“True teachers are those who are ever conscious that they must be taught themselves before presuming to teach others. Once we are eager to be taught, the Lord God will soon present us with pupils! We will have to be up early in the day to receive our instructions from the Lord realizing that in all probability the word we receive will be needed by another before the day is through.”
How could the Apostle Paul be on trial? Why so many appearances in court? In the last chapters of Acts we see him on trial before the Sanhedrin, he is brought before two Roman Governors and has another hearing before King Agrippa II. Each trial was convened for the purpose of uncovering what charges the Jews had against Paul.
Speaking clarity into the confusion that exists, Paul states, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 23:6)
Why does Paul think this is the crux of the matter? I remember reading a quote by a Canadian scientist named G. B. Hardy regarding this question.
I checked the tomb of Buddha, and it was occupied, and I checked the tomb of Confucius and it was occupied, I checked the tomb of Mohammed and it was occupied, and I came to the tomb of Jesus and it was empty.
And I said, there is one who conquered death. And I asked the second question, did He make a way for me to do it too?
And I opened the Bible and discovered that He said, ‘Because I live you shall live also.’
Paul understood that the claim of resurrection was the pinnacle truth claim of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
At death, all human resources are exhausted there is no power on earth that trumps death. Paul had met Jesus–resurrected from the dead — the One who is stronger than death!
He knew that his brothers in the Jewish faith had nothing greater than this life giving Jesus. Their way of dealing with death was to avoid it in order not to be defiled. They warned their followers to stay away from dead bodies and tombs so that there would be no chance of becoming unclean from the corrupting influence of death. The truth was avoidance was all they could offer and there is not way to ultimately avoid death.
But Jesus! Rather than avoid death Jesus reached out to touch the dead. Rather than be defiled Jesus’ touch brought life to that which was dead!
His resurrection is a message–it is the message and Paul was so secure in the truth of it that he was willing to die knowing that yet would he live.
Christ’s resurrection is an invitation to be united with the One whose life overcomes death. With our future secure we are freed to really live the life we have been given here and now.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Faith in Jesus is Life Giving and Death Defying!
June 14, 2004
I trust the time with Nancy and David Writebol was good for all, they seem like such a devoted missionary couple. I told Mike I hope you heard stories of people impassioned for Christ. I look forward to seeing them at Enrichment Week in San Antonio.
I went to Owino Market on Monday and bought 57 T-shirts, 2 pair of sandals, 42 pairs of shorts and 5 book bags for under $100. Each outfit for the children costs 75 cents! For the last two days I have been culling worn out, too little clothes from the cottages and replacing them with “new” things. The children are thrilled and are colorful as rainbows. When I give new clothes to the children, I have to first take the old ones away. If I leave them in the cottages, the mamas continue to have the children wear them no matter what the condition. This is not a culture that has the luxury of “throwing things out” — it just is not done here. They really do not have any understanding of why I come and take things away! It is very difficult for them and they continue to tell me that a pair of shorts or shirt is still good–regardless of the holes or faded look.
When I do get clothes out of the cottages, it is when they are in better condition than what most children in the surrounding areas are wearing. I take the clothes that are recyclable to Central Baptist in Wakiso and let Susan distribute them to the children in her congregation. I will never forget the day we went there for Sunday School and a little three year old girl came in by herself totally naked except for a string tied around her waist. I actually bought her a church outfit and knickers which she was so proud of she lifted her dress for everyone to see!
I had a fun morning with the aunties and children. It is Hero’s Day and so all the children were home doing chores from 9-10. At 10 the aunties had promised them that we would go get mangoes. Kasmiri our gardener got a long pole and jabbed at the mangoes until he had knocked about 15 out of a tree. We had a feast. They like to eat their fruit before it is ripe here so the taste of an unripe mango is about like a Granny Smith apple. We sat and laughed and enjoyed those mangos and it was a sweet time of fellowship.
Later, Mike and I went to town for groceries and we found my favorite cracker in stock so I am a happy woman! It is difficult to find crisp things here and I get so hungry for that. Mike discovered a cracker made in Malaysia that is really the ticket! I can’t tell you how thrilled you can get when you find something like what you loved in the States–it makes a party!
It is Marsha’s afternoon to cover the activity time and dining hall so I am in with Casey who is off from school. We gave Edith a ride home from work and she took me to her place to meet the 2 orphans that she raises along with her own 3 children. John and Norbert are from 2 different women who have died of AIDS and named Edith as the caretaker. Edith’s countenance about this is never that it is burdensome or out of the ordinary to pick up a couple of extra children. She cannot imagine that there was any other response than to joyfully take these children in. One of the boys is infected with HIV but Edith has kept that from the other children so that he will not be ostracized. In material things, this family is not rich but in love and care they are most blessed!
Well it is the end of the day and I am going onto the porch with a glass of tea, my Bible and watch the sun go down…..
I hope the Lord is very near you today my friend.
with much love,
“Jesus…cried in a loud voice, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! He who believes in me–who cleaves to and trusts and relies on me–as the Scripture has said, ‘Out from his innermost being springs of living water shall continuously flow.'” John 7:37-38 Amplified Bible
The real question, however is this: Where are we to find our fresh springs of life?
“Glorious things are said of you, O city of God…All my springs [of joy] are in you!” (Psalm 87:3, 7)
A Nazarite was one who made a special vow—the vow of one who is willing to be separated from worldly pursuits and snares—to separate himself totally so he may be put to service by the Lord. The special vow meant total abstinence, even from certain things which were not wrong in themselves and which, to other people, might actually be beneficial.
