Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 2:2-4)
In a ‘now or never’ culture, God’s process is more like ‘wait and see’. And this is probably no more evident than in our attitude toward trials, troubles and suffering.
I have suffered much less than others, but even to the extent which I have experienced suffering, I still find these words of James to be some of the most jarring in all of Scripture. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…”
When trials do come up, my first reaction is rarely one of joy, but is usually one of “Oh Lord, why me?” or some other expression of frustration or disappointment or despair. But James calls us to joy. Why is that?
What many Christians in the global south have come to understand is that God, because of His great love for us, disciplines us and allows us to go through difficult times for our ultimate good. James points out the same truth in verses 3 and 4: “, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
We are called to count it all joy, not because of the pain that we might experience but because of the ultimate end which is that you may be complete, lacking in nothing.
There is a story told of a soon-to-be-butterfly that was struggling to get out of its cocoon. As the story goes, someone saw this struggle and, in his or her desire to provide assistance, gently peels open the cocoon only to end up removing the very hardship that was necessary for the insect to become a mature and complete butterfly.
So it is with us. We so often want to view our hardships as nothing but an obstacle toward growth and maturity. However, the very trials we experience are from the hand of God and are working to produce steadfastness leading to maturity.
The way the Lord works in us through trials is mysterious at times, but let’s take comfort in knowing that it is the Lord who is working and because of this, we can count it all joy.
How have you discovered God’s purpose in your suffering? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV)
A seminary professor says that when he teaches on the Great Commission, he often begins by asking the students what is Jesus’ primary emphasis in the Great Commission. Typically, most students reply that evangelism is the main focus. Then he asks them to read the Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20, after which he asks his question a second time. The students quickly see that although the Great Commission includes a call to evangelism, it doesn’t actually contain the word evangelism. What the students come to understand through more careful study of the Great Commission is that Jesus’ main focus is on making disciples.
So, while making disciples certainly does include evangelism, it is by no means limited to evangelism. The sort of disciple-making to which Jesus commissions the church involves much more, including baptism and teaching. Simply put, if we have only evangelized a people or a nation or a congregation, we have not been obedient to the fullness of the Great Commission.
In addition to evangelism, Jesus provided us with specific instructions that we are to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and that we are to teach people to obey everything that He commanded us.
Plus, if we have only evangelized, baptized and received a person into church membership, then we have not been obedient to the fullness of the Great Commission. Both baptizing and teaching are the ministry of the local church around the world, and this is why the local church sends people out to make disciples. As missionaries, preachers and teachers we go to all nations to plant, equip and disciple the church of Jesus Christ. We are called not simply to evangelize and move on, which it seems that many Canadian evangelical churches consider the extent of their Great Commission responsibility. We are called to stay on course and to do the hard work of teaching Jesus’ disciples to obey all that He commanded, including the command to go and make disciples of all nations.
The Great Commission is a call for the church to be the church and to do the work of the church by making disciples of all nations. And we must remember that Jesus never called it the Great Commission. It is indeed a great commission, but it is a beautifully ordinary commission that we have the great privilege of fulfilling in part as we gather together with every people, tongue, tribe and nation to worship with our families every Lord’s Day. Then we partake of and bear witness to the ordinary means of grace in the building up of the church in the preaching of the Word, growing as disciples and learning from the Scriptures to obey every command given by Jesus. Then we enjoy the communion of the saints in communion with God in prayer, observe baptism in the name of the triune God, and partake regularly of the Supper that our Lord provides at His table. This is the extraordinarily great and greatly ordinary work of the church being faithful to the faithfulness of the Great Commission.
So don’t think that the Commission is so great that it is beyond you. If you are a part of the church, then it is for you. Discipleship is the engine that drives the purposes of God on the earth, whether you are in Edmonton or Edirne, Hanoi or Hamilton, Montreal or Malang.
So, please tell us; what is your experience with the Commission of Jesus? Were you discipled? Are you making disciples? Does that discipleship include the element of obedience to everything Jesus commanded?
Leave a comment and let us know.
The word spread can be defined as: the development or growth of something so that it covers a larger area or affects a large number of people.
As we live in this time of pandemic with the coronavirus, we know that it has spread globally. It is something that has changed all of our lives and something we will never forget. We are being advised to stay at home and only go out for essential reasons, we are not able to gather at church, and the list goes on.
Although this pandemic has caused so much impact in everyone’s lives in a drastic way, let’s be reminded that it will also eventually come to an end. I am not saying that in an ignorant way of those who have lost their lives or jobs or those who are infected. There have been other pandemics and they have ended so this one will also come to an end. Different pandemic but same miracle-working God.
As children of God let’s be reminded of things that are even more powerful and are of eternal value. These have miraculous power and do not come to an end. Let’s talk about these today.
As we reflect on the life of Jesus, let's be reminded and encouraged of what Jesus was constantly spreading when He was here on Earth.
Let's look at 3 things today:
1 Corinthians 13:13
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Everything that Jesus did, was always done out of love. It didn't matter who He encountered, He always displayed Love.
He was always spreading Love. This Love still has power today and will always have power.
Are we expressing our love to God and others?
Even with the social distancing requirements, we can still spread love to others. We can call someone or message them to encourage them or even make them laugh. We can pray with other believers which I am so thankful we have been able to do through technology. It is truly a blessing and an encouragement.
2- The Gospel
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
This is a wonderful verse that demonstrates the importance of spreading the gospel- not only to certain people- to all creation.
Wherever Jesus went, He shared the gospel. Not only did He share it but He shared it with authority, power, and love.
The Gospel brings salvation, truth, and it never fails. God's Word is always accurate and without fault and it will always be.
If you’ve heard the news lately, sometimes there are reports that are slightly inaccurate, etc. This is understandable and obvious as people make mistakes. Thank God the Gospel is always accurate and we can fully trust everything that God has said to us.
1 Corinthians 15:57
"But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Jesus constantly displayed victory over and over again. People were miraculously healed and transformed. People were set free from sin and helplessness and so much more.
Today, we still have these same victories through Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let's ask ourselves today what we are spreading....
Maybe we are watching the news too much and therefore spreading what is being reported. I'm not saying to be ignorant and not watch the news. Let's be wise and informed but let's not let the news dominate our tvs and households.
More than ever, the world needs us to be strong, but not in our own strength. Victory brings us hope. Let’s not forget how far God has brought us and the past victories we have experienced. The victories will continue to spread and God will get all of the glory.
Let's be an encouraging voice that prays, hopes, believes, and keeps moving forward because God is with us and God is for us.
Let's spread the love of Jesus.
Let's spread the gospel which is the truth.
Let's spread this victory which we firmly have in Jesus.
Let’s spread what Jesus spread.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”
Connection to Missions
By God's grace, One Mission Society unites, inspires, and equips Christians to make disciples of Jesus Christ, multiplying dynamic communities of believers around the world. Our desire is to declare God’s glory among the nations.
This is what we are spreading and our prayer is that God would continue to be pleased as He uses this ministry for His glory. Click here for some FAQ where you can learn more about us.
What have you been spreading?
How have you remained encouraged during these times?
We would love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below.
In this week’s blog post, we are considering the habit or discipline of evangelism. In past posts, we have considered Bible intake, prayer and worship.
If you have not seen these posts yet, go ahead and click on the following links to catch up:
And remember that the primary motivation for these spiritual habits or disciplines is taken from Paul’s instruction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7, where he says, exercise or discipline yourself toward godliness. This applies to us just the same today and makes it clear that, if we wish to be godly, it will take work, discipline, and exercise. Just as an athlete, musician, or artist must exercise disciplined practice to become more proficient at their chosen field, so a disciple must exercise disciplined practice in these activities as means’ of grace to become more proficient at being godly. That is to say that, as we become more disciplined in the practice of these habits, more of God’s grace is available to us which will change us.
Only the joy of being lost in the worship of God is as exhilarating and intoxicating as telling someone about Jesus Christ. And those who do embrace this habit or discipline report that some of the most rewarding times have been during missions trips when they have done nothing but talk about Jesus, on the streets and in homes, with one individual or group after another, all day long. I can put you in touch with several MFM team members who will tell you that this is true.
Yet, nothing causes more foot-shuffling eye-shifting anxiety among disciples like talking about our responsibility to evangelize. I know many believers who are confident that they are obedient in the area of Bible intake, giving, or serving, but I don’t think I know of a single person who would say, “I am as evangelistic as I should be.”
What I want us to see is that godliness requires that we discipline ourselves in the habit of evangelism. I’m convinced that the main reason that most of us do not witness for Jesus in ways that would be effective and relatively fear-free is simply that we do not discipline ourselves to do it.
Evangelism is expected
Most of us reading this post will not need convincing that Jesus expects each of us to be involved in sharing the gospel with those around us. Because there are many methods of evangelism, it is not expected that believers would all do it the same, but He does expect all disciples to be fishers of men.
What do I mean by evangelism? It is always good to make sure that we are all on the same page in terms of what we are talking about and having a common understanding of the terms will help us understand what is being said.
Evangelism is presenting Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to unbelievers so that they might come to put their trust in God through Him, to receive Him as their Saviour, and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His church.
More concisely, we could say that all New Testament evangelism is communicating the gospel. Anyone faithfully relating the essential elements of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is evangelizing. Evangelism occurs whether the words of the gospel are spoken, written, sung, or recorded.
Jesus has commanded us to witness. Consider these five references:
And consider this final exhortation from Peter. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) I think that we usually view this reference in terms of establishing the priesthood of all believers. But we may also identify it as one that challenges each of us to a kind of prophet-hood of all believers. God expects each of us to “proclaim the excellencies” of Jesus Christ.
Evangelism is empowered
So, if it is so obvious that we are to evangelize, why do almost all western Christians seem to be disobedient?
