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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Canadians recognize Remembrance Day, originally called Armistice Day, every 11 November at 11 a.m.
It marks the end of hostilities during the First World War and an opportunity to recall all those who
have served in the nation’s defence.
On this day of remembrance, I would like to challenge you to remember something else as well.
It is the Gospel, and it is not just for the new birth; it is for your new life as well.
I love to find and share practical methods or techniques for living the Christian life—ways other Christians live out their Christian faith day-by-day. As I speak with people, as I read books, as I listen to sermons, I am always looking for these tips that might be called “faith hacks.” I am going to share one with you today. It comes from Jerry Bridges and deals with the importance of preaching the Gospel to yourself everyday.
Bridges has written in several of his books about the importance of the daily practice of preaching the Gospel to yourself. In “The Discipline of Grace” he writes, “When you set yourself to seriously pursue holiness, you will begin to realize what an awful sinner you are. And if you are not firmly rooted in the Gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness.” He also gives an overview of the practice: “To preach the Gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.”
But it is in “Respectable Sins” that he gives the practical example from his own life. Here is how he preaches the Gospel to himself every day:
Since the Gospel is only for sinners, I begin each day with the realization that despite my being a saint, I still sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. If I am aware of any subtle, or not so subtle, sins in my life, I acknowledge those to God. Even if my conscience is not indicting me for conscious sins, I still acknowledge to God that I have not even come close to loving Him with all my being or loving my neighbor as myself. I repent of those sins, and then I apply specific Scriptures that assure me of God’s forgiveness to those sins I have just confessed.
I then generalize the Scripture’s promises of God’s forgiveness to all my life and say to God words to the effect that my only hope of a right standing with Him that day is Jesus’ blood shed for my sins, and His righteous life lived on my behalf. This reliance on the twofold work of Christ for me is beautifully captured by Edward Mote in his hymn “The Solid Rock” with his words, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Almost every day, I find myself going to those words in addition to reflecting on the promises of forgiveness in the Bible.
What Scriptures do I use to preach the Gospel to myself? Here are just a few I choose from each day:
As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)
“I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8)
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
There are many others, including Psalm 130:3-4; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; Hebrews 8:12; and 10:17-18.
Whatever Scriptures we use to assure us of God’s forgiveness, we must realize that, whether the passage explicitly states it or not, the only basis for God’s forgiveness is the blood of Christ shed on the cross for us. As the writer of Hebrews said, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (9:22), and the context makes it clear that it is Christ’s blood that provides the objective basis on which God forgives our sins.
That has been his daily practice for many years. Why don’t you make it part of your practice, and see the difference it makes to begin each day reminding yourself of who you were, and who you now are in Christ?
Milton Vincent has written a little book called, “A Gospel Primer for Christians” that could be very helpful in preaching the Gospel to yourself daily. It includes hundreds of Scripture references to reinforce the truth of the Gospel.
Do you make it your practice to preach the Gospel to yourself? If so, what have you learned?
How do you go about it? Please leave a comment below to share your experiences.
You can also check out our blog page here where you can find updates from our missionaries around the world and various blogs for your own growth!
Change is something that comes as a result of something new happening; an alteration, shift, transition, or transformation. The result can be a positive thing or even a challenge for us because it may be unusual or unfamiliar at first.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
God allows us to experience new things so that we can grow and depend more on Him, so it is important that we remain focused on God during times of change and remember that He is the One
who is in control.
In Ontario, we experience four different weather seasons throughout the year:
spring, summer, fall, and winter.
These seasons vary and as a result they impact our daily living. What activities to do and not do outdoors, what to wear, what to cook/eat, etc. These seasons can even impact our moods and how we feel.
Spiritual seasons are also very significant and things we all go through.
Let’s do a comparison with weather and spiritual seasons and see how they can relate:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Let’s be encouraged to trust God in all seasons. We can be assured that we will not walk through any season alone. God is with us and as we trust and serve Him, He will make all things work for good in our lives.
What season are you currently in? How have seasons of change in your life allowed you to deepen your faith and get closer to God?
Please leave a comment below to share your experiences with others as we all continue to grow in this journey together by God’s grace. It would also be great connect with you. Simply click here to do that.
