobilized Christians.  What I am thinking of is the Moravian Movement.  In the mid 1500’s, some early Protestant Pietists fled persecution in lower Europe and by the early 1700’s ended up being sheltered by a nobleman named Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf.  Under his protection and inspiration, the small community of believers became passionate in prayer to God, and this led to an evangelistic zeal that sent missionaries around the world.

In fact, the prayer movement that began in earnest in 1727 at their center was to be held unbroken by members of their movement for over 100 years.  The first overseas missionaries were sent to the Caribbean in 1732, and within fifteen more years, they had sent evangelists to countries as far away as China and Persia.  One source states that in 150 years from the start of their prayer revival,  over 2,150 missionaries were sent world-wide for the cause of Christ.

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Wouldn’t that be something if we saw this kind of revival again?  And yet, even as I ask this question, it makes it sound like those “good old days” will never come back again.  The real truth is that there are plenty of signs that there is a renewed sense of an awakening to fervent prayer, here in the United States, and also in many of the developing countries where Christianity is flourishing quite well.

And as I mentioned in a previous article (Giant Step For Bible Translation), Pioneer Bible Translators is going through a growth spurt that is nothing short of a miracle.  In five years we have grown from being a mission with 182 missionaries to 322 members.  We expect to be doubled (380+) by next year, and then doubled again to about 800 missionaries in the next following six years.

And what has made the difference?  Prayer.  No doubt about it.  And Scripture promises to us, that when two or three are gathered in His name, that He is there in their midst.  So just imagine how powerful the Spirit can move when the 400 missionaries and supporting Christians who stand behind PBT keep up the current prayer focus.  WOW!!  Watch out world – Christ is on the move.

Remember the Good Moments

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Who Am I?  Part 15

Two weeks ago I made brief comments about how God provided for our needs, even if the situation was less than ideal.  One thing is for sure, God did take us out of a bad situation and He did provide a new setting where we could be a family and be active in ministry.  (You can read about the last chapter of my life story by clicking here.)

Unfortunately, it did not last a long time.  From the time I was interviewed until the time I left for Prince Edward Island driving another U-Haul truck was just less than two years.  On the one hand, I could say that it was a good thing, as moving to PEI ultimately led me to discover and join Pioneer Bible Translators.  On the other hand, I can look back with regret and consider this church experience as the next one of my great failures.

And yet, even as I say that, I know that neither statement is completely true nor completely false.  As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle.  I do know that at the one year mark there was a Board meeting to decide if they would keep me on as the minister for another year.  The vote was “yes”, but it was not a majority vote.  Nine months later, I decided that this was not the place for me to stay.  So what really happened?

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The history of the church is a bit fuzzy now for me after all these years.  I can tell you that this church was built in the mid 1800s and was the first church of our movement to be built this far west in Canada (Manitoba was considered “Pioneer Country” at that time).  The stone work and the wood crafting was phenomenal, and it had an overarching balcony over the main sanctuary that allowed for a capacity of over 250 people.  It was considered a grand church in its day.

There had been some great preachers there over the years, but as is the case for most small towns, the number of attending members continued to decline over time.  By the time I came for my interview, the church had an average attendance of 25 people.  It was rather sad to see such a grand hall be so empty looking, not just during the week, but even on a Sunday morning.

When I was interviewed by the Search Committee, I expressed my desire to come and be a Preacher / Church Growth Evangelist.  It was very evident that the members of the committee were quite excited about this prospect.  They recommended me to the church at large, I preached on Sunday, and then flew back to Alberta to await their decision.  It came back within a few days – they voted unanimously to hire me.

And so in December of 1990, we arrived and stayed in one member’s house while they did the finishing touches to remodel the suite that took up most of the church balcony.  One month later, our second son Glen was born and we moved soon after that into the suite.  There is no doubt in my mind that Glen’s birth and then living as a foursome in the small but quaint balcony suite were the most positive aspects of life for us at that time.

It didn’t take long though to see that the energies I was attempting to pour into revitalizing the church were meeting some opposition within the small group.  Of the few families that were left, there was one “clan” still there who had some powerful people, at least in terms of their opinions.  I came to realize the truth of a saying that one of our Bible College teachers used to say, “The young are out to change the world; the old are out to change the young.”

Interestingly enough, it was the middle-aged clan members who showed resistance to trying new ideas and welcoming new people as I worked at growing the church.  In fact, the hand full of old singles ladies and I got along very well.  I recall with great fondness how I would hold my mid-week Bible studies, working our way from Genesis to Revelation, and it was the same 4 or 5 old ladies who would come out and catch my vision and passion for teaching God’s Word.