Some may think they need a lot of specialized training to witness effectively. They might be afraid to speak about Jesus until they are confident in their knowledge of the Bible and/or their ability to deal with every potential question or objection.
Think about the blind man that Jesus healed in John 9. What if he had felt this way? Would he ever have felt ready to witness to the hoity-toity Pharisees? No way! And yet, within hours or minutes of receiving his sight he gave a compelling witness to his new reality; “He put mud on my eyes and I washed, and I see.” “Once I was blind, but now I can see!”
Sometimes we may be afraid that if we speak about Jesus that people will think we are strange and reject us. And for many, this will probably be true. Jesus told us that this would be the case in at least some of our interactions with unbelievers. But it is not a good reason to do nothing.
Another reason for inaction might be the fear of not being successful in witnessing. So, what exactly does it mean to be successful at witnessing? When the person you are witnessing to comes to Christ? I mean that’s what we want to see, isn’t it? But if we measure evangelistic success only in terms of conversions, does this make Jesus or Paul or the other apostles unsuccessful when many people rejected what they preached? Obviously not. So we also are not failures. We will not be held to a higher standard.
We need to learn that sharing the gospel is successful evangelism. Certainly, we should also be passionate for souls, and plead with God to see more people saved, but ultimately only God can produce the fruit of evangelism called conversion. We are like the postal service. They measure success by the careful and accurate delivery of the message, not by the response of the recipient. Whenever we share the gospel accurately and clearly, we have succeeded. In the truest sense, all biblical evangelism is successful evangelism, regardless of the results.
Remember this; the power of evangelism is the Holy Spirit. From the instant that He indwells you, He gives you the power to witness. Jesus made this very clear in Acts 1:8 when He said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jesus expects evangelism from every Christian because the Holy Spirit has been given to empower every Christian to evangelize. All believers have been given the power to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.
Not only is the witness empowered by the Holy Spirit, but the very gospel we share is also embedded with the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul said in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” This is why people can be converted whether they hear a teenage teacher at VBS share the gospel, or a seminary trained PhD; whether they read it in a book by a scholar like CS Lewis or a simple gospel tract. The gospel is empowered by God. Therefore your evangelism is empowered.
We can be confident that some will believe if we will faithfully and diligently share the gospel. Abundant gospel sowing is our responsibility. And the seed we sow, the gospel, is empowered by God Himself.
Evangelism is a habit or a discipline
While evangelism is a natural overflow of the Christian life and every Christian needs to be able to talk about what God has done for him or her and what He means to him or her, it is also a discipline in that we must discipline ourselves to get into situations where evangelism can occur. We must not just wait for witnessing opportunities to happen.
Jesus told us in Matthew 5:16 to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The implication is that you will be in a place where this light can be seen.
Again, I think the main reason we don’t witness is that we simply do not discipline ourselves to do it. Yes, there may be those unplanned or unexpected opportunities that God brings our way to give a reason for the hope we possess (1 Peter 3:15). But I still believe and contend that unless we make evangelism a discipline or a habit, most Christians will seldom share the gospel.
So let’s make evangelism a discipline and a habit. Let’s all become recipients of the soul-winners crown.
Since evangelism is expected, will you obey the Lord and be a witness?
Since evangelism is empowered, will you believe that God can use your words in the salvation of others?
Since evangelism is a discipline, will you plan for it?
Without discipline, our best evangelistic intentions often go unspoken. May we discipline ourselves to live so that we can say with the apostle Paul, “I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:23 ESV)
As evangelicals, we all understand that the lost need to be saved.
Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. And, as the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends us.
This process is built on the understanding that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and it is at the heart of what the church is to be doing both at home and cross-culturally.
But have you ever thought about what sin is, really? I mean, we talk about it pretty easily, but, really, what is sin? How would you define sin to someone who has neither the religious language nor background?
The most extensive treatment of sin in the Bible is found in Romans 1–3. And even when the word isn’t used, we know that is what Paul is dealing with because when he comes to summarize it he says, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin” (Romans 3:9). And he leaves no doubt about his conclusion in the next verse: “None is righteous, no, not one” (verse 10) and in verse 12, “No one does good, not even one.”
So we back up then to Romans 1 in search of the essence of sin. By essence I mean: What’s at the bottom of it? What makes all sinful actions sinful? What is wrong with us at our core that gives rise to so many different kinds of evil?
This question is making an assumption that sin is more than simply what we do. It is an attempt to go beneath our doing to a root or a condition.
The reason for going beneath our doings to a root of sin is because Paul does. And he does so not incidentally but vigorously and forcefully. Paul sees that the essence or the root all sinning is a presence, a force, in us, part of who we are, called sin. For example, in Roman 7:8 he says, “Sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.”
Now everyone agrees that covetousness is a sin. “Thou shalt not covet” (Exodus 20:17). It’s a sin in the heart. A heart-sin that might produce outward sinning like stealing. But notice, Paul says, “Sin produced covetousness.” Well, covetousness is sin. Right. And so there is a sin beneath sin that produces sin. That’s what I want to see. I want to know at the root what is wrong with me.
What is at the bottom of all my evils? And all the evils in the world?
Let’s go to Romans 1 and start with verse 18, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Here humanity in general is described as “ungodly and unrighteous.” John says in 1 John 5:17, “All unrighteousness is sin.” Therefore, we are talking about sin here. In addition, Paul chooses to talk about it first in terms of ungodliness and unrighteousness.
Now, the first thing he says about it is that is that it causes people to suppress the truth. Sin repels the light of truth and runs to the darkness of falsehood. Jesus said that we are guilty sinners not because we are victims of the darkness but because we are lovers of the darkness. John 3:19, “Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light.” Sin by nature inclines and empowers us to suppress the truth.
What truth particularly does sin hate? The next verse tells us (Romans 1:19). The reason we know that men suppress the truth is “Because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” Knowledge of God is repulsive to sin. So, Paul says, when this knowledge is suppressed, we have no excuse. Why? Verses 20–21: “So they are without excuse. For [because] although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks to Him.”
So the root of suppressing the knowledge of God is the desire to avoid glorifying and thanking God. Sin does not love to glorify God. Sin does not love to thank God. Sin hates glorifying God and thanking God. That’s what “ungodly” meant in verse 18. In “ungodliness and unrighteousness,” he said, we suppress the truth — namely, the truth that God is infinitely worthy of glory and thanks from our hearts. Sin hates that and therefore suppresses that truth.
But sin is not just a hater. Sin is a lover. When the hated truth is suppressed, the loved lie is embraced. This is described over and over in the rest of chapter 1. Look at verse 22–23: “Claiming to be wise, they (that is, those who suppress the truth and have darkened hearts) have became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” They don’t just bury truth; they embrace alternative lovers. There’s no vacuum. When the real God is rejected, images are embraced. They “exchanged the glory of God for images.” Sin hates the real God and loves his God-substituting images.
Is this the root of sinning? Now, if there ever was an age devoted to images, it is our age. We spend most of our leisure time looking at images. Watch how Paul describes now the relationship between this exchange, this suppressing of true God and this embracing of replacement gods—the relationship between that, and the outpouring of sinning in the world.
Verse 24: “Therefore [because of this exchange in verse 23] God gave them up in the lusts [desires] of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.” Because of the exchange of verse 23, God goes hands off and godlessness and unrighteousness of the human heart goes unrestrained into sinning.
So here is a working definition of sinning: Sinning is any feeling or thought or speech or action that comes from a heart that does not hallow or treasure God above everything else. The bottom of sin, the root of all sinning, is this kind of heart — a heart that prefers anything above God, a heart that does not hallow or treasure God over all other persons and all other things.
This would be a more descriptive way to quantify what sin really is:
The glory of God not honoured.
The holiness of God not reverenced.
The greatness of God not admired.
The power of God not praised.
The truth of God not sought.
The wisdom of God not esteemed.
The beauty of God not treasured.
The goodness of God not savoured.
The faithfulness of God not trusted.
The promises of God not believed.
The commandments of God not obeyed.
The justice of God not respected.
The wrath of God not feared.
The grace of God not cherished.
The presence of God not prized.
The person of God not loved.
This is the essence of what it means to hallow the name of God. When you pray the Lord’s Prayer and you make the request that God cause His name to be hallowed, you are praying that, all over the world, and in every tongue, tribe, people and nation, there would be people who hallow and treasure God above all things and find their eternal joy in the Him alone.
And this really is the task of missions, to make disciples of all nations who hallow and treasure God above all things and find their eternal joy in Him alone.
How do you treasure God above all things? Feel free to comment below. We would love to hear about your experiences.
If there's anything that's certain, it's that there will always be uncertainty in life—in our finances, careers, relationships, ministries, vacations, future plans, and desires. In a world that screams out for security, nothing is ever 100 percent sure. We face only a certain level of security and certainty.
When uncertainty comes along, problems start to rise, not just externally but many times even more so internally. Anxiety, fear and doubt start to creep in. That is because one of the most basic needs we have is security. While this world is full of uncertainties, we can always find certainty in God.
Hosea 6:3 tells us, "Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth."
In God, there is always certainty. Here are three certain things that we know about God even in the most uncertain of times.
1. God Will Remain Steadfast
Through the sorrow and despair of Jeremiah's dirge, Lamentations 3:22-23 rings out this truth: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
God's loves remains steadfast, meaning it stays the same yesterday, today and forever.
Even in our uncertainty, our unfaithfulness, God's love faithfully remains true in our life. Even when we don't deserve it, God extends His grace and mercy. Our life, possessions, relationships and everything we have are proof that God's steadfast love remains. Even when we are unqualified, God's loving mercy abounds.
2. God’s Plans Will Prevail
Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand."