To Him be all glory.
When we hear the word impossible we think of something that is not able to be done and that can easily allow a person to be filled with: fear, uncertainty, worry, and helplessness.
Now, when we hear the word possible we feel a lot better because it tells us that something can be done. That gives us confidence, hope, peace, and assurance.
Today I’m happy to say that, with God ALL THINGS are POSSIBLE.
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God;
all things are possible with God.”
When we face situations in our lives that seem impossible, it ultimately gives us the choice to either focus on those things and keep struggling or to surrender everything to God and trust in Him.
There are several different things we can do to remain encouraged when trusting in God for the impossible. Here are 4 for us to look at:
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it,
and it will be yours.”
Prayer is the key to every victory that we experience in life. We need to constantly be in communication with God no matter what we are going through. We can have the assurance that God will answer us according to His perfect will for our lives.
“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible
We need to have faith, to believe. This allows us to keep moving forward and to step into the great things God has for us. When things seem impossible, we need to remember that with God all things are possible. This verse demonstrates the power of faith, and it just takes a tiny bit of it.
What are you believing God for today?
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
We all fall short every day and we need to remember that. We need to check ourselves daily and ask for God’s forgiveness and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We cannot successfully do the things that God has called us to without the realization that we need God, we cannot do it on our own.
We need to remember this when we are trusting God for the impossible.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”
Surrendering is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary as we grow in Christ. We all have hopes, dreams, and visions. Let’s surrender these to God and allow Him to guide us so that He may have all the glory. This is what growing in Christ is all about, we are just vessels and our King of glory is worthy of all honor and praise.
Let’s be encouraged today, whatever impossible situation you are facing. There is hope and it is found only in Jesus Christ our Lord.
To Him be all glory.
I want you to take a minute and read Numbers 13. This is the story of Moses sending the 12 spies into Canaan to check it out. Now I want you to imagine you are one of those spies. You saw everything that they saw and you know only what they know. What are you going to tell Moses? Are you going to agree with the majority and tell Moses not to attack, or would you take Caleb and Joshua’s side? Okay, now I want to remind you that this land was the Promised Land, it was the land flowing with milk and honey. God has promised this land to you, as an Israelite. So let us rewind. Does your report to Moses change? Are you still afraid to go in?
The Israelites doubted God. They knew that this land was promised to them. They knew that the same God that brought 10 miraculous plagues on Egypt and gave them their freedom also promised them this land. Yet, in the end, they doubted that God would give it to them. They doubted that God would fight with them and help them win the battle. They did not even want to give God the chance to show His power and faithfulness. Sadly, that hasn’t changed for many of us today.
Have you ever received a task or a calling from God and said no because of fear? Maybe God called you to change jobs but you were afraid of the change and the unknown. Maybe God gave you the task of being a youth leader in your church but you were afraid of not being good enough. But the question is, why? Why were you afraid of accepting something that came from God? The same God that helped the Israelites win battle after battle, the same God that made the sun stand still (Joshua 10:12-15), the same God that blesses us with grace day after day. Why do we ever doubt that God will be with us and equip us for the task He has given us? The Israelites did not want to fight for their new land because they did not think they had the means to win. They did not give God the chance to show His power by defeating the Amalekites and Canaanites. Instead, they wanted to go back to slavery or die in the desert. Therefore, God did exactly that. The Israelites refused to believe in God’s strength and power and so God gave them their wish and they died in the desert rather than entering the promised land. All but Caleb and Joshua. These men had faith, they followed the Lord wholeheartedly, they believed that God would give them the land and so God blessed them and their descendants (Numbers 14)
We all should live our lives with the faith of Caleb and Joshua. They knew that, even though the Promised Land was filled with powerful men who could easily defeat them, God was on their side and He was more powerful.
They accepted the task God had given them because they knew that God would not abandon them. And God will never abandon you. If He gives you a task or calls you to something, He isn’t going to leave you on your own to do it. He has and is going to prepare and equip you for it. God knows what you can handle better then you know yourself.