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I believe it was when I moved the piano to the side and introduced some choruses while playing my guitar that was the beginning of the end for me there.  The “power players” resigned from helping with worship, and the older people were not able to lead or assist.  And so I was left alone in that ministry.  Jill saw the end coming, and hung on with me for a number of months more.  It ended up that she moved with the kids first to PEI while I stayed to end my 2-year commitment to them.

In between the beginning and the end though, I do remember the family moments we had there.  And there were some young couples that we really bonded to while there.  And certainly our “Old Ladies Bible Study” held precious moments, and I still use some of those materials today.  I haven’t mentioned about the outreach I had with a friend in town for a year to young people at a  Christian drop-in center.  Some of those young people gave their lives to Christ.  How precious is that?

And so I have a choice.  I can remember this 2-year experience as one of my great failures, where not only did the church not grow, but a few years later had to close its doors.  Or I can remember the special intimate times I had with family, and with dear old saints, and with brand new young Christians.  So you tell me, what really happened there?  I may not have built up the church building in that town, but I do believe I helped build the Kingdom of God in the hearts of those people who mattered most to me.  That is what I will remember most.

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Proclaiming God’s Word in Papua New Guinea

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Many of my articles will talk about the 5 years that our family spent in a small remote village of Papua New Guinea (1997 – 2002) as these stand out as some of the best years we’ve had in our years of mission experience.  I have not said much yet about our older boy, Eric, and the battle he had with leukemia (he is doing okay today, praise God).  One consequence of Eric’s cancer was the need for our family to evacuate PNG to Australia, and then to Canada.  None of us have been back to our village in the jungle.

It was with great interest then, that I heard about the visit the summer interns for our mission would make to our village as part of their experience of PNG in 2009.  When I talked with them, they told me about their plans to share the Gospel by means of a digital recording.  I was so excited to hear of these plans.  Read the story from Delaina, one of the interns, and share in this wonderful experience.

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“The Proclaimer”

The day after our meeting with the 4 translators, Lindy and I took our laundry down to the shallow river to wash the clothes. (No electricity in the village means no washing machines.) We waded barefoot into the cool flowing water, filled up a large bowl, and added some powdered laundry detergent. After scrubbing each garment by hand, we would rinse it in the river, squeeze out the extra water, and put it in a net bag called a bilum that was hanging from a tree branch nearby. Later we would have to carry all the clothes back to the house and hang them on the line to dry. We could see that it was going to take most of the morning to wash all of the clothes, so we wanted something to do while we worked. Lindy walked along the path by the airstrip back to the house and brought the Proclaimer to where I was at the river.

What is a Proclaimer you ask? It is basically a big MP3 player, but instead of music, it has a recording on it of people reading the entire New Testament in Tok Pisin, the trade language of PNG. I suggested that we listen to the recording of 1 Peter, so Lindy and I continued scrubbing dirty clothes, but now we were hearing something that sounded a lot like this, “Mi Pita, mi aposel bilong Jisas Krais. Mi raitim dispela pas long yupela ol manmeri bilong God, yupela ol lain i stap nabaut olsem tripman long provins Pontus, Galesia, Kapadosia, Asia, na Bitinia.”

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Now Daniel, one of the national translators, lived right across the river in his village hut. His wife heard this voice coming from the Proclaimer and sat down on the bank to hear 1 Peter. After all 5 chapters had been read, she thanked us for letting her listen in, and she told us, “This talk is shooting my stomach,” which is their expression for saying, “What I heard really touched my heart.” We had brought the Proclaimer to the river to entertain ourselves while doing laundry and help us learn Tok Pisin, but God used His word to speak to that woman’s heart.

The story doesn’t end there. At 7:00 the next morning, I was working on getting breakfast for the team. I had just hauled 2 buckets of water up the stairs from the rain tank outside to use for cooking and washing dishes when I heard a cough coming from the front yard. I looked out and saw Daniel standing there waiting to talk to us. I had to wake Lindy up, and she went to see what Daniel wanted. We were amazed by his request. He said, “Can you bring the Proclaimer and come with me? There is a group of people waiting right now to hear 1 Peter before they go work in their gardens for the day.” Apparently Daniel’s wife had told her friends and relatives that they needed to hear what she had heard the day before.