We all have plans of our own, but God's plan is what will stand. Because He is all powerful, all knowing and all seeing, His ways go higher than ours. He sees the end from the beginning and fully intends that this particular season of uncertainty or trouble is working for us an eternal glory that will far outweigh the present uncertainty.
This can either be an assurance to us when we lean on and trust in His sovereign will, or a loving warning if we don't walk in His will. God's plans will prevail and they remain for His glory and our eternal joy.
3. God’s Principles Will Stand
God's Word is filled with promises and principles that work through time and space. God has established natural and spiritual laws that automatically work whether we want it or not. Principles on generosity and giving, character, and so on will work for our good if we abide by them.
Principles such as sowing and reaping, doing good unto others, investing in relationships, and standing by holiness and justice to gain favour all work to our advantage if we continue to follow God's ways.
So, take heart in the God who cannot change, whose plans cannot be derailed and in the principles He has set for His glory and our eternal joy.
He sees the end from the beginning and we can rest assured in God’s faithful kindness.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:17-18 ESV
How have you been encouraged through times of uncertainty? What are some practical things that have helped you? Please feel free to share your experiences with us.
At OMS we continue to make prayer a priority and we depend on it for a successful ministry. Please click here to learn how you can partner with us in prayer.
Have you ever played the game “tug of war?” In case you haven’t, let me briefly explain what it is. It’s basically a game where two teams test each other’s strength. Each team pulls on opposite ends of a rope and the goal is to bring the rope a certain distance in one direction against the force of the opposing team’s pull.
Even though this is actually a fun game to play, this kind of strength is determined by how physically strong you are. Today, we will look at a different kind of strength that is beyond our own abilities. The strength that comes from God.
Let’s explore this a bit and look at 4 key things to remember when we talk about this type of strength:
1-Our strength comes from God
“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
This is where we need to start. We must acknowledge the fact that what we do as children of God is not of our own strength.
Our strength comes from God and He is the reason we are equipped and enabled to do what He calls us to. We cannot truly do anything without God’s help and strength.
1-We constantly need God’s strength
1 Chronicles 16:11
“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.”
We should be encouraged to always seek God for His strength. It allows us to remain humble and for God to be glorified in our lives for what He does. He deserves all the glory. Let us be people that continually seek God and not grow weary of doing so.
2-God’s strength is mighty
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”
God doesn’t lose battles. God’s power is mighty and never fails. As God encourages us to be strong in Him, we can be assured that God will not only fight our battles for us, but He will victoriously win them as well. What a wonderful peace and hope this gives us, as we draw our strength from God.
3-God’s strength is always available
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
As children of God, no matter what we face in life, God’s strength is always available. God promises to provide strength and help to us. Whether it’s a pandemic, financial difficulty, uncertainty, depression, or all of the above let’s be encouraged in the fact that God is with us, God is for us, and God will strengthen and uphold us.
Some of the most important things we can learn from trying times is that we are not in control, we need God to move on our behalf, we need to always be thankful, and we need God’s strength in order to move forward.
How have these blogs encouraged you? Please share below. We would love to hear about your experiences.
Click here to read more of our blogs. Every week a new blog is posted and we trust that these have been a blessing to you.
Who came up with the idea of calling the Friday before Easter “good”?
When we think through the last weeks of Jesus’ life and ministry, the focus draws us to the events of Friday, the day of his death (the Bible in John 18-19). Beginning with Thursday evening we see Jesus in the agony of prayer in the garden, followed by His betrayal with a kiss by His supposed friend, Judas…then having all His disciples forsake Him and flee to save their own skins.
We see Him going through the mockery of those illegal trials during the night, the unimaginable pain of the flogging, the humiliation at the hands of rough soldiers who laugh and mock him unmercifully. We witness the horrors of the crucifixion, with its hours-long untold brutality and humiliation, leading up to that horrific moment when Jesus cries, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” There is no way we can fully capture the horror of that fateful Friday.
And we call that day…“Good Friday”?
That designation would be a terrible misnomer but for one word. That word was uttered at the very climax of those horrendous events of that day. It wasn’t a pitiful, weak, last dying gasp. It was, with all the strength that the dying God-Man could muster, a rousing shout of triumph. As Max Lucado has said, had His hands not been nailed down He would have shot a fist skyward in a gesture of victory with the exclamation of that one word!
That word is “tetelestai” in the original Greek language of the New Testament of the Bible. English Bibles translate that word as “It is finished!” (John 19:30). It could also have been translated with the accounting term, “Paid in full!”
In other words, all that Jesus came to do, all that the prophets had foretold in the Old Testament, all the penalty demanded by the justice of God for our sins, all that God had decided to provide for our undeserved redemption--all that had been fully accomplished—completed, paid in full--once and for all!
At that moment on that Friday, our salvation and forgiveness were made possible, and our eternal destiny was provided for. The enemy of our soul was defeated. Hope was restored to a beleaguered world. As Isaiah had seen centuries before, “Out of the anguish of his soul he [God] shall see and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11).
Jesus died in our place when “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly….God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). Jesus fully paid the judicial price: “For our sake [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). With the demands of God’s justice satisfied, “There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
In fact, Jesus promised that those who trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins will receive eternal life and a resurrection body, as well! “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day….whoever believes has eternal life” (John 6:40,47).
It is finished—paid in full!
Christ’s resurrection was God’s “Amen!” to Jesus’ “It is finished!” “God raised Him up…because it was not possible for Him to be held by [death]” (Acts 2:24).
And that’s why we call the Friday before Easter, Good Friday. That one word--tetelestai!--triumphantly shouted, says it all! Christ accomplished everything required to gain salvation for lost sinners…for us. Jesus’ triumph makes the Friday of his death infinitely good!
Have you trusted in the risen Christ who died on “Good Friday” and rose again so you could have the forgiveness of your sins and the gift of eternal life?
“The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make the greatest contribution
to world evangelization in history.”
The mission of advancing the gospel is the great work of the church, and prayer is the fuel that powers it.
One of the greatest resources the church has for advancing the gospel is the ability to come before God in prayer and plead for what is already on His heart—the growth of His kingdom in the world.
James Fraser (1886–1938), missionary to the Lisu people of China, once said, “I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel it would be truer to give prayer the first, second, and third places, and teaching the fourth.”
Fraser dedicated his life to the teaching and translating of the Scriptures until he died of cerebral malaria at the age of fifty-two in Baoshan, Yunnan, China. His dedication to the Scripture was never doubted. And he recognized the absolute necessity of prayer in the missions endeavour.
With that in view, here are four reasons why churches must pray for missions:
1. Jesus taught His disciples to how to pray for missions and modelled it as He trained them.
Early in His training of the disciples, Jesus taught them how to pray (Matt. 6:9–13). Then later, after facing the challenges of ministry, they came back to Jesus and asked Him to teach them how to pray. He brought them back to the same prayer in which the petitioner first cries out, “Hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come” (Luke 11:2 ESV).
Later, Jesus would model how spiritual battles to accomplish the mission would only be won by faith through prayer as He cried out “not my will, but Yours, be done” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42 ESV).
Before Jesus sent out the twelve or the seventy-two, He pointed their faces toward heaven in prayer and turned disciples’ hearts into labourers. Therefore, when we start churches and before community engagement occurs, we must bathe the community in prayer. The church must never lose sight that to train disciples to pray is the first step in bringing the gospel to the mission field.
2. Prayer moves the heart of the church toward the heart of God for His mission.
When Jesus sent out the disciples in Luke 10 to all the places He planned to visit, He told them to pray that God would send workers into the harvest field. Then He said, “Go! I am sending you” (Luke 10:3, NIV) as the answer to their prayer. It is important that, when we pray to the Lord of the harvest, we be willing to be the answer to that prayer.
Frank and his wife were part of a church plant in which prayer was an intentional part of the foundation. A church where men gathered weekly for early morning prayer and all-night prayer gatherings were not uncommon. In these times, God did something extraordinary, more powerful than any small group meeting or corporate worship experience. It was then that God shaped their hearts for the world. Out of that group, missionaries were sent, church planters birthed, and a church’s heart was shaped for the kingdom.
Years later, when they started a church in a different neighborhood, they sent the plant team out to pray. It was called “groundwork.” It started with prayer walking for a few months, then they went door to door praying with people for the needs of the neighbourhood and their families. It was a beautiful way for a church to bless a community. They were able to demonstrate the heart of God to people by praying for their concerns. Very few people would close a door to prayer.
3. Prayer opens the doors in the world for the gospel to advance.
In Colossians 4:3–4, Paul tells the church, “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ” (ESV). Prayer opens doors of opportunity for the gospel to be shared that previously seemed closed.
In prayer, the impossible becomes practical. Like when Peter was imprisoned in Acts 12, the church was praying and God released Peter, opening the iron gate leading into the city (Acts 12:10 ESV). In that experience, Peter realized that nothing would hold back the kingdom of God from advancing as the church prayed.
It is prayer that helps us connect with people who are open to the gospel. It is prayer that leads us to the right place at the right time to take the steps that only God could orchestrate. Prayer connects the church to the activity of God who is empowering His people to advance the message of His kingdom.
4. Prayer empowers those going to share the gospel clearly and without fear.
Without prayer, fear will rule the hearts of those sharing the gospel. Paul knew his own need for courage to proclaim the gospel. In Ephesians 6:19–20, Paul asked the church, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel...Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (NIV).
Paul faced his own timidity and overcame his fears through the prayers of the church. Through corporate prayer we realize no one is alone, and we strive together through the power of the Holy Spirit. When the church prays, the Holy Spirit increases the spiritual fervour of the body that affects all its parts.
It is imperative that a church prays and engages in the spiritual work of kingdom advancement. When the church prays, Christians begin to get a clearer picture of missions. It is through prayer that God’s people move closer toward the heart of God for the world. It is through prayer that fears about sharing the gospel are defeated.