“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” Numbers 14:24
I want to challenge you, and I take this challenge for myself as well. The next time God calls you or gives you a task, don’t say no, don’t even hesitate. Do not let fear stop you from seeing God’s power. Do not let it stop you from being an instrument that shows God’s power. Follow the Lord wholeheartedly, giving Him all your fears and having faith that whatever God asks of you, can be accomplished as He is with you. And we all know God can do anything, even through the weakest part of us. So say Yes!
What is the goal of discipleship? Why is it so important in the church? In our lives? Why do we have and need it? These are some of the questions that we will be looking at answering today. Being involved in discipleship is one thing, but truly understanding why we do it, brings you to a whole other level of discipleship.
What is Discipleship
Discipleship is the teaching of Biblical theology and lessons while modeling a righteous, Christ filled life style. It equips Christians with the Word of God, fellowship and positive relationships, encouragement, accountability prayer, and discipline. Discipleship isn’t something that is meant to be easy, or meant to end. It is an ongoing process that takes time, commitment, energy, effort, and patience. It is something that can’t be done on our own but must take place in community. It should take place in all of our relationships. If discipleship is teaching and modeling, we need someone to teach and model to; but, it is also about learning and growing ourselves, and for that we need someone to teach us and be a model to us as well.
The Goal of Discipleship
So what is the goal of it all? Is it to make converts? Plant more churches? What is the point of discipleship? The goal of discipleship isn’t about making converts or even disciples; it is about making disciplemakers. What do I mean by disciplemakers? A disciple is a follower of Christ, while a disciplemaker is a follower of Christ who turns and goes and makes more disciples. They don’t just settle with being a disciple. But that’s not the ultimate goal; the ultimate goal of discipleship is helping others become more like Christ. This can in turn lead to more churches being planted, but ultimately the goal of discipleship is to be in fellowship with other disciples helping one another become more like Christ.
Why is it Important
Discipleship plays a very important role in the church as well as in our individual lives. Can a church without discipleship truly be a church? Would you go to a church where there is no fellowship, or teaching of the Bible or encouragement or prayer? I wouldn’t, and that is why discipleship is important for churches. It helps the congregation of the church grow and flourish in their faith lives. Discipleship is important in our lives because it is important in the church. Discipleship brings things like positive relationships, encouragement, support, prayer, love and new lessons to learn. All of these things are things that we need; not because we are Christians but because we are human. We need love, support and relationships in our life and, because we are disciples, we need these to come from other disciples. When we get these from other people who understand our faith, the encouragement and support that we receive will be agreeable with Scripture and with God.
But we need to remember that discipleship also brings accountability and discipline. If we don’t have people, other disciples, keeping us accountable to living like Christ, the chances of us straying are greater. Accountability from other disciples will help us stay aware of our life style and keep us from straying from living a righteous life. And with accountability comes discipline. From childhood, discipline has been important in our lives. When we wanted to do something bad, our parents disciplined us to teach us not to do it, and we still need this. When we do something that goes against what Scripture says, we need someone to discipline us. Not in the sense that we judge and punish them but we help them see the wrong in their actions and walk with them as they work to fix the issue. When discipleship takes place in our own lives and we are able to grow in our faith and continue to be more like Christ, the church will also grow with us.
How Do We Do It
Like I said, discipleship takes time, commitment, energy, effort and patience. It is a process that never ends. It should start the moment we decide to follow Christ, and it should never end. That is why it is important to make disciplemakers and not just disciples. Making disciplemakers will secure the ongoing process of discipleship as it is used to make more disciples.
But what does it look like to do discipleship other than just giving our time and energy to others? Discipleship is all about teaching and fellowship. It starts with disciples. These disciples than create a community (e.g. a church) with other disciples, they are in fellowship with others who believe in Christ and want to live like Him. Once this fellowship is built you can work on building discipleship programs like Bible Studies and Kids clubs and continue to make disciplemakers. It is important to realize that discipleship starts with disciples. It can’t work if it goes backwards starting with an organization, then programs hoping to make disciples. How can disciples be made if there are no disciples to help teach and walk along the new disciples?
