One of the things I most adore about children, is the God-given joy that they have. The simplest thing can brighten their face, put a twinkle in their eyes, and make them shout in excitement. We were all created in God’s image and filled with the joy of the Lord.
The joy of the Lord is the gladness of heart that comes from knowing God, abiding in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.
It’s important that we recognize and take hold of this joy as adults, so that we do not lose it and allow the cares of this world to dominate our lives.
My most favourite time of the year is Christmas. It always has been and I believe it always will be. The family get-togethers, the delicious meals, the Christmas movies on tv, drinking hot chocolate while looking at the fireplace, taking a walk when the snow has just fallen on the ground, going skating and skiing. The list goes on. It’s a very special time of year that I personally treasure and the best part is celebrating Jesus’ birthday.
Even before the birth of Jesus, Mary had received joy which was described in her song (Luke 1:47) Even John, who was still in his mother’s womb leaped for joy when hearing Mary’s voice (Luke 1:44) Joy is a beautiful thing that comes from God.
Let’s look at a few verses in the Bible today, that talk about joy:
It is very important to remember that joy comes from God and we are able to experience joy through the Holy Spirit. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit in order to experience true joy, it is not anything that we could get on our own.
2. Joy is much more than a feeling
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
This verse not only challenges us to “count it all joy” but it also explains why we should count it all joy. God is most concerned about us becoming more like Jesus, being renewed and transformed daily through the Holy Spirit, so that we can be with Him one day for eternity. It is certainly not easy to count difficult situations as joy, but joy is more than a feeling. We can be feeling sad about something and yet still have God’s joy. That’s pretty amazing!
3. The Joy of the Lord is our strength
Ezra was reading the words of God’s law to the people, and as they listened they realized that they had wandered from their God and had fallen into sin. They began to weep and then Nehemiah reminded them and encouraged them with these words:
“Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
When we find ourselves in situations where we feel sorrow, whether because of sin in our lives or because of circumstances we cannot control, we need to remember where our joy and strength comes from.
Whatever you are facing today, be encouraged and remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength. You can still have joy, no matter where you’re at. Cry out to your God, He knows exactly what you are going through and He cares for you.
We also need each other and at OMS Canada, we believe that prayer is essential and we are always in need of more prayer warriors to pray for our OMS missionaries, projects, and ministry. Prayer is the battlefield for fruitfulness and we depend on it for a successful ministry.
We pray together on Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the links. We would love to have you pray with us.
Hello, and welcome back to our series on Spiritual Warfare and Missions (SWAM). If you missed the first couple of posts you really should click here to read them first. And be reminded that this series is based on the book by Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer called Spiritual Warfare and Missions.
In this chapter, Rankin and Stetzer begin by making the point that at the end of all that God does is His purpose to be glorified. Everything that He does is for this purpose. They point to Isaiah 45:22-23, which was quoted by Paul in Philippians 2:10-11.
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: To me, every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.”
And this is accomplished through the work of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Followers of Jesus are commissioned to make disciples in every people, tongue, tribe, and nation. These disciples see and savour the glory of God. They are captivated by it and are committed to making that glory known in their neighbourhoods and to the ends of the earth.
But the enemy of God has deceived and led multitudes astray with false religions and pagan worldviews. These are tribal religions, Hindus, the unreligious, Muslims, and Buddhists (read this post about the THUMB people). Rankin states that his experience of working with Muslims in Indonesia, Buddhists in Thailand, and Hindus in India leaves no doubt that an adversary of the kingdom of God is leading the world astray as they put their hope in futile traditions. He has seen the empty ritual of cultural Catholics in the Philippines and Latin America and the multitudes in Africa still in bondage to the superstitions of their ancestors. Without question, God is not the source of any form of worship that does not exalt and lift up the name of Jesus. At His name, every knee will bow in submission and every tongue will proclaim His Lordship, all to the worship and glory of God the Father.
Satan has free reign in the hearts and cultures that have rejected or never heard of the hope that can be found only in Jesus Christ. He uses godless rulers, government authorities, legal restrictions, and social pressures to maintain his dominion and deprive God of being glorified among the peoples of the world. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
If his strategies prove to be vulnerable, his backup plan is to work among God’s people to create indifference and laziness. Instead of pressing the battle with conscientious urgency, Satan has readily convinced Christians that missions is optional or that it is the responsibility of only an elite few who have a special mystical call to serve as missionaries. Regardless, it appears the strategies of our enemy have been successful as we see the realities of a lost world and the daunting barriers to proclaiming the gospel today.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it in abundance” (John 10:10). We know this applies to those who have come to faith in acknowledging Him as Saviour and Lord. But we must not subtly be led to embrace an egocentric faith that is just for us. God’s purpose is that the whole world would find and experience that abundant life in Christ which would be to the praise of His glory. Jesus preceded that statement by alerting us to the thief who comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy (John 10:10). Not only does Satan try to keep the individual from coming to faith in Christ, but he also tempts the Christian to forfeit the abundant life. He works to rob our understanding of the peace and joy we have been given, destroy our assurance of blessings, and cause us to doubt Christ’s power in us through inflicting carnal behaviour and filling our minds with doubts and worry. Satan does all of this for one purpose - to deny God of the praise and glory from our lives. Likewise, the thief is intent on robbing God of His glory among the nations by destroying our witness and barricading the cultures against the light of the world.