Missions moves in the wake of prayer. May we be a church that rises by falling to our knees in order to advance God’s kingdom to all nations.
We can reach our world, if we will.
The greatest lack today is not people or funds.
The greatest need is prayer.
-Wesley Duewel, Touch the World Through Prayer
Is prayer a priority in your life? Can you share of a time when God answered your prayers?
Feel free to share a comment below. We would love to hear from you.
At OMS we believe Prayer is the battlefield for fruitfulness and we depend on it for a successful ministry. Click here to learn more about how you can partner with us in prayer.
Good morning. The world has changed in the span of 21 days because of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. We have never seen anything quite like this before.
And there will probably be some long-lasting repercussions, some of which we cannot yet imagine.
For up to the minute news on the situation, visit the World Health Organization website - https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
OMS Canada takes this pandemic very seriously. Our Global office has put together a COVID-19 Response Team and they relied very heavily on Dr. P., OMS Canada missionary to East Asia. The Response Team meets often to monitor the situation and recommend actions to be taken.
Each OMS Field leader, in consultation with their International Regional Director, have developed their own monitoring and contingency plans. We are confident that the OMS workers are well monitored and cared for.
In light of the evolving situation and in order to best protect our team members, the MFM team that was scheduled to work on the 4VEH Radio/Tele building this month in Haiti was cancelled. We also called Special Assignment missionaries Brad and Caroline Buzza back to Canada from Haiti, as they were there to do preparatory work ahead of the MFM team's arrival. Subsequently, the Haitian government has essentially shut the country down upon confirmation of COVID-19 cases in Haiti.
Jesus to the Nations, the large missions conference that was to take place in Halifax March 27-29, 2020 and at which OMS Canada and MFM Canada each place a booth and where Mark and Marlowe often present seminars, has been cancelled for this year.
To protect our workers, the OMS Canada office is working remotely. OMS Canada had already been doing so for some time, both to minimize overhead costs and to be able to operate through possible future times of domestic disruptions of any kind. This means that on most days there is nobody actually in the Burlington office. They are all able to connect to the OMS Canada network and our phone system allows them to answer their phones in their home office as well. Therefore, God enabled OMS Canada to continue its home office service throughout these times of uncertainty; it is almost business as usual in terms of the back office work required to keep our missionaries well served and in place.
May we take this time to remind you that the OMS Canada work that you support, whether a missionary, a Starfish Kid or a work project, continues in spite of this pandemic. In some cases, the work has intensified and has the potential to produce greater fruit. Please continue to make your donations online at www.omscanada.org/give.html or by calling Cheryl at 289-812-0659 or by mailing in your cheque to OMS Canada, 1295 North Service Rd, PO Box 1457, Burlington, ON L7R 4L9. If you have questions about giving or donations, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, Physical Distancing may prevent physical nearness, but we are able to draw near to each other, our missionaries, those who are in need and the Creator of all through prayer. Let’s make prayer our automatic response when we hear news about this situation.
Here are some specific things you can pray in light of this COVID-19 pandemic:
May God bless you and give you peace.
for OMS Canada
In a past series of blog posts on the ‘Call to Missions’ we concluded that if one is properly relating to God and pursuing godliness, there is little to fear in terms of missing God’s call, whether to missions or any other pursuit. If you haven’t read that post yet, click here to go to it now.
We then determined that the way to ensure that one is properly relating to God and pursuing godliness is through the practice of the spiritual disciplines or habits of grace. We composed a list of ‘habits of grace ‘that are biblical, that is, they are taught or modelled in Scripture.
The first was Bible Intake. The second was Prayer. And this post is Worship.
One spiritual discipline that we are called to do as Christians, but is often confused or unclear, is worship. Often when we hear that word, our first thought is music, the singing part of our Sunday gathering. While that is an aspect of it, worship is a far greater discipline that should engage multiple areas of our lives.
Worship is difficult to define well. So let’s look at it first.
In John 20:28, when the resurrected Jesus appeared to Thomas and showed him the scars in His hands and side, worship happened when Thomas said to Him, “My Lord and my God.”
In Revelation 4:8, we read about four creatures around the throne who worship God day and night without ceasing and saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Then in verse 11 the twenty-four elders around the throne of God in heaven worship Him by throwing their crowns at His feet, falling before Him and saying, “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.”
In the next chapter, thousands and thousands of angels, elders, and living creatures around the heavenly throne of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, cry out with a loud voice in worship, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” (5:12). Immediately following comes worship from “every creature” saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!” (5:13).
To summarize, to worship God means to ascribe the proper worth of God, to magnify His worthiness of praise, or better, to approach and address God in a worthy way. As the holy and almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and the Sovereign Judge to whom we must give an account, He is worthy of all the worth and honour that we can give Him and then infinitely more.
You see, the more we focus on God, the more we will understand and appreciate His infinite worth. As we understand and appreciate this, we can’t help but respond to Him. Just like a gorgeous sunrise or a breathtaking mountaintop view sparks a spontaneous response, so we cannot encounter the worthiness of God without the response of worship.
Therefore, worship is focusing on and responding to God appropriately.
But how does the invisible God reveal Himself to us here and now so that we might focus on Him and respond appropriately?
First, He has revealed Himself in a general way through Creation (see Romans 1:20), so the right response to that stunning sunrise (I am a morning person) or the spectacular mountain view is to worship the Creator of such beauty and majesty.
Second, God has revealed Himself flawlessly through His written Word, the Bible (see 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21), and His incarnate Word, Jesus Christ (see John 1:1, 14 and Hebrews 1:1-2). In response, we should seek God through Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible. As we do so and the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our understanding, we will see God revealed in Scripture and respond with worship.
That is why all worship of God – public, family and private worship – should be based on and include much of the Bible. The Bible reveals God to us so that we may focus on Him, and to the extent that we focus on Him, we will worship Him. So if there is little focus on God, there is little worship of God. Conversely, much revelation of God fosters much focus on God, which in turn results in much worship of God.
Now, since worship is focusing on and responding to God, whatever else we may be doing we are not worshipping if we are not thinking about God. You may be singing holy, holy, holy but if you’re not thinking about God while singing it, you are not worshipping. You may be listening to someone pray, but if you aren’t praying with him or her and thinking of God, you aren’t worshipping.
Worship often includes words and actions, but true worship goes beyond them to the focus of the mind and heart. Worship is the God-centred focus and response of the soul. It is being preoccupied with God. So no matter what you are saying or singing or thinking or doing at any moment, you are worshipping God only when He is the centre of your attention. And whenever you do focus on the infinite worth of God, you will respond in worship as surely as the moon reflects the sun. This kind of worship is not in vain.
So let’s daily cultivate a lifestyle where we consciously work to make God the centre of our attention and respond appropriately in worship.
This is an especially important habit of grace for those who may be considering a role in cross-cultural missions because the missionary’s role among the nations is to create worshippers where there are none. As John Piper states in the book, “Let the Nations be Glad”, missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions because God is ultimate, not man.
With this in view, Psalm 96 becomes an example of God’s people summoning the nations to worship the Lord. “Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; tell of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For the gods of the people are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendour and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”
What do you think about worship? Has this post challenged what you believe? Let us know in the comments section below.
KAIROS is a foundational course on world Christian mission. It brings out God’s heart for all the nations of the world and His desire to use His people to be a blessing to them. KAIROS emphasizes the importance of ministering to cultures that still have few or no indigenous churches.
KAIROS is designed to educate, inspire and challenge Christians to meaningful participation in God’s heart for all the nations.
It is a tool God is using to help transform the worldview of believers, so they see themselves as having been blessed in order to be a blessing to all people groups.
The Kairos Course is a nine-session, interactive course on world Christian mission, designed to educate, inspire and challenge Christians to active and meaningful participation. It is ideally suited to be conducted in local churches, organizations or with special interest groups such as Christian business people.
The Kairos Course utilizes a variety of adult learning styles including group discussions, short lecture introduction, devotions, video teaching and student participation in specially designed activities.
Kairos looks at the four main areas of mission concern, which are the Biblical, Historical, Strategic and Cultural dimensions of mission.
The Kairos Course can be conducted using a number of different formats that best suits the situation or the people taking the course.
Common formats are as follows:
Other formats can be considered but must first be cleared by the Course Director.
Kairos looks at the four essential areas of mission concern.
1. God’s Purpose and Plan
We will discover from the Bible, that mission lies at the center of all God’s concern.
God – The Bible is the story of His Glory
God’s Purpose – To re-conquer His usurped kingdom and reconcile the nations to Himself
God’s Plan – To engage His chosen people in His world-wide mission of mercy.
2. Israel, The Covenant People
We will study God’s dealing with the nation of Israel in His desire to fulfill His purposes through them.
Israel’s Obligation – To bless and be God’s priests to the nations of the world.
Israel’s Opportunity – God did everything for their fruitfulness and success.
Israel’s Response – On the whole negative – but God still outworked much of His missionary purpose through them.
3. The Messiah, the Message & the Messengers
We will see that God’s concern for all nations is still His central purpose as we move into the New Testament.
Jesus, Messiah for all peoples – Jesus, ministered to both Jews and Gentiles.
A Message for all Peoples – Jesus’ preaching on the Kingdom was for both Jew and Gentile.
Messengers for all Peoples – The advance of the Church into intentional missions after Pentecost.
4 . Expansion of the World Christian Movement
We trace the advance of Christianity from its beginning to the present day
The five periods of mission history since Christ.
The three eras of modern missions
The Final Thrust
5. Mission Strategy
We consider the place, value and nature of strategy in world Christian mission.
The value of strategy in mission, combined with prayer and power.
Church planting, people movements and church planting movements.
