I have a new blog post up on our ministry site at the link below..or click on the image to take you to it.
I have a new blog post up on our ministry site at the link below..or click on the image to take you to it.
“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Luke 22:31-32 HCSB
I find this interaction between Christ and the disciples fascinating and very comforting because of the truth that is being revealed here. Holy Spirit is speaking and I pray we are listening.
Upon further study, due to dual use of the English word ‘you’, in most English translations, it seems as though Jesus is only talking to Peter, but he is speaking to all the disciples. Although Jesus begins by calling out Simon Peter to listen up, when he says “Satan has asked to sift you like wheat”, the Greek word for ‘you’ here is plural! It’s more like our ‘you all’ we use when we want to be clear we’re referring to everyone. This is why the NET Bible translates it more clearly saying this in vs 31, “Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat “.
Then in the next verse he is redirecting his words back to Peter again, because the next ‘you’ is singular! This would be hard to detect in most more literal translations without Greek study notes. But some more dynamic translations help by adding the clarifying words…as you can see above. Also we can deduct Jesus is redirecting to Simon Peter with the second you because we read the following context of Peter denying Christ. But the NET makes the true Greek stand out better saying vs 32 like this in saying Simon’s name,” but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” These are the reasons it’s good to read multiple Bible Translations if you are able…and in the English language we are truly blessed with many!
Now why is this important? Well because a major truth is being made known here; an important reassuring one at that! Jesus is saying that the devil has to get permission for what he does against us. If Satan had his way, he would totally destroy and torment every Christian alive! But Jesus said Satan came to God seeking permission to put all the disciples through serious tribulation and temptation; to “sift them like wheat! ” Jesus then reassured Simon that he interceded for him and he would come back from his failed testing. Implying that he gave Satan permission to go after Simon Peter only for reasons God determined. That in itself is faith building. But this is even more blessed…Jesus is telling us that Satan has no power to act, except that which God allows him to do! (Luke 10:17)
If you face trials and temptations from the devil, God not only knows, but He has allowed it! And for his good purposes in our lives!
While some may be upset at this statement of truth that God is allowing our sufferings to happen; those who haven’t really “tasted and seen that God is good”, I for one, as many of you, have come to see the way our God is our Savior! He makes beauty from ashes; He humbles us, helps us to die, breaks us down, in order to raise us up in glory, and give us new Life to make us beautiful in His time. His perfected members of his Bride, the Church!!
Psalm 84:11 declares, “For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.”
I believe this! I know this in my own life! God is our sun, meaning our source of provision for all our need, and He is our shield, meaning our defender, our protector! And nothing is withheld from us that is good and right! Now this is usually only thought of in the most pleasant of ways, but in reality for a child to grow and mature, we parents have to enact testing and trials as a means of discipline to help our little ones develop and not be spoiled and of little use. So when God allows Satan to hurt you and test you, which clearly is only done under God’s permissions, then this too is a GOOD thing! His careful limits, watchful eyes and heart of love for us helps us grow into the people he requires us to be. It is not evil or bad. No nothing that comes into the life of a Believer is ultimately bad, no matter how painful or terrible it may seem at the time. God’s Word says “Endure suffering as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” -Heb 12:7
Yes I take great comfort in this powerful truth, that Satan and his demon hordes cannot touch me, except for that which is filtered through the hands of my loving Father who wants to make me perfected for his Son; to be like him… and will never abandon me nor forsake me! (Heb 13:5)
God really is in control…
And He is for me, not against me! (Rom 8:31)
This is exactly where I always want to be! What about you? Do you know the perfect Father God? (Ps 18:30)
These life tests will prove whom are His… Or not. Those that fall away, sadly are proven to not have ever “known” the heart of God as lover of their soul, may it not be so about you. Do you ‘know’ Jesus. If you do, the Spirit will cry out in you to Father God, “Abba, Father” ! (Rom 8:15)
May the peace of Christ fill you as you meditate on this life-changing truth.
Did you know a person can believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and still not be saved?
Many people have been belief and had preached into them these Biblical truths: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved” as quoted from Acts 16:31, or from Christ’s own words in John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”, as well as other Scriptures that say salvation comes by “faith (belief) alone” and it’s not as a result of works as clearly explained in Ephesians 2:8-9. These statements are absolutely true! It is only by faith we are saved, and only by belief that God redeems us and adopts us into his eternal family as heirs with Christ! We cannot earn any of it.