The reality is that there is an enemy of the kingdom of God who is intent on depriving God of His praise and glory among the nations. He works subtly in darkness and anonymity to defeat the individual Christian, distort the mission of the church, and divert God’s people from their calling to proclaim His salvation and declare His glory among the nations. God’s Word alerts us to this enemy and admonishes us to be alert to his devious schemes; we are told to stand firm against his deception, resist temptation, and claim the victory that has already been assured. It is a victory rooted in God’s character, won for us by Christ’s resurrection, and manifested by the Spirit’s indwelling presence in the church. God’s praise and glory is our supreme priority and proclaiming and displaying it is our greatest privilege.
Paul was convinced that God wanted him to go to Thessalonica to minister and share the gospel, but he said, “So we wanted to come to you - even I, Paul, time and again - but Satan hindered us” (1 Thess. 2:18). There are sins of commission - what we do that is wrong and should not do - but there are also sins of omission. These are the things we should do but fail to carry out. Satan often opposes the will of God being done by simply dissuading us from doing what we ought to do. We are going to see that this tactic may be his most effective strategy to delay God’s kingdom reaching the nations and His being glorified to the ends of the earth - simply hindering us from being obedient to what God has called us to do as His people.
Reflect on what is receiving worship in your life other than Jesus. What receives the greatest intentional focus of your time, energy, and resources? What are you willing to make time for when time is very tight?
What is Satan’s greatest tactic in your life? Pride? Fear? Busyness? Indifference? Ask God to reveal Satan’s strongholds in your life and ask Him to break them so you will be more active in His mission.
How might God want to adjust your perspective about worship? How could a renewed sense of worship change your activity in the mission of God?
Hello, and welcome back to our series on Spiritual Warfare and Missions (SWAM). If you missed the introductory blog post you really should click here to read it first. And be reminded that this series is based on the book by Jerry Rankin and Ed Stetzer called Spiritual Warfare and Missions.
In this post, we will see what is God’s ultimate purpose in all He does. We have seen this in God’s Heart for the Nations blog posts but it will be helpful to see it again, especially as a foundation for the reality and presence of spiritual warfare.
In this first chapter of the book, Jerry Rankin recounts a trip he took in response to an invitation to speak at a Baptist leaders conference in the Khond Hills of the State of Orissa in India. It was a monumental trip that left Mr. Rankin thinking he had reached beyond the fringes of the Great Commission and was at the ends of the earth.
Topping a ridge, they suddenly caught sight of a massive crowd milling around an intersection ahead. This was their destination and the crowd was there to welcome them. More than three thousand people had gathered from every village in the Khond Hills. When everyone was seated, the man who seemed to be in charge shouted something, and all the people responded with a shout. Mr. Rankin didn’t understand the words but presumed that this was simply a customary way of beginning a public gathering or perhaps a way of greeting us as the honoured guests.
His interpreter asked him if he knew what they were saying. He said, “The leader is shouting, ‘Who is Lord?’ And all the people are responding, ‘Jesus is Lord!’ As this was repeated several times, goosebumps appeared on Rankin’s arms and a chill went up his spine. Here were a people that were not a people, a people who had lived in darkness but had now become the people of God. This is what Paul referred to as he quoted Hosea in Romans 9:6.
As he heard these people declaring that Jesus is Lord, Rankin immediately thought of Philippians 2:9-11 and the implications of what he was seeing. “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Just as these people of the Khond Hills, geographically isolated and separated from God, living in spiritual darkness, had now become the people of God, one day all people will recognize Jesus as Lord. God will be glorified by the confession of praise being declared from every tongue, “Jesus is Lord” to the glory of God the Father.
God’s ultimate purpose and desire is clear: to be glorified through the redemption of the nations. He alone is worthy of all praise and honour. His purpose is to be known and worshipped and exalted by the nations and peoples of the earth. The culmination of His divine activity in the world is expressed in the book of Revelation. “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.” (Rev 4:11).
Everything created in the world should be seen in the context of existing for God’s glory. Every activity and endeavour should be to glorify Him, not only in our lives and community but among all peoples, even to the ends of the earth.
Then the authors pick up on what is called the ‘linguistic thread’ of Scripture. The movement and mission from God can be traced through a linguistic thread woven throughout Scripture. The thread began under the rebellious circumstances in Babel and became the platform for God’s mission through Pentecost and His glory in Revelation. Following this linguistic thread allows us to better understand our mission with God and for God. The thread throughout the Bible also traces God’s relentless pursuit of a people for His glory.
As people gather at the end of the age, we read in Revelation 7:9-10, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” What will that sound like? Will everybody praise in a different language? We don’t know, but we do know that it will be one voice. In unity brought about by God’s presence and kingdom, from distinct people groups, His people will worship in the many languages they spoke during their earthly lives, giving praise to the Lord and glory to the Father.