Local churches and mission agencies
6. The Task Remaining
We look at the mission task remaining, who and where the majority of the unreached are, and what methods should be used to reach them.
The nations and cross-cultural evangelism – Understanding mission terms and the priority in missions.
The major blocs of unreached peoples.
Modern strategies and approaches in missions today.
7. World Christian Teamwork
We look at the variety of exciting ways the whole church can and must get involved in accomplishing strategic world mission.
Teaming Up with God – Becoming a World Christian and finding our role.
Teaming Up Locally – Active Local Church involvement in missions
Teaming Up Globally – Partnership worldwide to fulfill the Great Commission.
8. Cross-Cultural Considerations
We address issues, in this chapter, on communicating the gospel cross-culturally. We also look at aspects of church contextualization and its implications for seeing unreached communities of peoples discipled and won for Christ.
The Kairos Course is designed to lay a solid foundation in the life of the believer and of the local church, in world Christian mission. From this foundation, exciting and meaningful missions endeavour, can result.
If you would like more information about the Kairos course and how you might host the course, please reach out to Lorna Johnston, National Director for the Kairos course in Canada at (604)952-0050 or go to https://simplymobilizing.outreach.ca/courses/kairos/Home and contact the office in Delta, BC.
Also, if you live in a smaller rural community with two or three evangelical churches, consider cooperating with the pastors to do a community Kairos course. The course can be completed over three weekends or four Saturdays and it will forever change the lives of the participants.
If you want to know more about the course and how it has affected my life, give me (Mark Kroes) a call at 289-812-0661 and I will happily tell you about my experience.
Become a mobilizer in your family, your church and your community for the purpose of God’s global glory.
When you think of the word “connection” what comes to mind?
Today, we have many great resources that enable us to connect effectively with others.
With the touch of a click we can communicate with someone who is across the world. With
fast Internet speeds, we can have access to the latest movies, etc. quickly and with ease.
Connection is something that we can all relate to and it is important to us in one way or another. We all desire and long to feel like we belong, to feel connected. God created us that way.
In any relationship, if there is no communication it has an impact on the relationship. It starts to create distance and the only way to build that relationship again is to talk to the person, listen to them, spend time with them.
While our connections with people are very important and necessary, the most important and significant connection we can ever have is with God.
It’s also important to note that sometimes we can feel a bit distant from God and that can happen for a variety of reasons.
Let’s look at some practical ways of how we can stay connected to God, regardless of how we are feeling:
“Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you.”
This is key in our relationship with God. We come to God to thank Him, to ask for forgiveness, to share our heart with Him, and to simply talk to Him. What a great privilege to know that the Creator of everything always has His ears open to His children and we have an instant connection through Jesus Christ.
" Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
God’s Word is the greatest manual of life for us. God speaks through His Word, we gain wisdom and understanding, and through the Holy Spirit we are able to make decisions according to God’s will for our life. We can never get too much of God’s Word, but it’s important that we are reading the Bible daily.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
Getting together with our brothers and sisters in Christ is also so important. We are there to pray with one another, to provide encouragement, and to grow together. It is so enjoyable to get together with others who are like-minded. These connections are important in our lives.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Another great way to help us stay connected to God is through serving Him. When we make every part of our lives about God and about serving Him, we will be more connected to God.
Connection to Missions
So now, the connection to Missions.
God is passionate about missions. He sent Jesus so that we can have a connection to Him through His Son. That was the greatest mission.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
“Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
1 Chronicles 16:24
The closer we are to God, the more we are passionate about what He is passionate about.
Let’s make it a priority in our lives to connect with God daily. We have access 24/7.
How has your connection with God encouraged you lately? Feel free to share your experiences below.
At OMS Canada, our desire is to make Christ known among the nations, to declare His glory among the nations. To learn more about us, click here.
In this week’s blog post we consider the second habit of grace that needs to be built for the purpose of godliness. That habit is prayer.
Prayer is second only to God’s Word in importance when it comes to disciplining oneself in spiritual things. We know that through His Word God speaks to His church and to His people. There is nothing more important for us to hear than the Word of God. He is a speaking God and His Word is written for us.
But, not only is God a speaking God, He is also a listening God. His ear is continually open to us. He stands ready to hear every prayer of His children, even when our prayers are weak. God speaks to us through His Word and He listens to us in prayer.
However, despite its importance of prayer to the Christian, surveys and anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate that a large percentage of professing Christians spend little time in sustained prayer. Short sentence prayers get offered here and there throughout the day but it is rare that more than just a few minutes is spent in conversation with God.
We must come to grips with the fact that, if we wish to be godly, if we wish to be like Jesus, we must pray.
Prayer is Expected
Those who have been brought under the authority of Christ and the Bible know that the will of God is for us to pray. And we also know that the will of God is good.
This expectation is seen in the words of Jesus in the gospels;
Matthew 6:5, “And when you pray…”
Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray…”
Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray…”
Matthew 6:9, “Pray then like this…”
Luke 11:9, “And I tell you, ask…seek…knock.”
Luke 18:1, “And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray,”
God’s word makes it clear that prayer is expected;
Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
These verses are commands for the Christian to pray. Commands. This means that too little time, too many responsibilities, too many kids, too much work, too little desire, too little experience, and so on are not excuses that exempt one from the expectation to pray.
Martin Luther put it this way; As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.
So why do so many of us confess that we do not pray as we ought? Sometimes it is just simply a lack of discipline. Prayer is never planned, time is never set aside just for prayer. While lip service is given to the priority of prayer, in reality it always seems to get crowded out by things that seem more urgent.
Often we do not pray because we are not convinced anything will actually happen if we pray. Naturally, we wouldn’t admit this publicly, but if we felt certain of visible results within sixty seconds of every prayer, there would be holes in the knees of the pants of every Christian (and not because the pants were bought with holes in the knees). The Bible does not promise a visible answer to every prayer but it does promise that every prayer is answered. Since prayer involves communication in the spiritual realm, many prayers are answered in ways that cannot be seen in the material realm.
In addition, where there is little awareness of real need, there is little need for real prayer. The truth is that we believe we can get along pretty well in Canada without any sort of divine intervention. We generally have jobs, shelter, friends, family, healthcare, and safety. What more could we need? In pride and self-sufficiency, we may live for days as though prayer is needed only when something comes along that is too big for us to handle on our own.
But this view is short sighted in that it assumes that the temporal things are the only things about which we need to pray. Listen to the prayer requests that people most often present and they will be for things like health, family, work, finances, etc., all temporal things that really have no kind of eternal significance. Why do we pray so little for the things that really count, like the battle against sin, the lack of faith, the need to evangelize, and the lack of spiritual fruit? Above these needs there is always a need to pray until Jesus returns or calls us home.
Prayer is Learned
Another reason why Christians pray so little is because they haven’t learned about prayer. If you are discouraged by the command to pray because you feel like you don’t know how to pray well, the fact that prayer is learned should give you hope. This means that it is okay to begin the Christian life with little knowledge or experience of prayer but as you are discipled, prayer should be a part of what is taught, learned and practised. I grew up on a dairy farm in Ontario and 4-H clubs were a popular activity for kids. The 4-H motto was, “Learn to do by doing.” This is certainly true of prayer.
If you have ever learned a second (or subsequent) language, you know that you learn it best when you actually have to speak it. The same is true of the ‘foreign language’ of prayer. There are many good resources to help you learn to pray but the best way to learn how to pray is to pray. Learn to do by doing.
Another way that one learns to pray is by meditating on Scripture. Here is the simple but extraordinarily powerful truth. Meditation is the missing link between Bible intake and prayer. Although often separated, the two should be united. Typically, we read the Bible, close it, and then try to shift gears into prayer. But many times it seems that the gears of Bible reading and of prayer do not mesh properly. We blow the shift (trucker talk) and lose momentum and give up on prayer.
Instead, there should be a smooth, almost unnoticeable transition between Scripture input and prayer output so that we move even closer to God in those moments. This happens when we insert the link of meditation in between. There are a couple of Psalms that make an explicit link between meditation and prayer. Psalm 5:1 says, “Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray.” The Hebrew word translated groaning may also be translated meditation, as it is in the King James. In fact, meditation is used for the same Hebrew word in Psalm 19:14; “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Notice that both verses are prayers, pleas to God that consisted of David’s words (as we would expect in prayer) but they also involve meditation. In each case, meditation was the catalyst that moved David from considering the truth of God into talking with God.
Meditating on God’s Word can also serve to move us into a conversation with the author of the Word.
Prayer is Answered
Probably no principle of prayer is more taken for granted than that prayer is answered.
Matthew 7:7-8; “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Andrew Murray makes the observation that asking and receiving is a fixed eternal law of the kingdom. If you ask and do not receive it is always because there is something amiss or wanting in your prayer. Hold on; let the Word and Spirit teach you to pray aright, but do not let go of the confidence God seeks to awaken. Everyone who asks receives…Let every learner in the school of Christ therefore take the Master’s Word in all simplicity…Let us beware of weakening the Word with our so-called human wisdom.
So, despite what we see in response to our prayers, let’s not become so accustomed with our shortcomings in prayer and to the perception of asking without receiving that our faith in the force of Jesus’ promise is diminished. Prayer is answered.
So, how is your prayer life? Is prayer a natural thing or is it a chore? Do you see prayers answered or are you in danger of weakening the promise of answered prayer? Let us know by leaving a comment.
And if you want some prayer requests to practice your prayer skills, click here to find out how to become a prayer partner of OMS Canada.
The Value of Scripture Memorization
There is a great need and value in memorizing scripture. It is the spiritual food in which we need to survive and thrive each day.
Let’s talk about some of the values in memorizing Scripture:
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. “And this is the word that was preached to you.”
(1 Peter 1:24-25)
Everything in this life will eventually fade away, and God’s Word will always remain. What a comfort to know that we can always trust in what God says to us. This is also a great encouragement and reminder for us to press forward as we serve and live for Him.