So what am I saying? I am here to tell you that some of the most hideous heresies come from taking Bible passages out of context of the whole counsel of God as given by the Holy Spirit inspired Word. While is it true Jesus and Paul and all the new testament writers spoke much about the fact that God saves those who “believe”, we must absolutely know, teach and preach how God defines belief! Jesus and the Apostles all wrote much about what this faith is. It’s not enough to bark out one line Bible quotes like these 3 verses above if we do not very clearly define Biblical Faith as Scriptures define it.
All sorts of well meaning people have “Faith”, but are lost and still in their sins. We love to make pretty signs and symbols that say “Believe” or “Have Faith” or talk about the 1st Corinthians 13 concluding statement of the greatest attributes to possess as Faith, Hope and Love!
But we must be very diligent and very careful to not let these words stand alone and be defined by every person’s whims! The are useless and meaningless left on their own. We cannot and MUST not assume other people know what the heck we are talking about when we say, “Just have Faith”!
There are two types of Faith according to Christ. One type that deceives and one type that saves. Jesus made it clear many times what saving faith really is, and what kind of love is good, and what type of hope is ultimately beneficial and of lasting value.
You see you can have faith in God for the wrong things. You may hope in the wrong things and you may have love for the wrong things. It’s not enough to say Faith- Hope- Love and sing Kumbaya and let’s all get along.
Jesus came to bear a CROSS, and so too must YOU, if he is to be YOUR master. Many people are just “fans”, but few are the “followers”. Here is the difference in people who believe and are not saved and those who beleive and are saved.
True Biblical faith is repentant faith.
True faith is humble faith.
True faith is obedient faith.
It’s not perfect faith, we all stumble, and God is gracious, but real saving faith costs us greatly. Matter of fact, it costs you your entire life.
Jesus said, If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)
Here again Jesus is telling us clearly that you can believe and do all sorts of great things, but be as lost as any sinner in hell! Listen closely to his words.
“Not all those who say ‘You are our Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The only people who will enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On the last day many people will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, we spoke for you, and through you we forced out demons and did many miracles’. Then I will tell them clearly, ‘Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you’.
“Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock. Everyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. It rained hard, the floods came, and the winds blew and hit that house, and it fell with a big crash.”
-Matthew 7:21-27 NCV
Hearing is a form of belief here, but effective belief is that which compels us to obey.
“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” Jhn 14:21. (Has is the belief and keeps is the obey)
Conclusion is this: Jesus is telling us that by faith we alone are saved; yes this is true, but faith has feet; it follows and obeys him.
A quick nutshell Gospel message and way to more accurately quote John 3:16 in Biblical context is like this: add obediently for clarification.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever (obediently) believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
When you first have faith, real faith, it comes by Holy Spirit new birth, then this same Spirit God leads you into dying to self and living for Jesus. If this is not your life experience; If your love for Jesus is not a compelling drive to sacrifice your life for him and seek out ways to better serve him, you too may be an idol lover, and your love may well be in vain. Many lost Hindus love Jesus and have shrines dedicated to him in their homes and pray to him also.
Examine your hearts and your lives. Don’t be fooled by ‘out of context’ Bible passages that get you close to heaven, but never really knowing the this living God that demands you bear your cross, just as he bore his.
You don’t have to be among those who hear, “Depart from me, I never knew you!”
Repentance and obedience is in order for us today and tomorrow. Just as you received Christ Jesus as LORD, so walk in him…
Those who ‘know’ him, who received him in repentant humble obedient faith must go daily in this attitude. Teach others likewise and preach a complete Gospel message, lest you lead others deceptively close to heaven, but never helping them enter in.
When you describe only one attribute of someone, are you actually describing that person, or are you creating a false image of them?
Lets make an analogy. A man became stranded on a tropical island with no fresh water and he was about to die, but he had a two-way radio with signal in which I could communicate with him, and let’s assume I knew for a fact that that island had coconut trees with water filled coconuts and it was the right season for young coconuts, but that man knew very little about coconuts and the life-giving water found inside.