When the Holy Spirit arrived to indwell believers in Acts we see a picture of the “beginning of the end” in God’s plan. In God’s plan, the church was given the supernatural ability to speak in languages (tongues) and they were understood by the crowds in Jerusalem as the gospel was proclaimed at Pentecost. Through the person of the Holy Spirit, God’s purposes were accomplished like no other time in history. When God’s power is manifested, no arguments of man or principality can stand against it.
The linguistic thread began in Genesis 11. The scene is the Tower of Babel and the birth of heathenism (self-glory) as the result of one tongue among men. Satan is alive and well and his desire for fame and glory is passed on to man.
Remember God’s instructions to Noah after the flood? His family members were to scatter and populate the earth (Genesis 9:1). Yet the nature of man was seen in his desire to create another plan. ‘Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth”’ (Genesis 11:4). In only two chapters after the flood, mankind began not only to sin alone but to sin in groups. God, as before the Flood and in the garden, found Himself set aside by mankind. God was distant from the minds and hearts of self-absorbed men. But He remained relentless in His pursuit of them.
What was the issue? “Let us make a name for ourselves.” The very thing rightfully belonging to God, man immediately claimed for himself - a famous name. Man wanted the glory that belonged to God alone. Since the garden, man has gone east, away from God, setting his own course. But God’s fame is seen as every tongue, tribe, and nation returns to His name, His glory, and His worship. It was lost at Babel but returns via Pentecost and is completed at the end of the age in the book of Revelation.
God scattered people at Babel, changing one language to many languages. Man’s desire to make a name for himself had terrible consequences. Was God intimidated by the potential of man to accomplish things with one tongue? God is omnipotent, which means never intimidated. God knew Babel would become a civilization of frustrated, godless people if He didn’t intervene. Never for a moment did He fear their potential to overthrow and actually supplant His glory.
Language is God’s gift to man. Different languages are a demonstration of God’s relentless love of man. Every time you hear a conversation in another language that you do not understand, thank God for His love. God saw that man would destroy himself and attempt to live life apart from Him. He lovingly gifted us with diverse tongues to slow us down. He gave us tongues to go deeper into relationships with fewer people. Tongues reveal our limitations and helplessness. What a creative and loving way to discipline a self-absorbed, self-promoting, sinful man.
And so, as we look ahead again to Revelation 7:9-10, we see the conclusion of God’s purposes in the earth, to be surrounded by every tongue, tribe and nation, receiving the praise and the glory that are His alone.
Have you gotten any new insight from this overview of God’s glory and His heart for the nations?
What kind of people and things do you regularly pray for from day-to-day? Does your prayer life reflect God’s ultimate desire and purpose to be worshipped among the nations?
Is there anything that you could adjust your time and/or friends so that you can go on mission trips to help reach the nations or give more so that others can reach the nations with the gospel?
TYPES OF PRAYER
Welcome back to this series on prayer. If you have missed any previous posts you can click here to catch up. But in this post, we are focusing on the problem of prayer.
Prayer is a very important part of a Christian’s life. Research indicates that there are over 650 different prayers recorded in the Bible. There are different types of prayer and these types are intended to achieve specific outcomes. How many do you use?
Although there may be many different types of prayer, I am only going to discuss seven types in this post. It would be easy to spend a week on each one of these different types of prayer – but, for the time being, let’s to keep our discussions very basic.
Worship, Praise, Adoration
We can find many prayers of this type in the Bible. This type of prayer is focused wholly upon the Lord our God. It acknowledges God as the creator of all things. It gives God the praise and the glory that he rightfully deserves. I believe that all prayers should begin with this type of prayer.
This is a prayer of appreciation. It gives thanks to God for all the gifts he has given us. Being thankful is one of the best ways to combat depression and times of self-pity. Thanksgiving is a part of nearly every prayer I pray.
This is when we acknowledge the sins we have committed and ask for forgiveness. Psalm 51 is probably the best known prayer of this type in the Bible. We would do well to remember what Jesus says about this in Matthew 6:14-15. If we are unwilling to forgive others, God will not forgive us.
Petition means to ask for something. I suspect that this may be the most used and misused type of prayer. We all want material prosperity, health, happiness and popularity. When asking God for such things, however, we should always remember to add, “Your will be done.” It is interesting to note that God already knows what we need before we ask him (Matthew 6:8). I don’t know about you, but I often have trouble distinguishing between my wants and my needs.
An intercessory prayer is a prayer offered for the benefit of someone else. More often than not, it is a less selfish form of the petition type of prayer.
Spiritual warfare prayer is when we deal with the battles within our self and others and use prayer to guard us against attacks, maintain focus, or receive deliverance. This prayer involves us asking Gods word to protect us and guard us against any harm.
Just Talking and/or Meditative
I often find myself “just talking” with God – like a child might talk to his father. Even though I don’t have a fancy name for this type of prayer, I think it is extremely beneficial. A meditative type of prayer is a time of silence spent in the glorious presence of God (being in the Spirit).
Are there other types of prayer of which you are aware? How do you use these types of prayer? We would enjoy hearing your thoughts about this. Leave us a comment below.