“For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
We need to remember that God’s Word is powerful. So much that it changes our motives and renews our way of thinking. By memorizing this Scripture, we are reminded of the power of God’s Word and that we always have access to it as children of God.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. I have taken
an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow Your righteous laws.
We all need direction in our lives whether we admit it or not. And not just any direction, but God’s direction. By memorizing Scripture, we can be reminded of what God has said and use it as a guide as we make decisions in life.
Why Memorize Scripture?
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Jesus said these words to the devil while he was trying to tempt Him.
Our Saviour, The Son of God, The Messiah, The Resurrection and the Life, The Way, The Truth, The True Vine. Jesus, memorized Scripture and used it all the time.
How much more should we memorize Scripture?
It’s a great question to ask ourselves.
In this world, we are constantly bombarded by many different things and it is so important and necessary to memorize Scripture.
There are times when others need encouragement and when we memorize Scripture, we can easily share God’s Word with them. We can be put in situations where we need to make a decision and then remember a verse or two that help us in that process to make the right decision.
There are people in the world that have yet to hear about Jesus. Some are lonely and desperate and have no access to God’s Word. Let us not take having access to God’s Word for granted. We have so many free available tools to us today that will help us ready, study, and memorize the Word of God.
You can download the Xplore Bible Study here. It’s a great small group study that will help you understand God’s heart for all peoples by studying the Biblical basis of missions.
Which Scriptures do you already memorize? How has memorizing Scripture
helped you in your life?
We would love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below.
Raised from the Dead…Twice!
In December 1999, 700 Islamic extremists attacked Doulos Bible College in Jakarta, Indonesia. Dominggus, just 18 years old and a freshman at the time, had just become a Christian earlier that year.
The attack began at 9 p.m., catching the 350 students and faculty by complete surprise. As they saw and heard the extremists attacking, using Molotov bombs, swords/machetes, guns, and iron clubs, they ran for their lives. Many were seriously injured, and two were killed. One of those was Dominggus.
Here is his story:
After attempting to flee, the terrorists cornered him, soon capturing, torturing, and ordering him to deny Christ or be killed. The Lord gave him miraculous courage. In the presence of a deadly threat, he shouted (to his own surprise), “There is no salvation but in JESUS.”
They then brutally beat him with a club, and as he was lying unconscious, they cut his neck with a sword, nearly severing it from his body.
Dominggus then saw his dead, bloody corpse as his spirit left the body. Five angels suddenly appeared when he called upon the Lord.
They took him to heaven. He saw a beautiful garden, indescribable mansions, and other large buildings with thousands of saints worshipping and glorifying God. Then, he was shown the judgment room and an absolutely beyond words throne. He heard a voice say, “Kneel down.” He did. Then, a huge book fell open before him. All his life was written there. His sins were forgiven through the blood of Jesus. Then, he heard another voice say, “It’s not your time to serve me here.”
He bowed in agreement. Immediately, he was returned into his body. Four hours had passed. Because of the fire that engulfed the college campus and all the commotion, TV reporters poured to the scene and took video footage and these photos that Dominggus’ Christian brothers later bought copies of for Dominggus.
First responders, and later doctors, were shocked when Dominggus spoke. How was it possible with his spinal column severed? After four days in the hospital, the nerve specialist in the ICU (not understanding how he had survived this long) said that he would soon die or be a paralyzed vegetable for the rest of his life. Once Dominggus got an infection, without hope of recovery, they moved him to a morgue-like room, and he died … again.
But God had more work for Dominggus to complete on Earth. In an instant, God miraculously healed him completely. His infection was gone, his neck cracked and was in one piece again, and he could walk, talk, and breathe on his own. ONLY God’s divine healing could explain this miracle.
But there’s one more miraculous thing that happened. Friends of Dominggus met the man who had slit his throat. They shared Dominggus’ story and the Good News with him, and he accepted Christ. When the “killer” met Dominggus, he couldn't believe he had survived the attack with his poisoned sword, nor that he had been raised from the dead. But he saw the scar, and he believed.
Feel free to take a look at our Blog here where you will find other stories, updates, and blogs for your own growth.
Do you get enough Bible?
In a past series of blog posts on the ‘Call to Missions’ we concluded that if one is properly relating to God and pursuing godliness, there is little to fear in terms of missing God’s call, whether to missions or any other pursuit. If you haven’t read that post yet, click here to go to it now.
We then determined that the way to ensure that one is properly relating to God and pursuing godliness is through the practice of the spiritual disciplines or habits of grace. We composed a list of habits of grace that are biblical, that is, they are taught or modeled in Scripture.
And the first habit we will examine is Bible intake.
No habit of grace is more important than the intake or consumption of God’s Word. There is simply no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture.
And the reasons should be obvious. In the Bible we learn who God is and who Jesus is. The Bible tells us about God’s law and shows us how we have all broken it. In the Bible we learn how Jesus died as the sinless substitute for lawbreakers and how we must repent and believe in Him to be right with God. In the Bible we learn God’s way and His will. We learn how God wants us to live and what brings joy and satisfaction in life. None of this information is available anywhere else. Therefore, if we want to know God and be godly, we must know the Word of God.
While most of us would nod in agreement with the last paragraph and honour God’s Word with our lips, we must confess that our hearts (and eyes, ears, hands, and minds) are often far from it. Regardless of how busy we become with all other things, as Christian we must never forget that the most transforming practice available to us is the disciplined intake of Scripture.
So how do we take in Scripture? There are a broad range of ways to consume the Word of God.
Let’s look at a few.
Hearing God’s Word
The easiest of the disciplines related to intake of God’s Word is simply hearing it. It may seem silly to include this as a discipline, but it will usually require developing the practice of regularly attending a Bible-believing church where the Bible is faithfully preached.
Luke 11:28 - But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and keep it!” Simply listening to God-inspired words is not the point. The purpose of all methods of Bible intake is to do what God says and grow in Christlikeness. The method of intake Jesus encourages in this verse is hearing God’s Word.
Romans 10:7 - So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ. Gifts of faith are often given to those who discipline themselves to hear the Word of God.
1 Timothy 4:13 - Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Here Paul is instructing Timothy to make provision for the people to hear the Word of God by reading it to them.
Reading God’s Word
The EFC’s Canadian Bible Engagement Study published in 2014, reports that less than 5% of Canadians read the Bible every day and only 14% report reading the Bible at least once per month.
Jesus often asked questions about people’s understanding of the Scriptures, sometimes beginning with the words “have you not read…?” (Matthew 19:4, Mark 12:10). His assumption is that those claiming to be the people of God would have read the Word of God. And a case could be made that this question implies a familiarity with the whole Word of God.
Since “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), shouldn’t we read it?
In Revelation 1:3, God promises a blessing to those who read and heed His Word. But only those who discipline themselves to do so will receive the blessing.
We must draw on God’s endless store of grace from day to day as we need it, not from time to time.
Two practical suggestions are: First, make the time every day to read God’s Word. The time will never be available or convenient, so we must make it a priority. It is a matter of discipline and motivation. Second, use some sort of reading plan. A google search for Bible reading plans will yield 109,000,000 results. Pick one and stick to it.
Studying God’s Word
If reading the Bible can be compared to cruising the width of a clear, sparkling lake in a motorboat, studying God’s Word is like slowly crossing the same lake in a glass-bottomed boat. The motorboat crossing provides an overview of the lake and a speedy, passing view of its depths. The glass-bottomed boat of study, however, takes you under the surface of Scripture for an unhurried look of clarity and detail that is normally missed by those who simply read the text.
Ezra 7:10 - For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. Ezra disciplined himself to study God’s Word.
Acts 17:11 - Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
According to the late RC Sproul, we fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, or because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy. If you are new to the concept of studying God’s Word, I would suggest that you visit www.mission119.org and begin to study it there.
Memorizing God’s Word
There is probably not a Christian anywhere who would disagree that Scripture memorization is a good thing to do. But when asked to memorize Scripture, most of these same people will look at you like you have two heads. They associate all memorization with the memory efforts required of them in school. It was work, and most of it was uninteresting and of limited value. Frequently heard, also, is the excuse of a bad memory. But what if I offered you a thousand dollars for every verse you could memorize in the next week. How would your attitude toward Scripture memorization change? Would it improve?
Think about this: any financial reward would be minimal when compared to the accumulating value of the treasure of God’s Word deposited into your mind. When the Word is stored in your mind, it is available to the Holy Spirit to bring to your attention when you need it most. That’s why the author of Psalm 119 wrote, “I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (verse 11).
There is much more that can be said about Scripture memorization and perhaps we will tackle that as a separate blog post at some later date. Stay tuned for that.
Next time, however, we will look at meditating on Scripture and applying the Word of God.
What do you do to make sure your Bible intake is adequate? How much is adequate?
Leave us a comment and let us know.
What is Trust?
According to dictionary.com, trust can be defined as: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confident expectation of something; hope.
Trust is something that we can all relate to and it’s something that we practice often and even subconsciously. We look forward to our morning coffee or tea and trust that when we turn on the machine it will work properly. We go into our vehicles and trust that we will get to our destination without any mechanical issues. You get the idea. We practice trust ALL THE TIME.
The Bible is filled with many verses about trust. More importantly, trusting in God.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
This is a verse that most of us have heard several times. It is a beautiful promise from God, that as we trust Him, He makes our paths straight…He guides us into the plans He has for us.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”
Having perfect peace is something that allows us to sleep well at night. It allows us to not stress over the things we cannot control. When we trust in God, we have perfect peace.
What are you trusting God for today?
OMS Canada is looking for 20 new missionaries by the end of this year. This is our 20/20 Vision.