In summary, discipleship is teaching and fellowship among disciples with the goal of helping each other become more like Christ. It is important that we have discipleship in our lives as, without it, we can’t grow in our faith walk and help build a positive community. Discipleship is about giving a reason for your faith. Through teachings, encouragement, prayer, support and good modeling we are able to show others why we have faith and how we live like Christ which can help them do the same. We all need discipleship, no matter where we are in our faith walk. If you are not involved in discipleship already I encourage you to go and get involved. Find a discipleship group to join or start one yourself with a few friends. Not sure how to start one? Take a look at the resources and blog posts at omscanada.org, or leave a comment and I would love to help you get started! Remember discipleship starts with you being a disciple that is in fellowship with other disciples.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters."
Then people are considering missions and being involved they will express an interest to their church and hopefully to a missions agency. By expressing their interest, they are making their first step on the journey to becoming a missionary, but, they cannot do the journey alone. They need our help! We need to be encouraging and praying for these individuals. But how do we pray for someone we don’t even know? How do you pray for such individuals? Well, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to pray for someone, but there are suggestions on how we can pray for those interested in becoming a missionary.
1. Focus on God.
Begin by focusing on God. Thank God for his good will toward all people and his love for the world. Thank Him for His intensely personal love for this person and for the plan He has for their life. Thank God that Jesus’ death on the cross has cleansed this person of unrighteousness. And thank Him for the work of the Holy Spirit in this person’s life, and giving this person an interest in the missions field.
2. Thank God for the Person
Thank God for their gifts, potential, abilities, and skills. Thank God for the grace that is evident, and that the Holy Spirit is already at work in this person. Thank God for His promise to answer prayer.
3. Ask of God
Ask God to block the plans of Satan against this person. Ask Him to bless the person and to make clear to them His goodness in such ways that there can be no doubt that it is God and not coincidence or chance. Ask God to strengthen every good personality trait, every good desire and every right decision of this person. Ask God to make this person open and receptive to His voice and sensitive to His leading. Ask Him to release this person from any prejudice, to break any chain of sin or habit that may block God’s purpose. And ask God to surround this person with His presence and melt away any hesitation with His great love.
4. Claim God’s Promise.
Claim God’s promise to guide this person. Claim God’s promise to gather for Himself a people from every people, tongue, tribe and nation. And pray that God would send this person into the harvest to do His work.
Prayer is an important and powerful tool. Many things can be done through prayer. When we pray for those we may not know, it is our way of encouraging them. We are bringing them up to God so that through God we may join them on their journey of God’s call on their lives.
Each year, OMS spends time at different Mission Events where individuals express an interest in mission work. These individuals need our help and our encouragement. Please join us in praying for these individuals and that God will send more labourers into the harvest. If you would like to receive a list of names of individuals to pray for you can contact the office.
This content was adapted from Wesley Duewel’s book “Touch the World through Prayer” . It is used by permission of the Duewel Literature Trust, Inc. Greenwood, Indiana.
Going to church and calling myself a Christian automatically makes me a disciple. Or one would think. Calling yourself a disciple is a fancy way of saying you are a follower of Christ. But look at it this way. I can go to school and call myself a student but that doesn’t automatically mean I am going to graduate. Becoming a student, and attending school are steps in what makes me a graduate. Going to church and being a Christian are only little parts in what makes me a disciple. Being a disciple isn’t just going to church and saying I follow Christ, it’s an intentional process, and one a lot of us tend to forget, or even ignore.
1. Deny Yourself (Mark 8:34; Matthew 6:33; Luke 14:33)
This starts with repentance, and admitting to your sins which leads to a transformation. A baptism where you are born again in Christ. It continues with you making God your first priority in life. You give God your life, you leave the plans you had for yourself to follow God’s plans. You are no longer the driver, the one running your life. You must give God ownership to all that you are and to all that you own. It’s because of Him you have it anyways, right?.
2. Read, Understand and Apply Scripture (John 8:31; Matthew 4:4; Luke 11:28)
Reading Scripture is extremely important, but it is also important that we that we understand what it is saying and that we apply it to our lives. Often we read a passage and it leaves our minds the second after it enters. To be disciples we need to read Scripture but also apply it to our lives and this requires that we understand it.