Say I talked to him and told him about how wonderful coconuts were. That coconuts are brown on the outside and have this fibrous husk and wood-like shell, and maybe I talked about how the coconut can be made into nice little wooden bowls. Would I be doing that poor thirsty person any good? No, not unless it rained before he died!
If I told him coconut is wood, and certainly they are wood all over; would I be giving that person a real and accurate view of what a coconut really was? It’s inaccurate to tell someone a coconut is wood only, it’s a partial or a functionally incomplete description the thing called a coconut and its benefits. Actually quite a useless conversation to that person dying of thirst. Although it’s really not inaccurate to say coconuts have fibrous hard shells; to say that only in describing a coconut to someone who does not know what a coconut is, would be a part-truth that is in reality a deception or a lie; a distortion of truth. A false image. The image I described above in reality is a false image of what a coconut really is.
In this story above, not only is it a twisting of truth, it’s downright evil, because I have knowledge of the truth of how that coconut could save his life, but I did not inform and help him find the full useful truth of that coconut. Truth is vitally important to someone who does not know enough of it. Coconuts are so much more than wood! Wood is one of many attributes of a coconut. Coconuts are full of water and nutritious fleshy food also. Their husks make great firewood for cooking and warming . Later in their cycle they can be pressed into beneficial oils. There are many attributes of coconuts. Nothing at all what you would think if all you knew was what I said above.
What am I getting at?
Many well-meaning people today are giving a false reality of who God is and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God has made it very clear. He hates falsehood! He hates false images being made of him, misrepresenting him as something lopsided or one dimensional emphasizing only the attributes of which we prefer for our own selfish reasons! God spoke long ago and even coded it into the law given Moses . “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” (Ex 20:4). Then Jesus Christ himself repeated this timeless truth when he spoke to the woman at the well in John 4:23-24 when he said,”But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Truth. God wants us to know him in truth, through the empowerment of his Spirit though our spirits. Truth is so important because if we misrepresent
it in some important way as to leave someone with a twisted or one-sided view of God, then they like the man above in the fictional story, will likely perish.
We need to care about people enough to tell them the truth about God as graciously as possible. I recently watched the TV special of “The Passion” play, hoping in vain that truth about Jesus Christ might be brought out in such a way as to demonstrate what the love of God was all about some 2000 years ago when Jesus died for us. I turned off the TV feeling so incomplete and unfulfilled. It really only spoke of Gods love in a confusing way and for us to love our fellow man and basically all get along. They all sang familiar hit songs of modernity that wrought out human emotions and many were in tears watching and enjoying what they felt was the Love of God on display. But was it really?
What we saw on TV that day was a false image, an Idol. The very thing God hates! The Gospel of Christ and the passion of which it was conceived and brought forth in to living flesh was only done in response to the eternal holiness and justice of God Almighty! Yahweh, God I AM, cannot and will not let the guilty go unpunished. Listen to what God said about himself to Moses:
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex 34:6-7)
This God of love, who is very much described as Love throughout the Bible, is also the God from which all mankind must learn to tremble…tremble…TREMBLE! He is high and lifted up in extreme searing holiness! Even the demons bow before Jesus and tremble in fear! (James 2:19) But rarely does proud and arrogant man. No. We just want to add Jesus to our portfolio of niceties and love songs to make us feel happily deluded so we can go about our way living as we so please. But God, he is a perfect God in whom no darkness exists ( 1 John 1:5) and who requires each and every one of us to likewise be perfect as He is perfect (Matt 5:48) in order to not face judgement to a life in eternal fire punishment! (Matt 13:42) The Word of God says, “Our God is a consuming fire!” (Heb 12:29) The Gospel is good news of God! But good news about what? It is in the Gospel we come to see the true love of God and what HE did to rescue us. But what was Jesus really rescuing us from? Was it from Satan and hell? Sure..but what is hell and what is the power of Satan over us? It’s quite simply the justice of God being worked out in our lives for all our lawlessness and rebellion….for our sins.