We are putting our trust in God and know that it is only through Him that this can be fulfilled.
Trusting God is bigger than us and our gifts and abilities. It puts the focus off of us and onto God and others who have yet to hear about the salvation God brings through Jesus Christ.
As we are obedient and faithful in prayer we will do what we can and we will trust God to do what we cannot.
Feel free to leave a comment with a story of how you’ve trusted God. We’d love to hear it.
Check out our website here to stay updated with what’s happening at OMS Canada.
My eyesight is such that I must wear glasses for distance, and for reading. It's a signal that I'm getting older. And it is a confirmation of what Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 4:16 when he says that outwardly we are wasting away.
So when I have my eyesight tested, I can expect that a new prescription will be necessary. And that means I will have to buy new eyeglasses. My Dutch heritage kicks in and I hunt for the most reasonable option.
Now, we have used an online sunglasses retailer in the past for my glasses. I ordered them with progressive lenses. Progressive lenses are like bifocals. This means I can read through the bottom part of the lens and see distant things through the top part of the same lens. They worked well, but I was always moving my head up and down, trying to find that sweet spot.
But I made a discovery. I realized that two single-vision eyeglasses were cheaper than one with progressive lenses.
Again, the Dutch kicked in, and I opted for the cheaper option; two pair of single vision eyeglasses.
They arrived in the mail and were exactly as I ordered. This is perfect. I thought. That is until I actually tried to see with them on under normal use. The glasses for distance worked well when I was looking into the distance, say from ten feet and beyond. And the glasses for reading worked well for reading. But the middle distance, between 18 inches, and 10 feet, was a blurry mess.
What I failed to take into account was progressive lenses are good for that middle distance as well. The profile of the lens provides vision improvement at any distance.
The two pair model that I had adopted left a big blind spot. It was a vision fail.
It struck me that this can be the case for congregations and missions as well.
Here is what I believe. Many congregations wear only their near-neighbour glasses. They don't see the need for cross-cultural work among the nations. This 'missions near-sightedness' does not take into account God's heart for the nations.
There are so many scriptures (hundreds) that speak of God's global purpose. That global purpose is that the nations know and worship Him.
Joshua 4:23-24 tells us why God dried up the Jordan River and the Red Sea. It was so that all peoples (nations) would know that God's hand is mighty.
1 Samuel 17:45-47 reveals why God caused David to defeat Goliath. It was so that all the earth (nations) would know that there is a God in Israel.
Psalm 2:8 tells us that the nations are the heritage of God's son, and the ends of the earth are his possession.
Isaiah 49:6 lets us know the extent to which God intends to impact the world. He went beyond the nation of Israel to become a light to the nations. And it was so that His salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Of course, Matthew 28:19 tells us to make disciples of all nations.
Romans 15:12 shows Paul's understanding of Isaiah his message. He understood that the Gentiles, (nations) would also find their hope in Jesus.
Romans 15:20 Here Paul tells of his heartbeat for the nations. His aim is not to preach the gospel where Christ has already been named. His aim is to preach the gospel where He is unknown and inaccessible. That's why he was going to Spain.
Galatians 3:8 makes it clear that the blessing of the nations with the gospel is what Abraham was told about in Genesis chapter 12:1-3.
And then in Revelation 7:9-10 we are given a glimpse of the fulfilment of God's global purpose. It is a vast multitude of worshippers from every people, tongue, tribe, and nation.
I believe a congregational ministry strategy must include near-neighbour evangelism and faraway cross-cultural missions. Your discipleship should include both as well. They should be a regular part of the congregational diet.
OMS Canada would love to discuss a mission’s strategy with you. We would love to know what you are doing well and where you think you could improve.
And we are able to facilitate a strategy development process with your mission’s committee or leadership team.
So how is your church doing? Not sure? Let us send you an assessment tool to help you figure out where you are right now. Because a strategy is like a roadmap. You must know where you want to go and you must know where you are right now. We can help.
Feel free to contact us here.
Between Christmas and New Year OMS Canada placed a booth at the P2C Plus conference in Toronto. This is an annual event for the ministry to college and university students formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ. It is now known as Power to Change. At this event were a little more than 300 students from across Canada who were willing to give up a portion of their Christmas break to participate in a conference that featured main sessions and breakout sessions, all of which challenged these students to take seriously their call to be disciples of Jesus Christ.
It was very encouraging to see so many students on fire for Jesus Christ and who are considering how discipleship should and must touch every area of their life.
A part of OMS Canada’s participation in this event was the sponsoring of wifi access for conference participants. The password for the free wifi was OMSInternational. And, being millennials, every one of those students would have typed in the password at least once. So the OMS name is now known among this group.
Free access to wifi can also be a picture of access to the Gospel. We all need access to the Father and Creator of us all. Such access is not possible without righteousness, which we can neither create nor purchase. We are totally reliant on the goodwill provision of another to provide that access.
In the same way that OMS Canada provided free access to conference participants, Jesus Christ offers righteousness to those who require it.
But, if the conference participants never knew that wifi was available, or if they knew it was available but did not know the password, they could not access the free resource.
In just the same way, an unreached people who does not know that righteousness is available, or if it does not know how to access that righteousness, then they would die in their sins.
As Paul says in Romans 10:13-15, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
In an unreached people group, the need is for someone to go and serve as a gospel hotspot, someone who will provide the access to God’s Gospel network to a people who do not know such a network exists.
This is our purpose, to find people who are willing to be a Gospel Hotspot, providing access to the Gospel where there is no access.
OMS Canada is looking for 20 new missionaries by the end of this year. This is our 20/20 Vision. Will you become a partner with us? Our most effective tool to accomplish this vision is prayer. And I am asking you to become a prayer warrior with me.
In Matthew 9, Jesus looked out on the crowds and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. He then told his disciples (and you and me) to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out more labourers into the harvest. In terms of recruitment, that is our main task, our main responsibility. To pray for more labourers.
If we are to have this vision fulfilled this year, it will be because God’s people prayed it to fulfillment. Join me in praying everyday for more labourers.
Give me a call or send me an email to let me know that you will pray with me:
Mark Kroes, Executive Director
Four Myths That Keep Your Church From Having a Missions Strategy
Having a clear church missions strategy leads to more meaningful and effective ministry. So why don’t more churches have one?
I read of a survey from Gordon Colwell Theological Seminary that suggested that 40 percent of evangelical churches in America don’t have a written strategy guiding their missions work. These figures are not likely very different in Canada.
The survey also suggested that the 60 percent of churches that do have a written strategy are markedly more engaged in cross-cultural international work than those who do not have a written strategy. This should not surprise us. A vision does not always spark action, but it is still true that action nearly always follows vision.
If you need help developing a mission strategy, contact OMS Canada to investigate the possibility of a facilitated Strategy Planning for your church.
However, before you get there, it is worth pausing to think about four common myths that often keep churches from developing missions strategies. These are sometimes unstated myths, but whether you have heard them or not, chances are we’ve all believed some of these at one point.
1.“We don’t need a strategy”
The thinking here tends to be that “we’re just following Jesus,” so we can forgo written strategies and formal plans.
That doesn’t really work for a lot of reasons, such as the following.
It’s certainly true that our strategies must remain subservient to and flow from the ultimate strategies and examples in Scripture, but that doesn’t free us from the responsibility to bring that strategy to bear on our communities and the world. And that necessarily requires forethought.
A missions strategy is really nothing more than a plan, and the simple fact of that matter is that very few of us can accomplish complex tasks without first making a plan. It’s just how God wired us.
I can remember to get dressed and brush my teeth in the morning, but completing a project at work forces me to sit down and figure out how I’ll get it done. Engaging the lost world around you is much more complex than brushing your teeth, so there is no shame in planning how you’ll go about it.
Planning isn’t evidence of a lack of faith or an unwillingness to follow the Spirit’s leading; it’s the simple admission that we are fickle and easily distracted people, and that we will be far more faithful to God’s leading if we commit ourselves to a course of action before distraction takes us off track.
2.“We don’t have a vision”
This myth tends to pop up in churches that still believe cross-cultural missions falls inextricably under the expertise of mission agencies, while local churches are best equipped to do other things. Tasks like missionary assessment, preparation, training, accountability and care sometimes feel like things best left to the “experts,” so the local church takes a step back.
While it is true that a good mission agency can provide critical support to a church’s missionary-sending activity, it is untrue that cross-cultural missions is a mysterious world that the local church knows nothing about. Culture and language change from place to place, but God, His world and the human heart are the same wherever you go. This means that principles for good local ministry will generally translate internationally.
Chances are you have a sense of how God has called and equipped your church to minister in your community, which has in turn shaped a core part of your church’s identity.
That activity and identity don’t need to be set aside when you think about how to minister internationally. Instead, start by asking the question, “How has God equipped us to reach His world?” Then prayerfully consider what that means for your international engagement as well.
3.“We’re too small, too new or too poor”
This idea is usually connected to the notion that “We’ll do that when we’re bigger, more established or have more resources.” Together, these beliefs keep us from seeing what God has called us to today by convincing us that it will be easier to follow Him tomorrow.
Of course, it is true that investing ourselves intentionally requires selectivity, or saying “no” to some things so that we can say “yes” to others. But, if we make our selections today based on the belief that we will be fundamentally different people tomorrow, we are letting our strategy be hijacked by a very clever lie.
The notion that a congregation’s missions calling somehow depends on its size, experience or resources is rooted in the mistaken belief that God’s people are more limited by these things than they are empowered by the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.
In fact, our vision and strategy should boldly flow from God’s character and activity, rather than being tentatively sketched based on what our timid hearts can grasp right now.