We grabbed the Proclaimer and followed Daniel across the river to a cluster of huts where about 20 people were waiting. These people sat still and listened to all of 1 Peter and half of 1 Corinthians. That’s 12 chapters of the Bible! God was speaking to them through His Word, and again many people said, “This talk is shooting our stomachs!”

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Several times over the next week, groups of people from this village and even surrounding villages met outside our house to listen to the Bible on the Proclaimer. There was a group of over 70 people who came one day. That was almost the entire village! The last day we were there, a group of people sat for 3 solid hours listening to book after book of the New Testament, beginning with 1 Peter. They only left then because the Proclaimer shut itself off from lack of solar power.

And these are people who used to murder other people for money, who are still involved in witchcraft, and who don’t all get along with each other. But they came together to hear God’s Word because God was working in their hearts. We serve a powerful God, and if He can change the hearts of these tribal people in Papua New Guinea, He can do anything.

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As a footnote, let me say this.  It is wonderful to hear how excited the people were to hear Scripture in Tok Pisin, the trade language.  But this is a second language that they learn as they grow up.  Try to imagine the pure joy in their hearts (or in their stomachs) that they would experience when they hear the Word of God spoken in their mother-tongue language.  I’ve seen that joy, and that is why I am a Bible translator still to this day.

Partners In The Gospel (Phil. 1:3-7)

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Sharing in the Work of the Gospel

Philippians 1:3-7 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.  Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.  And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News.

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It is very clear that Paul had a close and special relationship with the believers in the church at Philippi.  He prayed for them, often.  And it says here that he gave thanks to God whenever he remembered them, and in his prayers for all (not just some of them, but all of them), he was filled with joy as he prayed.  And note how he says, “for you have a special place in my heart.”

We must ask ourselves, why did Paul has such a strong and positive emotional attachment to these people in Philippi?  If we look back into the book of Acts (chapter 16), Paul spent a very short time in Philippi, probably a few weeks or so.  And the highlight of his visit there was spending a night in a dirty, dingy jail.  Or was it?

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We are fairly certain that there was no active worship building, like a synagogue for the Jews.  Paul and his companions had to go outside the city to the river where they found only a few woman gathered there for a time of prayer (Acts 16:13).  By the time Paul left Philippi, he had preached the gospel and we know that Lydia and her household, plus the jailer and his household had accepted Christ and were baptized.

There may be more who joined the fledgling church when Paul was there, although we don’t know who they were.  But what we do know from the book of Philippians in this short passage is that Paul says they were “partners in spreading the Good News about Christ.”  And in 4:15 he says, “you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.”

To fully appreciate what is going on here, we want to exercise the skills I introduced a few articles back about doing an Inductive Bible Study.  There are a few very interesting key words in these verses that are worth taking a closer look at.  Specifically, I want to examine “partners”, “defending and confirming”, and “special favor of God”.

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Partners:  In other versions, the term for “partners” has also been translated as “partnership” or “participation”.  Upon reflection, it suggests to us that there was a close relationship between Paul and the people in Philippi in evangelizing the city.  It was not as we might think today of a “business partnership” where the executives decide how the employees should do the work, but they themselves do not get involved.

The partnership in mind here is the shoulder-to-shoulder “let’s go out and get this work done together”.  Now the reason why I find this word so interesting is that it comes from the Greek work “koinōnia“.  And this word is quite often translated as “fellowship”.  In one Bible dictionary, this word is explained as “an association involving close mutual relations and involvement”.

The key for me here is that “Christian fellowship” is meant to have an emphasis upon “involvement” with others and in other’s lives.  Don’t get me wrong, I love when we have potlucks at church, but I wonder how deep the thought is when we say, “Let’s stay for the potluck fellowship.”  I think it often just means to people, let’s chit-chat and fill our bellies with food.

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Defending and Confirming:  This leads us to consider in verse 7 what it was exactly that Paul was doing, and that which the Philippians were partnering together to do.  We have already said that they were “spreading the Good News“, but in this verse, Paul says that he was defending it and confirming it.  And the implication in this passage is that Paul was engaged in doing this activity whether he was free or whether he was in prison.

Both of these key words are Greek words which carry a legal courtroom-like aspect to them.  The first one “apologia” means to “defend publicly that something is not wrong”.  We get the word “apologist” and “apologetics” from this word.  And many 1st and 2nd century Christian leaders were called apologists as they stood up and declared that Christianity was not a false religion, but was the very Truth of God.  And that is the other side of what they did, they were “confirming the Truth of the Good News“.