Those of us who are God’s emissaries are to treat the world (not just its corruptions, but its legitimate joys, it privileges and blessings also), as a thing to be touched at a distance. We must be aware at all times that, if we are caught by its spirit, or fed by its meat, we lose our sensitivity to the very breath of the Highest and will no longer receive the manna that falls from heaven to feed our souls.
Therefore, we may bind ourselves to God with the kind of vow that commits us to this: to look upon the world, in all its delights and attractions, suspecting that traps are set there for us, reserving ourselves for a higher way.
We are called to live daily in a higher Kingdom, where we are touched and our souls drink from the Spirit of God. ((Amy Carmichael, God’s Missionary,p. 4-5))
My Father, so often I feel restless. Unsatisfied. Wanting something more. I try to satisfy my inner thirst for life in ways that don’t satisfy–they only leave me thirstier still.
Maybe underneath, I don’t really believe you are what you say you are: Life itself, pure-flowing.
Today, Father, help me to “cleave” to you–to embrace you fully with my trust. To see the things that draw me for the mirage they are. And to drink more deeply from your spring of living water. (David Hazard)
By John Piper November 20, 2006
1. The Bible awakens faith, the source of all obedience.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
2. The Bible frees from sin.
You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. (John 8:32)
3. The Bible frees from Satan.
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
4. The Bible sanctifies.
Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:17)
5. The Bible frees from corruption and empowers godliness.
His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
6. The Bible serves love.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment. (Philippians 1:9)
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
7. The Bible saves.
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)
Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. (Acts 20:26)
[They will] perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
8. The Bible gives joy.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
9. The Bible reveals the Lord.
And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. (1 Samuel 3:21)
10. Therefore, the Bible is the foundation of my happy home and life and ministry and hope of eternity with God.
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Our Pastors have been leading us on Wednesday nights to consider Scripture as the Authority for our lives. It is becoming more difficult in our culture not to invest our feelings — especially if we are not in the Scriptures, with the final authority for life. We plod along counseling with ourselves making decisions based on how we feel about this or that outcome. I find when I counsel with myself the questions I ask are aimed at what is the easiest, most convenient, most comfortable, least demanding course to take.
Beyond that, the trouble with relying on my feelings as the anchor for my life is that they do not hold steady! They are fickle and change in a moment without good reason — or any reason! I can “feel” disciplined and self-controlled in the morning and decide that it is right to make healthy eating choices as a way to honor the temple of the Holy Spirit. That feeling can sustain me for awhile and then come the afternoon hours and my mind begins to bring me new counsel! I begin to “feel” different than I did during the morning. Now, I think it is time to reward myself and indulge my desire for junk food. That “feels right and true” because the decision is based on the change that has occurred from morning to afternoon.
The path of following feelings is like being lost on the back roads of West Virginia–you wind and wind and get nowhere. Counseling with my thoughts and feelings is disappointing because they are not unchanging absolutes as we find in Scripture. The unchanging, sufficient Word of God is authoritative! Soaking and submitting to God’s thoughts make for a straighter more direct path through life.
I was reminded of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ warning regarding making your feelings your god.
“Avoid the mistake of concentrating overmuch upon your feelings. Above all, avoid the terrible error of making them central…for you will be doomed to be unhappy. What we have in the Bible is Truth; it is not an emotional stimulus…and it is as we apprehend and submit ourselves to the truth that the feelings follow. I must never ask myself in the first instance: What do I feel about this? The first question is, Do I believe it?” ((D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965, reprinted 2001), 20.))
May today be the day when rather than asking myself what I feel about this or that–I ask, “Lord, based on your Word–the anchor for my life, what must I believe about this?”
“Too many Christians never see that self-love comes out of a culture that prizes the individual over the community and then reads that basic principle into the pages of Scripture. The Bible, however, rightly understood, asks the question, “Why are you so concerned about yourself?” Furthermore, it indicates that our culture’s proposed cure–increased self-love–is actually the disease…Need theories can thrive only in a context where the emphasis is on the individual rather than the community and where consumption is a way of life. If you ask most Asians and Africans about their psychological needs they will not even understand the question!” ((Edward Welch, When People are Big and God is Small, P & R Publishing, 81 and 87))
As I read this quote, I remembered the days of interviewing African women who were seeking a job as housemothers for 10 previously orphaned children. Trying to get to know them as quickly as possible I would naively say, “Why don’t you describe yourself and your hopes and dreams for me.” The women would stare at me with a confused look and say, “JjaJa, I don’t understand the question.” It was not a language difficulty–it was that they never spent a moment of their lives pondering such a self absorbed question! It never occurred to women who are daily consumed with thoughts of “How will I make it today?” to think about themselves or ponder an uncertain future. They live in a culture that prizes the good of the community and care almost none for the aspirations of the individual as we do. People with little, and certainly not familiar with a consumer culture but with a pervasive joy and contentment. Are we missing something by having so many somethings?
I remember one time going to church with Auntie Edith and asking, “Edith what is his name?” She said, “JjaJa, you mzungus care very much about names–here we greet people by saying, “Hello Ssebo” (Sir) or “How are you Nnyabo” (Madam), we don’t ask for names!” Again, she was helping me see that her world view was not individualistic –she was not living in a culture that could afford to pursue the esteem of self. As Welch has suggested, what if the cure we seek–a better self-esteem–is the disease from which we need to be delivered?