There was only one mention of the word sin on that Passion TV show that I heard when Perry said Christ came to save from our sins. But in this world, who knows what this means? No one speaks of it anymore. We are all told we are basically good people who just need a little direction and love of God in our lives. Who doesn’t want love? Sure we all like that. But what we do not like is to be told we are sick and utterly ruined and depraved to the core! But without this part of the Truth, we will not repent and we will accept a false vision of God, not God at all, but a coconut god, an Idol. Yet this is what we are and this is why Jesus came to die. He humbled himself and the majestic Son of God became like one of us to die and become the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God to atone for our evil doings.Without the shedding of pure blood there is no forgiveness of sin! (Heb 9:22) God alone could only do this because no person, no not one of us is good and thus are unable to save ourselves from the very righteous ANGER from God over sin (Rom 3:10); God the very One who created us in love to know him intimately and be his children. God’s love compelled him to do this for us, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! (Rom 5:8) This is the real God of the Bible. The God who hates sin, and the God who came and died for our sins, and then proved his power over sin and death and rose victoriously from the grave on that Resurrection Sunday! Do you really think God would go to all that extreme measure if He did not both love His holiness and his people? Gods blood took place of our eternal punishment! Christ paid the price and took the blows from the justice of God the Father!
This God demands holiness. You must likewise be holy in order to live. Come before him unclean and you perish forever in Gods burning wrath! So by God’s grace and love he did for us what we could not ever do. He spilled his own atoning blood.
But… But not everyone has their sins atoned. While the blood of Christ is enough to atone for all peoples sins, only those who choose to follow Jesus by surrendering their life to him and be his forever slave will find this great and eternal Salvation and be set free! Jesus said it in many ways, but in a succinct manner in John 3:16 ” God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” But it is not enough to leave it at that one summary statement, we must hear the full counsel of Gods Word and the teachings of Jesus and see the bigger picture of truth so we do not end up with a crazy coconut belief about God. Jesus explained what it means to believe and he demonstrated it. He said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14:26) Belief means obeying and following Jesus as Master and owner, forsaking all else as of little importance compared to him. This is the Jesus of Calvary who died for us! This is the God who calls us to “repent” and have obedient faith! When we fall on our knees before him willing to surrender it all to him, then we are given the new life of the Spirit, born-again into the eternal family of God with new power to overcome sin and live for Him. This is what the Gospel is about, humbling ourselves before God so that HE will then lift us up! This is love, not that we loved him, but that he loved us first and called us out from among sin and death to live no longer for ourselves, but for him who was crucified and rose from the grave, our Master… Jesus of Nazareth!
No more Coconut gods ! Please no more just talking about the love of God out of context of how and why that love was expressed on on the bloody Roman cross! Go help people see the real God; the real Jesus living in you and preach in loving grace, knowing but by the grace of God, we too should have perished, but preaching the truth of the holiness of God and the wickedness of man. For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God…Every human needs to repent.
Jesus came to declare the Truth. His truth is this:
We all are sinners, utterly wicked by comparison to Holy God.
We all will perish by the very anger of God against us for our sins.
God loves us so much he came and died for us in the person of Jesus Christ and rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
Truth is we must repent and accept by humble faith God’s free offer of salvation in order to receive Christ’s atoning blood as our payment and restoration. This faith means following and obeying Christ as Master of everything in your life.
Truth is… This is the Biblical faith that saves!
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. – 2 Cor 5:21
“May I be daily more and more conformed to thee, with the meekness and calmness of the Lamb in my soul, and a feeling sense of the felicity of heaven, where I long to join angels free from imperfections, where in the image of my adored Saviour will be completely restored, so that I may be fit for his enjoyments and employments.
I am not afraid to look the king of terrors in the face, for I know I shall be drawn, not driven, out of the world.” – excerpt from a Puritan prayer from ‘The Valley of Vision’
Early America was filled with many well educated and literate devout followers of Christ. Prayers and speech like this are full of solid theological meaning and depth that we just do not hear today. We today are some of the shallowest people our nation has ever produced due to the techno-media sound bite attention span most of us have, we rarely plumb into the depths of God’s word and truths and apply them so eloquently to our own words and lives. When I read these Puritan prayers, I am challenged to think and ponder God’s Word and his blessed truths as they apply to myself. Thank the Lord for many writings from these godly people of early America and beyond. We all would do well to read more of our Christian ancestors and their deep faith and knowledge of God. They offer us much wisdom and inspiration.
Who today speaks like this? Who talks about the “felicity” (intense happiness) of heaven? Who refers to our God as the “king of terrors”, because truly He is for all the unrepentant!
Look how the prophet Isaiah responded to the King of glory when he saw his vision:
Each creature was calling to the others: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord All-Powerful. His glory fills the whole earth.” Their calling caused the frame around the door to shake, as the Temple filled with smoke.
I said, “Oh, no! I will be destroyed. I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure, but I have seen the King, the Lord All-Powerful.”-Isaiah 6:3-5 NCV
And this same God who came and befriended us, saved us from his own terrible wrath to come for our own sins, will return as the greatest terrorist of all time bringing fear to the vast majority of sinners in the world! Look how John’s Revelation pictures him!
The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.- Revelation 1:14-18 ESV
But for us redeemed by his merciful hand, we know him as the shepherd of our souls. Truly he is the meek and mild Shepherd who is the defender of our lives.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. -John 10:14,15
Our Holy Holy Holy God, has given us who trust in him a confidence and peace beyond words, because apart from that, we should all tremble..tremble….tremble…. If still lost in our own righteousness (or should I say our lack thereof)
The standard is God’s holiness.
How will you measure up?
In Christ you are pure and perfect…
…if you don’t know him, you are not going to fare well. Terror is the best description.
I am Gabriel!!! I stand in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you this good news!! (Luke 1:19 exclamations mine)
This is how I see it. I added the exclamations. This is from the story of Zechariah the priest getting the news of his 80 year old wife’s pregnancy; their prayers for a son answered by God in such a dramatic way. Zechariah was standing before God’s highest archangel and requesting a sign!?? Really? Haha. Wow. I hope when God speaks to me l can be more properly responsive. I mean he came and appeared before him fresh in the glory of God himself, the archangel Gabriel!
Just before, the text states that Zechariah “nearly peed himself” in fear, when Gabriel appeared in vs 12 (using modern day expressions)! Gabriel had to comfort him to not to be afraid, but that he came bearing good news, and then he told him that he and Elizabeth’s prayers were about to be answered with the conception of John.
Just prior to all this the text narrates some about who Zechariah and Elizabeth were. It said they were righteous people before God, living blameless lives following God’s commands.
Wow. That’s quite a statement of how great a man Zechariah really was! He was truly a man of faith, while most only were going through the motions of religion, he followed God out of love and obedient faith. It had been hundreds of years of mostly silence to the people of Israel. Miracles were mostly stories of long ago history, so when Zachariah gets a visit from heaven’s great angel Gabriel, he had trouble with what seems like simple faith. Zechariah sees and trembles and hears the from God his Holy Angel, and then dares ask for a sign to prove what he said was true? LOL. I can’t help but laugh.
We know how the story ends. This statement above is what Gabriel begins with by basically saying (my rendition):
“I am Gabriel, ” for crying out loud! Are you so blind and dim that you don’t take my own appearing before you as enough of a sign?! Well since you apparently are so blind, I’ll make you blind until your son is born! That will be your sign!”
I chuckle at this story, but as I think it over I also freeze with some fear over my own frailties and inability to hear God and obey at first word from him. I too have stood in the presence of not just one of his holy Angels, but the presence of God through his indwelling Spirit! Yet I still get dim-witted and blind and allow myself to fall into sin from time to time. O how this grieves me and causes me to fall on my face in repentance and sadness!
My God who redeemed me and robed me his own glory and righteousness, the goodness of Christ, and who now lives in me through the Holy Spirit; How in my right and sane mind could I ever willfully sin?! How?!
Like Paul sometimes, I must humble my heart and say, “O wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death? (Romans 7:24)
Within us all is a war raging! A war of love for God’s law and glory, given by Holy Spirit transforming us from the inside out, the new man born of God, daily fighting the old man and law of sin and death! If you desire God, and truly want to be like Jesus, this battle will never stop raging…the day it does, you have turned around and are walking from God.
Fight my friends! Never give up! From Glory to Glory we shall overcome! We know when we fail our God, we have purification and restoration to keep in the war! All we need to do is repent and come to Jesus. (1Jhn 1:8-9)
We too can rejoice like Paul and say as he did in Romans 7:25 …
“Thanks be then to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Why? Because Jesus himself declared that even if we fall, Satan can never own us ever again and he will complete what he started in us(Phil1:6)!
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Stay in the battle and see with clear eyes the glory of God working in you.
Jesus said “…And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
I never worry anymore about clothing or food or basic needs for myself. I could stand here and say that is because I have fully learned to trust in God as my caretaker and provider, but that would be a lie. I don’t worry about these things for myself because I am abundantly blessed with too much in this life. Sadly I have not learned this art of trust as well as some like those who About-Face Missions is called to support. I rarely get opportunities like the people and pastors that AFM help monthly with buying food, clothing, medicine and other basic needs so that they can live productive lives for the Lord. This is part of our calling. Yes; we also help send them funds for Bibles, evangelistic outreaches, and discipleship needs. We feel both are critical to really love like Jesus loves. But I fail at times to trust in God like some more faithful ones do. So many we have chosen to partner with live on the edge and have learned to lean on Jesus like I never have. Men like Samson Walala, Kennedy Simiyu and John Tino in Kenya, sister Norah Nakabugo or Buyinza Daniel in Uganda, pastor Daryl or Christopher Samonte in the Philippines, faithful humble men like Manikumar Gude and Nagavath Ganesh in India, or Ram Bahadur BK in Nepal or Munir in Pakistan. These people, their wives and co-workers are those who I see as men and women in God’s hall of fame! Men and women of faith and perseverance and trust in Christ.
Kennedy Simiyu, for instance, hopes in God much better than I. I wished I could say I was a spiritual giant for Jesus, but sometimes I feel I am so far away. God allowed one of our larger monthly donors for AFM Mercy School to have significant business slowdown, so we lost that $500 a month support for who knows how long. My heart was aching for weeks over how we can make up for this huge loss, and what to do. Were we to lay off a couple teachers and send some kids or workers home and cut way back? That loss is about 1/3 of our monthly school budget! I was praying for God to come to the rescue and send in some extra donors and funds to help make up for this, but frankly I was worried and getting heartsick over it all. I mentioned to Kennedy that we probably would not be able to continue our medical care preventative treatments for the kids, lay off the doctor and likely some other workers, and ration food by giving the kids less to eat. I was sad having to tell him all this as we came up on the last day of the month this past weekend. After all, for the past two months every couple days Kennedy has been telling me that they desperately need funds for buying cloth so the ladies can start sewing new uniforms for the kids. It will take about $900 to buy enough material to create uniforms for all the kids just to have one new outfit for the entire year. He asked about us raising just $300 so we can get started with the most needy ones who are without a uniform or the most tattered… But I have had to say we cannot, because we don’t have enough even for the basic food and medicine budgets.
….But Kennedy kept telling me not to worry, trust in God and he will provide!
It’s easier said than done by one as so used to being self-sufficient and spoiled as I. My energy and hope was fading and I was growing less and less willing to even tell people of the needs anymore, because of the little to no responses. My own personal debts have been rising too fast lately due to last year’s weddings and expenses and I felt too financially squeezed to give any more personally without digging myself deeper into a financial hole… I was sinking in my hope, thinking maybe God wants us to change course and abandon what we are doing in Kenya. Also on my mind was how do I pay for another trip to Kenya this April to encourage our brothers and sisters as planned to help build them up, when I am feeling so low myself and under too much worry and stress. Then on top of this, my Ugandan adopted son Ronald Mutebi sent me a message that the group of College students he leads on Evangelism missions are heading off to western Uganda on a Church planting mission where his friend Joseph wants to pastor a mission Church to an unreached group. He said they are short about $400, but really need $250 to buy local language Bibles for this mission next week! Oh this is so much where my heart is and I wanted so badly to say yes we will send you all that money, but my heart sank knowing all the other shortages we have in personal and AFM financial means. We didn’t even make up for our overdrawn funds from last year and started in a deficit because December giving was down a bit…. **Sigh** So I told Ronald I would pray about and and seek the Lord’s will. I lifted it to God, somewhat halfhearted not thinking He was really going to provide. See? See what little faith I have sometimes….SMH.