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Special Favor of God:  Now I don’t know about you, but I must admit that there are many times that I feel awkward and embarrassed to share my faith.  But Paul tells the Philippians that it is a “special favor of God” or “grace” (the literal Greek) to be serving God by publicly standing up for the faith.  And if that is the case, then God would provide the courage and the words to be His spokesman or spokeswoman.

And Paul says here that for these kinds of people, those who count it a privilege to be followers of Christ and let others know publicly about it, he has a special place in his heart for them.  Just as Paul is bound or “united” with Christ in his faith, so he is also bound intimately with those who are willing to share their faith with others.

So how about you?  Do you feel the same kind of passion as Paul had, to be willing to live out your faith in public?  And even to suffer because of it?  Then you stand as a partner with Paul, and are in true fellowship with the apostles and prophets, and are united (stuck) to Christ, who grants us His grace / favor to do this awesome and important task.  May God bless you as you live for Him.  Amen.

Some Practical Christianity

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“Open Heart, Open Home”

I’m sure you have heard the idea that we are to be “the hands and feet of Jesus”.  It sounds great, but what does it mean?  Are we to go over to India and follow in the example of Mother Teresa and minister to the poor and dying in that country?  Well, yes, maybe God is calling you to do this, and if so, you should start praying and packing.

But for most of us, even myself at this time, we will not find ourselves leaving our home country to go live in another part of the world to serve the Lord full-time.  So what is it that we are supposed to do that would qualify us as being Jesus’ hands and feet.  Of course we do have the words of Jesus Himself who told us how we can “flesh out” Christianity in practical ways.  He says in Matthew 25:35-40

‘I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.’  The righteous will then answer him, ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink?  When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me!’

This is one of Jesus’ parables, and it begins to give us some insight into what good practical Christianity looks like.  It is showing the same kind of mercy and compassion to a fellow human being that God would show, but as is so often the case, God is asking us to do these acts of compassion on His behalf and in His name.

Now someone reading this may be saying that this is still too general of a mandate and would like to see at least one of these ideas fleshed out more specifically.  I have anticipated this possibility, and so I would like to offer a good suggestion, especially to fellow Christians who are living in North America and are living very nice modest lives, if not down right well-to-do lives when compared to most of the rest of the world.

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And here is my thought:  I would venture to say that nearly every Christian who reads this post is currently living within 100 miles of a University or College.  And in nearly every institution of higher education, there would be a certain percentage of foreign students who have come to study in our countries.

So why don’t we become proactive and invite some of them, four people, or two, or even one to join our family for a meal and “Please stay to visit with us longer”, and leave with “What date shall we set for doing this again?”  Time may be short right now, but most Universities and Colleges should be coming up to the Spring Break.  What better time to open your hearts, and open your homes when the international student has no idea what they will do or where they might go during this break.

I leave you now with an excerpt from a good book “Revolution on Our Knees:  30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations” written by good friends of mine, Dave & Kim Butts, who have an international prayer ministry called Harvest Prayer Ministries.  They offer a Scripture passage, and then a real challenge to all us who are Christians.

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“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him” (Psalm 67).

Every year almost 700,000 international students flock to college campuses in the United States. They are far away from home, many for the first time, navigating a strange culture and attempting to take classes in a language different from the one that is most natural to them. Many of these students want to impact their nations in a significant way, but most are not Christians. These students are a huge untapped resource for the cause of Christ, but about 70% of them will never see the inside of a Christian home unless we reach out to them.

The reality of this situation is staggering when we consider that these potential kingdom workers already know the language, customs and layout of their own countries. Through hospitality and acts of love, our families and churches can become the hands and feet of Christ to them, bringing many into the Kingdom of Light! Then, by training them to reach their own nations for Jesus Christ, these young men and women can become incredible tools in the hands of a mighty God.

Gracious Lord, please give me a heart for the nations, for I long to see all the ends of the earth fear Your Name! Help me to see the big picture of how reaching out to one young student can change the world for Jesus! Let me be one of many in my church to seek to build relationships with young men and women from all over the world so that they might have an opportunity to see the living Christ in our homes! Teach me to stretch beyond what is comfortable to learn from and minister to these young students, so that they will see Jesus in me and know that I care about them.

–Adapted from Revolution on Our Knees: 30 Days of Prayer for Neighbors and Nations by Dave and Kim Butts.  Click on the title for more information on this resource.

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