4.“There’s so much to do here” or “We’re called to local ministry”
This is based on the mistaken beliefs that there is no difference between local and cross-cultural, that it is all missions. But, as Stephen Neill has stated, “If everything is missions, then nothing is missions.” The quite clear teaching of Scripture points over and over again to the heart of God for the nations (people groups) and His purpose to have every people, tongue, tribe, and nation present around the throne (Revelation 7:9).
The mandate to the church is Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria and the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Furthermore, it is far more possible today for North American churches to learn from and minister alongside majority world churches. The possibilities for learning and engagement are endless, but we need a strategy to direct our attention.
However, rather than writing off local ministry for the sake of global ministry (or vice-versa) a wise missions strategy will try to bring the two areas together. It will force you to look for areas of expertise in your local ministry that can be put to use around the world. It will cause you to think about the relationships that you have around the world and make connections that could improve your local ministry.
It is one thing to individually become a global Christian, but a church missions strategy will start your congregation down the path to becoming a truly global Christian community that is open to, engaged in and learning from what God is doing around the world.
So what about you? Does your church have a missions strategy? If so, does the congregation know what the strategy is? If not, why not? Can we help your leaders think through this strategy question?
We are ready to help in any way possible, no strings attached and free of charge.
Click here to contact us.
This is the final post in our missionary call series. We hope that the Lord has spoken to your heart as you have worked though the previous posts.
In the last post, we saw that there is evidence to support the claim that, if one is properly relating to God and pursuing godliness, there is little to fear in terms of missing God’s call. We made the point that, just like the children of Israel following the deliverance from Egypt, they were not responsible to find the promised land. They were responsible to follow the cloud and the pillar. God would lead them as long as they were faithful in what they knew to do.
That’s what Augustine meant when he said, “Love God and do as you please.”
Loving God will have an effect on obedience to what you already know to do and will also have an effect on the decisions you make. But loving God is the key.
So, what does loving God look like? How can we put ourselves in the spot where we can believe that the decisions we make accord with the will of God?
We know that God’s purpose in His dealings with His children is conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. Paul tells us in Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” That is to say, to make us Christ like or holy. Hebrews 12:14 tells us to strive for holiness, without which we will not see God. So how do I pursue this holiness? How do I become more like Jesus Christ?
We find a pretty clear answer in 1 Timothy 4:7-8: “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Here, Paul tells Timothy that he needed to train or discipline himself for godliness, making the connection to an athlete who undertakes some physical training or discipline for the sake of sport. In the same way that an athlete undergoes physical training to become proficient at some physical activity, so the child of God must undergo spiritual training to become proficient at holiness.
The obvious question to be asked here is, so what are these training activities that will make me more Christ like and put me in a good place to follow God’s leading in my life? I am glad you asked.
There are a number of contemporary authors who have written significant books about this very topic – spiritual disciplines.
Richard Foster wrote “Celebration of Discipline” in 1978. More recently, Donald Whitney has written “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.” In his introduction to this book, Whitney states that there are three main catalysts that God uses to change our lives and make us more holy but only one is largely under our control.
He uses people to change us – the iron sharpens iron principle. He also uses circumstances – God works out all things for the good of those who love Him. And He uses spiritual disciplines. This catalyst differs from the other two in that when God uses the spiritual disciplines to change us, He is working from the inside out. And we must remember that there is a specific purpose for these disciplines and that is godliness or holiness. And this godliness or holiness is the place where we will most naturally follow God’s will or His direction for us.
Do you wonder what these spiritual disciplines are? You can probably guess some of them already, but you may be surprised by some that are in the list. We will list them to finish this blog post and then in the next year we will occasionally pull one of the disciplines out and examine it. Our prayer is that God will challenge each one of us to a deeper walk with Him resulting in holiness.
Here is the list of spiritual disciplines:
And don’t forget that the purpose of engaging in each of these disciplines is godliness. We are not saved by doing these things. Only God can save. But we are made more godly, more Christ like by the practice of these disciplines.
Do you already do some of these disciplines regularly? Which of these are surprises? Is there one or two that might be more challenging for you? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
One of the great privileges of working with a missions organization is the opportunity to see how many connections there are between missions and various parts of Scripture. And there is a connection between Christmas and missions.
So what does Christmas have to do with missions? I’m glad you asked.
Biblically, missions should never be far from the center of our Christmas celebrations, for two reasons:
First, Jesus is the greatest example of a cross-cultural missionary. For missions concerns crossing cultural boundaries, we, the church of Jesus Christ, must send missionaries cross-culturally if we are to fulfill the task our Lord gives us: Bringing worshipers from every tribe and tongue and people and nation to Him. And, think about it: Who crossed the greatest cultural divide ever? Jesus Himself! He came from the glory of the throne-room of God into the womb of a woman, and then into a feeding trough for cattle. What an example!
Second: Jesus is more than an example. Jesus became man in order to purchase for His own possession ONE people made up of all the peoples of the earth. He came so that all will see that NO CULTURAL BARRIER will keep people from God. He came so that God will be praised in EVERY language. He came so that the purpose of the creation of every people group would be fulfilled, and that purpose is to glorify God.
So for a true believer in Jesus – as opposed to someone who is simply a cultural Christian – Christmas should be a time of particular focus on the task that Christ gives His church. The task is similar to our Lord’s cross-cultural journey. The task is made possible by His incarnation. The task is crossing cultural barriers, going even to hard, resistant peoples – even when that is uncomfortable and dangerous – for God’s glory, for our joy, for the joy of those peoples.
We believe Prayer is the battlefield for fruitfulness and we depend on it for a successful ministry. We ask you to consider joining our prayer team in any of the following ways. Click here to learn more.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21
Merry Christmas from all of us at OMS Canada.
Identifying the Missionary ‘Call’
While God can certainly give us inner promptings, His will does not need finding because it was never lost. It is in Scripture.
Are you “called” to be a missionary?
Discovering God’s will for your life can be daunting. What if I miss God’s best? What if it’s outside my comfort zone? What if I can’t hear God’s voice? What if I misunderstand it? What if I misinterpret it? These questions can create some very real anxiety—or avoidance.
Nevertheless, God does not want us frozen by fear. While God certainly can give us inner “nudges,” His will does not need to be found because it was never lost. His complete, entire will is contained in His Word. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness… by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises…. (2 Peter 1:3a, 4a)
The Bible reveals God’s will: for us to disciple the nations. That is the big picture. To be sure, Scripture does not tell us everything. God’s plan for the details of our individual lives are often secret (Deuteronomy 29:29). However, if we simply obey what we know, He will guide us:
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way. (Psalm 37:23)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
We cannot decipher God’s sovereign will for every detail of our future. It is futile to try—God, after all, “frustrates the plans of the peoples” (Psalm 33:10). But God has given us a quite comprehensive guide on how to conduct ourselves in a manner that pleases Him and conforms us to the image of His son. And within those parameters, we actually have freedom to choose what we enjoy.
It is not unlike the responsibility the Israelites had as they made their way from Egypt to the Promised Land through the wilderness. They were not told to find the land of promise. They were simply to follow the cloud and the pillar, day after day after day. As they did day by day what they knew to do, God led them exactly where they needed to go.
Augustine wrote, “Love God and do as you please.” In other words, if we truly love God and are doing the day-by-day things we know to do, our aim will certainly be to please Him.
“To know the will of God we need an open Bible and an open map.” William Carey
Does that free us to live for our own pleasures? Hardly. “To whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). We are accountable to live intentionally, wisely, and submissively for God’s glory, not selfish benefit. And if we trust that God’s will is sufficiently revealed in Scripture, we will begin to see His missionary heart bleeding through every page—and we will sense that we are all called in some way, whether as goers or senders, to engage that mission.
Therefore, as William Carey, missionary to India, stated, “To know the will of God we need an open Bible and an open map.” The question of calling is not one of waiting to see a flashing neon sign over a world map or feel a “liver-quiver” when someone mentions the right country—it’s about assessing your abilities, circumstances, desires, and the opportunities in light of the global need.
For more information about the global need, read this post about the Billion.global vision.
How are you participating in the Missionary call?
Do you enjoy taking trips? Isn’t it exciting to visit new places and simply take a break from the day to day?
We all do enjoy taking a trip every once in a while and it is important to take these times of rest. It’s also important to take a life-changing trip- a Mission trip.
What is the difference anyways?
Here are a few examples of a vacation trip and a mission trip for comparison:
We can see that there are some similarities and also some key differences that we can really be blessed by on a Mission trip.
In the Bible, we see many different verses that reveal God’s heart to us regarding Missions.
Let’s look at 4 of them today:
People are God’s most treasured creation and it is God’s heart to see all nations come into a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. We can be assured that as we go, God will go with us and never leave us. This is very comforting to know as we step into a place where we have never been before.
2. Acts 13:47 “For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Light helps us to see clearly, light brings new perspective, and we are light to those who have not yet heard or responded. What an amazing honor that the God who created the universe uses vessels like us for His work.
3. Romans 10:13-14 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
We have heard the saying before- if someone had a cure to an illness and they never shared it with anyone, how would anyone get better? The news would need to be shared. We have a relationship with the One who created everything, the One who gives perfect peace, the One who gives hope in hopeless situations. We must share the good news of Jesus Christ and the salvation He brings.
4. Psalm 96:3 “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
It’s important to share God’s goodness with others. God is holy, He is awesome, and there is none like Him. Let’s make a commitment to share this Love with others. It will change situations; it will even change us in the process.
Why Missions then?
Vacation trips are very necessary because we do need a break from our daily routines once in a while. I encourage you to go on vacation when you can and I also challenge you to go on a Mission trip if you already haven’t. There are people out there who need Jesus and God has given us specific gifts and talents to reach those people.
Take a look here at some Mission Opportunities that we have with OMS Canada.
There is also this great resource which outlines 10 Steps to becoming an OMS Missionary. You can check it out here.
You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine.