TRUE BELIEVERS WILL OBEY JESUS COMMANDS

Pretend actors-for-Jesus can quote Scripture, but their desires haven’t changed. They merely feel good that they now have religion, too. Their faith is not a central transforming reality; it’s an add-on to enhance their lives. They believe in a god made in their own image, not the true God of the Bible. They worship a cosmic genie who meets their needs and gives them what they want. They may call themselves servants of Christ. But in fact, they are masters, calling the shots, claiming what they want to claim and believing what they want to believe, and expecting God to come through for them. And when He doesn’t, they either blame Him for not being good or blame themselves and others for not having enough faith to get their way.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-22

How different from the biblical description of us as slaves of Jesus Christ! Yes, the original word is best-translated slaves, not servants, and describes those who are sold out to His ownership and committed to doing whatever He calls them to do, including dying on His behalf should He so desire.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as slaves (servants) of God.” 1 Peter 2:16

We are also called children of the King, and there is a time when we will enjoy all the privileges of royalty. But now is not that time! Presently we experience some royal kingdom privileges, including constant and unhindered access to the One who sits on the throne. We can “come boldly before the throne of grace,” as Hebrews says. God’s Holy Spirit dwells within us. He has promised to provide what we need to serve Him (Matthew 6:25-32). But when it comes to enjoying all the material provisions living in the King’s mansion provides, we are not yet there.

We are still on foreign soil—hostile soil—where people are fighting against God’s kingdom. We are not just tourists or palace-dwellers; we are “strangers and exiles on the earth,” who are “seeking a homeland” (Hebrews 11:13-14), and longing for “a better country, that is, a heavenly one”.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.Hebrews 11:16

God has prepared a heavenly Jerusalem which John saw coming down from heaven onto the new earth which the Saints will inhabit after the White Throne judgement.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.Revelation 21:1-3

What we need in our churches today are fewer actors and more sold-out followers of Jesus—converted people living lives centered on Jesus, the King of kings.

God is raising up leaders that are truly sold out to His purposes of making disciples. Find and connect with these leaders.

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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).

“The Kingdom of God is not going to be advanced by our churches becoming filled with men but by men in our churches becoming filled with God.” —Duncan Campbell

Taken from another great article, Our Mission: Make More Disciples and Fewer Performers  JULY 7, 2022 by RANDY ALCORN

WE MUST SHOW OUR CHRISTIAN COLOURS

Cooper Kupp’s team, the Los Angeles Rams, ended up winning the Super Bowl, and Kupp was named Most Valuable Player. But regardless of that, even if they’d lost and Kupp had not played well, he says it would have still been his best year in football ever. In fact, in the interview, Kupp says that because of his growth in his walk with Christ, even if his team hadn’t won a single game it still would have been his best year in football ever! (Here’s an article) about Cooper Kupp and his wife Anna Marie. She says, “We have prayed for a season to glorify our Savior Jesus Christ and you are doing just that my lovey.)

C. S. Lewis wrote, “We must show our Christian colours if we are to be true to Jesus Christ.

We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.” Even the Apostle Paul requested that the Ephesian believers “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, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (Ephesians 6:19–20, NIV)

If Paul needed prayer for boldness, who doesn’t? When he was given the MVP award Kupp said, “I don’t feel deserving of this. God is just so good…”

In these last days may we be fearless in making the gospel of Christ known so that we may bring glory to God just as Cooper Kupp and his wife Anne Marie are doing.

WHEN GOD’S DISCIPLES GO MIRACLES FOLLOW

Missionaries working with Southern Baptist Convention (IMB) reported baptisms were up 81% from 2019 to 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available), and salvation testimonies continue to pour in.

The increases are particularly significant in a denomination where many cite missions as their reason for joining and staying.

Typical Testimony: A 53-year-old Thai man with chest pain went to see an IMB medical missionary outside Bangkok. The man collapsed in the clinic and regained consciousness only after the IMB missionary, a physician, performed emergency medical procedures.

As they waited for an ambulance, the man prayed to receive Christ, prompting the doctor to ask, “When did you start to become interested in God ’s story?”

National IMB missionary preaching to Thai congregation

The man pointed to the place on the floor where he collapsed and said, “Right there. Before that, I had never been interested at all. But when I collapsed, I heard God call my name three times, and I knew he was warning me.”

That wasn’t an isolated incident, according to IMB reports. The evangelistic surge, missiologists say, is attributable to the fact we are there (obedient to God’s call), the pandemic, and the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Several years ago under David Platt, IMB transferred ministries from missionaries to national partners.

“We have seen the Holy Spirit working across the globe in mighty ways,” said Wilson Geisler, IMB director of global research. One missionary team “saw the first believers among an incredibly tough-to-reach people group.” Another “saw more people coming to faith in 2020 than in the previous three years combined.

Jesus promised that in the last days before His return the GOSPEL, the GOOD NEWS, the only good news in a time of tribulation will be proclaimed throughout the whole world. Do you want to be part of the team proclaiming the GOOD NEWS? You can be like David (“I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” Acts 13:22), just obey the indwelling Holy Spirit.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.Matthew 24: 14

LIVING OUT OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH

CS Lewis writes in Mere Christianity: Christ says, “Give me all. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money, and so much of your worth: I want you. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there. I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out.”

Lewis could only write these thoughts because he understood Jesus’ words:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self,Luke 9:23-25

Lewis also understood that our actions must speak louder than our words.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.James 1:22-24

What do our lives look like to others? Do they know you will stand up for God’s truth regardless of the consequences? Do they know you care for them? Do they know God cares for them even more than you do?

GOD CAN USE YOU JUST AS HE DID REHAN

A Pakistani teenager has reportedly led his entire tribe to embrace Jesus, a remarkable story shared this week by Mission News Network (MNN).

A 17-year-old going by the pseudonym “Rehan” for security reasons was working as a waiter when he met Safdar, a truck driver, and partner with a missions group called Foursquare Missions International (FMI).

Safdar gave Rehan an audio Bible after they met, and the teen listened. Then, he started meeting with Safdar to talk about God and the Bible. Soon, he became a Christian and was baptized, according to Missions Network News MNN.

Rehan soon shared the Gospel message with his family and community members. Considering the sweeping and intense persecution Christians face in Pakistan, these actions were dangerous and, without a doubt, courageous.

Pakistan (MNN) — In Pakistan, a 17-year-old boy led his entire tribe to follow Jesus.

At first, Rehan’s parents, who were receptive to the Gospel, were scared. But he reportedly forged on.

A man named Nehemiah, who works for FMI, explained that Rehan wasn’t dissuaded. He invited missionaries to minister to his tribe and share the Gospel – and the results were incredible.

Rehan’s 60-person tribe reportedly stopped participating in Muslim prayer and turned toward Jesus.

“One evening, he gathered all the tribe’s members under one big tent. First, Rehan showed a movie about Jesus,” Nehemiah told MNN. “Then, an FMI partner shared a 15-minute devotion about new hope in Christ. That day, a 17-year-old boy led his whole tribe to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Now, the missions groups ask for prayer for this tribe and others in the region.

This story is especially remarkable, considering the hostile arena in which Rehan boldly shared the Gospel. As Open Doors USA’s “2022 World Watch List” notes, Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a Christian. The nation ranks eighth on the list, with Islamic oppression serving as the primary form of persecution.

“In Pakistan, Christians are considered second-class citizens and are discriminated against in every aspect of life,” Open Doors reported. “Church leaders can be arrested if they don’t abide by the authorities’ wishes. These arrests act as warnings to the Christian minority and intimidate them further.”

Regardless, God is at work as Rehan’s story demonstrates it just requires willing workers that God can use.

MAKING AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST

Making disciples is the most important job of any church, and there’s no better tool available than the Bible. Also, the best church model for making disciples is the House or Home Church where one on one exploration of God’s Word is possible and accountability is maintained. The disciple’s job is to help their student:

  • Know Jesus Christ better
  • Connect with and grow in biblical community
  • Apply God’s Word in their daily lives

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.2 Corinthians 5:20

Having discovered from this one verse that we are ambassadors for Christ we then need to be held accountable for what we do with that truth this coming week. This is what discipleship is all about and can best be done in small groups.

Note what Paul says here about how we need to pray for the ambassadors for Christ.

To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.Ephesians 6:18-20

We are in the last days Jesus spoke about in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21) the tribulation that Christians experience during this time Jesus said will be like “birth pains”, the tribulation will increase in intensity to become great tribulation hence we need to pray for all the Saints and particularly ourselves that we will be courageous and stay the course continuing to proclaim the gospel as Paul did even though in chains.

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” Matthew 24:21-22

YOU’RE NOT LIVING IF YOU ARE NOT LIVING FOR THIS

Pastor and author David Platt warned young Christians this week that taking a “casual, comfortable, cultural” approach to their faith, neglecting God’s command to proactively share the Gospel, and instead pursuing material successes, will lead to a wasted life.

“Be finished and done with a form of Christianity that says, ‘Pray a prayer, go to church, live it up in the world, go to some conferences and coast your way to Heaven,’” the Virginia-based pastor said during the annual Passion conference in Atlanta this week. “That’s not Christianity, because it’s not following Christ.”

David Platt says 'very skewed' version of Bible 'being sold across our culture,' blasts 'superficial Christianity'
Evangelical Baptist pastor David Platt pleads with an audience of thousands of adults and teens for them to spread the Gospel to unreached people at the annual Passion 2022 Conference in Georgia.

Platt, the lead pastor of McLean Bible Church, told the 65,000 young adults gathered inside the Mercedes Benz Stadium that to follow Jesus means allowing the Gospel message and mission to “dictate everything you think, desire and do, dictate your plans, dreams, how you’re going to live, what degree you’re going to get and how you’re going to make and spend money for the spread of God’s great love in Jesus among the nations.”

“You will waste your life if you get caught up in this American dream,” he continued. “Don’t do it. Lift your eyes above the distractions. Look at the destiny of this world. The train of history is headed towards people of every nation, tribe, and tongue, enjoying and praising Jesus. Jump on that train.”

Platt spoke directly about the U.S., noting it is “quite possibly” the one place in the world with the greatest access to the Gospel, set apart from the many countries whose citizens “don’t have access to someone who can tell them about Jesus” and “don’t have followers of Jesus or churches proclaiming the Good News of God’s great love.”

Displaying the Radical Stratus map, showing the myriad places around the globe where the Gospel is not accessible, the pastor explained the importance of international missions work.

“This is why we don’t say, ‘Well, I don’t know why we talk about unreached people around the world when there are unreached people on my campus, there are unreached people in my neighborhood,’” Platt said. “You say, ‘How do you know?’ Because they’re on your campus. They’re in your neighborhood. They have access to the Gospel. You’re it.”

“We’re talking about people who don’t have anyone near them to tell them about Jesus,” he added.

In light of that information, Platt closed his message by urging the Passion conference attendees to use their platforms, access, careers, finances, etc., to share the Gospel with people who have never heard it.

“Based on this picture of God’s Word and this picture in the world, I want to plead with you tonight to refuse to settle for a casual, comfortable, cultural Christianity,” he said. “I want to plead with you to refuse to do what millions of Christians and leaders of churches are doing in our country — to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to 3.2 billion people and thousands of people groups who have never heard the Gospel.”

Platt told the crowd their purpose, as believers, is to tell others about Jesus. “You are not living if you’re not living for this,” he said.

“As a result of His ultimate rescue, God’s glory shines in this broken world not only through strengths but also through scars, ” he concluded.

Live for this. If necessary, die for this — for people from all nations to hear and receive the Good News of God’s great love in Jesus.

MAKING DISCIPLES IS THE MANDATE – CHURCH PLANTING IS THE OUTCOME

Where in the Bible are we commanded to plant churches? The simple and obvious response is, “it is not commanded.” Planting churches flows naturally out of making disciples. The heart of the church’s mission is to make disciples who make disciples.

In the New Testament, a disciple is more than someone who grows in their theological knowledge of God. A disciple fellowships with other believers, worships in a community, and prays like those assembled in a house in Acts 4.

And now, Lord, look upon their (the Worlds) threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.Acts 4:29-31

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, a disciple then boldly declares the word of God such that more and more people become followers of Jesus.

Missionaries have historically been the most vital source of a nation’s social development. These findings yield two important conclusions about the work of Protestant missionaries. Their message was good for the world and their focus was making disciples.

This understanding of a disciple is highlighted throughout the New Testament. Through a study of the early movement in Ephesus, we see at least thirteen characteristics common to them all.

  • Disciples are respectful of people and culture when they engage in God’s mission (Acts 19:7, 37).
  • Disciples surrender to God’s will and maintain the work of their first love in a theocentrically focused missiological theology (Eph 1; Eph 5:18-19; Rev 2:4).
  • Disciples declare the mystery of Christ to the nations (Eph 3:4-10, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples are equipped by movement leaders for ministry (Eph 4:12; 1 Timothy).
  • Disciples exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Eph 4-5).
  • Disciples are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses (Eph 5:18-19, 2 Tim 1:7).
  • Disciples are godly fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, employees and employers (Eph 5:22-6:9).
  • Disciples pray for opportunities to share the gospel because they know God is most glorified when more people are worshipping him (Eph 6:18-20, 1 Tim 2:1-4).
  • Disciples stand up for the marginalized (1 Tim 2:8-15, 5:3-16; Rev 2:6).
  • Disciples learn sound doctrine from movement leaders who can teach (1 Tim 4:7).
  • Disciples are willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel (2 Tim 1:8).
  • Disciples are committed to multiplying more disciples (2 Tim 2:2).
  • Disciples defend the faith against false teaching (Rev 2:2).

Extracts from an article “Is Church Planting a Biblical Mandate?” October 28, 2020, by Jackson Wu

TIME TO TRUST GOD WITH YOUR LIFE

This is an important message from Torben Sondergaard (thelastreformation.com) and it will challenge many Christians as to what it means to be obedient to God’s call on our lives. He exposes the truth about much of the church in America. There is so much lukewarmness in the church – it is the church of Laodicea,

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.Revelation 3:15-22

Torben is right, he says it is time to be serious with God, time is short, so it ultimately comes down to, do we trust God for the next step. If you do, life will be exciting beyond belief but make no mistake it will also be challenging. Thank goodness we have people like Torben who are leading the way and giving us an example to follow.

OUR JOB AND KNOWING IT IS SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Jesus tells us that in the “last days” before He returns to rule and reign there will be false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. They are under the power of Satan and we know he disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise that his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” 2 Corinthians 11-15

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4::11-13

We need to recognise that the true battle is in the heavenly places and it is against the spiritual forces of evil which is why we are told to put on the full armour of God daily.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,Ephesians 6:14-18

Our job with the lost is preach the Good News as directed by the Holy Spirit knowing they cannot understand the word of God without the Spirit of God

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.Romans 8:5-8

We are also called to love them, pray for them and return good for evil but also to be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit may be doing in their lives. The Holy Spirit may prompt you to use one of the nine Holy Spirit gifts that He expects us to operate in. He distributes them according to His will.

Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.Luke 6:35-36

God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. Hebrews 2:4