I don’t tell my wife about every need and thing that comes along in AFM business because I have to “regulate” how much time I devote to AFM so she won’t feel deprived of my love and affections for her. I do tend to get consumed in my projects and passions. But I decided to tell her last night that our finances were tight and that Ronald was really needing at least $250 for Bibles to help reach these tribal people in Western Uganda on his Makerere University BCOM mission trip he was helping lead. I told her I wanted us to seek the Lord if there was any way we could cut back on something else and help this immediate need. I told her this while we were sitting around watching TV Sunday night. During some commercial break she disappeared upstairs and came back down and handed me 2 one hundred dollar bills with this goofy look on her face and said, “Here! I tucked this away for a rainy day when I had extra knowing that one of our kids would come asking for help with something. So our kid in Uganda needs it, send it to him!”
HA HA! Wow, I was thinking we could squeak out another $150 or so by me emptying out my change jar of coins I had saved up, but now we could more than meet Ronald’s minimum need! Hallelujah!!
Then Monday morning Kennedy sent me some photos of the teachers working and the kids at our school to encourage us (above is one of them taken this Monday), and yet I was still cautioning him that the food and medicine money would likely be very short this month… But he kept faith and said God will provide! Amen. Yes I love my brothers faith, it too encourages me when I am weak. So I had to say, “We will trust in God to provide!” What else could I do. Then today I came home from work. I opened the mailbox and found an unusually large donation from one of God’s children of guess how much! $500! The exact amount we were short from the other person who had to suspend their giving! Whoohoo! Praise God!
All I can say is THANK YOU JESUS! Our God is good!
I sit here typing with tears hearing Jesus say to me “O ye of little faith, trust in God, Don’t you know how I dress the lilies of the field, how they grow? They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if I so clothe the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will I not much more clothe you and those you love?”
Yes Lord. I am listening. I believe. Help me with my unbelief!
AFM friends and family. We still have many needs. We don’t have all the days ahead of us all figured out. We still must trust in God daily, monthly and yearly; but there is no better place to be, than fully standing in his grace, leaning on Jesus!
God is working and will continue to work with or without us, but the cool thing is He will bless others through us, if we just hold on to faith and keep doing our parts… blessings untold will be ours! We have the privilege to enter into God’s glorious works…and rejoice full of hope and life!
God bless each one of you! Let us rejoice and press on for His glory and love!
PS… Thank you to all who have been involved in helping us love all 130 or so little ones at our AFM Mercy Foundation School and helping make Jesus Christ real to so many impoverished little ones and families in Western Kenya. We are saving lives both physically and eternally! If you want to help us meet our future needs through monthly or one time gifts please visit our website for ways to give. http://www.aboutfacemissions.com/donate to to learn more about our school ministry visit this link http://www.aboutfacemissions.com/ourministries/mercy-school There is a lot of need in the world, endless really…but we together can make a real difference in some lives and see the smile of God in our own hearts and lives.
Time and again when people died in this life Jesus has made it known that they are not really dead.
We can either take great comfort in this or take great fear depending in your standing with God, because life is much greater than we know or imagine. We live currently at the tip of the iceberg of life only seeing just a small fragment of what life is and will be. When Jesus went to resurrect the rulers little girl in the text below, was Jesus lying when he told the mourners to go away because the little girl was not dead, but only asleep? Do you think these people back then were so ignorant to not be able to detect lack of heart-beat or breath? No..They were all too familiar with death of the body. More so than most of us today. Yet Jesus referred to her as sleeping. Much like his conversation with Mary at the bodily death of Lazarus where he said we never really die, he is revealing to us that he created us all as eternal souls to live forever and our all too familiar bodies dying is not the end of our lives, but rather just the beginning. Yet as he and the Father have ordained, this small segment of our life will determine all of eternity for us. When he could speak in this way about the little girl because he being God in flesh, knew well the temporal-ness of this current body and phase if life and God sees things much differently than we. It behooves us to look more at life though the eyes of Christ, and look way beyond the grave and death of this body. For the redeemed in Christ who love him and know his love, we have great hope in seeing a new creation and a gloriously resurrected new body to come, yet for those living for self and sin, they have great despair, because this is as close as they get to come to heaven and the blessings of God. And obliteration is not an option no matter how badly they hope it to be. The will face eternal wrath of God in the lake of fire. If you believe and care for anyone, then we must do our part to help them come to Jesus while there still is time. For it is appointed unto man once to die, but after that judgment.
And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. -Matthew 9:23-25 ESV