3. Teach, Serve, Love (Matthew 28:20; John 13:34-35; Ephesians 5:1-2)
Teach others all that you know about Jesus, teach them to obey every command that he has given us. As a disciple you will always be a student but you must also be a teacher. Mike Breen says that every disciple must look like a sheep from the front and a shepherd from the back. We must also never stop loving. There is no shortage of commands and verses in the Bible that tell us to love as Christ loved. To be a disciple is to be an imitator of Christ; to love as Christ loved.
4. Transform your Mind and Live Righteously (2 Timothy 2:15; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 10:31)
To truly be a disciple of Christ we need to focus our lives on living righteously and living free of sin. Yes, I know that as humans it is impossible to be completely sinless, but as a disciple we are called to a higher standard, God’s standard, of living. We can’t do as the world does. When we are born again, we need to transform our minds, attitudes and actions. We need to live righteously and act in a way that pleases God and brings glory to His name alone.
5. Counsel (Proverbs 11:14; Hebrews 13:17; Proverbs 12:15)
We are meant to receive counsel in our lives. It is said in Scripture that the wise receive counsel. When we try to live on our own and believe we always know best we are setting ourselves up to fall. You’ve probably heard the quote “two heads are better than one”, well it can apply to this. Seeking counsel and help from another disciple is better than not seeking counsel. Remember to use others in the family of Christ for help and advice.
6. Evangelize (Mark 16:15; Acts 20:24; Luke 4:18)
Evangelizing is an important part of being a disciple. We need to share of God’s grace and love. We must share the Gospel with anyone and everyone. Share your testimony of what God has done for you in your life. This can show others the power of God and also be encouraging for them. God is too good to keep to ourselves!
7. Worship (1 Chronicles 16:23-31; Hebrews 12: 28-29; Psalm 113:3)
As a disciple we are to worship God in all that we do. It isn’t just singing songs at church on Sunday morning, it can be done in many ways. When we use the gifts and talents that God has blessed us with to honour Him, that is worship. You can worship God by playing sports, studying for school, and even cooking. Obeying the commands God has given us is a form of worship too. Worship God in everything you do!
No one ever said that being a disciple of Christ was going to be easy work. It takes constant work and effort. It is an ongoing process where you never stop learning and growing in your faith. Look at it like a journey. When you are going somewhere you have to keep moving until you reach that place. You can’t stop walking half way and expect to get there. On your faith journey, you have to continue to walk towards God by constantly working through the process of being a disciple. It doesn’t have to be done in any specific order, but everything has to be done. And we can’t stop. The process of being a disciple doesn’t end until the day of Jesus’ return, and Jesus has said that he will return when all nations have had the chance to hear the Gospel (Matthew 24:14). So where do you stand on the process of being a disciple? Are any of the tasks missing from your life?
How many times have you told yourself that you weren’t a good enough person for God to use? How many times have you thought that you were too damaged or broken for anything good to come from you? Well, you aren’t alone with these thoughts! Many Christians today believe the lie that they will never be good enough for God to use. But, that is all it is, a lie. God uses the broken and He can use you!
You are Chosen
We are God’s chosen people. God chose us because he wanted us to do His work. God doesn’t have favourites that He chooses. He chooses all of us. We may think that we will be the last chosen because we are more broken or we sin more but Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We all have sinned! Before you were even born God planned your path, and he chose you for a specific purpose. You are a chosen child of God; you may be broken but it doesn’t mean you can’t be used. God isn’t done with you yet.
-Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 1:3-4, Philippians 1:6
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last."
God Walks with You
We may be broken, but God often uses brokenness for His glory. When God calls us to service, I think we sometimes forget that we aren’t doing it alone. I don’t know about you, but, as a broken person, if I were to try to do anything God asked of me alone and on my own, I would fail. So I am super grateful to know that I am never alone. God doesn’t call us to do His work and then just leave us to do it alone and on our own! He provides us with the strength, the knowledge and the tools to complete our task. In Matthew 28:19-20 we can find the Great Commission where God calls us to go and make disciples, but do you know how it ends? The Great Commission ends with God telling us that He will be with us the entire way!
-Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 118:6, Matthew 28:19-20
God Chooses the Least Likely
You may think God won’t call you to do something because you don’t think you are qualified to do it. That isn’t how God works. God doesn’t necessarily call those that seem the most qualified. God calls anyone and everyone and then He makes them qualified for the job. Don’t believe me? Well, look at a few examples in the Bible. Moses was called to speak in front of Pharaoh, but he wasn’t good at speaking. Elijah was a Prophet; he was also suicidal. And Job, Job went bankrupt but God still used him even after he had no money. These people may never be our first picks to do our work, but they are God’s. Why? Because God can and will use anyone. God wants to use those less qualified because it shows His glory more when He makes them qualified and they succeed at their work.
-1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Exodus 3-4, 1 Kings 19:1-18, Book of Job
God doesn’t necessarily call those that seem the most qualified. God calls anyone and everyone and then He makes them qualified for the job"
God knows how we humans work. He knows that we relate better to those of the same kind. If you went bankrupt and were struggling, who would you rather talk to about it, someone who has been where you’ve been, or someone who has never known the struggle? God takes what we call weaknesses and He makes them our greatest strengths. You may think that because you’re depressed you have nothing to offer, but you do! You have the ability to talk and help others who also are depressed in a way someone else can’t. He prepares you. Maybe you don’t think you have the money to serve, but if God calls you, He will provide the funds for you to go. He equips you. Look for ways that God may be preparing you for service because God can use you! You’re His chosen child and He has a use for you! Are you ready to let God turn your weaknesses into strengths?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
A friend of mine was trying to decide what to do next in life and was struggling. She told me that she wanted to do God’s will but His will is so complicated and hard to know. But I think she is wrong. I think we are the ones that make it complicated. We try finding God’s will as a pinpoint accurate thing, but we should be seeing it as a whole wide circle.
One of the biggest questions when someone is considering doing missions is if it’s God’s will for their lives, "Does God want me to go, is He calling me?" This is a great question, but how do we know if it’s God’s will? Let's take a look at 7 tools that can help us discover God's will.
1. Walk with God – Proverbs 3:5-6
First things first, have a personal relationship with God. Read the Bible and do devotions daily. Pray and talk to God honestly. And get involved in Bible studies, and at a church so that you may learn more about God and His love for you.
2. Surrender Your Will — Romans 12:1-2
It isn’t our will with God’s approval, but it’s God’s will alone. To hear God’s will clearly, we must leave behind our own plans and get rid of any expectations that we may have. We must remain open-minded to what God is wanting for us.
3. Follow What You Already Know – The Bible
We aren’t starting from scratch when it comes to learning of God’s will. All Scripture is filled with guidance and God’s plan, not just for us individually, but for all humanity.
4. Seek Help – Proverbs 11:14
Seek guidance and input from Godly people in your life. Sometimes other people can see things in our lives that we miss. By sharing our lives with others, they can help us see more clearly what God is doing and what He may be calling us to.
5. Discover Your Gifts – 1 Peter 4:10
What are the gifts and talents you have that you can use to honor God? God has created us for specific roles and He has blessed each of us with the gifts needed to complete these roles. If we are able to discover our gifts it may help us have a better understanding of what God’s will is.
6. Listen – John 10:27
A good relationship is about talking AND listening. When we pray, we are fulfilling the talking part of our relationship with God. But have you ever sat in silence and listened while praying? Next time you pray, try sitting quietly for a few minutes. Clear your mind and open it to listen for God’s voice. Meditate on specific questions you have for God and even write down what you hear.
7. Listen to Your Heart – Psalm 37:3-5
God wants His children to be happy. As you grow in your relationship with God, His desires will become your desires. God’s will is not restricting or oppressing. When we follow God’s will for us we will feel peace, joy and freedom in God. Your heart will be one with God’s.
We can’t just ask the yes and no questions in life, and what we want can’t take priority. When asking whether you should do missions don’t wait for the yes or no answer. That may be the easy way to do it, but God has been showing you the answer your entire life. He has been preparing you every step of the way to do His will. When we develop an intimate, lasting relationship with God and learn to trust Him, our life’s pathway becomes clearer. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. If you need help knowing what questions to ask leave a comment with your email and we will send you a list!